UNPARALLELED COURAGE OF PRINCIPLES
Abu Thalib was in a dilemma, as he could neither accept nor reject; on one side, his own blood relatives, the leaders of the city, the aristocracy, the heads of tribes, the powerful ones who could grant as well as deny, while on the other, his cousin, Muhammed who was not merely his brother's son, but more than that, Muhammed was endeared to him as a young man so ingenuous with such frankness, unreserved disposition, selfless actions, irrevocable courage of faith, and boundless sense of obligation to humanity as a whole. All these sterling qualities of the prophet that flashed through the mind of Abu Thalib induced a deep feeling of love and respect for him.
His honest mind was annoyed since he could neither acknowledge nor forsake him. The members of his family and the chiefs of the society approached him every now and then and asked him to forsake Muhammed. How could he do that? He knew that in the prevailing scenario, he was the only support Muhammed was having those days.
Abu Thalib thought, "I carried out the guardianship of Muhammed after Abdul Muthalib. If ever I forsake him who has no mother nor father nor grandfather, he would be orphaned. The day they would beat him to death on account of his integrity and truthfulness would not be far off. So much animosity and fury against the Prophet are growing in their minds. If ever I, too, abandon him, his condition could be unimaginable". As his thoughts ran on these lines, a group of Khuraishi aristocrats came to him. Among them were many who were well known and respected. They came once again to Abu Thalib as a last measure to apprise him of the decision of the community - Abu Thalib welcomed them and with enough consideration had them seated. The chief among them said grimly, "Muhammed is your son. He repudiates our gods, rejects our rites and denigrates our traditions. He thus, misleads the ignorant people. So you should dissuade him from these offences. In case you cannot, you must relinquish your obligation to protect him. Then we know what to do".
They did not come for negotiations. They came to Abu Thalib to give him the ultimatum. Without displeasing them immediately, he sent them off, telling them he would do whatever he could.
Abu Thalib was immersed in thought. Should he inform Muhammed and if he did, would it not cause him still more problems? Even at this moment he is bearing unendurable burden, and when he came to know this too, would he not feel that Abu Thalib was also forsaking him? In any case he made up his mind to apprise Muhammed of the matter in due course. He felt relief that Chiefs have, for the time being, departed.
Before long, the Prophet came to know the whole incident, which did not cause any particular sensation in him since he had already anticipated all these. The Prophet continued his mission without being deterred or perturbed, which infuriated the Khuraishis still further- when they found that their efforts proved futile, their arrogance knew no bounds. As they realised that Muhammed would not heed Abu Thalib's words, they decided to meet him personally, speak to him, give him the final warning and then take subsequent steps.
In pursuance of their decision, the Khuraishis chose Ulbath Bin Rabeeha, the strategist, to go to Muhammed and the next day itself the messenger met the Prophet and told him:
"Muhammed, tell us the actual motive behind your deeds. Do you covet the governance of Mecca or an alliance from an affluent family? Or else, the ownership of wealth? You tell us unequivocally and we are prepared to accede your demands. So stop all your religious campaigns."
The vicious-minded Khuraishis who evaluated everything in terms of material achievements could not have reckoned things otherwise. It was unimaginable for them to do anything without being motivated by material gains. Success or failure, according to them, could be judged only on the basis of material gain or loss. The response of the Prophet, who was solely motivated by Allah's pleasure and reward, astonished the Khuraishis.
The Prophet recited to Utba two to four verses from the Holy Quran and he carefully listened to it. No doubt, those verses must have slowly penetrated the deep recesses of his mind. Utba made his way straight to the venue of Khuraishis and said to them who were keenly expecting his return.
"The words uttered by Muhammed are neither poetic verses nor rhetoric as we condemned him, it is something different. It was very fascinating. Let me speak frankly, it is better for us to leave him alone. Probably he might be successful, in which case the whole Arabia will come under his rule. Is it not a matter of pride for us, too? If it is otherwise, we would not have to suffer any kind of troubles from him".
When the mission flopped again, it gave rise to the flaring up of the flames of fury into a conflagration. They again approached Abu Thalib and spoke to him in a manner that smacked of a warning or command, "Can't you teach Muhammed to behave himself? Even now he is insulting our gods. He undoubtedly professes that our predecessors were on utterly wrong paths. His task is to propagate that we are all in aberration. It is only because he is under your protection that we have shown so much patience and forbearance. His ancestral mischief keeps on increasing so he should no longer be backed up. No help or protection should be given to him, or else even you would be obliged to ostracism".
Abu Thalib was much perturbed on hearing the threat of banishment. He could not even bear to think of it, would the community he loved and which regarded him as dear to them banish him? Utterly confused, Abu Thalib sat dumbfounded and weak quite some time and when he regained his strength, he made up his mind to call Muhammed and advise him of the fact.
Having reached the residence of Muhammed he said affectionately "Son, my people asked me not to help you or else you must relinquish your new religion. So you should not saddle me with unbearable burden. It is you who should take a decision".
Muhammed was taken aback on hearing these words which he had never expected. The Prophet said in humble but firm voice: "I swear by Allah, even if these people place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, I would not back down from this mission of mine. I would either succeed or else my life would be sacrificed for this cause".
Tears were welling up in the Prophet's eyes. Abu Thalib perceived an enigmatic glitter in their depths, which overwhelmed him with feelings of affection and mercy. He drew close to him and hugged him and offered him relief and strength. He said "Son, you may do without fear whatever you feel the right thing to do. Whatever be the repercussions, I would never forsake you. Nor would I ever let anyone make even a scratch on you, to be certain".
The words of Abu Thalib gave immense relief to the Prophet as well as immeasurable encouragement in his endeavors of truth. The prophet poured out heart-felt praises to Allah as he was relieved of the perturbation and distress that might have been caused by the restrictions or displeasure of Abu Thalib who loved him as intensely as his own son and assured him of his guardianship. He forged ahead with his Prophetic mission. The believers continued the campaign of disseminating the divine message far and wide, confronting the wiles and sinister plots that emanated from the wickedness of the Khuraishis, who ventured on a preposterous attempt. A group of them came before Abu Thalib, taking Umara Bin Khalid with them. They said, "Here is Umara Bin Khalid, very brilliant, smart and of sterling character. We commit him to you with pleasure, and you may keep him as a son and he will look after you and attend to all your requirements. In lieu of him, please leave us Muhammed. He is an enemy of our religion".
On hearing this, Abu Thalib was infuriated; controlling his fury to some extent, he said raising his voice "What nonsense is this? Should I bring up your son with love providing him sustenance while I leave you my son for you to kill him? Indeed, there could not be a more ridiculous proposition, nor would it ever be allowed".
One day the Prophet was resting near the Holy Kaa'ba. He did not care about the Khuraishis standing at a distance, pointing at him and ridiculing him profusely - a stranger came to them. His dress in tatters and haggard reflected his utter poverty. He started explaining his sad plight, "Abu Jahal has to give me some money. I requested him many times to reimburse it but he does not seem inclined to do so. I have no other means and therefore one of you should intervene to help me. "
They immediately replied, "Help? Well, there is a man here who would help everybody, there he is" and pointing at the Prophet, said, "Go and tell him; he will certainly get you back your money".
They were the jibes at the Prophet to belittle him. As for Abu Jahal, he was the great enemy of the Prophet. They knew that the Prophet would approach Abu Jahal with an appeal. But poor Ibn Al Gouze was quite in the dark about it. The innocent man went to the Prophet and lodged his grievance with him. Having listened sympathetically to his case, the Prophet made for the house of Abu Jahal along with Ibn Al Gouze.
The scoffers were wonder-struck since they had not expected it. Even though Prophet's relative, Abu Jahal was unruly and impatient. Though certain of the failure of the Prophet's mission, they were more intrigued in the subsequent events that would follow. They sent a man after them to watch what would take place there.
The prophet and Ibn Al Gouze arrived at the residence of Abu Jahal. The doors were closed. The Prophet asked Abu Jahal to come out. The door was opened suddenly and there stood at the door Abu Jahal - nobody uttered a word for a while. Like an obedient child, Abu Jahal came down the steps. Obviously Abu Jahal had not expected the Prophet there. He could not have thought that Prophet would have such a frame of mind as to come to his house. Abu Jahal was virtually taken aback by the look and temperament of the Prophet. "You keep certain amount of this poor man's money. You give it back to him". His words were tinged with an inexplicable tone of great commanding power. Abu Jahal, dumbfounded like one overwhelmed by the command went in and took the amount and handed to Ibn al Gouze. He stood there speechless and motionless.
Elated by the joy of getting back the money, Ibn Al Gouze went to those scoffers, who sent him to the Prophet, and thanked them. It seemed incredible to them. As they blinked at one another, the man they had sent to follow the Prophet also came back. He said, "Muhammed asked him to open the door and he came out. Abu Jahal obliged. The Prophet asked him to reimburse Gouze's money and without a word, that coward returned the money", he continued in words of mockery. All those who were mocking at the Prophet fell silent.
"How can it be believed? Is Muhammed a magician or else, how could it be disbelieved?" As they drew near Abu Jahal who was as aggressive as a lion, was sitting quiet there, dispirited.
To their question, "What happened?", he replied, "Friends, even as I heard Muhammed's voice, I was scared for no reason. Though I tried not to lose my courage, I failed. That voice was imbued with an indescribable commanding power. As I opened the door and got out, it was not the usual Muhammed that I saw there, but I felt there was a lion seated on each shoulder of his. I also perceived that their (the lions') eyes were burning at me. If I did not comply, I felt the lions would smash me. Nor did I feel this a hallucination or superstition. What I saw was true and my conviction was right".
Even as he was narrating the incident, he was shivering from fright as though he was seeing before him the lions waking up, their mane and body flexing violently. His words seemed faltering and his throat blocked.
One day a woman from Makhsom tribe committed a theft. She was caught red-handed. She was brought before the Prophet. The crime was easily proved.
According to Islamic Law, the theft is a grave sin. The Khuraishis themselves knew that the punishment for such a crime would be severe. It was not in the gravity of the punishment that they were concerned but about the fact that a woman from the Makhsom family, which was one of the aristocratic families, was being punished. They wished the matter could be settled before it spread too far.
Nobody was bold enough to submit the matter for settlement to the Prophet who was well known for his objective and fair approach. They discussed the matter with many high-level people but could not find a satisfactory means of settlement. At the end, they decided to meet the Prophet and present the issue to him and seek his help.
"Who would plead with the Prophet to spare her from punishment?"
Usmadu Ibn Zaid was a close friend of the Prophet. Accordingly, the Khuraishis approached Usmadu and apprised him of the matter. Though Usmadu, who was well convinced of the Prophet's probity and adherence to principles, first declined, under irresistible pressure agreed to undertake the mission.
He came before the Prophet, telling that Usmadu had come to advise him of something. The Prophet took the initiative in asking him about it. Even then Usmadu was bit reluctant, but ultimately he informed the Prophet of his mission.
The face of the Prophet reddened and fury marked his eyes. He looked at Usmadu and asked him in a harsh tone, "Are you asking me to interfere with Allah's Decree of punishment?
Those standing aside turned their eyes to them hearing the harsh voice of the Prophet. Extremely perturbed, the Prophet walked towards the crowd. All eyes turned to his face. Curious to learn what the Prophet was going to say, they waited. The Prophet started talking. "A lady from an aristocratic society committed a crime. The crime has been proved as clearly beyond doubt. As the attempt at administering justice is being made, a bid is under way to save the criminal. This is against the Will of Allah. It is because the rich who committed crimes were left off free when the poor, when found guilty, were punished that your predecessors fell on evil ways. That should not be allowed to recur. Even if it is Muhammed's daughter Fatima who committed theft, I would punish her by cutting off her hand in pursuance of Allah's justice, I swear by Allah".
The atmosphere was vibrated with praises of Allah.
Abu Dhar Al Gifari was one of the close companions of the Prophet. He happened to pick a quarrel with Bilal Bin Rabah who was an Ethiopian slave and black. Gifari's fury got the better of him and he called Bilal "the son of the black woman". In protest, he complained to the Prophet who reprimanded his good friend, "Abu Dhar, did you reproach Bilal on account of his colour? You have not yet shaken off the barbaric practices? The parts of them are still found remaining in you. Those people are your brothers so you console and cheer your brothers".
The Prophet's words aroused sympathetic feelings in Abu Dhar. He was struck by remorse, which assumed the proportions of lowering his cheek so that Bilal might kick on it.