PERSONIFICATION OF FORBEARANCE
It was his uncle Abu Thalib who looked after Muhammed after the death of Prophet's parents Abu Muthaleb and Amina. It was also the same uncle who protected him during his crusade for the cause of Islam. Even though he did not embrace Islam, his uncle stood by the Prophet in the teeth of the protests of Khuraishi chiefs when they turned against him. When they declared war against the Prophet, it was in the valley owned by Abu Thalib that the Prophet and his followers sought asylum. Although the Khuraishis approached Abu Thalib to hand over the Prophet and his companions to them, it was Abu Thalib who, with the same panic of the hen protecting her chicks under her wings, safeguarded the Prophet and his followers. When troubled by the animosity of the Khuraishi chiefs and the wrath of his own relatives, Abu Thalib called the Prophet and said, "You save me and yourself. Don't saddle me with burdens I am incapable of coping with."
After a minute's silence he said to his uncle in soft but firm words, "Even if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in the left, I am not prepared to give up my mission until Allah makes it succeed or I breathe my last".
Now he understood the mindset of the Prophet. Then he called him and said, "My son, go ahead and profess whatever we want without fear. I would not insist on anything you dislike. Nor would I ever leave you in the hands of those who hate you".
These words were capable of instilling profound confidence in Muhammed. The presence and blessings of Abu Thalib proved an anchorage and relief to him in the thick of harrowing experiences in Mecca those days.
On the tenth anniversary of Prophethood Abu Thalib passed away. Before long his dear wife had also breathed her last. The departure of both dear to him cut him up and the pangs of bereavement that struck him were deep. His grief went deeper when the realisation dawned on him that his dear partner of life, Khadeeja, would no longer be there to console him whenever he found himself in the midst of untold miseries of life. His wife Khadeeja also served him in diverse capacities such as mother, sister, attendant and advisor as well, and had always been a reliable support he could offload his mental burdens on. Khadeeja was the first to be informed of and to recognise the prophethood of Muhammed. She inspired and infused him with courage whenever he confronted ruthless opposition from various corners. The Prophet used to say, "When people rejected me, she believed and when they falsified me, she verified, and when people clamped constraints on me, she helped me with her wealth". The prophet referred to the time of bereavement of both his uncle and wife as the year of hardship.
Muhammed felt insufferably lonely in Mecca when he lost both his partner and uncle. The atmosphere was growing more menacing and hazardous. He should go somewhere in quest of security. The Prophet who knew that his life was not insignificant, for he has been assigned a divine mission and it would be a premature death if he were to pass away without duly fulfilling the mission, decided to shift to the nearby Thaif. He thought that his close relatives there would give him refuge. He was very upbeat as he reached Thaif. But, as an irony of fate, his experience there was quite unexpected and adverse. They showered abusive words on him. They humiliated him by taunts and attempted to have children hoot and pelt at him. He fled the place, exhausted and shattered and ultimately reached the orchard of Ulba and Shaiba. He had sustained wounds all over his body and blood was oozing out of them and his body looked bruised all over. His mind afflicted with shame was totally perturbed and he lay down and dozed off.
The angel Gabriel arrived there after sometime and asked his permission to revenge the atrocities unleashed on the Prophet. But prophet being the epitome of mercy, it did not take him long to decide. Even though they persecuted him, he said he could not bear to see the sinners being subjected to chastisement. Then he prayed Allah, "My Lord, my people are ignorant. So forgive them and lead them to the straight path".
There was a small hut by the path he usually used to pass. It was a Jew family that inhabited that house. The family harboured animosity and malice against the prophet and his followers for no other reason than the fact that Islam, the true religion, highlighted some of their discrepancies in their religious believes.
One day as the Prophet was going down that way, a Jew girl saw him. Impelled by her hatred towards the Prophet, she decided to hurt him. She started thinking of how to do it and an idea dawned on her as she saw the garbage collected from sweeping the floor. She took it and hurled on the Prophet from the window just as he came near her. The Prophet thought it fell on him by mistake and walked away, quite unconcerned. The girl under the impression that she had fulfilled her objective laughed to herself.
The girl waited for the Prophet next day too, and rained the garbage on him but he did not get perturbed that day either, and dusted himself and walked off. As the garbage fell on his head, the girl laughed, clapping gleefully, quite happy at her ability not to miss the target.
This event came to the notice of Prophet's companions. They got ready to avenge the outrage of the Jew girl's family. But the Prophet stopped them. He said to them in severe voice, " I don't bother about the garbage falling on me, besides, it makes her happy, why should I spoil her pleasure? These are all Allah's trials - I bear with them all gladly".
One day, as he reached the house, he did not have the usual experience, and also for the next three days. The mind of the Prophet was worried and he asked a person found near the house about the girl, and learned that she was laid up. For some reason he felt uneasy and made straight for the house. He was stricken with grief on seeing the sick girl. He inquired after her disease and consoled her before he pushed off. He called on her next day too and after soothing words to her, he draw close to the girl and said, "Dear, you have become weak on account of the disease and you might feel frustrated from not being able to throw the litter on me. So may Allah bless you with fast recovery".
The Prophet's words went deep into her heart. She felt intense remorse and her eyes brimmed over with tears. The Prophet wiped off her tears and consoled her. The family members looking on were also moved to tears. When they pleaded with him for forgiveness, he checked them and stepped out.
The episode was the harbinger of a new dawn of life for that family. The Prophet was being enthroned in their minds. All the animosity and malice they had harboured against him were fast vanishing into thin air and they became the followers of the Prophet. The impact of Prophet's affection and empathy was so prodigious and potent.
One day Prophet Muhammed was resting in an oasis from the fatigue of travel. The cluster of date palms lent an atmosphere of privacy to him. So he fell into a deep sleep in the serenity of that lonely spot.
One of the Khuraishis hiding in the mountains saw the Prophet. He felt it the best opportunity to put an end to the Prophet who was separated from his companions. He apprised Da'asur who was one the captains of soldiers. Having realised the significance of the moment, he watched around and found that everyone was fast asleep. Even if someone woke up, he would not notice him. He mustered courage and sneaked surreptitiously to the Prophet. With the unsheathed sword, he climbed down the mountain layers and walked to him. On hearing the footsteps, prophet jerked to wakefulness.
Dhasoor was standing before him with his sword unsheathed. His companions were not around. The situation was not such as to deploy any weapon. A critical juncture when anything could have happened, there is no time to reflect or look around. Without giving Prophet time even to get up, Da'asur pointed the sword towards the prophets' breast and threw a question,
"Who is there to save you from this sword?" The Prophet needed no time to think, being well refined through long dedication. The reply came out forthwith in well-articulated words,
"Allah, Allah the Almighty".
Da'asur was stunned at the irrevocable faith of the Prophet in the face of death at the point of the drawn-out sword. For him it was an extraordinary experience. Da'asur's eyes remained riveted on the Prophet's face.
He felt he was melting away before the outstanding fortitude and willpower of the Prophet-he experienced an inexplicable weakness spreading through his entire nervous system. He could not stand on his legs and felt a sort of helplessness.
Meanwhile he did not know his sword had dropped through his fingers. Prophet got up swiftly and gripped the sword. Flaunting it at Da'asur, Prophet asked him,
"Da'asur, who will protect you now?"
Da'asur, the foolhardy, was frightened and began to shiver. He became panic-stricken and he felt he had only few minutes to live. In faltering words, he begged Prophet,
"I find no mercy except yours to save me".
Prophet smiled and said, "Da'asur, you are feeble -minded. Borrowed passions and insincere faith would not strengthen anyone, nor could even weapons save you. My strength is my irrevocable faith in Allah, the One and Only. Now you must be convinced that no weapon could ever beat it. Brother, my faith does not permit me to mete out cruelty to those who extend their hands for mercy. I wish you well and may Allah forgive you".
Da'asur could discern those words of truth emanating from genuine faith. So grateful was Da'asur at the outcome that he felt impelled to call his companions and proclaim his thrilling experience to them. He argued that it could not be justified to fight against the Prophet. He alerted them that they had inadvertently opposed the Prophet who, being sternly rooted in the noble values of life, had dedicated his life to the emancipation of humanity.
"I regret the path I so far traversed. I put my faith in the oneness of God and His revelations". Da'asur rushed to the Prophet to inform him of his decision.
After the battle of Badr, the Khuraishis, on their return to Mecca, started analysing the debacle and deprivations they suffered. A number of their prominent persons had been killed in the war. On the whole, the battle of Badr afflicted the Khuraishis with great misery.
In order to share the distress that was haunting his mind, Umair bin Wahab went to Safwan bin Umaiyya who was also suffering from the same affliction. He said, "Umair, I was appalled by the miserable end of our leaders at the Badr. It grieves me to recall it. I feel tired of life".
Umair replied, "True, to tell you the truth, my mind is bursting with anger and vengeance. But for certain debts that could not be reimbursed forthwith and certain family tribulations, I would have made an end to Muhammed.''
As he could see through Umair's mind, Safwan asked him, "Are you prepared for it?"
"Certainly, I swear by the Lord of this abode of worship".
"In that case, I assume the responsibility of your family, as well as the burden of your debts". Umair was thrilled by Safwan's words. Soon, he obtained the latter's sword and sharpened and envenomed it. He provided the horse and the paraphernalia for his assignment and saw him off, all excited.
Having bidden adieu to Mecca, Umair sped on to the masjid in Medina. As he drew near, he secured the horse at a distance and made it to the Prophet.
Omar Farook saw Umair coming with the sword. He stirred up and cried, "Here is the spy of the khuraish - the foe of Allah and His Messenger" and rushed to Umair. Omer and the companions caught Umair and brought him to the Prophet who asked him the motive of his arrival. " I came to discuss the issue of the captives of war. Please release them as we are relatives bound to mutual help", Umair lied, concealing the truth. Then the Prophet enquired "Why then this sword?"
"It was there just as I set out, I forgot to put it down at home. No other motive".
"Tell me the truth, Umair, what have you come here for?", the Prophet asked again. " I only came to sort out the matter of war captives and have no other motive", Umair reiterated the lie. The Prophet asked:
"What is the contract you concluded with Safwan at Hijer?"
This question took Safwan unawares; nevertheless he tried to conceal his shock and asked, "What contract?"
"Did you not enter into a contract with Safwan that you would kill me on the condition that Safwan should bear the burden of your debts and assume the responsibility of your family?", The Prophet asked him straightly.
Umair was astonished over how the Prophet could have known the clandestine agreement between him and Safwan, which no other soul had known. Neither had much time elapsed since the agreement. There's no chance of a third person could get wind of it and convey the message. It struck Umair quite as an extraordinary event. Is it true that Muhammed is really the messenger of God, as professed by some people? He was sure this great man received messages through divine means. So, Umair felt certain that Muhammed is the messenger of Allah.
Umair said to the Prophet,
"You are the messenger of Allah and the truthful. I did not so far have any faith in divine revelation. But I am now convinced that it is Allah who revealed to you the conversation between us. Therefore, I do believe in Allah and His messenger. I too testify to the truthfulness of all the revelations to you".
The Prophet embraced Umair and prayed Allah for him. He treated Umair with incredible generosity, who had come to murder him with poisoned sword.
Neither rage nor vengeance or animosity ever marred the grace of his treatment. So gratified at the outcome, the Prophet ordered release of the prisoners of war.
The thorough change in Umair engendered amazement in the Prophets' companions. Omar Farook once remarked, "When Umair first came to the Prophet, I hated him more than the pig, but now he is dearer to me than my son".
It was a momentous incident that bore glowing testimony to the fact that mercy could transform a brutish beast into an incarnation of love and affection.
The year 631 A.C. stands out as a remarkable year that heralded a new era in the annals of human history. The sons of Mecca have made a comeback not by way of a surrender nor by seeking refuge, but having established sovereignty over the soil and hearts of Mecca within a brief period of only eight years. The time was when the culture of barbarism had ruled the roost and the might and muscle dominated everything. Vengeance held the upper hand. It was at that time Muhammed made his appearance as the Messenger of Allah with the divine light of the true religion. The message of truth that he promulgated was well received by the tormented minds, and the number of those who espoused it rose higher day in and day out. The power-that-be feared that it would soon burst into a storm that would seize and transform Mecca. The result was resistance against believers, which soon turned out a vain exercise. Aggression was resorted to and eventually, overcoming the initial demur of fear of repercussions, some groups of Khuraishis came forward with a plan to assassinate the Prophet. The Prophet sought asylum in the neighbouring countries and the Prophet himself set out from Mecca on what is known as Hijra (emigration). Even though the spiteful Kuraishis tried to pester the Muslim emigrants in other countries, their attempts only proved futile.
The Prophet and his companions forged ahead, campaigning in the way of Allah for Islam. The message of pristine truth soon assumed a driving force in the minds of the people. Striving relentlessly in the way of Allah and obliterating unjust and evil laws and codes, the Prophet recreated the whole framework of human perceptions. The prophet and his companions whose cherished goal of life was to embrace martyrdom in the way of Allah valiantly marched forward. Theirs was a stupendous revolution of enlightenment; forging ahead evoking the golden streaks of cordiality even in the minds of foes. It did not take long for the Prophet to conquer the Khuraishis who ventured beyond the borders of Mecca, and thousands were captured as prisoners of war.
The invincible Prophet appeared before them, triumphant, but without even a vestige of arrogance, nor did his face bear any glittering manifestations of the Mecca victory, but with the cool and collected composure of a man of stability. He took a careful look at the extensive rows of captives - a large group consisting of friends, relatives and acquaintances. Right on the front now stood many of those who put camels' decaying intestines around his neck, those who persecuted him, those who broke his tooth by shooting arrows at him, those who even crossed the frontiers and harassed the Prophet and his companions in countries where they had sought asylum, the ones who had brutally beaten up and even killed his companions, those who had reveled in maiming and hauling his innocent followers through the scorching sands of the burning desert, the men who had ostracised him and his companions-- all these culprits were there amidst them. Their heads bowed down, their faces were pale from remorse or shamefulness. Their minds were beset with apprehension, thinking over the impending punitive measures they would be subjected to.
It was the sovereign power that stood before them - the social leader and presiding authority of the religion. Tens of thousands of followers were there, all prepared to carry out his commands. The Mushrikhs were captives, waiting for the death sentence. Among them were those who thought that an adequate retribution for them could be an ongoing process of being put to death in slow degrees.
Moments of deep silence passed, and then breaking it, the Prophet asked, "What do you expect from me?" It was this grim question of Prophet that awakened them from their thoughts - After a few moments, one of their chiefs said in a low voice, "You are the honourable son, the venerable brother. We expect nothing but good from you".
Their expectation was not at all misplaced for their judge was the embodiment of forbearance and forgiveness - the incarnation of love and goodness.
All the atrocities perpetrated by them against him and his companions just flashed through the mind of the Prophet. Everything has now changed and the tables have been turned on them. Having recalled everything, the kind-hearted Prophet said:
"No revenge shall be there today against you. All of you can go to your homes". Those words that emanated from a mind that has never been warped by indignation or vengeance warmed the cockles of everyone's heart.
An event that serves as a glowing testimony to the Prophet's kind and munificent mind and approach stands out in the annals of history. Once the Prophet dispatched cordial letters to the rulers and eminent leaders on the outskirts of the Islamic empire, acquainting them with the true way of life and inviting them to the path of Allah. But Sumama, the leader of the Yamama people, did not find it to his liking. He saw arrogance and wilfulness in those letters. Sumama, intolerant and spiteful, spurned the invitation. He also started conspiring to kill the Prophet. He set about capturing and persecuting Muslims when they happened to fall under his surveillance and soon culminated in killing them. When all bounds of patients were transgressed, the Prophet issued order to his companions to confront Sumama and kill him.
At that time, Sumama had set out to Mecca for Umrah - he drew near the way to Medina, he met with an accident. The Muslim forces, assigned to safeguard the borders nabbed him and produced him before the Prophet. The border guards had not identified him but the Prophet who could recognise him ordered them that Sumama be only treated with decency.
The Prophet sent the food from his house to Sumama and arranged to provide the milk from the Prophet's own camel. Having done everything necessary for him, the Prophet went to Sumama and asked him, "What do you think?" "Fine - If you sentence me to death, it would be fair. I deserve execution - But if you pardon me, I would certainly be grateful. If you want money in return, I am prepared to pay any amount."
The Prophet did not go to him for the following couple of days. He continued to send him food and milk from his own house. The next day, the Prophet approached Sumama and repeated the question. The answer was also the same. He left Sumama without any further words.
The Prophet visited him again after two days and asked him the same matter. There was no change in his reply. Prophet stood silently for a minute and then asked his men to release Sumama.
Sumama set out and bathed in the stream a little way off and headed to meet the Prophet. Everyone present there feared that he would attack Prophet. They drew near the Prophet so as to protect him. Meanwhile, Sumama had reached him. There were no traces of rage and revenge on his face. His behaviour was courteous and warm. The Prophet was watching him with a smile. Sumama said: "I swear by Allah, now there is no one so dear to me as you. Until now there was no religion so obnoxious to me as yours, but now this is the religion I like most. Nor were my feelings towards this country different. But now I love you, your religion and this country far more than anything else".
After a brief pause, Sumama continued in a tone filled with remorse, "I had murdered some of your companions. I am prepared to undergo the punishment for it. If you let me know your verdict, I would accept it wholeheartedly".
The Prophet's response was quite significant:
"Islam has obliterated previous sins". Without any outside stimulation or any compulsion, a momentous revolution was taking place in Sumama's mind that had hitherto harboured atrocious and devilish passions. A gracious and amiable transformation of the mind-it was the love and considerateness that the Prophet had cherished in his mind that acted as the catalyst for this radical change.
In the fifth year of Hijra, Mecca turned extremely hot enough to raise blisters. The crops turned to ashes. Scarcity and famine of alarming proportions swept through the country. The rich and the poor alike suffered too much. Mecca cried out insufferably and it reverberated across the country. Though in Medina at a distance, the Prophet was worried over the woes of Mecca. In one moment the old episodes flashed through his mind. It was just a fleeting moment and then his mind was imbued with mercy. He never felt any kind of jubilation at the miseries and sufferings of the Meccans who once had cruelly ostracised him and his companions and besieged them, blocking food and even water and devilishly laughing at young children screaming from being famished and thirsty.
The atrocities committed by the Khuraishis against the Prophet and his companions were not easily pardonable. It is impossible to find in the annals of history anything parallel to it.
The Prophet ordered his faithful associate Amru bin Umayya to send necessary food materials to Mecca. Immediate steps were taken for executing the order. By the break of dawn, a long line of carriers loaded with all necessary things were sent Mecca.
On hearing the news, Abu Sufiyan, the Khuraishi Chief was astonished, and he gratefully received the relief materials of food and necessaries. The Khuraishis, who were great enemies of Prophet and Islam, were mistaken as they thought that the Prophet and his followers would be rejoicing at their adversity.
Nevertheless, when beset with miseries and hardships, the Khuraishis could not but give in to the magnanimity of the Prophet who regarded them as his kin and took it upon himself as his obligation to render them help.
It shows the Prophet's approach to his enemies. The characteristic feature of his attitude was not spite or vengeance but love and cooperation.
The Meccans had mainly depended upon the people of Yamama for their food requirements. Their leader was Sumama bin Asal. Though a stern opponent of the true faith, he embraced Islam later on. He then decided to wreak vengeance on the Meccans who had harassed the Prophet and his companions. He ordered his people, "Don't send even a grain of food to Mecca from now on."
The Meccans began to suffer for want of food. Starvation spread through the country and it was at that time Sumama came to Mecca on Pilgrimage. On hearing that Sumama had come to Mecca, the chiefs called on him and apprised him of the pathetic state of affairs in Mecca. They pleaded with him not to starve the Meccans to death by refusing to send them food materials. Sumama told them that when he recalled the untold atrocities perpetrated on the Prophet and believers, he felt it was not yet time to reconsider his decision.
The Khuraishi chiefs were convinced that Sumama would not revoke his decision without the Prophet's permission. But, even if Sumama presented the matter to the Prophet, they doubted whether there would be a favourable response. They all believed that they could see no possibility of a favourable decision. When Muhammed came to know that the Meccans were in the throes of starvation, they thought, he would burst into gleeful laughter. Though convinced of its futility, the Meccans submitted a petition to the Prophet requesting him to have Sumama change his decision. When he came to know the subject matter of the petition, his mind became agitated, as he realised that it was not part of Islamic culture to wreak vengeance. The Prophet became indignant. He burst into tears as he visualised the scene of Meccans struggling and starving for want of food. He immediately sent a message to Sumama, "Don't stop sending food to Mecca".
Safwan was one of the main foes of the Prophet. His father, Umayya, was worse evil element who could not even stand the voice of the Prophet. Both of them utilised every opportunity that came their way to denigrate the Prophet and provoke fury against him. Amidst those who set out to harass, revile and insult the Prophet, the role of these two would be unmistakably certain.
Many eventful years later, the Prophet made for Mecca with his followers and hoisted the flag of the true believers.
Though that morning was so bright with the resplendent sun, Safwan was scared. He decided to flee Mecca for fear of vengeance at the hands of the Prophet and his companions. He surreptitiously made for the shores of Jeddah. In a moment's time, the news of his escapade spread through Mecca. Umair, the son of Wahab, approached the Prophet and said, "The Messenger of God, Safwan, the leader of the people, is fleeing the country for of fear of you; please grant him asylum".
The Prophet did not have to think twice about the pleading. He let them know that asylum was granted. Umair said, "This is a news nobody could believe at the first instance. Safwan would not believe this on the face of it. So please give me a sign for it".
The Prophet, who could see through Umair's words, gave him his turban. Umair made a beeline for the shores of Jeddah where he met Safwan. He said, "Safwan, don't let yourself perish. The prophet has granted you refuge. So come with me, shaking off all your worries".
It was difficult for Safwan to believe. Struck by misgivings, yet filled with anxiety, he was at his wits end to know the truth. He muttered like a man totally shaken. "He would kill me. I am afraid the Prophet would finish me off". Umair said, "Never, he is a man of dignity, probity and trustworthiness. He keeps up his word. As a sign of his having granted you refuge, he has given me his turban". Having believed his words, Safwan set out with Umair. As he was about to meet the Prophet, Safwan, perturbed in his mind called out to the prophet, "This man says you have given me asylum. Is it true?"
"Yes, I have given you asylum", the prophet replied.
"In that case, please let me have a grace of two months to determine my future", he pleaded.
"Not two, but four months' grace is granted to you", the Prophet replied.