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Thursday 19 January 2017
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Hadith of the Day’s Fascinating Facts

Here on Hadith of the Day our content is about to get super awesome Insha’Allah! We’re going to start sharing some unique, hidden gems of the Prophet’s life (peace be upon him). We’re sure many of you have not heard some of these amazing facts before. Our source and main guidance will be taken from the award winning book called ‘Muhammad – His life based on the earliest sources’ by the author Martin Lings.

This book is widely regarded as being one of the BEST biographies ever written on the life of our Prophet. We strongly encourage you to buy it from your local Islamic bookshop. Insha’Allah we’ll be sharing amazing parts of this book with all of you from tomorrow onwards Insha’Allah. We will number each post, as most will be parts of a story of the Prophet’s life in a chronological order so it’s easier for you guys to follow! We hope you’ll enjoy and and love this new aspect of HOTD! :) 

*Fascinating Fact 1*

The most Holy object in the Kaaba is a celestial stone which, it is said was brought by an Angel to Abraham from the nearby hill Abu Qubays, where it had been preserved ever since it had reached the Earth. ‘It descended from Paradise whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black.’ (Hadith) – This black stone they built into the eastern corner of the Kaaba and when the sanctuary was completed, God again spoke to Abraham and made him institute the rite of the Pilgrimage to Becca, or Mecca as it later came to be called. As we know centuries later this very same stone was handled by our Prophet (peace be upon him) and inserted into the Kaaba. 


*Fascinating Fact 2*
The tribe of Jurhumites wickedly buried the beautiful well of Zamzam, which was given to mankind as a blessing. They did this as an act of revenge as they were being driven out of Makkah for committing many injustices. Before they left and in spite, they buried the Zamzam well, hid the treasures and covered it with sand.


*Fascinating Fact 3*
Approximately 400 years after Prophet Isa a man of Quraysh named Qusayy married a daughter of Hulayl who was the main leader of the time. Hulayl preferred his own son-in-law to his own sons and after Hulayl died it was decided that Qusayy would rule over Makkah and be the guardian of the Kaaba. Qusayy went on to have 4 sons and his most capable son was Abdu Manaf, however his favourite son was Abd ad Dar who was not as capable as Abdu Manaf but shortly before Qusayy’s death he left Abd ad Dar in charge. Years later Abdu’s Manaf’s son Hashim was declared the foremost man of his time and most of the Quraysh tribe demanded all the rights be passed to Hashim. Hashim then married Salma, an influential woman of Khazraj but soon died and left behind 2 brothers called Abdu Shams and Muttalib and one half brother called Nawfal. Soon Muttalib took over from Hashim when he died but then started thinking about who would succeed him. Hashim was now dead and Salma had a son called Shaybah who showed immense potential and had a real flair for leadership and a wonderful reputation. So it was Shaybah who then become the next leader, later his name was better known as Abd al Muttalib who was the grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). How’s that for a wonderful piece of history? :)


*Fascinating Fact 4*
Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of our Prophet (peace be upon him) was a hugely respected figure and loved to be near the Kaaba so much so that on occasions he used to order a couch be delivered so he could sleep near the Kaaba. One such night whilst he was sleeping there a shadowy figure came to him in a vision and said: “Dig sweet clarity.” “What is sweet clarity?” he asked, but the speaker vanished. He nonetheless felt such happiness and peace of soul when he woke that he determined to spend the next night in the same place. The visitant returned and said: “Dig beneficence.” But again his question received no answer. The third night he was told: “Dig the treasured hoard”, and yet again the speaker vanished at his questioning. But the fourth night the command was: “Dig Zamzam”; and this time when he said “What is Zamzam?” the speaker said: “Dig her, thou shalt not regret, For she is thine inheritance From thy greatest ancestor. Dry she never will, nor fail to water all the pilgrim throng.” It was through these divine instructions that Abdul Muttalib uncovered the Zamzam well, which had been hidden and buried for so many years.


*Fascinating Fact 5*
Did you know that the father of the Prophet (peace be upon him) Abdullah’s mother was called Fatimah? And decades later our Prophet called his own daughter Fatima who turned out to be one of the best women to ever walk this Earth Masha’Allah.


*Fascinating Fact 6*
Remember when our Prophet’s (peace be upon him) grandfather Abdul Muttalib asked Allah for more sons and if Allah gave him more sons he would sacrifice one of them. Years later he was blessed with 10 sons and he was a man who always kept his word. He was ready to sacrifice Abdullah, the youngest (who was destined years later to be the father of our Beloved (peace be upon him) and many people tried to stop him and pleaded with him to offer something else to Allah in return (Later he sacrificed 100 camels so Abdullah could live) and one of the very first people to try to stop Abdul Muttalib was Abdullah’s mother, the paternal grandmother of the Prophet who was called Fathima.


*Fascinating Fact 7*
Once the sacrifice of 100 camels was accepted Abdul Muttalib decided it was time for Abdullah to get married. He finally decided on Aminah who was the daughter of Wahb. Wahb had died some years previously and so Aminah’s guardian was her uncle Wuhayb. Wuhayb himself had a daughter called Halah and so when Abdul Muttalib asked for Aminah to be married to Abdullah he also asked permission to marry Halal which Wuhayb agreed to and so arrangements were made for a double wedding to happen on the same day. Amazing! So on the day Abdullah and Aminah married, Abdul Muttalib also married Halah.


*Fascinating Fact 8*
We all know the story of Waraqah ibn Nawfal and when Khadija RA brought the Prophet (peace be upon him) to him after he received the revelation. But did you know that Waraqah’s story starts decades before. He was a very pious man who always believed in the fact a Prophet was due. Waraqah also had a sister called Qutaylah who also believed the coming of a Prophet was near.


*Fascinating Fact 9*
On the day of the Abdullah and Aminah’s wedding (the parents of our Prophet peace be upon him) Abdullah was walking with his father to get married. From a distance was watching the sister of Waraqah ibn Nawfal who was called Qutaylah. In her heart and mind she also knew like her pious brother that a Prophet was due soon and when she saw the radiant face of Abdullah walking towards the house of Aminah to marry her she thought for a moment was this the new Prophet? Or maybe his son would be the new Prophet? The thought of this gripped her and she suddenly approached Abdullah in the street and proposed to him and asked him to marry her there and then! Abdullah respectfully declined and responded by saying ‘I am with my father, I cannot act against his wishes and I cannot leave him’ Thus Abdullah and Aminah were married in the year 569.


*Fascinating Fact 10*
‘O God thy slave protecteth his house. Protect Thou Thy House!’ This was the famous dua made by Abdul Muttalib in the Year of the Elephant at the time when Abrahah was on the way to Mecca to destroy the Kaaba. And indeed Allah did protect his House and answered the dua of Abdul Muttalib and saved the Kaaba from destruction.


*Fascinating Fact 11*
The death of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) father occurred shortly after his marriage to Aminah. Abdullah had gone on a trade trip to Palestine and Syria with a caravan and on his way home he had lodged with his grandmother’s family in Yathrib (later known as Madinah) and had fallen ill. When the caravan returned to Mecca without Abdullah, Abdul Muttalib sent Harith (Abdullah’s brother) so he could help Abdullah return home. However when Harith arrived in Yathrib he sadly learnt his brother had died.


*Fascinating Fact 12*
When the father of the Prophet (peace be upon him) died there was much grief in Mecca. Aminah’s one consolation was her unborn child of her dead husband and her solace increased as the time of her delivery drew near. She was conscious of a light within her and one day it shone forth from her so intensely that she could see the castles of Bostra in Syria. And she heard a voice say to her: “Thou carriest in thy womb the lord of this people; and when he is born say: ‘I place him beneath the protection of the One, from the evil of every envier'; then name him Muhammad.”


*Fascinating Fact 13*
When Aminah gave birth to Muhammad (peace be upon him) she called for Abdul Muttalib and invited him to come see his new grandson. He took the boy in his arms and carried him to the Sanctuary and into the Holy House, where he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this gift. Then he brought him once more to his mother, but on the way he showed him to his own household. He himself was shortly to have another son, by Aminah’s cousin Halah, at the moment his youngest son was the three-year-old ‘Abbas who now met him at the door of his house. “This is thy brother; kiss him,” he said, holding out to him the new-born babe, and ‘Abbas kissed him. How beautiful


*Fascinating Fact 14*
It was the custom of all the great families of Arab towns to send their sons, soon after their birth, into the desert, to be suckled and weaned. Aminah sent Muhammad (peace be upon him) to a tribe called Bani Sa’d ibn Bakr. When she offered her young son to the many nurslings, all refused him because he had no father and eventually Halima was entrusted with his care. Halimah along with her husband Harith were among the poorest of the nursling families but when Muhammad entered their lives, life suddenly changed for the better.


*Fascinating Fact 15*
Prior to Muhammad (peace be upon him) entering Halimah’s life she had a she camel who was unable to give even one drop of milk. Halimah’s own son kept them awake all night because she could not provide milk and he was hungry and she also had a donkey who was so weak that he could never keep up with the rest of the tribe but the moment she suckled Muhammad her breasts filled with milk that both Muhammad and her own son fed handsomely. Her husband checked on the she camel who previously could not give even a drop to find this same she camel was now providing milk which both husband and wife drank until they could drink no more and the next day the weak donkey became the fastest donkey of the tribe and no-one could outride it. Alhamdulillah. This was the blessing that came with Muhammad and Harith said to Halimah ‘By God, Halimah, it is a blessed creature that thou hast taken.’

 


*Fascinating Fact 16*
As a young baby and according to Halimah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was growing well and none of the other boys could match him for growth. By the time he was two years old he was a well-made child, and Halimah took him again to his mother, although she were eager that he should stay with her for the blessings he brought her. So Halimah said to Aminah: ‘Leave my little son with me until he grow stronger, for I fear lest he be stricken with the plague of Mecca.’ And Halimah importuned Aminah until she gave him once more into her keeping and Halimah brought him again to her home.


*Fascinating Fact 17*
One day when Muhammad (peace be upon him) was very young he was playing with Halimah’s son behind their tent in the desert when suddenly Halimah’s son came running to his parents and said: ‘That Qurayshite brother of mine! Two men clothed in white have taken him and have laid him down and opened his breast and they are stirring it with their hands.’ So Halimah and her husband went to him and we found him standing, but his face was very pale. We drew him to us and said: ‘What aileth thee, my son?’ He said: ‘Two men clothed in white came to me and laid me down and opened my breast and searched it for I know not what.'” Halimah and her husband Harith looked around but there was no sign of the two men, nor was there any blood or wound or even scar on little Muhammad. The only unusual feature was in the middle of his back between his shoulders: a small but distinct oval mark where the flesh was slightly raised, as it were from the impress of a cupping glass; but that had been there at his birth.


*Fascinating Fact 18*
Years later Muhammad (peace be upon him) was able to describe in his own words what happened when his chest was opened for the first time. “There came unto me two men, clothed in white, with a gold basin full of snow. Then they laid hold upon me, and splitting open my breast they brought forth my heart. This likewise they split open and took from it a black clot which they cast away. Then they washed my heart and my breast with the snow.”! He also said: “Satan toucheth every son of Adam the day his mother beareth him, save only Mary and her son.


*Fascinating Fact 19*
Following the incident when Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) chest was opened, Halimah and her husband Harith were exceedingly shaken and they decided to take Muhammad back to Aminah. When she heard Halimah’s story she said ‘Great things are in store for my little son’ and then told Halimah of her pregnancy and of the light she had been conscious of carrying within her. Halimah was reassured, but this time Aminah decided to keep her son. “Leave him with me,” she said, “and a good journey home.”


*Fascinating Fact 20*
Once Halimah returned Muhammad (peace be upon him) back to Aminah he lived happily in Makkah for about 3 years winning the affection of his grandfather and his uncles and aunts, and his many cousins with whom he played. Particularly dear to him were Hamzah and Safiyyah, the children of Abdul Muttalib’s last marriage which had taken place on the same day as that of Muhammad’s parents. Hamzah was his own age, Safiyyah a little younger and a powerful and lasting bond was formed between the three of them.


*Fascinating Fact 21*
When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was six his mother decided to take him on a visit to his kinsmen in Yathrib. They joined one of the northbound caravans, riding on two camels, Aminah on one of them and he on the other with his devoted slave girl, Barakah. In later life he recounted how he learned to swim in a pool which belonged to his Khazrajite kinsmen with whom they stayed, and how the boys taught him to fly a kite. But not long after they had set out on their return journey Aminah fell ill and they were obliged to halt, letting the caravan go on without them. After some days she died -it was at Abwa’, not far from Yathrib – and there she was buried. Barakah did what she could to console Muhammad, now doubly an orphan, and in the company of some travellers she brought him once more to Mecca.


*Fascinating Fact 22*
After Aminah died Abdul Muttalib took complete charge of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and it soon became clear that his special love for ‘Abdullah had been transferred to Abdullah’s son. As we know Abdul Muttalib loved to be near the Kaaba as that is where he was ordered to dig Zamzam. So his family used to spread him a couch every day in the shadow of the Holy House, and out of respect for their father none of his sons, not even Hamzah, would ever venture to sit on it; but his little grandson had no such scruples, and when his uncles told him to sit elsewhere Abdul Muttalib said: “Let my son be. For by God, a great future is his.” He would seat him beside him on the couch, and stroke his back; and it always pleased him to watch what he was doing. Almost every day they could be seen together, hand in hand, at the Kaaba or elsewhere in Mecca. Abdul Muttalib even took Muhammad with him when he went to attend the Assembly where the chief men of the town, all over forty, would meet to discuss various matters, nor did the eighty-year-old man refrain from asking the seven-year-old boy his opinion on this or that; and when called to question by his fellow dignitaries, he would always say: “A great future is in store for my son.”


*Fascinating Fact 23*
Two years after the death of his mother, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was bereaved of his grandfather. When he was dying, ‘Abdul Muttalib entrusted his grandson to Abu Talib, who was full brother to the boy’s father; and Abu Talib prolonged the affection and the kindness that his nephew had received from the old man. Henceforth he was as one of his own sons, and his wife Fatimah did all she could to replace the boy’s mother. In after-years Muhammad used to say of her that she would have let her own children go hungry rather than him.


*Fascinating Fact 24*
When Abdul Muttalib passed away and left Muhammad (peace be upon him) with Abu Talib, Muhammad realized that Abu Talib was very poor and Muhammad felt obliged to do what he could to earn his own livelihood. This he did mostly by pasturing sheep and goats, and he would thus spend day after day alone in the hills above Mecca or on the slopes of the valleys beyond.


*Fascinating Fact 25*
On occasions Abu Talib took Muhammad as a young boy sometimes with him on his travels and on one occasion when Muhammad was nine, or according to others twelve, they went with a merchant caravan as far as Syria. At Bostra, near one of the halts where the Meccan caravan always stopped, there was a cell, which had been lived in by a Christian monk for generation after generation. When one died, another took his place and inherited all that was in the cell including some old manuscripts. Amongst these was one which contained the prediction of the coming of a Prophet to the Arabs; and Bahira the monk who now lived in the cell, was well versed in the contents of this book, which interested him all the more because, like Waraqah, he too felt that the coming of the prophet would be in his lifetime.


*Fascinating Fact 26*
Bahira the monk had had often seen the Meccan caravan approach and halt not far from his cell, but as this one came in sight his attention was struck by something the like of which he had never seen before: a small low-hanging cloud moved slowly above their heads so that it was always between the sun and one or two of the travellers. With intense interest he watched them draw near. But suddenly his interest changed to amazement, for as soon as they halted the cloud ceased to move, remaining stationary over the tree beneath which they took shelter, while the tree itself lowered its branches over them, so that they were doubly in the shade. Bahira knew that such a portent, though unobtrusive, was of high significance. Only some great spiritual presence could explain it, and immediately he thought of the expected Prophet. Could it be that he had at last come, and was amongst these travellers?


*Fascinating Fact 27*
Bahira sent word to the Meccan caravan and said “Men of Quraysh, I have prepared food for you, and I would that ye should come to me, every one of you, young and old, bondman and freeman.” So they came to his cell, but despite what he had said they left Muhammad to look after their camels and their baggage. As they approached, Bahira scanned their faces one by one. But he could see nothing, which corresponded to the description in his book, nor did there seem to be any man amongst them who was adequate to the greatness of the two miracles. Perhaps they had not all come. “Men of Quraysh,” he said, “let none of you stay behind.” “There is not one that hath been left behind,” they answered, “save only a boy, the youngest of us all.” “Treat him not so” said Bahira, “but call him to come, and let him be present with us at this meal.” Abu Talib and the others reproached themselves for their thoughtlessness. “We are indeed to blame,” said one of them, “that the son of ‘Abduallah should have been left behind and not brought to share this feast with us,” whereupon he went to him and embraced him and brought him to sit with the people.


*Fascinating Fact 28*
When Bahira saw young Muhammad (peace be upon him), one glance at the boy’s face was enough to explain the miracles to Bahira; and looking at him attentively throughout the meal he noticed many features of both face and body which corresponded to what was in his book. So when they had finished eating, the monk went to his youngest guest and asked him questions about his way of life and about his sleep, and about his affairs in general. Muhammad readily informed him of these things for the man was venerable and the questions were courteous and benevolent; nor did he hesitate to draw off his cloak when finally the monk asked if he might see his back. Bahira had already felt certain, but now he was doubly so, for there, between his shoulders, was the very mark he expected to see, the seal of Prophethood even as it was described in his book, in the selfsame place. He turned to Abu Talib: “What kinship hath this boy with thee?” he said. “He is my son,” said Abu Talib. “He is not thy son,” said the monk; “it cannot be that this boy’s father is alive.” “He is my brother’s son,” said Abu Talib. “Then what of his father?” said the monk? “He died,” said the other, “when the boy was still in his mother’s womb.” “That is the truth,” said Bahira. “Take thy brother’s son back to his country, and guard him against the Jews, for by God, if they see him and know of him that which I know, they will contrive evil against him. Great things are in store for this brother’s son of thine.”


*Fascinating Fact 29*
When he had finished his trading in Syria and following the meeting with Bahira, Abu Talib returned to Mecca with his nephew Muhammad (peace be upon him) At that time Muhammad was of average height and average strength. He had a marked aptitude for archery, and gave every promise of being an excellent bowman, like his great ancestors, Abraham and Ishmael. A powerful asset for this lay in the strength of his eyesight: he was reputed to be able to count no less than twelve of the stars of the constellation of the Pleiades.


*Fascinating Fact 30*
Muhammad (peace be upon him) had now passed his twentieth year and as time went on he received more and more invitations to join one or another of his kinsmen on their travels abroad. Finally the day came when he was asked to take charge of the goods of a merchant who was unable to travel himself, and his success in this capacity led to other similar engagements. He was thus able to earn a better livelihood, and marriage became a possibility.


*Fascinating Fact 31*
One of the richer merchants of Mecca was a woman – Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid, of the clan of Asad. She was first cousin to Waraqah, the Christian, and his sister Qutaylah, and like them she was a distant cousin to the sons of Hashim. She had already been married twice, and since the death of her second husband it had been her custom to hire men to trade on her behalf. Now Muhammad (peace be upon him) had come to be known throughout Mecca as al-Amin, the Reliable, the Trustworthy, the Honest, and this was initially owing to the reports of those who had entrusted their merchandise to him on various occasions. Khadijah had also heard much good of him from family sources; and one day she sent word to him, asking him to take some of her merchandise to Syria. His fee would be the double of the highest she had ever paid to a man of Quraysh; and she offered him, for the journey, the services of a lad of hers named Maysarah. He accepted what she proposed and accompanied by the lad he set off with her goods for the north.


*Fascinating Fact 32*
When Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Maysarah reached Bostra, Muhammad took shelter beneath the shadow of a tree not far from the cell of a monk named Nestor. Since travellers’ halts often remain unchanged, it could have been the selfsame tree under which he had sheltered some fifteen years previously on his way through Bostra with his uncle. Perhaps Bahira had died and been replaced by Nestor. However that may be -for we only know what Maysarah reported – the monk came out of his cell and asked the lad: “Who is the man beneath that tree?” “He is a man of Quraysh,” said Maysarah, adding by way of explanation: “of the people who have guardianship of the Sanctuary.” “None other than a Prophet is sitting beneath that tree,” said Nestor.


*Fascinating Fact 33*
As Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Maysarah went on further into Syria, the words of Nestor sank deep into the soul of Maysarah, but they did not greatly surprise him, for he had become aware throughout the journey that he was in the company of a man unlike any other he had ever met. This was still further confirmed by something he saw on his way home: he had often noticed that the heat was strangely unoppressive, and one day towards noon it was given to him to have a brief but clear vision of two Angels shading Muhammad from the sun’s rays.


*Fascinating Fact 34*
When Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Maysarah reached Mecca, they went to Khadijah’s house with the goods they had bought in the markets of Syria for the price of what they had sold. Khadijah sat listening to Muhammad as he described the journey and told her of the transactions he had made. These proved to be very profitable, for he was able to sell her newly acquired assets for almost the double of what had been paid for them. But such considerations were far from her thoughts, for all her attention was concentrated on the speaker himself. Muhammad was twenty-five years old. He was of medium stature, inclined to slimness, with a large head, broad shoulders and the rest of his body perfectly proportioned. His hair and beard were thick and black, not altogether straight but slightly curled. His hair reached midway between the lobes of his ears and his shoulders, and his beard was of a length to match. In addition to his natural beauty there was a light on his face – the same that had shone from his father, but in the son it was more powerful – and this light was especially apparent on his broad forehead, and in his eyes, which were remarkably luminous. Khadijah knew that she herself was still beautiful, but she was fifteen years his elder. Would he nonetheless be prepared to marry her?


*Fascinating Fact 35*
Khadija then decided to consult a woman friend of hers named Nufaysah, who offered to approach Muhammad (peace be upon him) on her behalf and, if possible, to arrange a marriage between them. Maysarah now came to his mistress and told her about the two Angels, and what the monk had said, whereupon she went to her cousin Waraqah and repeated these things to him. “If this be true, Khadijah,” he said, “then is Muhammad the Prophet of our people. Long have I known that a prophet is to be expected, and his time hath now come.”


*Fascinating Fact 36*
Meanwhile Nufaysah came to Muhammad (peace be upon him) and asked him why he did not marry. “I have not the means to marry,” he answered. “But if thou wert given the means,” she said, “and if thou wert bidden to an alliance where there is beauty and property and nobility and abundance, wouldst thou not consent?” “Who is she?” he said. “Khadijah,” said Nufaysah. “And how could such a marriage be mine?” he said. “Leave that to me!” was her answer. “For my part,” he said, “I am willing.”


*Fascinating Fact 37*
Nufaysah returned with these tidings to Khadijah, who then sent word to Muhammad asking him to come to her; and when he came she said to him: “Son of mine uncle, I love thee for thy kinship with me, and for that thou art ever in the centre, not being a partisan amongst the people for this or for that; and I love thee for thy trustworthiness and for the beauty of thy character and the truth of thy speech.”3 Then she offered herself in marriage to him, and they agreed that he should speak to his uncles and she would speak to her uncle ‘Amr, the son of Asad, for Khuwaylid her father had died. It was Hamzah, despite his relative youth, whom the Hashimites delegated to represent them on this occasion, no doubt because he was the most closely connected of them with the clan of Asad, for his full sister Safiyyah had recently married Khadijah’s brother ‘Awwam. So Hamzah went with his nephew to ‘Amr and asked for the hand of Khadijah; and it was agreed between them that Muhammad• should give her twenty she-camels as dowry.


*Fascinating Fact 38*
Once Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Khadija he left his uncle’s house and went to live in the house of his bride. As well as being a wife, Khadijah was also a friend to her husband, the sharer of his inclinations and ideals to a remarkable degree. Their marriage was wondrously blessed, and fraught with great happiness, though not without sorrows of bereavement. She bore him six children, two sons and four daughters. Their eldest child was a son named Qasim, and Muhammad came to be known as the father of Qasim; but the boy died before his second birthday. The next child was a daughter whom they named Zaynab; and she was followed by three other daughters, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum, and Fatimah, and finally by another short-lived son.


*Fascinating Fact 39*
On the day of his marriage to Khadija, Muhammad set free Barakah, the faithful slave he had inherited from his father; and on the same day Khadijah made him a gift of one of her own slaves, a youth of fifteen named Zayd. As to Barakah, they married her to a man of Yathrib to whom she bore a son, after whom she came to be known as Umm Ayman, the mother of Ayman. As to Zayd, he and some other youths had recently been bought at the great fair of ‘Uka by Khadijah’s nephew Hakim, the son of her brother Hizam; and the next time his aunt visited him Hakim had sent for his newly acquired slaves and invited her to choose one of them for herself. It was Zayd that she had chosen.


*Fascinating Fact 40*
As the years passed there were occasional visits from Halimah, Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) foster-mother, and Khadijah was always generous to her. One of these visits was at a time of severe and widespread drought through which Halimah’s flocks had been seriously depleted, and Khadijah made her a gift of forty sheep and a howdah camel. This same drought, which produced something like a famine in the Hijaz, was the cause of a very important addition to the household.


*Fascinating Fact 41*
Abu Talib had more children than he could easily support, and the famine weighed heavily upon him. Muhammad (peace be upon him) noticed this and felt that something should be done. So he went to his Uncles and suggested that each of their two households should take charge of one of Abu Talib’s sons until his circumstances improved. They readily agreed, and the two men went to Abu Talib, who said when he heard their proposal: “Do what ye will, but leave me ‘Aqil and Talib.” Muhammad then agreed to look after Ali. It was about this time that Khadijah had borne her last child, a son named AbdAllah, but the babe had died at an even earlier age than Qasim. In a sense he was replaced by Ali, who was brought up as a brother to his four girl cousins, being about the same age as Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum, somewhat younger than Zaynab and somewhat older than Fatimah. These five, together with Zayd, formed the immediate family of Muhammad and Khadijah. But there were many other relatives for whom he felt a deep attachment, and who have a part to play, large or small, in the history which here is chronicled.


*Fascinating Fact 42*
Around about the time when Ali was taken into the household of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Khadija the Quraysh decided to rebuild the Kaaba. As it currently stood the walls were just above the height of a man, and there was no roof, which meant that even when the door was locked access was easy; and recently there had been a theft of some of its treasure, which was stowed in a vault that had been dug inside the building for that purpose. They already had all the wood that was needed for the roof: the ship of a Greek merchant had been driven ashore and wrecked beyond repair at Jeddah, so they had taken its timbers to serve as rafters; and there happened to be in Mecca at that time a Capt who was a skilled carpenter.


*Fascinating Fact 43*
So the Quraysh decided to rebuild the Ka’bah but such was their awe of the Ka’bah that they hesitated to lay hands on it. Their plan was to demolish its walls, which were built of loose stones, and to rebuild it altogether; but they were afraid of incurring the guilt of sacrilege, and their hesitation was greatly increased by the appearance of a large snake which had taken to coming every day out of the vault to sun itself against a wall of the Ka’bah. If anyone approached, it would rear its head and hiss with gaping jaws, and they were terrified of it. But one day, while it was sunning itself, God sent against it an eagle, which seized it and flew away with it. So Quraysh said among themselves: “Now we may indeed hope that God is pleased with our intent. We have a craftsman whose heart is with us, and we have wood; and God hath rid us of the serpent.”


*Fascinating Fact 44*
The first man to lift a stone from the top of one of the walls of the Ka’bah was the Makhzumite Abu Wahb, but no sooner had it been lifted than the stone leapt from his hand and returned to its place, whereupon they all drew back from the Ka’bah, afraid to proceed with the work. Then the chief of Makhzum, took up a pickaxe and said: “I will begin the razing for you”; and going to the Ka’bah he said: “O God, fear not, 0 God, we intend nought but good.” Thereupon he knocked down part of the wall between the Black Stone and the Yemenite Corner, that is, the southeasterly wall; but the rest of the people held back. “Let us wait and see,” they said. “If he be smitten we will raze no more of it, but restore it even as it was; but if he be not smitten, then is God pleased with our work, and we will raze it all to the ground.” The night passed without mishap and Walid was again at work early next morning, so the others joined him; and when the walls were all down as far as the foundation of Abraham they came upon large greenish cobble-stones like the humps of camels placed side by side. A man put a crowbar between two of these stones to lever one of them out; but at the first movement of the stone a quaking shudder ran through the whole of Mecca, and they took it as a sign that they must leave that foundation undisturbed.


*Fascinating Fact 45*
Inside the Corner of the Black Stone the Quraysh had found a piece of writing in Syriac. They kept it, not knowing what it was, until one of the Jews read it to them: “I am God, the Lord of Becca. I created her the day I created the heavens and the earth, the day I formed the sun and the moon, and I placed round about her seven inviolable angels. She shall stand so long as her two hills stand, blessed for her people with milk and water.” Another piece of writing was found beneath the Station of Abraham, a small rock near the door of the Ka’bah which bears the miraculous print of his foot: “Mecca is the holy house of God. Her sustenance cometh unto her from three directions. Let not her people be the first to profane her.”


*Fascinating Fact 46*
The Quraysh now gathered more stones, in addition to those they already had, so as to increase the height of the building. They worked separately, clan by clan, until the walls were high enough for the Black Stone to be built once more into its corner. Then a violent disagreement broke out amongst them, for each clan wanted the honour of lifting it into its place. The deadlock lasted for four or five days and the tension had increased to the point of alliances being made and preparations for battle begun, when the oldest man present proposed a solution. “O men of Quraysh,” he said, “take as arbiter between you, about that wherein ye differ, the first man who shall enter in through the gate of this Mosque.”


*Fascinating Fact 47*
The Quraysh decided to follow the old man’s counsel when they were rebuilding the Kaaba; and the first man to enter the Mosque was Muhammad (peace be upon him), who had just returned to Mecca after an absence. The sight of him produced an immediate and spontaneous recognition that here was the right person for the task, and his arrival was greeted by exclamations and murmurs of satisfaction. “It is al-Amin,” said some. “We accept his judgment,” said others, “it is Muhammad.” When they explained the matter to him, he said: “Bring me a cloak.” And when they brought it, he spread it on the ground, and taking up the Black Stone he laid it on the middle of the garment. “Let each clan take hold of the border of the cloak,” he said. “Then lift it up, all of you together.” And when they had raised it to the right height he took the stone and placed it in the corner with his own hands; and the building was continued and completed above it.


*Fascinating Fact 48*
Prior to receiving revelation Muhammad (peace be upon him) began to experience powerful inward signs, in addition to those of which he had already been conscious. When asked about these he spoke of “true visions” which came to him in his sleep and he said that they were “like the breaking of the light of dawn.”‘ The immediate result of these visions was that solitude became dear to him, and he would go for spiritual retreats to a cave in Mount Hira not far from the outskirts of Mecca. There was nothing in this that would have struck Quraysh as strange, for retreat had been a traditional practice amongst the descendants of Ishmael, and in each generation there had been one or two who would withdraw to a solitary place from time to time so that they might have a period that was uncontaminated by the world of men.


*Fascinating Fact 49*
In accordance with this age-old practice of going away for a retreat Muhammad (peace be upon him) would take with him provisions and consecrate a certain number of nights to the worship of God. Then he would return to his family, and sometimes on his return he took more provisions and went again to the mountain. During these few years it often happened that after he had left the town and was approaching his hermitage he would hear clearly the words “Peace be on thee, 0 Messenger of God”, and he would turn and look for the speaker but no one was in sight, and it was as if the words had come from a tree or a stone.


*Fascinating Fact 50*
Ramadan was the traditional month of retreat, and it was one night towards the end of Ramadan, in his fortieth year, when Muhammad (peace be upon him) was alone in the cave, that there came to him an Angel in the form of a man. The Angel said to him: “Recite!” and he said: “I am not a reciter,” whereupon, as he himself told it, “the Angel took me and whelmed me in his embrace until he had reached the limit of mine endurance. Then he released me and said: ‘Recite!’ I said: ‘I am not a reciter,’ and again he took me and whelmed me in his embrace, and again when he had reached the limit of mine endurance he released me and said: ‘Recite!’, and again I said ‘I am not a reciter.’ Then a third time he whelmed me as before, then released me and said Recite in the name of thy Lord who created! He createth man from a clot of blood.Recite; and thy Lord is the M ost Bountiful, He who hath taught by the pen, taught man what he knew not.


*Fascinating Fact 51*
Muhammad recited these words after the Angel, who thereupon left him; and he said; “It was as though the words were written on my heart.” But he feared that this might mean he had become a jinn-inspired poet or a man possessed. So he fled from the cave, and when he was half-way down the slope of the mountain he heard a voice above him saying: “O Muhammad, thou art the Messenger of God, and I am Gabriel.” He raised his eyes heavenwards and there was his visitant, still recognisable but now clearly an Angel, filling the whole horizon, and again he said: “O Muhammad, thou art the Messenger of God, and I am Gabriel.” The Prophet stood gazing at the Angel; then he turned away from him, but whichever way he looked the Angel was always there, astride the horizon, whether it was to the north, to the south, to the east or to the west. Finally the Angel turned away, and the Prophet descended the slope and went to his house.


*Fascinating Fact 52*
“Cover me! Cover me!” Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to Khadijah as with still quaking heart he laid himself on his couch. Alarmed, yet not daring to question him, she quickly brought a cloak and spread it over him. But when the intensity of his awe had abated he told her what he had seen and heard; and having spoken to him words of reassurance she went to tell her cousin Waraqah, who was now an old man, and blind. “Holy! Holy!” he said. “By Him in whose hand is the soul of Waraqah, there hath come unto Muhammmad the greatest Namus, even he that would come unto Moses. Verily Muhammad is the Prophet of this people. Bid him rest assured.”


*Fascinating Fact 53*
Once Khadija had visited Waraqah she returned home and repeated these words to the Prophet (peace be upon him), who now returned in peace of mind to the cave, that he might fulfill the number of days he had dedicated to God for his retreat. When this was completed, he went straight to the Ka’bah, according to his wont, and performed the rite of the rounds, after which he greeted the old and the blind Waraqah whom he had noticed amongst those who were sitting in the Mosque; and Waraqah said to him: “Tell me, 0 son of my brother, what thou hast seen and heard.” The Prophet told him, and the old man said again what he had said to Khadijah. But this time he added: “Thou wilt be called a liar, and ill-treated, and they will cast thee out and make war upon thee; and if I live to see that day, God knoweth I will help His cause.” Then he leaned towards him and kissed his forehead, and the Prophet returned to his home.


*Fascinating Fact 54*
The reassurances of Khadijah and Waraqah were followed by a reassurance from Heaven in the form of a second Revelation. The manner of its coming is not recorded, but when asked how Revelation came to him the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned two ways: “Sometimes it cometh unto me like the reverberations of a bell, and that is the hardest upon me; the reverberations abate when I am aware of their message. And sometimes the Angel taketh the form of a man and speaketh unto me, and I am aware of what he saith.”


*Fascinating Fact 55*
The Revelation, this second time, began with a single letter, the earliest instance of those cryptic letters with which several of the Koranic messages begin. The letter was followed by a Divine oath, sworn by the pen, which had already been mentioned in the first Revelation as the primary means of God’s teaching men His wisdom. When questioned about the pen, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The first thing God created was the pen. Hecreated the tablet and said to the pen: “Write! “And the pen answered: “What shall I write?” He said: “Write My knowledge of my creation till the day of resurrection.” Then the pen traced what had been ordained.”


*Fascinating Fact 56*
After the first Messages had come there was a period of silence, until the Prophet (peace be upon him) began to fear that he had incurred in some way the displeasure of Heaven, though Khadijah continually told him that this was not possible. Then at last the silence was broken, and there came a further reassurance, and with it the first command directly related to his mission:
By the morning brightness, and by the night when it is still, thy Lord hath not forsaken thee nor doth He hate thee, and the last shall be better for thee than the first, and thy Lord shall give and give unto thee, and thou shalt be satisfied. Hath He not found thee an orphan and sheltered thee, and found thee astray and guided thee, and found thee needy and enriched thee? So for the orphan, oppress him not, and for the beggar, repel him not, and for the bountiful grace of thy Lord, proclaim it!


*Fascinating Fact 57*
In accordance with these last two words Muhammad (peace be upon him) now began to speak about the Angel and the Revelations to those who, after his wife, were the nearest and dearest to him. As yet he had no demands to make upon them, except that they should not divulge his secret. But this situation did not last long: Gabriel came to him one day on the high ground above Mecca, and struck with his heel the turf of the hillside, whereupon a spring gushed forth from it. Then he performed the ritual ablution to show the Prophet how to purify himself for worship, and the Prophet followed his example. Then he showed him the postures and movements of the prayer, the standing, the inclining, the prostrating and the sitting, with the repeated magnification, that is, the words Allahu Akbar, God is Most Great, and the final greeting as-Saliimu ‘alaykum, Peace be on you, and again the Prophet followed his example. Then the Angel left him, and the Prophet returned to his house, and taught Khadijah all that he had learnt and they prayed together.


*Fascinating Fact 58*
The religion was now established on the basis of the ritual purification and prayer; and after Khadijah the first to embrace it were ‘Ali and Zayd and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) friend Abu Bakr of the clan of Taym. ‘Ali was only ten years old, and Zayd had as yet no influence in Mecca, but Abu Bakr was liked and respected, for he was a man of wide knowledge, easy manners and an agreeable presence. Many would come to consult him about this or that, and he now began to confide in all those whom he felt he could trust, urging them to follow the Prophet. Many responses took place through him.


*Fascinating Fact 59*
Abu Bakr had long been known throughout Mecca for his ability to interpret dreams; and one morning he had an unexpected visit from Khalid, the son of a powerful Shamsite, Sa’id ibn al-‘A. The young man’s face still showed signs of having been recently aghast at some terrifying experience; and he hastened to explain that during the night he had had a dream which he knew must be significant though what it meant he did not understand. Could Abu Bakr tell him the meaning of it? He had dreamed that he was standing at the edge of a great pit in which was a raging fire so vast that he could see no end to it. Then his father came, and tried to push him into it; and as they were struggling on the brink, at the moment of his greatest terror, he felt round his waist the firm clasp of two hands which held him back despite all his father’s efforts. Looking round, he saw that his saviour was al-Amin, Muhammad (peace be upon him) the son of Abdullah, and at that moment he awoke. “I wish thee joy,” said Abu Bakr. “This man who saved thee is the Messenger of God, so follow him -nay, follow him thou shalt, and shalt enter through him into Islam which shall safeguard thee against falling into the fire.” Khalid went straight to the Prophet, and having told him of his dream he asked him what his message was, and what he should do. The Prophet instructed him, and Khalid entered Islam, keeping it a secret from his family.


*Fascinating Fact 60*
A fourth conversion, no less remarkable than these in the way it took place, was that of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud, a young confederate of Zuhrah. Telling of it himself, he said: “I was at that time a youth just grown into manhood, and I was pasturing the flocks of ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt, when one day the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr passed by. The Prophet asked me if I had any milk to give them to drink. I replied that the flocks were not mine but entrusted to my care and I could not give them to drink. The Prophet said: ‘Hast thou a young ewe that no ram hath ever leaped?’ I said I had, and brought her to them. Having tethered her, the Prophet put his hand to her udder and prayed, whereupon the udder swelled with milk, and Abu Bakr brought a boulder which was hollowed like a cup. The Prophet milked her into it, and we all drank. Then he said to the udder: ‘Dry,’ and it dried.” A few days later ‘Abd Allah went to the Prophet and entered Islam. Nor was it long before he had learned from him seventy surahs by heart, being exceptionally gifted in that way; and he soon became one of the best and most authoritative reciters of the Koran.


*Fascinating Fact 61*
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had been distressed by the period of silence from Heaven; yet his soul still shrank from receiving the tremendous impact of the Divine Word, which itself affirmed in a not yet revealed verse: I f We sent down this Koran upon a mountain, thou wouldst see it prostrate in humility, rent asunder through fear of God. The impulse which had prompted him to cry out “cover me, cover me” still came to him at times; and one night when he was lying wrapped in his cloak there broke in upon his seclusion a Divine Command more stern and urgent than any he had yet received, bidding him warn men of the Day of Judgement: ‘0 thou who art wrapped in thy cloak , arise and warn! Thy Lord magnify! Thy raiment puri fy! De-filement shun! For when the trumpet shall be blown, that shall be a day of anguish, not of ease, for disbelievers’.


*Fascinating Fact 62*
Another night soon after this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was aroused by further commands telling him of the intensity of worship expected from him and his followers, and fully confirming his apprehensions of a great burden of responsibility that was to be laid upon him: 0 thou who art wrapped in thy raiment, keep vigil all the night save a little, half the night or lessen than half a little, or add to it, and with care and clarity chant the Koran. Verily We shall load thee with a word of heavy weight.5 In the same passage was also the command: And invoke in remembrance the name of thy Lord, and devote thyself unto Him with an utter devotion. Lord of the east and of the west – no God but He. Him therefore take, on Him place thy reliance!


*Fascinating Fact 63*
There came also other Revelations, more gentle in tone, which confirmed and increased the reassurances already given to the Prophet (peace be upon him); and on one occasion, visible to him alone, as was normally the case, the Angel said to him: “Give unto Khadijah greetings of Peace from her Lord.” So he said to her: “O Khadijah, here is Gabriel who greeteth thee with Peace from thy Lord.” And when Khadijah could find words to speak, she answered; “God is Peace, and from Him is Peace, and on Gabriel be Peace!”


*Fascinating Fact 64*
The first adherents of the new religion took the commands addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as applying to themselves, so like him they would keep long vigils. As to the ritual prayer, they were now careful not only to perform the ablution in preparation for it but also to make sure that their garments were free from all defilement; and they were quick to learn by heart all that had been revealed of the Koran, so that they might chant it as part of their worship. The Revelations now began to come more copiously. They were immediately transmitted by the Prophet to those who were with him, then passed from mouth to mouth, memorised and recited – a long and rapidly increasing litany which told of the ephemeral nature of all earthly things, of death and of the certainty of the Resurrection and the Last Judgement, followed by Hell or Paradise.


*Fascinating Fact 65*
The revelations told of the Glory of God, of His Indivisible Oneness, his Truth, Wisdom, Goodness, Mercy, Bounty and Power; and by extension it continually referred to His Signs, the marvels of nature, and to their harmonious working together which testified so eloquently to the Oneness of their Sole Originator. Harmony is the imprint of Oneness upon multiplicity, and the Koran draws attention to that harmony as a theme for man’s meditation.


*Fascinating Fact 66*
When uninhibited by the presence of hostile disbelievers, the believers greeted each other with the words given to the Prophet by Gabriel as the greeting of the people of Paradise, “Peace be on you!”, to which the answer is “And on you be Peace!”, the plural being used to include the two guardian Angels of the person greeted. The revealed verses of consecration and of thanksgiving also played an increasingly significant part in their lives and their outlook. The Koran insists on the need for gratitude, and the sacrament of thanksgiving is to say Praise be to God the Lord of the worlds, whereas that of consecration or dedication is to say In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful. This was the first verse of every surah of the Koran, and following the example of the Prophet they used it to inaugurate every Koranic recital, and by extension every other rite, and by further extension every act or initiative. The new religion admitted of nothing profane.


*Fascinating Fact 66*
No summons to Islam had yet been made in public, but there was an ever-increasing group of devout believers and intense worshippers, both men and women, most of them young. Amongst the first to come, apart from those already mentioned, were the Prophet’s cousins Ja’far and Zubayr; then came other cousins, his and theirs, the sons of their aunt Umaymah, ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh and his brother ‘Ubayd Allah, and the son of their aunt Barrah, Abu Salamah. There were also two cousins on his mother’s side, Sa’d the son of Abu Waqqa of Zuhrah and his younger brother ‘Umayr. But not one of the Prophet’s four uncles showed any inclination to follow him: Abu Talib made no objection to the Islam of his two sons Ja’far and ‘Ali, but for himself he said he was not prepared to forsake the religion of his forefathers; ‘Abbas was evasive and Hamzah uncomprehending, though both assured him of their unfailing affection for him personally; but Abu Lahab showed plainly his conviction that his nephew was self-deceived, if not a deceiver.


*Fascinating Fact 67*
After the revelation of the verse Warn thy family who are thy nearest of kin/1the Prophet (peace be upon him) called ‘Ali to him, and said: “God hath commanded me to warn my family, my nearest of kin, and the task is beyond my strength. But make ready food, with a leg of mutton, and fill a cup with milk, and assemble together the Bani ‘Abd al-Mugalib, that I may tell them that which I have been commanded to say.” ‘Ali did exactly as he had been told, neither more nor less, and most of the clan of Hashim came to the meal, about forty men. “When they were assembled,” said ‘Ali, “the Prophet told me to bring in the food which I had made ready. Then he took a piece of meat, bit upon it, and cast it again into the dish, saying: ‘Take it in the Name of God.’ The men ate in relays, several at a time, until not one of them could eat any more. But,” said ‘Ali, “I could see no change in the food, except that it had been stirred by men’s hands; and by my life, if they had been but one man, he could have eaten all that I had put before them. Then the Prophet said: ‘Give them to drink’, so I brought the cup, and each drank his fill, though one man alone could have emptied that cup. But when the Prophet was about to address them, Abu Lahab forestalled him and said: ‘Your host hath placed a spell upon you’ whereat they dispersed before he could speak.’


*Fascinating Fact 68*
After the revelation of the verse Warn thy family who are thy nearest of kin/1the Prophet (peace be upon him) called ‘Ali to him, and said: “God hath commanded me to warn my family, my nearest of kin, and the task is beyond my strength. But make ready food, with a leg of mutton, and fill a cup with milk, and assemble together the Bani ‘Abd al-Mugalib, that I may tell them that which I have been commanded to say.” ‘Ali did exactly as he had been told, neither more nor less, and most of the clan of Hashim came to the meal, about forty men. “When they were assembled,” said ‘Ali, “the Prophet told me to bring in the food which I had made ready. Then he took a piece of meat, bit upon it, and cast it again into the dish, saying: ‘Take it in the Name of God.’ The men ate in relays, several at a time, until not one of them could eat any more. But,” said ‘Ali, “I could see no change in the food, except that it had been stirred by men’s hands; and by my life, if they had been but one man, he could have eaten all that I had put before them. Then the Prophet said: ‘Give them to drink’, so I brought the cup, and each drank his fill, though one man alone could have emptied that cup. But when the Prophet was about to address them, Abu Lahab forestalled him and said: ‘Your host hath placed a spell upon you’ whereat they dispersed before he could speak.’


*Fascinating Fact 69*
The next day the Prophet told ‘Ali to do exactly as he had done the previous day. So another similar meal was prepared and everything went as before, except that this time the Prophet was on his guard and made sure of addressing them. “O sons of ‘Abd al-Munalib,” he said, “I know of no Arab who hath come to his people with a nobler message than mine. I bring you the best of this world and the next. God hath commanded me to call you unto Him. Which of you, then, will help me in this, and be my brother, mine executor and my successor amongst you?” There was silence throughout the clan. Ja’far and Zayd c.ould both have spoken, but they knew that their Islam was not in question and that the purpose of the gathering was to bring in others than themselves. But when the silence
remained unbroken, the thirteen-year-old ‘Ali felt impelled to speak, and said: •o Prophet of God, I will be thy helper in this.” The Prophet laid his hand on the back of ‘Ali’s neck and said: “This is my brother, mine executor and my successor amongst you. Hearken unto him, and obey him.” The men rose to their feet, laughing and saying to Abii Talib: “He hath ordered thee to hearken unto thy son and to obey him.”


*Fascinating Fact 70*
In these early days of Islam the Companions of the Prophet would often go out together in groups to the glens outside Mecca where they could pray the ritual prayer together without being seen. But one day a number of idolaters came upon them while they were praying and rudely interrupted them with ridicule. Finally they came to blows, and Sa’d of Zuhrah struck one of the disbelievers with the jawbone of a camel and wounded him. This was the first blood shed in Islam. But after that they decided to refrain from violence until God should decide otherwise, for the Revelation continually enjoined patience upon the Prophet and therefore upon them. Bear with patience what they say, and part from them with a courteous farewell,/1and also Deal gently with the disbelievers, give them respite for a while.


*Fascinating Fact 71*
This first case of violence from Sa’d had been something of an exception on both sides, for Quraysh as a whole were disposed to tolerate the new religion, even after the Prophet (peace be upon him) had openly proclaimed it, until they saw that it was directed against their gods, their principles and their inveterate practices. Once they had realised this, however, some of their leading men went in a body to Abu Talib, to insist that he should restrain his nephew’s activities. He put them off with a conciliatory answer; but when they saw that he had done nothing they came to him again and said: “O Abu Talib, thine is a high and honourable position amongst us, and we have asked thee to hold in check thy brother’s son, but thou hast not done so. By God, we will not suffer our fathers to be insulted, our ways scoffed at, and our gods reviled. Either make him desist, or we will fight you both.” Then they left him, and in great distress he sent for his nephew, and having told him what they had threatened, he said: “O son of my brother, spare me and spare thyself. Lay not upon me a burden greater than I can bear.” But the Prophet answered him saying: “I swear by God, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left on condition that I abandon this course before He hath made it victorious, or I have perished therein, I would not abandon it.” Then, with tears in his eyes, he rose to his feet and turned to go, but his uncle called him back: “Son of my brother,” he said, “go thou and say what thou wilt, for by God I will never forsake thee on any account.


*Fascinating Fact 72*
When the Quraysh found that their words had achieved nothing with Abu Talib, they still hesitated to attack his nephew directly, for, as a chief of clan, Abu Talib had power to grant inviolate protection, and it was in the interests of every other chief of clan in Mecca to see that the rights of chieftaincy were duly respected. So they confined themselves for the moment to organising a widespread persecution of all those adherents of the new religion who had no one to protect them.


*Fascinating Fact 73*
Meantime the Quraysh consulted together in an attempt to form a common policy about the cause of their trouble. The situation was exceedingly grave: the time of the Pilgrimage would soon be upon them and Arabs would come to Mecca from all over Arabia. They, Quraysh, had a high reputation for hospitality, not only as regards food and drink but also because they made every man welcome, both him and his gods. But this year pilgrims would hear their gods insulted by Muhaammad and his followers, and they would be urged to forsake the religion of their forefathers and to adopt a new religion which appeared to have numerous disadvantages. No doubt many of them would not come to Mecca again, which would not only be bad for trade but would also diminish the honour in which the guardians of the Sanctuary were now held.


*Fascinating Fact 74*
lt was therefore imperative that the visiting Arabs should be told that Muhammad in no way represented Quraysh. But although it was easy to deny his Prophethood, that was merely to express an opinion and indirect ly to invite others to listen to his claims and judge for themselves. Something else needed to be said in addition; and here lay their weakness, for some had taken to saying that he was a soothsayer, others that he was possessed, others that he was a poet, yet others that he was a sorcerer. They consulted Walid the son of Mughirah, probably the most influential man of the tribe at that time, as to which of these accusations would be best likely to convince, and he rejected them all as wide of the mark; but on second thoughts he decided that although the man in question was certainly not a sorcerer, he had at least one thing in common with sorcerers: he had the power to separate a man from his father or from his brother or from his wife or from his family in general.


*Fascinating Fact 75*
Walid then advised the Quraysh to let their unanimous accusation be along those lines, namely that Muhammad was a dangerous sorcerer, to be avoided at all costs. Having readily agreed to follow his advice, they decided that outside the town all the roads by which Mecca was approached must be manned, and that visitors must be warned in advance to be on their guard against Muhammad, for they knew from their own experience how winning he could be. Had he not been, before he began preaching, one of the best-loved men in Mecca? Nor had his tongue lost any of neither its eloquence, nor his presence anything of its compelling majesty. They carried out their plans with zeal and thoroughness.


*Fascinating Fact 76*
However Quraysh’s place was doomed to failure from the outset. A man of the Bani Ghifar named Abu Dharr – his tribe lived to the northwest of Mecca, not far from the Red Sea -had already heard of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and of the opposition to him. Like most of his tribesmen, Abu Dharr was a highwayman; but unlike them he was a firm believer in the Oneness of God, and he refused to pay any respect to idols. His brother Unays went to Mecca for some reason, and on his return he told Abu Dharr that there was a man of Quraysh who claimed to be a Prophet and who said there is no god but God, and his people had disowned him in consequence. Abu Dharr immediately set off for Mecca, in the certainty that here was a true Prophet.


*Fascinating Fact 77*
When Abu Dharr arrives in Mecca, those of the Quraysh who manned the approaches told him all he wished to know before he had time to ask. Without difficulty he found his way to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) house. The Prophet was lying asleep on a bench in the courtyard, with his face covered by a fold of his cloak. Abu Dharr woke him and wished him good morning. “On thee be Peace!” said the Prophet. “Declaim unto me thine utter­ ances,” said the Bedouin. “I am no poet,” said the Prophet, “but what I/1utter is the Koran, and it is not I who speak but God who speaketh.” “Recite for me,” said Abu Dharr, and he recited to him a surah, where­ upon Abu Dharr said: “I testify that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” “Who are thy people?” said the Prophet, and at the man’s answer he looked him up and down in amazement and said: “Verily God guideth whom He will.”‘


*Fascinating Fact 78*
The reason the Prophet (peace be upon him) was amazed when Abu Dharr told him he was from Banu Ghifar was because it was well known that the Bani Ghifar were mostly robbers. Having instructed him in Islam the Prophet told him to return to his people and await his orders. So he returned to the Bani Ghifar, many of whom entered Islam through him. Meantime he continued his calling as highwayman, with special attention to the caravans of Quraysh. But when he had despoiled a caravan he would offer to give back what he had taken on condition that they would testify to the Oneness of God and the Prophethood of Muhammad.


*Fascinating Fact 79*
Tufayl, a man of Daws, told afterwards how he had been warned on his arrival in Mecca against speaking to Muhammad (peace be upon him) or even listening to him lest he should find himself separated from his people. Tufayl was a poet and a man of considerable standing in his tribe. Quraysh were therefore especially insistent in their warning, and they made him so afraid of being bewitched that before going into the Mosque he stuffed his ears with cotton wool. The Prophet was there, having just taken up his stance for prayer between the Yemeni Corner and the Black Stone. His recitation of Koranic verses was not very loud, but some of it nonetheless penetrated Tufayl’s ears. “God would not have it”, he said, “but that He should make me hear something of what was recited, and I heard beautiful words. So I said to myself: I am a man of insight, a poet, and not ignorant of the difference between the fair and the foul. Why then should I not hear what this man is saying? If it be fair I will accept it, and if foul, reject it. The Prophet explained Islam to him and recited the Koran, and Tufayl made his profession of faith. Then he returned to his people, determined to convert them. His father and his wife followed him into Islam, but the rest of Daws held back, and he returned to Mecca in great disappointment and anger, demanding that the Prophet should put a curse on them. But instead the Prophet prayed for their guidance and said to Tufayl: “Return to thy people, call them to Islam, and deal gently with them.” These instructions he faithfully followed, and as the years passed more and more families of Daws were converted.


*Fascinating Fact 80*
The Prophet explained Islam to him and recited the Koran, and Tufayl made his profession of faith. Then he returned to his people, determined to convert them. His father and his wife followed him into Islam, but the rest of Daws held back, and he returned to Mecca in great disappointment and anger, demanding that the Prophet should put a curse on them. But instead the Prophet prayed for their guidance and said to Tufayl: “Return to thy people, call them to Islam, and deal gently with them.” These instructions he faithfully followed, and as the years passed more and more families of Daws were converted.


*Fascinating Fact 81*
In Mecca the steady increase in the number of believers brought with it corresponding increase in the hostility of the disbelievers; and one day when some of the chief men of Quraysh were gathered together in the Hijr, bitterly stirring up each others’ anger against the Prophet (peace be upon him), it so happened that the Prophet himself entered the Sanctuary. Going to the east corner of the Ka’bah, he kissed the Black Stone and began to make the seven rounds. As he passed the Hijr they raised their voices in slanderous calumny against him, and it was clear from his face that he had heard what they said. He passed them again on his second round, and again they slandered him. But when they did the same as he was passing them the third time he stopped and said: ‘O Quraysh, will ye hear me? Verily by Him who holdeth my soul in His Hand, I bring you slaughter!” This word and the way he said it seemed to bind them as by a spell. Not one of them moved or spoke, until the silence was finally broken by one of those who had been most violent, saying in all gentleness: ‘Go thy way, 0 Abu Qasim, for by God thou art not an ignorant fool.” But the respite did not last long, for they soon began to blame themselves for having been so unaccountably overawed, and they vowed that in the future they would make amends for this momentary weakness.


*Fascinating Fact 82*
One of the worst enemies of Islam was a man of Makhzum named ‘Amr and known to his family and friends as Abu Hakam, which the Muslims were not slow to change into Abu Jahl, “the father of ignorance”. He was a grandson of Mughirah and nephew of the now elderly Walid who was chief of the clan. Abu Jahl felt sure of succeeding his uncle, and he had already established for himself a certain position in Mecca through his wealth and his ostentatious hospitality, and partly also through making himself feared on account of his ruthlessness and his readiness to take revenge on anyone who opposed him. He had been the most indefatigable of all those men who had manned the approaches to Mecca during the recent Pilgrimage, and the most vociferous in his denunciation of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a dangerous sorcerer. He was also the most active in persecuting the more helpless believers of his own clan, and in urging other clans to do the same.


*Fascinating Fact 83*
But one day, despite himself, Abu Hakam, one of the worst enemies of Islam indirectly did the new religion a great service. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting outside the Mosque near the Safa Gate, and the Prophet was alone at this hallowed place when Abu Jahl came past. Here was an opportunity for the Makhziimite to show that he at least was not overawed; and standing in front of the Prophet he proceeded to revile him with all the abuse he could muster. The Prophet merely looked at him, but spoke no word; and finally, having heaped upon him the worst insults he could think of, Abu Jahl entered the Mosque to join those of Quraysh who were assembled in the Hijr. The Prophet sadly rose to his feet and returned to his home. Scarcely had he gone than Hamzah came in sight from the opposite direction on his way from the chase, with his bow slung over his shoulder.


*Fascinating Fact 84*
When Hamzah discovered how Abu Jahl had insulted the Prophet (peace be upon him) his mighty frame now shook with anger such as he had never felt, and his anger set free something in his soul, and brought to completion an already half formed resolve. Striding into the Mosque he made straight for Abu Jahl; and, standing over him, he raised his bow and brought it down with all his force on his back. “Wilt thou insult him,” he said “now that I am of his religion, and now that I avouch what he avoucheth ? Strike me blow for blow, if thou canst.” Abu Jahl was not lacking in courage, but on this occasion he evidently felt that it was better that the incident should be closed. So when some of the Makhziimites present rose to their feet as if to help him he motioned them to be seated, saying: “Let Abu ‘Umarah be, for by God I reviled his brother’s son with a right ugly reviling.”


*Fascinating Fact 85*
From that day Hamzah faithfully maintained his Islam and followed all the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) behests. Nor did his conversion fail to have its effect upon Quraysh, who were now more hesitant to harass the Prophet directly, knowing that Hamzah would protect him. On the other hand, this totally unexpected event made them all the more conscious of what they considered to be the gravity of the situation; and it increased their sense of the need to find a solution and to stop a movement which, so it seemed to them, could only end in the ruin of their high standing among the Arabs.


*Fascinating Fact 86*
In view of this danger following Hamzah’s entrance into Islam the Qurasyh agreed to change their tactics and to follow a suggestion, which was now made in the assembly by one of the leading men of ‘Abdu Shams, ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah. “Why should I not go to Muhammad,” he said, “and make certain offers to him, some of which he might accept? And what he accepteth, that will we give him, on condition that he leave us in peace.” Word now came that the Prophet was sitting alone beside the Ka’bah, so ‘Utbah left the assembly forthwith and went to the Mosque to meet the Prophet (peace be upon him)


*Fascinating Fact 87*
“Son of my brother,” Utbah ibn Rabi’ah said to the Prophet (peace be upon him), “thou art as thou knowest a noble of the tribe and thy lineage assureth thee of a place of honour. And now thou hast brought to thy people a matter of grave concern, whereby thou hast rifted their community, declared their way of life to be foolish, spoken shamefully of their gods and their religion, and called their forefathers infidels. So hear what I propose, and see if any of it be acceptable to thee. If it be wealth thou seekest, we will put together a fortune for thee from our various properties that thou mayst be the richest man amongst us. If it be honour thou seekest, we will make thee our overlord and take no decision without thy consent; and if thou wouldst have kingship, we will make thee our king; and if thyself thou canst not rid thee of this sprite that appeareth unto thee, we will find thee a physician and spend our wealth until thy cure be complete.” When he had finished speaking, the Prophet said to him: “Now hear thou me, 0 Father of Walid.” “I will,” said ‘Utbah, whereupon the Prophet recited to him part of a Revelation which he had recently received.


*Fascinating Fact 88*
‘Utbah was prepared to make at least a semblance of heeding, out of policy towards a man he hoped to win, but after a few sentences all such thoughts had changed to wonderment at the words themselves. He sat there with his hands behind his back, leaning upon them as he listened, amazed at the beauty of the language that flowed into his ears. The signs’ that were recited spoke of the Revelation itself, and of the creation of the earth and the firmament. Then it told of the Prophets and of the peoples of old who, having resisted them, had been destroyed and doomed to Hell. Then came a passage, which spoke of the believers, promising them the protection of the Angels in this life and the satisfaction of every desire in the Hereafter. The Prophet ended his recitation with the words: And of His signs are the night and the day and the sun and the moon. Bow not down in adoration unto the sun nor unto the moon, but bow down in adoration unto God their Creator, if Him indeed ye worship whereupon he placed his forehead on the ground in prostration. Then he said: “Thou hast heard what thou hast heard, 0 Abu 1-Walid, and all is now between thee and that.”


*Fascinating Fact 89*
When ‘Utbah returned to his companions they were so struck by the change of expression on his face that they exclaimed: “What hath befallen thee, 0 Abu Walid?” He answered them saying: “I have heard an utterance the like of which I have never yet heard. Itis not poetry, by God, neither is it sorcery nor soothsaying. Men of Quraysh, hearken unto me, and do as I say. Come not between this man and what he is about, but let him be, for by God the words that I have heard from him will be received as great tidings. If the Arabs strike him down ye will be rid of him at the hands of others, and if he overcome the Arabs, then his sovereignty will be your sovereignty and his might will be your might, and ye will be the most fortunate of men.” But they mocked at him saying: “He hath bewitched thee with his tongue.” “I have given you my opinion,” he answered, “so do what ye think is best.”


*Fascinating Fact 90*
Following Utbah’s meeting with the Prophet (peace be upon him) one of the others from the Quraysh said: “Let us send for Muhammad and talk to him and argue with him, so that we cannot be blamed for having left any way unattempted.” So they sent for him saying: “The nobles of thy people are gathered together that they may speak with thee,” and he went to them with all speed, thinking that they must have been prevailed upon to change their attitude. He longed to guide them to the truth, but his hopes faded as soon as they began repeating the offers already made to him. When they had finished he said to them: “I am not possessed, neither seek I honour amongst you, nor kingship over you. But God hath sent me to you as a messenger and revealed to me a book and commanded me that I should be for you a teller of good tidings and a warner. Even so have I conveyed to you the message of my Lord, and I have given you good counsel. If ye accept from me what I have brought you, that is your good fortune in this world and the next; but if ye reject what I have brought, then will I patiently await God’s judgement between us.”


*Fascinating Fact 91*
The Quraysh’s only reply was to go back to where they had left off, and to say that if he would not accept their offers, then let him do something which would prove to them that he was a messenger from God, and which would at the same time make life easier for them. “Ask thy Lord to remove from us these mountains which hem us round and to flatten for us our land and to make rivers flow through it even as the rivers of Syria and Iraq; and to raise for us some of our forefathers, Qusayy amongst them, that we may ask them if what thou sayest be true or false. Or if thou wilt not do these things for us, then ask favours for thyself. Ask God to send with thee an Angel who shall confirm thy words and give us the lie. And ask Him to bestow on thee gardens and palaces and treasures of gold and silver, that we may know how well thou standest with thy Lord.” The Prophet answered them, saying: “I am not one to ask of his Lord the like of such things, nor was I sent for that, but God hath sent me to warn and give good tidings.” Refusing to listen, they said: “Then make fall the sky in pieces on our heads,” in scornful reference to the already revealed verse: If We will, We shall make the earth gape and swallow them, or make fall the firmament in pieces upon them. “That is for God to decide,” he said. “If He will, He will do it.”


*Fascinating Fact 92*
The followers of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were continually increasing, but whenever a new convert came to him and pledged his or her allegiance, it was more often than not a slave, or a freed slave, or a member of Quraysh of the Outskirts or else a young man or woman from Quraysh of the Hollow, of influential family but of no influence in themselves, whose conversion would increase tenfold the hostility of their parents and elder kinsmen. ‘Abd ar-Rahman, Hamzah • and Arqam had been exceptions, but they were far from being leaders; and the Prophet longed to win over some of the chiefs, not one of whom, not even his uncle Abu Talib, had shown any inclination to join him. It would greatly help him to spread his message if he had the support of a man like Abu Jahl’s uncle, Walid, who was not only chief of Makhzum but also, if it were possible to say such a thing, the unofficial leader of Quraysh.


*Fascinating Fact 93*
One day an opportunity came for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to speak with Walid alone. But when they were deep in converse a blind man came past, one who had recently entered Islam, and hearing the Prophet’s voice he begged him to recite to him some of the Koran. When asked to be patient and wait for a better moment, the blind man became so importunate that in the end the Prophet frowned and turned away. His conversation had been ruined; but the interruption was not the cause of any loss, for Walid was in fact no more open to the message than those whose case seemed hopeless. A new Surah was revealed almost immediately, and it began with the words: ‘He frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him’. The Revelation continued: ‘As to him who sufficeth unto himself, with him thou art engrossed, yet is it no concern of thine if puri fied he be not. But as for him who cometh unto thee in eager earnestness and in fear of God, from him thou art drawn away.


*Fascinating Fact 94*
The young and the less successful did not by any means all accept the Divine message forthwith; but at least complacency had not blocked their hearing against the sharpness and vehemence of the summons, which had broken upon their little world as with the notes of a clarion. The voice that ‘Uthman had heard crying in the desert “Sleepers awake” was akin to the message itself and for those who now accepted the message it was indeed as if they had awakened from a sleep and had entered upon a new life.


*Fascinating Fact 95*
The disbelievers’ attitude, past and present, was summed up in the words: ‘There is naught but the life of this world . . . and we shall not be raised’. To this came the Divine answers: ‘Not in play did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them’ and ‘Deem ye that We did but create you in vain and that ye shall not be brought back unto Us?’ For those in whom disbelief had not crystallized, these words rang with truth; and so it was with the Revelation as a whole, which described itself as being a light and having in itself, the power to guide. A parallel imperative cause for accepting the message was the Messenger himself, a man who was, they were certain, too full of truth to deceive and too full of wisdom to be self-deceived. The Message contained a warning and a promise: the warning impelled them to take action, and the promise filled them with joy.


*Fascinating Fact 96*
Talib and ‘Aqil, the elder sons of Abu Talib, had not followed the example of their younger brothers Jafar and ‘Ali, but had remained like their father unconverted yet tolerant. Very different was the attitude of Abu Lahab: since the recent confrontation with the leaders of Quraysh he had become openly hostile; and his wife Umm Jamil, the sister of the Shamsite leader Abu Sufyan, had conceived a hatred for the Prophet (peace be upon him) Between them they compelled their two sons to repudiate Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum -it is not certain whether the marriages had already taken place, or whether they were still only betrothed. But Umm Jamil’s satisfaction at this rupture was diminished when she heard that her wealthy Umayyad cousin, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, had asked for the hand of Ruqayyah and had married her.


*Fascinating Fact 97*
The marriage of Uthman and Ruqayyah was most pleasing to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Khadijah. Their daughter was happy and their new son-in­ law was devoted to her and to them. There was also another consideration which impelled them to give thanks: Ruqayyah was the most beautiful of their daughters and one of the most beautiful women of her generation throughout all Mecca; and ‘Uthman was a remarkably handsome man. To see the two of them together was in itself a reason for rejoicing. “God is Beautiful and he loveth beauty”. Not long after their marriage, when they were both absent from Mecca, the Prophet sent them a messenger, who returned considerably later than he was expected. When he began to proffer his excuses the Prophet cut him short, saying: “I will tell thee, if thou wilt, what hath kept thee: thou didst stand there gazing at ‘Uthman and Ruqayyah and marvelling at their beauty.”


*Fascinating Fact 98*
The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) aunt Arwa now made up her mind to enter Islam. The immediate cause of her decision was her son Tulayb, a youth of fifteen, who had recently made his profession of faith in the house of Arqam. When he told his mother she said: “If we could do what men can do, we would protect our brother’s son.” But Tulayb refused to accept such vagueness. “What preventeth thee,” he said, “from entering Islam and following him? Thy brother Hamzah hath done so.” And when she made her usual excuse about waiting for her sisters he cut her short, saying: “I beg thee by God to go and greet him and say thou believest in him and testify that There is no god but God.” She did what he had said; and, having done so, she took courage, and rebuked her brother Abu Lahab for his treatment of their nephew.


*Fascinating Fact 99*
As to Khadijah’s relatives, no sooner had Islam become known in Mecca than her half brother Nawfal became one of its worst and most violent enemies. This did not, however, prevent his son Aswad from entering the religion, which was for Khadijah a compensation for Nawfal’s enmity. But it as a disappointment that her favourite nephew, the Shamsite Abu l -As, already for some years her son-in-law, had not entered Islam as his wife Zaynab had done; and great pressure was now being put upon him by the leaders of his clan and others to divorce her. They went so far as to suggest that he should look for the richest, best-connected and most beautiful bride available in Mecca, and they promised, on condition of his divorce, that they would unite their efforts towards arranging the marriage in question. But Zaynab and Abu l -As loved each other deeply: she always hoped and prayed that he would join her in Islam; and he, for his part, firmly told his clansmen that he already had the wife of his choice and that he wanted none other.


*Fascinating Fact 100*
Verily thou guidest not whom thou lovest, but God guideth whom He will. The truth expressed in this verse is repeated continually through the Koran. But if such Revelations helped to ease the weight of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) sense of responsibility, they did not prevent him from being sad at the averseness of his Makhziimite cousin ‘Abd Allah; and another such case, which perhaps caused him even more sadness was that of his uncle Harith’s son, Abu Sufyan, his foster-brother, cousin and one-time friend. He had hoped that he would respond to his message, whereas on the contrary the message made a rift between them, and Abu Sufyan’s aloofness and coldness increased as time went on, perhaps through the influence of their uncle Abu Lahab.


*Fascinating Fact 101*
Abu Bakr had been followed into Islam by his wife Umm Ruman, and by ‘Abd Allah and Asma’, his son and daughter by another wife presumably now dead._Umm Ruman had just borne him a second daughter whom they named Aishah and who was, like Zayd’s son Usamah, one of the first children to be born into Islam. But although Abu Bakr had been responsible for so many conversions he was unable to convert his own eldest son, ‘Abd al-Ka’bah, who resisted all the attempts of his father and his mother-he was Umm Ruman’s son -topersuade him to enter their religion.


*Fascinating Fact 102*
The descent of Gabriel from time to time did not make him a Messenger in the Koranic sense of the term. For that, it was necessary to be stationed upon earth amongst the people to whom the message was to be unfolded.


*Fascinating Fact 103*
At every assembly of Quraysh there was at least some discussion of what seemed to them their greatest problem; and they now decided to send to Yathrib to consult the Jewish rabbis: “Ask them about Muhammad,” they said to their two envoys. “Describe him to them, and tell them what he says; for they are the people of the first scripture, and they have knowledge of the Prophets which we have not.” The rabbis sent back the answer: “Question him about three things wherein we will instruct you. If he tell you of them, then is he a Prophet sent by God, but if he tell you not, then is the man a forger of falsehood. Ask him of some young men who left their folk in the days of old, how it was with them, for theirs is a tale of wonder; and ask him tidings of a far traveller who reached the ends of the earth in the east and in the west; and ask him of the Spirit, what it is. If he tell you of these things, then follow him, for he is a Prophet.”


*Fascinating Fact 104*
When the envoys returned to Mecca with their news, the leaders of Quraysh sent to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him the three questions. He said: “Tomorrow I will tell you,” but he did not say “if God will”; and when they came for the answers he had to put them off, and so it went on day by day until fifteen nights had passed and still he had received no Revelation of any kind, neither had Gabriel come to him since they had questioned him. The people of Mecca taunted him, and he was distressed by what they said and greatly saddened that he had not received the help he had hoped for. Then Gabriel brought him a Revelation reproaching him for his distress on account of what his people said, and telling him the answers to their three questions. The long wait he had had to endure was explained in the words: And say not of anything: verily I shall do that tomorrow, except thou sayest: if God will.


*Fascinating Fact 105*
But the delay of this Revelation, although painful to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers, was in reality an added strength. His worst enemies refused to draw conclusions from it, but for those many of Quraysh who were in two minds it was a powerful corroboration of his claim that the Revelation came to him from Heaven and that he had no part in it and no control over it. Was it conceivable that if Muhammad had invented the earlier Revelations he could have delayed so long before inventing this latest one, especially when so much appeared to be at stake? The believers drew strength also, as always, from the Revelation itself.


*Fascinating Fact 106*
When Quraysh asked for the story of the youths who left their folk in the days of old -a story which no one in Mecca had ever heard -they did not know that it would have a bearing on the present situation, to their own discredit and to the credit of the believers. It is often called the story of the sleepers of Ephesus, for it was there, in the middle of the third century AD, that some young men had remained faithful to the worship of the One God when their people had fallen away into idolatry and were persecuting them for not following them. To escape from this persecution they took refuge in a cave, where they were miraculously put to sleep for over 300 years.


*Fascinating Fact 107*
In addition to what the Jews already knew, the Koranic narrative told of details that no human eye had seen, such as how the sleepers looked as they slept their unwitnessed sleep in their cave throughout the centuries, and how their faithful dog lay with his front paws stretched over the threshold. As to the second question, the great traveller is named Dhul-Qarnayn, he of the two horns. The Revelation mentions his journey to the far west and to the far east, and then, answering more than was asked, it tells of a mysterious third journey to a place between two mountains where the people begged him to make a barrier that would protect them from Gog and Magog and other jinn who were devastating their land; and God gave him power to confine the evil spirits within a space from which they will not emerge until a divinely appointed day, when, according to the Prophet, they will work terrible destruction over the face of the earth. Their breaking forth would take place before the final Hour, but it would be one of the signs that the end was near.


*Fascinating Fact 108*
In answer to the third question, the Revelation affirmed the Spirit’s transcendence over the mind of man, which is incapable of grasping it: They will question thee concerning the Spirit. Say: the Spirit proceedeth from the command of my Lord; and ye have not been given knowledge, save only a little. The Jews had been very eager to hear what answers Muhammad had given to their questions; and, with regard to this last sentence about knowledge, they asked him, at their first opportunity, if it referred to his people or to them. “To both of you,” said the Prophet, whereupon they protested that they had been given knowledge of all things, for they had read the Torah in which was an exposition of everything, as the Koran itself affirmed. The Prophet answered: “That all is but little in respect of God’s Own Knowledge; yet have ye therein enough for your needs, if ye would but practise it.”5 It was then that there came the Revelation about the Words of God,which express merely a part of His knowledge: I f all the trees in the earth were pens, and if the sea eked out by seven seas more were ink, the Words of God could not be written out unto their end.


*Fascinating Fact 109*
The leaders of Quraysh had not bound themselves to take the advice of the rabbis, nor did the rabbis themselves recognise the Prophet (peace be upon him), despite his having answered their questions beyond all their expectations. But the answers served to convert others; and the more his followers increased, the more his opponents felt that their community and their way of life was in danger, and the more resolutely they organised their persecution of all those converts who could be ill-treated with impunity. Each clan dealt with its own Muslims: they would imprison them and torment them with beating and hunger and thirst; and they would stretch them out on the sun-baked earth of Mecca when the heat was at its height, to make them renounce their religion.


*Fascinating Fact 110*
The chief of Jumah, Umayyah, had an African slave named Bilal who was a firm believer. Umayyah would take him out at noon into an open space, and would have him pinned to the ground with a large rock on his chest, swearing that he should stay like that until he died, or until he renounced Muhammad and worshipped al-Lat and al-‘Uzzah. While he endured this Bilal would say “One, One”; and it happened that the aged Waraqah came past when he was suffering this torment and repeating “One, One.” “It is indeed One, One, 0 Bilal,” said Waraqah. Then, turning to Umayyah, he said: “I swear by God that if ye kill him thus I will make his grave a shrine.”


*Fascinating Fact 111*
Not every man of Quraysh lived amongst his own clan, and Abu Bakr had acquired a house amongst the dwellings of the Bani Jumah. This meant that they had more opportunities of seeing the Prophet (peace be upon him) than most other clans, for he used to visit Abu Bakr every afternoon; and it is said that part of a Prophet’s message is always written on his face. The face of Abu Bakr was also something of a book; and his presence in that quarter of Mecca, previously welcomed as an asset by the whole clan, was now a source of anxiety to its leaders. It was through him that Bilal had entered Islam; and, when he saw how they were torturing him, he said to Umayyah: “Hast thou no fear of God, to treat this poor man thus?” “It is thou who hast corrupted him,” retorted Umayyah, “so save him from what thou seest.” “I will,” said Abu Bakr. “I have a black youth who is tougher and sturdier than he, a man of thy religion. Him will I give thee for Bilal.” Umayyah agreed, and Abu Bakr took Bilal and set him free.


*Fascinating Fact 112*
Abu Bakr had already set free six other slaves free, the first one being ‘Amir ibn Fuhayrah, a man of great spiritual strength, who had been one of the earliest converts. ‘Amir was a shepherd and after he was freed he took charge of Abu Bakr’s flocks. Another of those whom he set free was a slave girl belonging to ‘Umar. She had entered Islam, and ‘Umar was beating her to make her renounce it, when Abu Bakr happened to pass by and asked him if he would sell her to him. ‘Umar agreed, whereupon Abu Bakr bought her and set her free.


*Fascinating Fact 113*

Among the most relentless of the persecutors was Abu Jahl. If a convert had a powerful family to defend him, Abu Jahl would merely insult him and promise to ruin his reputation and make him a laughing-stock. If he were a merchant he would threaten to stop his trade by organising a general boycott of his goods so that he would be ruined. If he were weak and unprotected and of his own clan he would have him tortured; and he had powerful allies in many other clans whom he could persuade to do the same with their own weak and unprotected converts.
It was through him that his clansmen tortured three of their poorer confederates, Yasir and Sumayyah and their son ‘Ammar. They refused to renounce Islam, and Sumayyah died under the sufferings they inflicted on her.


*Fascinating Fact 114*
However some of the victims of Makhziim and of other clans could not endure what they were made to suffer, and their persecutors reduced them to a state when they could agree to anything. It was said to them: “Are not al-Lat and al-‘Uzzah your gods as well as Allah?” They would say yes; and if a beetle crawled past them and they were asked “Is not this beetle your god as well as Allah ?” they would say yes simply in order to escape from a pain they could not endure. These recantations were on the lips, not in the heart. But those who had made them could no longer practice Islam except in the greatest privacy, and some of them had no privacy at all. There was, however, an example for them in the recently revealed story of the young men who had left their people and taken refuge in God rather than submit to worshipping other gods. And when the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw that although he escaped persecution himself many of his followers did not, he said to them: “If ye went to the country of the Abyssinians, ye would find there a king under whom none suffereth wrong. It is a land of sincerity in religion. Until such time as God shall make for you a means of relief from what ye now are suffering.”‘ So some of his companions set off for Abyssinia; and this• was the first emigration in Islam.


*Fascinating Fact 115*
The emigrants were well received in Abyssinia, and were allowed complete freedom of worship. In all, not counting the small children they took with them, they were about eighty in number; but they did not all go at the same time. Their flight was secretly planned and carried out unobtrusively in small groups. Their families would and could have stopped it, if they had known about it; but the move had been totally unexpected, and they failed to realise what had happened until the believers had all reached their destination. The leaders of Quraysh, however, were none the less determined that they should not be left in peace, to establish there, beyond their control, a dangerous community which might be increased tenfold if other converts joined them. So they speedily thought out a plan, and made ready a quantity of presents of a kind that the Abyssinians were known to value most.


*Fascinating Fact 116*
The Abyssinians prized Leatherwork above all, so a large number of fine skins were collected, enough to make a rich bribe for every one of the Negus’s generals. There were also rich gifts for the Negus himself. Then they carefully chose two men, one of whom was ‘Amr ibn al-‘A, of the clan of Sahm. Quraysh told them exactly what to do: they were to approach each of the generals separately, give him his present, and say: “Some foolish young men and women of our people have taken refuge in this kingdom. They have left their own religion, not for yours, but for one they have invented, one that is unknown to us and to yourselves. The nobles of their people have sent us to your king on their account, that he may send them home. So when we speak to him about them, counsel him to deliver them into our hands and have no words with them; for their people see best how it is with them.”


*Fascinating Fact 117*
The generals all agreed, and the two men of Quraysh took their presents to the Negus, asking that the emigrants should be given into their hands and explaining the reason as they had done to the generals, and finally adding: “The nobles of their people, who are their fathers, their uncles and their kinsmen, beg thee to restore them unto them.” The generals were present at the audience, and now with one voice they urged the Negus to comply with their request and give up the refugees, inasmuch as kinsmen are the best judges of the affairs of their kinsmen. But the Negus was displeased and said: “Nay, by God, they shall not be betrayed – a people that have sought my protection and made my country their abode and chosen me above all others! Give them up I will not, until I have summoned them and questioned them concerning what these men say of them. If it be as they have said, then will I deliver them unto them, that they may restore them to
their own people. But if not, then will I be their good protector so long as they seek my protection.”


*Fascinating Fact 118*
Then the Negus sent for the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and at the same time he assembled his bishops, who brought with them their sacred books and spread them open round about the throne. ‘Amr and his fellow envoy had hoped to prevent this meeting between the Negus and the refugees, and it was indeed in their interests to prevent it, even more so than they realised. For they were unaware that while the Abyssinians tolerated them for commercial and political reasons they looked down on them as heathens and were conscious of a barrier between them. They themselves were Christians, many of them devout; they had been baptised, they worshipped the One God, and they carried in their flesh the sacrament of the Eucharist. As such they were sensitive to the difference between the sacred and the profane, and they were keenly conscious of the profanity of men like ‘Amr. So much the more were they receptive – none more than the Negus himself to the impression of holy earnestness and depth which was made on them by the company of believers who were now ushered into the throne room, and a murmur of wonderment arose from the bishops and others as they recognised that here were men and women more akin to themselves than to such of Quraysh as they had previously encountered. Moreover, most of them were young, and in many of them their piety of demeanor was enhanced by a great natural beauty.


*Fascinating Fact 119*
Not for all of them had the emigration to Abyssinia been a necessity. ‘Uthman’s family had given up trying to make him recant, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) none the less allowed him to go and to take with him Ruqayyah. Their presence was a source of strength to the community of exiles. Another couple very pleasing to look upon were Ja’far and his wife Asma’. They were well protected by Abu Talib; but the refugees needed a spokesman and Jafar was an eloquent speaker. He was also most winning in his person, and the Prophet said to him on one occasion: “Thou art like me in looks and in character.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) has chosen Jafar to preside over the community of exiles; and his qualities of attraction and intelligence were amply seconded by Mufab of ‘Abd ad-Dar, a young man whom the Prophet was later to entrust with a mission of immense importance in virtue of his natural gifts.


*Fascinating Fact 120*
When they were all assembled, the Negus spoke to them and said: “What is this religion wherein ye have become separate from your people, though ye have not entered my religion nor that of any other of the folk that surround us?” And Ja’far answered him saying: “O King, we were a people steeped in ignorance, worshipping idols, eating unsacrificed carrion, committing abominations, and the strong would devour the weak. Thus we were, until God sent us a Messenger from out of our midst, one whose lineage we knew, and his veracity and his worthiness of trust and his integrity. He called us unto God, that we should testify to His Oneness and worship Him and renounce what we and our fathers had worshipped in the way of stones and idols; and he commanded us to speak truly, to fulfill our promises, to respect the ties of kinship and the rights of our neighbours, and to refrain from crimes and from bloodshed. So we worship God alone, setting naught beside Him, counting as forbidden what He hath forbidden and as licit what He hath allowed. For these reasons have our people turned against us, and have persecuted us to make us forsake our religion and revert from the worship of God to the worship of idols. That is why we have come to thy country, having chosen thee above all others; and we have been happy in thy protection, and it is our hope, 0 King, that here, with thee, we shall not suffer wrong.”


*Fascinating Fact 121*
The royal interpreters translated all that he had said. The Negus then asked if they had with them any Revelation that their Prophet (peace be upon him) had brought them from God and, when Ja’far answered that they had, he said: “Then recite it to me,” whereupon Ja’far recited a passage from the Surah of Mary, which had been revealed shortly before their departure: And make mention of Mary in the Book, when she withdrew from her people unto a place towards the east, and secluded herself from them; and We sent unto her Our Spirit, and it appeared unto her in the likeness of a perfect man. She said: I take refuge from thee in the Infinitely Good, if any piety thou hast. He said: I am none other than a messenger from thy Lord that I may bestow on thee a son most pure. She said: how can not there be for me a son, when no man hath touched me, nor am I unchaste? He said: Even so shall it be; thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. That We may make him a sign for mankind and a mercy from Us; and it is a thing ordained.


*Fascinating Fact 122*
The Negus wept, and his bishops wept also, when they heard him recite, and when it was translated they wept again, and the Negus said: “This hath truly come from the same source as that which Jesus brought.” Then he turned to the two envoys of Quraysh and said: “Ye may go, for by God I will not deliver them unto you; they shall not be betrayed.” But when they had withdrawn from the royal presence, ‘Amr said to his companion: “Tomorrow I will tell him a thing that shall tear up this green growing prosperity of theirs by the roots. I will tell him that they aver that Jesus the son of Mary is a slave.” So the next morning he went to the Negus and said: “O King, they utter an enormous lie about Jesus the son of Mary. Do but send to them, and ask them what they say of him.”


*Fascinating Fact 123*
So the Negus sent them word to come to him again and to tell him what they said of Jesus, whereupon they were troubled, for nothing of this kind had ever yet befallen them. They consulted together as to what they should reply when the question was put to them, though they all knew that they had no choice but to say what God had said. So when they entered the royal presence, and it was said to them: “What say ye of Jesus, the son of Mary?” Ja’far answered: “We say of him what our Prophet (peace be upon him) brought unto us, that he is the slave of God and His Messenger and His Spirit and His Word which He cast unto Mary the blessed virgin.” The Negus took up a piece of wood and said: “Jesus the son of Mary exceedeth not what thou hast said by the length of this stick.” And when the generals round him snorted, he added: “For all your snorting.” Then he turned to Ja’far and his companions and said: “Go your ways, for ye are safe in my land. Not for mountains of gold would I harm a single man of you”; and, with a movement of his hand towards the envoys of Quraysh, he said to his attendant: “Return unto these two men their gifts, for I have no use for them.” So ‘Amr and the other man went back ignominiously to Mecca.


*Fascinating Fact 124*
Meantime the news of what the Negus had said about Jesus spread among the people, and they were troubled and came out against him, asking for an explanation, and accusing him of having left their religion. He thereupon sent to Ja’far and his companions and made ready boats for them and told them to embark and be ready to set sail if necessary. Then he took a parchment and wrote on it: “He testifieth that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger and that Jesus the son of Mary is His slave and His Messenger and His Spirit and His Word which He cast unto Mary.” Then he put it beneath his gown and went out to his people who were assembled to meet him. And he said to them: “Abyssinians, have I not the best claim to be your king?” They said that he had. “Then what ihink ye of my life amongst you ?” “It hath been the best of lives,” they answered. “Then what is it that troubleth you?” he said. “Thou hast left our religion,” they said, “and hast maintained that Jesus is a slave.” “Then what say ye of Jesus?” he asked. “We say that he is the son of God,” they answered. Then he put his hand on his breast, pointing to where the parchment was hidden, and testified to his belief in “this”, which they took to refer to their words. So they were satisfied and went away, for they were happy under his rule, and only wished to be reassured; and the Negus sent word to Ja’far and his companions that they could disembark and go back to their dwellings, where they went on living as before, in comfort and security.


*Fascinating Fact 125*
When the two envoys returned to Mecca with the news that they had been rebuffed and that the Muslims had been established in the favour of the Negus, Quraysh were indignant and dismayed. They immediately set about intensifying their repression and persecution of the believers, largely under the direction of Abu Jahl, whose nephew ‘Umar was one of the most violent and unrestrained in carrying out his instructions. ‘Umar was at this time about twenty-six years old, a head­ strong young man, not easily deterred, and of great resolution. But unlike his uncle he was pious, and here in fact lay his chief motive for opposing the new religion.


*Fascinating Fact 126*
Khagab had brought Umar up to venerate the Ka’bah and to respect everything that had come to be inseparably connected with it in the way of gods and goddesses. It was all woven together for him into a sacred unity that was not to be questioned and still less tampered with. Quraysh also had been one; but Mecca was now a city of two religions and two communities. He saw clearly, moreover, that the trouble had one cause only. Remove the man who was that cause, and everything would soon be as it had been before. There was no other remedy, but that would be a certain remedy. He continued to brood along these lines, and eventually the day came -it was soon after the return of the unsuccessful envoys from Abyssinia -when a sudden wave of anger goaded him to action, and taking up his sword he set out from his house.


*Fascinating Fact 127*
No sooner had Umar left his house he came face to face with Nu’aym ibn ‘Abd Allah, one of his fellow clansmen. Nu’aym had entered Islam, but he kept this a secret in fear of ‘Umar and others of his people. The grim expression which he now saw on ‘Omar’s face prompted him to ask him where he was going. “I am going to Muammad, that renegade, who hath split Quraysh into two,” said ‘Umar, “and I shall kill him.” Nu’aym tried to stop him by pointing out that he himself would certainly be killed. But when he saw that ‘Umar was deaf to such an argument he thought of another way by which he might at least delay him, in time to give the alarm. This would mean betraying a secret of fellow Muslims who, like himself, were concealing their Islam; but he knew that they would forgive him, and even applaud him, in the circumstances. “O ‘Umar,” he said, “why not first go back to the people of thine own house, and set them to rights.” “What people of my house?” said ‘Umar. “Thy brother-in-law Sa’id and thy sister Faimah,” said Nu’aym. “They are both followers of Muhammad in his religion. On thy head may it fall if thou let them be.” Without a word ‘Umar turned and made straight for his sister’s house.


*Fascinating Fact 128*
At Umar’s house there was a poor confederate of Zuhrah named Khabbab who often came to recite the Koran to Sa’id and Faimah; and he was with them at that moment with some written pages of the Surah named Ta-Hii1 which had just been revealed and which they were reading together. When they heard the voice of ‘Umar angrily calling out his sister’s name as he approached, Khabbab hid in a corner of the house, and Faimah took the manuscript and put it under her gown. But Umar had heard the sound of their reading, and when he came in he said to them: “What was that jibbering I heard?”


*Fascinating Fact 129*
Sa’id and Faimah tried to assure Umar he had heard nothing. “Hear it I did,” he said, “and I am told that ye both have become followers of Muhammad.” Then he set upon his brother-in-law Sa’id and grappled with him, and when Faimah went to the defense of her husband, ‘Umar struck her a blow which broke the skin. “It is even so,” they said, “we are Muslims and we believe in God and in His Messenger. So do what thou wilt.” Faimah’s wound was bleeding, and when ‘Umar saw the blood he was sorry for what he had done. A change came over him, and he said to his sister: “Give me that script that I even now heard you reading, that I may see what it is that Muhammad hath brought.”


*Fascinating Fact 130*
When Umar asked for the script, Faimah said “We fear to trust thee with it.” “Fear not,” he said, and, unbuckling his sword-belt and laying down his sword, he swore by his gods that he would give it back when he had read it. She could see that he was softened, and she was filled with longing that he should enter Islam. “O my brother,” she said, “thou art impure in thine idolatry, and only the pure may touch it.” Thereupon ‘Umar went and washed himself, and she gave him the page on which was written the opening of Ta-Ha. He began to read it, and when he had read a passage he said: “How beautiful and how noble are these words!” When Khabbab heard this he came out from his hiding-place and said: “‘Umar, I have hope that God hath chosen thee through the prayer of His Prophet, whom yesterday I heard pray: ‘O God, strengthen Islam with Abu 1-Hakam the son of Hisham or with ‘Umar the son of Khattab !'”


*Fascinating Fact 131*
When Umar asked for the script, Faimah said “We fear to trust thee with it.” “Fear not,” he said, and, unbuckling his sword-belt and laying down his sword, he swore by his gods that he would give it back when he had read it. She could see that he was softened, and she was filled with longing that he should enter Islam. “O my brother,” she said, “thou art impure in thine idolatry, and only the pure may touch it.” Thereupon ‘Umar went and washed himself, and she gave him the page on which was written the opening of Ta-Ha. He began to read it, and when he had read a passage he said: “How beautiful and how noble are these words!” When Khabbab heard this he came out from his hiding-place and said: “‘Umar, I have hope that God hath chosen thee through the prayer of His Prophet, whom yesterday I heard pray: ‘O God, strengthen Islam with Abu Hakam the son of Hisham or with ‘Umar the son of Khattab !'”


*Fascinating Fact 132*
“O Khabbib,” said ‘Umar, “where will Muhammad (peace be upon him) now be, that I may go to him and enter Islam ?” Khabbab told him that he was at the house of Arqam near the Safa Gate with many of his companions; and ‘Umar girt on his sword again and went to Safa, knocked at the door of the house, and said who he was. They had been warned by Nu’aym, so that his coming was not unexpected, but they were struck by the subdued tone of his voice. One of the companions went to the door and looked through a chink and came back in some dismay. “O Messenger of God,” he said, “it is indeed ‘Umar and he is girt with his sword.” “Let him come in,” said Hamzah. “If he hath come with good intent, we will give him a wealth of good; and if his intent be evil, we will slay him with his own sword.”


*Fascinating Fact 133*
The Prophet (peace be upon him) agreed that Umar should be admitted and, advancing to meet him, he seized him by the belt and pulled him into the middle of the room, saying: “What hath brought thee here, 0 son of Khattab? I cannot see thee desisting until God send down some calamity upon thee.” “OMessenger of God,” said ‘Umar, “I have come to thee that I may declare my faith in God, and in His Messenger and in what he hath brought from God.” “Allahu Akbar (God is Most Great),” said the Prophet, in such a way that every man and woman in the house knew that ‘Umar had entered Islam; and they all rejoiced.


*Fascinating Fact 134*
There was no question of ‘Umar’s keeping his Islam secret. He wished to tell everyone, in particular those who were most hostile to the Prophet (peace be upon him). In after years he used to say: “When I entered Islam that night, I thought to myself: Which of the people in Mecca is the most violent in enmity against God’s Messenger, that I may go to him and tell him I have become a Muslim? My answer was: Abu Jahl. So the next morning I went and knocked at his door, and Abu Jahl came out and said: “The best of welcomes to my sister’s son! What hath brought thee here?” I answered: “I came to tell thee that I believe in God and in His Messenger Muhammad; and I testify to the truth of that which he hath brought.” “God curse thee!” he said, “and may His curse be on the tidings thou hast brought!” Then he slammed the door in my face.”


*Fascinating Fact 135*
It was not tolerable to ‘Umar that Quraysh should worship their gods openly at the Ka’bah, while the believers worshipped God in secret. So he used to pray in front of the Ka’bah and he would encourage other Muslims to pray with him. Sometimes he and Hamzah would go with a large body of the faithful to the sanctuary, and on such occasions the leaders of Quraysh kept away. It would have been a loss of dignity for them to stand by and let this happen, yet if they resisted they knew that ‘Umar would stop at nothing.


*Fascinating Fact 136*
The Quraysh however were determined not to allow Umar to imagine that he had defeated them, and under pressure from Abu Jahl they decided that the best solution would be to place an interdiction on the whole clan of Hashim who, with the exception of Abu Lahab, were resolved to protect their kinsman whether they believed him to be a Prophet or not. A document was drawn up according to which it was undertaken that no one would marry a woman of Hashim or give his daughter in marriage to a man of Hashim; and no one was to sell anything to them, or buy anything from them. This was to continue until the clan of Hashim themselves outlawed Muhammad, or until he renounced his claim to Prophethood.


*Fascinating Fact 137*
No less than forty leaders of Quraysh set their seal to this agreement though not all of them were equally in favour of it, and some of them had to be won over. The clan of Muttalib refused to forsake their Hashimite cousins, and they were included in the ban. The document was solemnly placed inside the Ka’bah.


*Fascinating Fact 138*
For the sake of mutual security the Bani Hashim gathered round Abu Talib in that quarter of the hoHow of Mecca where he and most of the clan lived. At the arrival of the Prophet and Khadijah with their household, Abu Lahab and his wife moved away and went to live in a house which he owned elsewhere, to demonstrate their solidarity with Quraysh as a whole. The ban was not always rigorously enforced, nor was it possible to close all the loopholes owing to the fact that a woman was still a member of her own family after marrying into another clan. Abu Jahl was continually on the watch, but he could not always impose his will. One day he met Khadijah’s nephew Hakim with a slave carrying a bag of flour, and they appeared to be making for the dwellings of the Bani Hashim. He accused them of taking food to the enemy and threatened to denounce Hakim before Quraysh.


*Fascinating Fact 139*
Apart from help from unbelievers, the Muslims themselves of the other clans, especially Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, contrived various ways of thwarting the interdiction. When two years had passed, Abu Bakr could no longer be counted as a wealthy man. But despite such help there was perpetual shortage of food amongst the two victimised clans, and some­ times the shortage bordered on famine. During the sacred months, when they could leave their retreat and go about freely without fear of being molested, the Prophet (peace be upon him) frequently went to the Sanctuary, and the leaders of Quraysh took advantage of his presence there to insult him and to satirise him.


*Fascinating Fact 140*
During the times when the Quraysh insulted the Prophet (peace be upon him) sometimes when he recited Revelations warning Quraysh of what had happened to former peoples, one particular Revelation, one of the very few that mentions by name any contemporary of the Prophet (peace be upon him), had now come affirming that Abu Lahab and his wife were destined for Hell. Umm Jamil heard of this, and she went to the Mosque with a stone pestle in her hand in search of the Prophet, who was sitting with Abu Bakr. She came up to Abu Bakr and said to him: “Where is thy companion?” He knew that she meant the Prophet who was there in front of her, and he was too amazed to speak. “I have heard,” she said, “that he hath lampooned me, and by God, if I had found him I would have shattered his mouth with this pestle.” When Umm Jamil had gone, Abu Bakr asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) if she had not seen him. “She saw me not,” he said. “God took away her sight from me.”


*Fascinating Fact 141*

The ban on Hashim and Munalib had lasted two years or more and showed no signs of having any of the desired effects. It had moreover the undesired and unforeseen effect of drawing further attention to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and of causing the new religion to be talked of more than ever throughout Arabia. But independently of these considerations, many of Quraysh began to have second thoughts about the ban, especially those who had close relatives amongst its victims. The time had come for a change of mind to take place, and the first man to act was that same Hisham who had so often sent his camel with food and clothes for the Hashimites. But he knew that he could achieve nothing by himself, so he sent to the Makhzumite Zuhayr, one of the two sons of the Prophet’s aunt ‘Atikah, and said to him: “Art thou content to eat food and wear clothes and marry women when thou knowest how it is with thy mother’s kinsmen. They can neither buy nor sell, neither marry nor give in marriage; and I swear by God that if they were the brethren of the mother of Abu Hakam” -he meant Abu Jahl -“and thou hadst called upon him to do what he hath called on thee to do, he would never have done it.”


*Fascinating Fact 142*
“Confound thee, Hisham,” said Zuhayr. “What can I do? I am but a single man. If I had with me another man, I would not rest until I had annulled it.” “I have found a man,” said Hisham. “Who is he?” “Myself.””Find us a third,” said Zuhayr. So Hisham went to Muf im ibn ‘Adi, one of the leading men of the clan of Nawfal -a grandson of Nawfal himself, brother of Hashim and Mu nalib: “Is it thy will,” he said, “that two of the sons of ‘Abdu Manaf should perish whilst thou lookest on in approval of Quraysh ? By God, if ye enable them to do this ye will soon find them doing the like to you.” Mufim asked for a fourth man, so Hisham went to Abu Bakhtari of Asad, the man who had struck Abu Jahl on account of Khadijah’s bag of flour, and when he asked for a fifth man Hisham went to another Asadite, Zam’ah ibn al-Aswad, who agreed to be the fifth without asking for a sixth. They all undertook to meet that night at the outskirts of Hajiin, above Mecca, and there they agreed on their plan of action and bound themselves not to let drop the matter of the document until they had had it annulled. “I am the most nearly concerned,” said Zuhayr, “so I will be the first to speak.”