12. PERSECUTION OF THE MUSLIMS
The Arabs had now fully realised that they could not beat Muhammad (pbuh). There was no way they could withstand the power and eloquence of this message he brought. The message of truth stood clear in the midst of falsehood. Anyone who heard the message and met with Muhammad (pbuh) knew that it was the truth. Even the Makkans knew that it was the truth but they stubbornly wanted to hold onto the religion of their forefathers.
They had tried many times to stop the prophet (pbuh) from preaching this message but had failed. They had already used many under-hand tactics to try and discredit Islam. They tried to defame the Muslims and their beloved Prophet (pbuh); they mocked the Muslim religious scripture and its teachings. Everything they tried so far had proven to be a failure. They were desperate to come up with something more decisive that would rid them of this religion.
They would try and discredit the Muslims and Islam. The Muslims became the main target for their mockery and lies. They would attack the Prophet (pbuh) by calling him a liar or saying he was possessed by a Jinn! Sometimes they would say Muhammad (pbuh) had gone insane! They would ridicule the Qu'ran saying that someone taught Muhammad (pbuh) this Qu'ran; or that the Qu'ran was just sorcery and magic: or that Muhammad (pbuh) was just telling old stories. They would distort his teachings to make Islam look nonsensical or ambiguous. They would even try to harm our beloved Muhammad (pbuh) by pushing him and tripping him whenever he passed by.
The Makkans now looked at Muhammad (pbuh) with hatred and with evil intentions. They would meet together to plan new ways they could attack the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims. They would look for opportunities where they could attack the Muhammad (pbuh), whether verbally or physically.
They knew that the Qu'ran was the message of truth that no human could ever write such a masterpiece of perfection, wisdom and beauty. They also knew that the Qu'ran taught truth and its message was pure and could only be from Allah. The truth stands clear from falsehood. They knew the character of the prophet (pbuh), his good manners and trustworthiness. They knew that he was an example to them all even before he became a prophet (pbuh). They were sometimes ashamed at making up these lies about the prophet (pbuh) and ridiculing him, his character and mission.
The early converts also suffered greatly at the hands of the Makkans but were always true to their faith. They remained steadfast against this hardship and persecution. They remained faithful to the messenger and Allah’s Deen, always testifying to the Oneness of Allah and rejecting the idols. The Makkans wanted the Muslims to stop worshipping Allah and to return to idol worship. They would try and force the Muslims to leave Islam but the Muslims continued to follow the Truth.
Many of the early converts were poor and without any great status amongst the Arabs. Many did not have a powerful tribe to offer them protection so were an easy target for the Arabs to attack. In many cases, they were tortured and shamefully treated through which some Muslims died!
The Makkans realised that their attacks on the prophet (pbuh) were ineffective especially since he was guaranteed protection from his uncle Abu Talib. However, many of the converts did not have any protection from anyone so were vulnerable. They exploited this with a new wave of violence and barbarism against these Muslims. Abu Lahab was leading this committee of prominent Makkans who formed a resistance against the Muslims. They wanted to dissuade as many Muslims from following Islam, by any means possible. They were intent on destroying Islam and to cause so much misery to the Muslims that they would abandon their faith! The persecutions worsened, so much so that the prophet (pbuh) asked some of the new converts to keep their conversion secret.
Bilal was the slave of Omaiyah bin Khalaf. When Omaiyah found out about Bilal's acceptance of Islam, he began to beat and torture him severely. Often a rope was put around Bilal's neck and they would drag him through the streets and hills of Makkah. At times they would starve him and he became very weak. At others he was bound up, made to lie down on the burning sand, under the crushing weight of heavy stones.
Thy tried their hardest to force Bilal to leave Islam but they were unsuccessful. Bilal was strong in his belief in the Oneness of Allah. Even under the severest persecutions, the words Ahad, Ahad were repeated by Bilal. On one such occasion, Abu Bakr came across the suffering and ill-treatment of Bilal. Abu Bakr immediately purchased Bilal and freed him from slavery.
Ammar bin Yasir, a freed slave of Bani Makhzum, along with his mother and father, embraced Islam in its early stages. They were repeatedly made to lie on the burning sand and were beaten very badly. Ammar was at times tossed up on hot embers. The Prophet (pbuh) was saddened greatly by this harsh treatment and always comforted them and raised his hand in prayer and said: "Be patient, you will verily find your abode in the Paradise." His father, Yasir, died because of repeated tortures. His Mother, Sumaiyah, was bayoneted to death by Abu Jahl himself. Sumaiyah was the first woman martyred in Islam.
Ammar himself was subjected to torture and was always threatened to sustain severe suffering unless he abused Muhammad (pbuh) and accepted their idols. In a weak moment, he said some word but his heart never wavered. He came once to the Prophet (pbuh), who consoled him for his pain and confirmed his faith. Some verses from the Qu'ran came down saying that if a person has faith in his heart but is forced to denounce Islam, his Iman is still safe.
Abu Fakeeh, Aflah, a freed slave of Bani ‘Abd Ad-Dar was the third of those helpless victims. The oppressors used to fasten his feet with a rope and drag him in the streets of Makkah.
Khabbab bin Al-Aritt was also an easy victim to similar outrages on every possible occasion. He experienced extreme torture and maltreatment. The Makkans used to pull his hair and twist his neck, and made him lie on burning coal with a big rock on his chest to prevent him from escaping. Many Muslims were tortured in the same way causing much harm and sadness within the community. For some, their lives became so unbearable that they were commanded later to do Hijra to safety in Abyssinia
Not even the prophet (pbuh) was spared from their evil. The prophet’s daughters Ruqaiya and Umm Kulthum were both married to the sons of Abu Lahab. Abu Lahab ordered both of his sons to divorce their wives and sent them back to the prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) was very sad when this happened. His uncle had been so happy when the marriage of his sons had taken place to the daughters of Muhammad. Hatred and spite had caused Abu Lahab to force his son’s to leave their wives. Abu Lahab was also happy when the prophet’s son died even though the prophet’s household was so sad.
The prophet (pbuh) was abused even in Makkah, in the Sanctuary – the area in and around the Ka'bah. Even when the prophet (pbuh) was praying he was attacked or mocked. There are many records of the verbal and physical abuse against the prophet (pbuh) but the prophet still remained faithful to his mission and deen.
The wife of Abu Lahab, Umm Jameel bint Harb, the sister of Abu Sufyan, used to tie bundles of thorns and would throw them in the paths which the Prophet (pbuh) would take. She wanted the prophet (pbuh) to get injured by this. She was an enemy of the Prophet (pbuh) and had great hatred for him. Once she took a handful of pebbles to the sanctuary where the prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr were sitting. She had the intention of hurting the prophet (pbuh) but Allah took away her sight so that she could not see the prophet (pbuh). She only saw Abu Bakr, who happened to be sitting next to the prophet (pbuh). She went over to him and said some abusive things before going.
In amongst all this hatred and persecution, there was one individual who’s heart was in turmoil. Umar, the son of Khattab, had a great hatred for this new religion and used to attack and persecute the Muslims. At the same time he was also greatly impressed and intrigued with these Muslims who were so greatly devoted to their beliefs and prophet (pbuh). He could not tolerate anyone who went against their ancestors and their way of life so was a great and much feared enemy of Islam. Nevertheless, he continued to be an enemy of the Muslims
In the Oasis of Yathrib, the events were looked at in much intrigue. The Jews and the Arabs were constantly squabbling amongst each other. There were many battles fought which would last for years. The Arabs considered the Jews to be gypsies who travelled around without any ancestry and deep-seated roots. The Jews, on the other hand, considered themselves to be superior and look down on these idol worshipping Arabs, especially since the Jews were the chosen people.
The Jews use to warn the Arabs that a prophet would come with the message of truth and he will destroy the idol worshippers. He will confirm the oneness of Allah and the Day of Judgment when man will be brought back to life. Many of the Jews had moved near Yathrib waiting for this prophet that had been foretold in their books. as the events in Makkah unfolded, there was keen interest on both sides – especially because this prophet preaching the oneness of Allah was an Arab!
As things were getting worse for the Muslims but something was about to happen which would make the Arabs more determined to wipe out Islam from the face of this Earth. More next week – Inshallah.