The Year of Sadness
The Boycott had lasted for a long hard three years during which the Muslims had suffered immensely. Only when this boycott ended, the Muslims breathed a sigh of relief. This had been a great test for them and they thanked Allah that this difficult period was over. Things in Makkah began to return to normal in this tenth year of prophethood.
Abu Talib had suffered greatly through this ordeal. He was already very old and this had taken a great effect on his health. Shortly after returning from the valley, he became ill and this period of ill health continued for a few months. The Muslims showed great concern for Abu Talib whom they respected and loved. Abu Talib was also the only person who had protected the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) against the Makkans. The Makkans were also concerned for the health of the much-respected Abu Talib.
The Makkans saw that Abu Talib was ill and would take this opportunity to speak about Muhammad and the problems they were having in Makkah. A group of them, which included Abu Jahl, went to check on the health of Abu Talib and also to discus the affairs of Makkah. Abu Talib was very ill at this time and the Prophet (pbuh) was also there to visit him.
Muhammad (pbuh) asked Abu Talib to accept Islam and say the shahadah. Although, Abu Talib was a generous and kind man; he had protected the prophet (pbuh) and had always been courteous to the Muslims; he had not accepted Islam even though other members of his family had done so. When Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged him to accept Islam, Abu Jahl interrupted him saying don’t leave the religion of your forefathers, don’t leave the religion of Abdul Mutallib!
The Makkans pressed Abu Talib to follow the religion of Idol worship, the religion of their forefathers. Muhammad (pbuh) was encouraging him to accept Islam by saying the Shahadah. Abu Talib finally accepted the religion of his forefathers and died as a non-Muslim. The prophet (pbuh) was grieved by this and said that he would make dua for him and ask Allah to forgive him. He continued this until Allah commanded him not to.
A verse came down which said to Muhammad that it was not fitting that he should ask for forgiveness for a non-believer, even though he may be a member of his family. The prophet made dua for Abu Talib, asking Allah to make his punishment easy in the Hereafter. It was later learned from the Prophet (pbuh) that Allah had taken Abu Talib from the worst of the fire of hell and had put him in a place where there was less punishment and torment.
Muhammad (pbuh) was also concerned for his loving wife, Khadija, who also became very ill. She was at the age of sixty-five now and had been his loving and supporting companion for 25 years. Together they had a good close family, which included Fatima, the leader of the ladies in paradise. Khadija had loved and supported Muhammad throughout their marriage and had been by his side through these difficult times. She was the first person to accept Islam and had full faith in the prophet (pbuh) and in his mission.
Abu Talib had just recently passed away and now Khadija had also passed away, leaving the Prophet (pbuh) devastated by these great personal losses. He mourned at the death of Khadija and reflected on the times and memories they shared. He was hurt that he had lost such a dear and loving companion. The Angel Jibrael informed the prophet (pbuh) that Khadija was in a peaceful place in Paradise. Muhammad (pbuh) often spoke about her and held her in the highest esteem. The Muslims shared in the grief of the Prophet (pbuh) and also felt the lost of this wonderful woman.
Muhammad (pbuh) was quiet and remained more in seclusion. He had a mission to fulfil and he slowly began to preach to the Makkans inviting them to the truth. The response was much more hostile than before and many of the Makkans refused to listen to him. However, he persevered in his mission and practiced patience with his people.
Now Muhammad (pbuh) was alone and he was without the protection of his uncle Abu Talib. The Makkans took this opportunity to attack and persecute the Muslims. They were openly hostile to the Muslims and to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In one incident, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came home with sand in his hair and on his shoulders. Fatima came rushing to him and wiped away the sand which the Makkans had put on the prophet (pbuh). Fatima was crying and the prophet (pbuh) comforted her saying, “Don’t worry Allah will protect you father!”
In the Past the Makkans had held back their aggression, especially against Muhammad. They knew that Abu Talib would retaliate against them if they harmed the prophet (pbuh). Now that Abu Talib had passed away, they knew that there was no one to protect Muhammad (pbuh) and they could do as they pleased.
After a short while, the Prophet (pbuh) decided that he would leave the Makkans for a while and try somewhere else. He thought that maybe in Taif the people would listen to the message and maybe they would be more likely to accept the truth. Many of the wealthy Makkans owned land in Taif which was a much more fertile place compared to Makkah. The prophet (pbuh) and his freed slave Zayd set off for Taif which was about sixty kilometres south of Makkah.
In Taif, the prophet began to speak to the people of Taif. He would tell them about Allah and about the mission he was appointed with. The people were certainly less hostile but they refused to listen to the prophet (pbuh). Some were rude and some just turned the prophet (pbuh) away. The prophet (pbuh) spent ten days there and visited many people. He also visited the nobles of Taif and all of them refused to accept Islam. Some of them even insulted and mocked the prophet (pbuh) but he continued to talk to people.
In one incident, the prophet (pbuh) met and spoke to three youths from the nobles of Thakif. The prophet (pbuh) invited them to the truth and to believe and worship Allah alone. They just mocked the prophet (pbuh) and refused to listen to him. One denied that he could be a prophet because of the disruptions in the Makkan community. The second questioned him saying could Allah not find anyone else to be a prophet. The third refused to listen to him at all because either Muhammad (pbuh) was too important to speak to or was a liar.
Some of the people in Taif tried to chase the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) away; they got together with the boys in the streets and chased the prophet (pbuh) out of the city. They threw stones at the prophet (pbuh) and Zayd as they tried to escape from them. Zayd was injured when a stone hit him in the head as he protected the prophet (pbuh). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was also injured and blood from his wounds ran down his legs and clogged up his sandals.
When they had travelled a short distance, they rested against one of the walls of a vineyard. as Muhammad (pbuh) rested, a couple of Makkans who owned the vineyard recognised Muhammad (pbuh) and took pity on their state. They sent their servant Addas with some grapes for the two visitors. The prophet (pbuh) thanked Addas and ate the grapes beginning with the name of Allah. Addas was surprised with these words and began to talk to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Addas was a Christian slave and when the prophet (pbuh) asked him where he was from, he replied Nineveh. The prophet (pbuh) said the noble Yunus was from there. Addas was very surprised and asked the prophet (pbuh) “How do you know about Yunus?” The prophet (pbuh) replied, “He was my brother and I too am a prophet.”
Addas was very surprised and kissed Muhammad (pbuh) on the hands and forehead before returning to his duties. The two brothers had witnessed this and they asked Addas about his behaviour. Addas said that that man leaning against the wall is none other than a prophet. The two brothers shouted at Addas and told him that he should not leave his religion and follow Muhammad (pbuh). The Makkans were against the prophet and did not want anyone to follow him.
After a short prayer the prophet (pbuh) made a dua to Allah. In the dua, he praised Allah and said to Allah that may he forgive him for his short coming and in his inability to deliver the message. He said that although he had been injured and hurt by the Makkans he was happy as long as he had not displeased Allah.
This is an example of the character of the prophet (pbuh). He was not angry with the people with their bad actions and the bad treatment he had got. He did not blame Allah for this either but instead he thanked Allah and looked for the fault within himself. He also was not concerned about these incidents as long as he had not displeased Allah throughout this trip to Taif. There is a lesson to be learned in this for all of us, we are too quick to blame others without looking within us and our own short comings.
Muhammad (pbuh) has suffered a lot at the hands of the Makkans and now at the hands of the people of Taif. He had lost his loving wife who had been by his side throughout his mission. He had lost his dear and beloved uncle Abu Talib who had protected him from the Makkans. What was going to happen if he managed to get into Makkah alive and how would the people treat him in Makkah?
All will be revealed next week, Inshallah.