View Full Version : Basic Beliefs of Islam

01-11-2006, 07:15 PM
What do Muslims believe? Islamic teachings about God (Allah), prophets, books of revelation, angels, heaven and hell, destiny and free will, and the creation of earth.


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01-11-2006, 07:21 PM
Muslims believe that Allah (God) has created an unseen world, including angels and jinn. Learn more about the nature of these unseen beings.

Belief in the Angels
These are beings of a different nature from man. While man is created from soil they are created from light. [Sahih Muslim, Kitab az-Zuhd, 1227] And thus human beings-except Prophets--cannot see them in their original nature, but may see them if they take a physical form. Our knowledge of them is therefore almost entirely based on What Cod and His Prophets tell us about them. But why should we bother to know about them? Because they play a very big role in conducting our affair. To know about them could Perhaps be said to be useful to us in the same manner as knowledge of the working of natural causes and other people's behaviour is useful.

We are told that these almost innumerable beings who are extremely powerful are created in such a way that they always obey and never go against Divine commands, and continuously server and never tire of serving the Lord. [Anbiya', XXI, 19-20; Tahrim, LXVI:6].

But in spite of this they are--as a species--in a lower degree than the human species, and this is symbolized in the fact that when Adam was created they were ordered to prostrate themselves before him as a sign of greeting and respect.[This verse - Isra, XVII:70] has been given (by some) as evidence or the fact that the human species is better than the species of angels. Ibn Kathir in his tafsir of al-Qur'an al-`Azim].

Here are some of their activities in connection with human beings.

Their main task, the one from which their name is derived is that of conveying God's messages to His chosen prophets. This great honor is assigned mainly to their leader Gabriel (or Jibril as the name is pronounced in Arabic).

"A noble messenger having power, with the Lord of the Throne, secure, obeyed there (in heaven) and trusty." [Takwir, LXXXI: 19-21]

A message carried by beings of such a nature is sure to reach its destination intact.

They attend to and watch over us. They keep a record of our good and bad deeds, and never a word we mention passes without being registered by them either for or against us. [Qaf, L: 17-18]

They play a role in the causation and happening of seemingly purely natural phenomena, like wind and rain and death. [Nazi'at, LXXIX: 1-5]

And to them is assigned the role of helping the believers to the extent of fighting on their side in times of war. ['Al 'lmran, 11: 124], and of protecting them [Ra'd, XIII: 11], and praying for them [Ghafir, XL: 7].

01-11-2006, 07:28 PM
Islam teaches that God has sent prophets to humanity, in different times and places, to communicate His message. Since the beginning of time, God has sent His guidance through these chosen people. They were human beings who taught about faith in One Almighty God, and how to walk on the path of righteousness.

The Prophet Ibrahim ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and the Idols
We often see the term "role model" in newspapers and magazines. It refers to someone who leads the sort of life that you would like to live. Many of us choose our favorite sports star or film star as our role model because we are impressed by the glitter and flair of these wealthy people. However, if we stopped to think about what kind of lives the stars really lead, perhaps we would have second thoughts about our choice of role model. How many of these stars have never known or have forgotten Allah in their quest for fame and riches! How often are they consumed by hate, envy, violence, drugs and other evils! Who really wants that kind of life? Certainly not we Muslims.

The Qur'an tells us that the prophets should be our role models, and Ibrahim () in particular is frequently mentioned. He was obedient to Allah, upright, and he did not worship any god but Allah. He turned away from those who worshipped idols, even from his own father. He was grateful to Allah for the blessings which were bestowed on him. He was rewarded with good in this world and he is among the righteous in the hereafter.

Ibrahim's () father, Azer, was a stone carver. He carved the images of the idols which his people worshipped. Ibrahim () grew up in an atmosphere of paganism, in which Allah was just one of many gods worshipped by his people. But Allah chose Ibrahim () to be His prophet. Ibrahim () saw a star when it rose and called upon it as his lord, but when it set he realized that it was powerless. He called upon the moon when it rose in the sky, but it too disappeared as it set. Then he decided to worship the sun when it rose, but even the sun with all its brilliance had to set each evening. It was at this point that Ibrahim () was ready to acknowledge the supremacy of the Creator of all the heavenly bodies, the Lord of all creation, and a being without equal and without partners. He tried unsuccessfully to persuade his father and his people to discard the useless idols and to submit themselves wholly to Allah. He promised his father that he would pray for forgiveness for him, and since he had promised, he did pray. But we are told in the Qur'an that we should shun pagans and we should not pray for them (Qur'an 9:113-114).

Ibrahim asked his people why they worshipped those idols which they themselves had made, instead of the true God who had created everything and everybody. The people answered that they worshipped the idols because their fathers had done so. One day, when no one was about, Ibrahim () took his right hand and smashed the idols to pieces, all except the biggest. The people came running, asking who had destroyed their gods. Ibrahim () pointed to the big god and said, "He did it. Why don't you ask them?" But of course those fragments of stone were not able to speak and the people knew in their hearts that the big stone could not have destroyed them. So Ibrahim () asked, "Why do you worship these powerless rocks instead of Allah who is all powerful?" Then the people were very angry and they seized Ibrahim () and threw him into a blazing fire. But Allah was with Ibrahim () and made the blaze feel cool to him. Ibrahim () emerged from the fire unharmed.

In Arabia at the time of the prophet Muhammad (), three religious groups claimed ancestry to the prophet Ibrahim (). They were the Christians, the Jews, and the pagan idol-worshippers. But the religion of Ibrahim () was none of these three. His religion was truly that of Islam, a total submission to the will of Allah. It is he who should serve as our role model, a man of unswerving faith in troubled times.

You can read about Ibrahim () as a role model and about his disputes over the idols in the following suras of the Qur'an: 2:130, 135, 258; 3:67; 6:74-83; 16:120-123; 19:41-50; 21:51-71; 26:70-82; 37:83-98; 60:4-6.

01-11-2006, 07:32 PM
Isma'il ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and his Mother

This story is different from the previous stories that have appeared in Iqraa, because most of it does not appear in the Qur'an. It is, however, repeated several times in Sahih al-Bukhari.

When Ismail was still a small baby, his father Ibrahim took him and his mother, Hajra, to the site of the Ka'ba. He gave them some dates and a goat skin full of water and left them there. At that time no one lived at the Ka'ba, and there was no water nearby. As Ibrahim was walking away, Ismail's mother followed him, asking why she and her son were being left in such a desolate place. She asked several times but he would not answer her. Finally, she asked if Allah had ordered him to do this and he replied that it was so. Upon hearing this, she accepted Allah's will and returned to the site where Ibrahim had left her.

As soon as Ibrahim was out of sight, he turned and prayed to Allah to protect and provide for his family which he had left out in the wilderness:
"O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; In order, O our Lord that they may establish regular prayer; So fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits; So that they may give thanks." (al-Qur'an 14:37)

Ismail and his mother lived for some time on the supply of water and dates, but finally the water began to give out, and Ismail's mother could no longer produce sufficient milk to nurse her baby. The baby became agitated and near to death because of his thirst. The mother could not bear to see her child suffering, so she ran to the top of nearby Mt. Safa to see if she could find someone to help her. When she could see no one, she ran down the mountain and across the valley to Mt. Marwa. Seven times she ran from one mountain to the other, looking in vain for assistance. After the seventh time she heard a voice and she called out to it for help. When she looked she saw an angel digging the earth with his heel until water flowed forth. That place was the site of Zam-zam. She carefully made a depression around the place where the water was flowing, and filled her waterbag with her hands. Then she was able to drink water and nurse her baby. The angel told her not to be afraid, that she and her son would be provided for.

Ismail and his mother continued to live at the Ka'ba all by themselves for some time. One day some people of the Jurhum tribe were passing through the valley. They didn't intend to stop, because they knew that there had never been any water in that valley. But they saw a kind of bird which was known to frequent wet spots, so they followed it to the spring of Zam-zam. There they found Ismail's mother sitting by the water.

Ismail's mother was a very sociable person who loved the company of others, so she readily agreed to their request to stop there for a while, provided that they did not claim possession of the water. Some of the people of Jurhum decided to settle permanently by Zam-zam and sent for their families. Ismail grew up with these people and learned to speak Arabic from them. When he grew up, they urged him to marry one of their women.

You can read about Ismail and his mother in Sahih al-Bukhari IV:582-584.

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01-11-2006, 07:34 PM
Hadrat Yusuf ( - Peace Be Upon Him) And His Brothers
The story of the prophet Yusuf's () life is told in the Quran in a sura which bears his name. He was the son of Ya‘qub () and the grandson of Is-haq (). He was the next to youngest of twelve sons and a favorite of his father.

One day he had a dream in which eleven planets, the sun, and the moon were bowing down in front of him. When his father learned of this vision, he interpreted it as meaning that Allah would prefer Yusuf (), would teach him the interpretation of dreams, and would perfect His grace upon him. But Ya'qub warned Yusuf () not to tell the dream to his brothers, because they would be extremely jealous and might wish to do harm to him.

The older brothers were indeed jealous of Yusuf () and his younger brother. They decided that, with Yusuf () out of the picture, their father would look upon the rest of them with more favor. Some wanted to kill him and some favored abandoning him in some distant land. One of the brothers suggested leaving him in a pit so that some caravan would pick him up and carry him away. That was the plot upon which they eventually agreed.

Yusuf's brothers went to their father and asked if they could take Yusuf () out in the pastures with them on the following day, so that he could play and enjoy himself. At first Ya‘qub () dissented, because he feared that Yusuf () would be devoured by a wolf. But the brothers assured him that the wolf would not have a chance against so many of them. Finally Ya‘qub agreed to let Yusuf go with them.

The following day, the brothers led Yusuf () away and left him in the bottom of a deep pit. Allah revealed to Yusuf () at that time that one day he would tell them of this deed, when the brothers would not recognize him. After the brothers had left Yusuf () in the pit, a caravan came along and a water-drawer was sent to look for water at the bottom of the pit. He was delighted to find instead a healthy young man. Yusuf () was taken away in the caravan to be sold into slavery. The traders attached very little value to him and sold him for a very small amount of money.

Meanwhile the brothers stained Yusuf's () shirt with the blood of some animal and returned, weeping and wailing, to their father, concocting a story about how a wolf had, after all, managed to slip past them and devour Yusuf . Their father recognized that their grief was not sincere, and he prayed to Allah to help him bear his own grief over the loss of Yusuf ().

Insha Allah the story of Yusuf () shall be continued in future issues of Iqra. You can read it in the twelfth sura of the Quran.

01-11-2006, 07:38 PM
This month's story is a continuation of the story of Yusuf , who was abandoned in a deep pit by his brothers, found by a passing caravan, and sold into slavery in Egypt.

The Egyptian who bought Yusuf from the caravan gave him a position of responsibility in his household. As Yusuf grew to full manhood he became extremely handsome and the wife of his master fell hopelessly in love with him. One day, when she was alone in a room with him, she approached him with sinful intentions. As he attempted to flee from the room to avoid her advances, she grabbed his shirt from behind and tore it. At the door of the room they ran into the master of the household, who demanded to know what was happening. The wife accused Yusuf of chasing her and Yusuf denied it. One of the members of the household suggested a way to determine who was telling the truth. If Yusuf's shirt was torn in the front, then the wife had been resisting Yusuf . But if the shirt were torn in the back, then the wife had been pursuing Yusuf . Since the shirt had been torn from behind, Yusuf was shown to be telling the truth. The master told him to take no further notice of the matter, and he reprimanded his wife for having done something wrong.

Despite the husband's attempt to hush up the whole affair, gossip was soon spreading throughout the city that the wife had fallen in love with her servant. When she heard the malicious talk, the wife invited all the women of the town to a meal and gave each of them a knife to use. She then called Yusuf into the room. All the women were so overcome by the sight of the handsome young man that they cut their hands with the knives which they held. In this way the mistress of the house showed them why she had sought Yusuf and she vowed that if he did not yield to her wishes she would have him imprisoned.

Yusuf was an upright young man, and with the help of Allah he had been able to resist the advances of any woman. But he realized the weakness of his human nature and he knew that if so many women were pursuing him, he might very well yield to temptation. And so he prayed to Allah that he would rather be imprisoned than accept any of their invitations, but he needed Allah's help to turn away their attentions. And Allah heard his plea and turned their attentions from him.

But the men of the city, although acknowledging Yusuf's innocence, feared the commotion which his presence caused, and thus decided to have him imprisoned. There Yusuf remained for several years.

Insha Allah in the next issue of Iqraa we shall relate how Yusuf was cleared of the charges against him, and how he was raised to a position of eminence in the land of Egypt.

Yusuf's ( - Peace Be Upon Him) Release from Prison
In the past two issues of Iqraa, we have been narrating the story of Yusuf , which can be found in its entirety in the twelfth chapter of the Qur'an. We shall continue the story now. In the previous issue, Yusuf , having been unjustly accused of causing trouble among the women, had been thrown into prison. We will pick up the story at that point.

Two other young men entered the prison at about the same time as Yusuf . While in prison each of the two men had a dream. One dreamed that he was pressing grapes; the other that he was carrying bread on his head from which the birds were eating. Each was puzzled about the meaning of his dream, and asked Yusuf if he could interpret it.

Yusuf promised to interpret their dreams before their next meal was brought to them, but while he had their attention, he took advantage of the opportunity to perform some dawa. He told them about the supremacy of Allah and about belief in the Hereafter. He told them about the futility of worshipping gods other than Allah. He told them of the right religion about which many people do not know.

Only after he had given his message about Islam did he interpret the dreams. He said that the man who had dreamed that he was pressing grapes would be released and would be serving wine to his master, while the other man would be executed and the birds would eat from off his head. It happened as Yusuf had foretold, and Yusuf asked the man who was released to mention Yusuf to his master, in order that Yusuf might also be released. But the man forgot and Yusuf stayed in prison for a few more years.

The king of Egypt then had a dream, in which he saw seven fat cattle being devoured by seven lean cattle. He also saw seven green ears of corn and seven withered ears. None of the chiefs in his court could interpret the dream for him. At this point the king's servant, who had been Yusuf's cell mate, remembered Yusuf's ability to interpret the meaning of dreams. So he went to see Yusuf to ask about the dream.

Yusuf explained that for seven years the crops would be good, and that much of what had been harvested would be stored away. The seven good years would be followed by seven hard years in which most of what had been stored would be consumed. After that seven-year period of poor harvests, things would improve again.

When the king was told of this interpretation, he asked that Yusuf be brought to him from the prison. But Yusuf would not leave until his name had been cleared. The king summoned all the women and they told him that Yusuf had done nothing wrong. The wife of the chief who had pursued Yusuf confessed that it was she who had been at fault. When Yusuf was released, he was relieved that everyone now knew that he had done nothing deceitful. And he was grateful to Allah for forgiving any evil thoughts which he might have had.

The king called Yusuf to him, and, after they had spoken together for some time, the king was so impressed that he wanted to bestow on Yusuf a position of trust. Yusuf suggested that he be placed in charge of all the storehouses in the land, for he felt confident of his ability to administer them wisely.

Thus Allah rewarded Yusuf . He had risen from servant and prisoner to a very powerful position in the land of Egypt. In the next issue, we shall tell how Yusuf was reunited with his family.

Hadrat Yusuf's ( - Peace Be Upon Him) Reunion
This is the concluding installment of our story of Yusuf . In the previous issue of Iqraa, Yusuf had been released from prison where he had been wrongfully interred for several years. He had then been placed in charge of all the king's storehouses in Egypt.

As Yusuf had predicted, seven years of famine followed seven years of good harvest, but the storehouses of Egypt were full because of Yusuf's skillful management. People from all over flocked to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. Among them were Yusuf's brothers.

Yusuf knew his brothers at once but they did not recognize him. He gave them the grain which they had come to buy but warned them that they would get no more unless they brought a brother of theirs to him from their father. They agreed that they would try to convince their father to let them take their younger brother with them the next time they came. Then Yusuf had his servants put their money which they had used to purchase the grain back into the saddlebags of their camels so that they would find it when they returned home and would be sure to return for more grain when they saw how generously Yusuf had treated them.

Ya'qub , who still felt deeply the loss of his son Yusuf , was reluctant to let the brothers take his other young son. He made them pledge in the name of Allah that they would bring him back home unless they were made physically powerless to do so. He also cautioned them to enter the city in Egypt by different gates, perhaps so they wouldn't look like a gang of troublemakers. However, he knew that their fate depended on Allah's will and no precautions could go against what was willed by Allah.

When the brothers had returned to Yusuf for more provisions, Yusuf lodged his younger brother with himself, and revealed his identity to him. But he had to think of a way in which to keep his younger brother with him when the others returned home. Allah inspired him with the following plan.

When the brothers' camels had been loaded with grain, Yusuf had a cup placed in his younger brother's saddlebag. Then a cry was raised that someone had stolen the king's cup. The brothers denied that they had stolen anything. When asked what should happen if it were to prove otherwise, they said that they would hand over the person in whose possession the cup was found. A search of the saddlebags revealed the cup in the younger brother's bag. Then the big brothers said that it wasn't really surprising, because the boy's brother (i.e. Yusuf ) had also been a thief. But still Yusuf did not reveal his identity to them. The brothers asked that one of them be allowed to stay in the younger brother's place, so that their father would not grieve, but Yusuf replied that it would be unjust to keep back anyone except him in whose possession the cup had been.

The brothers returned to their father with the story of the theft, and his eyes turned white with grief from suppressing his sorrow. He sent them away to search for Yusuf and his brother, so they returned to Yusuf and asked for more grain, although they had but little money left. Then Yusuf revealed his identity to them and forgave them and asked Allah's forgiveness for all the wrong they had done to him and his brother. Then he gave them his shirt to place over his father's face to recover his sight. He told them to go home and return to Egypt with all of their families.

As their caravan was leaving Egypt, Ya'qub , still at home, smelled the perfume of Yusuf , but his household said he was getting senile. When the caravan arrived home with the shirt, Ya'qub's sight was restored. Then the entire family moved to Egypt. Yusuf raised his parents up on the throne to sit with him and they all bowed down in obeisance to him. In this way, Yusuf's childhood vision of the eleven planets and the sun and the moon prostrating themselves before him came true. This is how the Israelites came to settle in Egypt and lived there for many generations. The entire story of Yusuf can be found in Surah 12 of the Qur'an.

01-11-2006, 07:43 PM
After Yusuf had settled his family in Egypt, the Israelites lived there for many generations. But the ruler of Egypt, the pharoah, discriminated against the people of Israel. He oppressed them and killed all their sons. When Musa was born, his mother feared that he too would be killed. Allah sent a message to her to nurse him as long as she could, until she feared for his safety. Then she was to throw him into the river. Allah promised that He would bring Musa back to her and that Musa would become a messenger of Allah.

It was the family of the pharoah who found Musa in the river. The pharoah’s wife wanted to keep him and ordered that he not be killed. She thought he might be useful to them or that they might adopt him.

Meanwhile, Musa’s mother had sent his sister to keep watch over him from a distance. When the pharoah’s wife was looking for a nurse to feed and care for him until he grew older, the sister approached and offered the services of her mother, without, of course, revealing her mother’s real connection to the child. In this way he was restored to his mother, as Allah had promised. And when Musa grew up, he was given wisdom and knowledge by Allah.

One day, when Musa had grown up, he went into the city and found two men fighting, one of whom was an Egyptian, and the other an Israelite. The Israelite asked Musa for help and Musa struck the other man with his fist, thus killing him. Musa was horrified that he had killed a man, and asked Allah for forgiveness, which Allah granted.

The following day Musa again was in the city, when he saw the same man as on the day before, involved in a fight with an Egyptian. Musa was angry at the hotheadedness of this man, but was once again ready to take his side against the Egyptian, who was the enemy of them both. But the Egyptian cried out to Musa that murder was not the way to settle and reform matters. At that moment another man brought news that the authorities were searching for Musa in connection with the murder of the previous day. And so Musa was forced to flee.

Musa escaped to the land of Madyan. There he came to a watering hole where a whole tribe of men were watering their flocks. There were two women there also whose father was too old to care for his flocks himself. But the women were holding their sheep back and could not get close to the water until the men had finished. Musa watered their flocks for them, then settled down in the shade, praying that Allah would send him assistance.

One of the two women whom Musa had helped approached him shyly, for her father had sent for Musa to reward him for helping his daughters. When Musa had told the old man his story, the old man sympathized with him. The old man offered to marry Musa to one of his daughters if Musa would work for him a minimum of eight years. An agreement was reached and Musa stayed in the land of Madyan for the agreed-upon time.

This part of the story of Musa can be found in al-Qur’an 28:1-28.

Hadrat Musa ( - Peace Be Upon Him): Call to Prophethood
This is the second part of the story of Musa . As you may recall, Musa had killed an Egyptian and was thus forced to flee from Egypt. In the land of Madyan he had met a herdsman, who hired Musa for a given number of years. In return Musa was given one of the herdsman’s daughters as his wife.

Our story now begins some time after Musa had completed his contract with his father-in-law. He was traveling somewhere with his family when he saw a fire in the distance. He went to explore in the hope that he might get information or be able to bring back a firebrand for his family to use.

When Musa approached the bush that was burning, he heard a voice coming from it. The voice commanded Musa to remove his shoes because he was in a sacred valley. The voice identified itself as Allah, and reminded Musa to serve Him and to keep up his prayers. The voice told Musa that Allah had made him one of the chosen ones.

Allah then ordered Musa to throw down his staff, which he used as a walking stick and to beat down branches for his flocks. When the staff was flung down, it turned into a serpent. Allah instructed Musa to pick the serpent up, and it again turned into a stick. The voice commanded Musa to thrust his hand under his armpit, and when he removed it the hand was glowing white, yet it did not hurt Musa . Allah informed Musa that these two signs, the staff and the hand, would be signs for the Pharoah, to show that Musa had truly been sent from Allah. Allah wanted Musa to go to the Pharoah because the Pharoah and his people had strayed far from the acceptable ways of Allah. He also wanted Musa to lead the children of Israel away from the Pharoah’s influence.

Musa pointed out that he had killed an Egyptian and that he himself would be killed if he returned to Egypt. He was also unsure of his ability to communicate with the Pharoah. He was not a good speaker and asked for the help of his brother, Harun , who was much more eloquent. Allah reassured Musa on both counts. He promised that Musa would come to no harm at the hands of the Egyptians. And He agreed both to aid Musa in addressing the Pharoah and to send along Harun to help out.

In this manner Musa was called to prophethood, and set out to free the people of Israel from their bondage under the people of Egypt. Insha Allah in the next issue we shall tell of his meetings with the Pharoah.

You can read about this part of the story of Musa in the Quran 20:9-36, 42-48; 26:10-17; and 28:29-35.

Hadrat Musa ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and Fir'awn
Musa and his brother Harun had been called upon by Allah to deliver a message to the leader of the Egyptians, Fir'awn (Pharaoh), who considered himself a god and insisted that his subjects worship him.

Musa told Fir'awn that he, Musa , was a messenger of the Lord of the Worlds and that he had clear proof of it. Therefore, Fir'awn should let the people of Israel go with him. Musa showed Fir'awn the staff that turned into a serpent and the hand which turned shining white when placed under his arm. Fir'awn consulted with all his chiefs and they decided that perhaps Musa was just a very good magician. They called together all their best magicians to compete with Musa . The magicians were promised a reward if they won.

The magicians went first in the contest and they were good, really good. They made their ropes and sticks appear to run in front of their audience. Musa was afraid that he couldn’t surpass their skills, but Allah told him not to be afraid. When Musa threw down his staff, it ate up all that the magicians had made. When the magicians saw this, they bowed down and proclaimed their belief in the Lord of Musa and Harun .

Fir'awn was not very happy about this turn of events. He threatened to cut off the hands and feet of the magicians and to crucify them. But the magicians would not change their opinion. They were convinced by the clear proofs which Musa had shown to them and they told Fir'awn that he could only end for them their life in this world. For those who believe there would be another life after death, in gardens beneath which rivers flow.

Following this there began another period of persecution against the followers of Allah. Fir'awn had all of their sons killed. Musa had to encourage the children of Israel to continue strong in their belief in Allah and to pray to Allah faithfully.

Whenever good fortune befell the Egyptians, they took credit for it. When misfortune came, they blamed Musa and his people. They failed to see that everything, both good and bad, comes from Allah. Allah sent all kinds of hardships against the Egyptians- famine, loss of fruits, floods, locusts, pests, frogs, and blood- as signs to them. They would promise to free the people of Israel if Musa would pray to his God for deliverance from the pestilence. But as soon as the hardship had been removed, they would go back on their promise.

Finally Musa was instructed by Allah to lead the followers of Allah away by night. When they came to the sea, the waters parted so that they could pass to the other side without getting wet. However, when Fir'awn and his armies pursued them, the waters of the sea closed in on them and they were all drowned. In this way did Allah punish Fir'awn for leading his people away from Allah.

Insha Allah in the next issue we shall relate the conclusion of the story of Musa , when we tell what befell the children of Israel after they left Egypt. You can read about Musa and Fir'awn in al-Quran 7:103-137; 20:49-79; 26:16-67; and 43:46-56.

Hadrat Musa ( - Peace Be Upon Him) in the Wilderness
When Musa and his people fled from the Egyptians, their trials were far from over. After they had safely crossed the sea, they came upon some people who were worshiping idols. The children of Israel asked Musa to make an idol for them, and he had to remind them of all that Allah had done for them. How could he make another god for them when their Allah was the only true god?

Musa was summoned by Allah to Mount Sinai and he put his brother Harun in charge while he was gone. When he arrived at the appointed site, he asked to see Allah. Allah said He could not show Himself directly to Musa , but Musa should look towards the mountain, and if the mountain remained in one piece, then Musa would see Allah. When Allah showed His glory on the mountain, it became like dust, and Musa fell down in a faint. When he had recovered his senses, he asked Allah's forgiveness and declared his unquestioning belief in Allah. Then Allah spoke with Musa and gave Musa tablets containing His commands and explaining all things. Musa was to carry the tablets back to his people and convey to them the words of Allah. He spent forty days on the mount, communing with his Lord.

Meanwhile, the people of Musa gathered together all their jewelry and gold which they had carried from Egypt. They melted it down and made it into the form of a calf, which they wished to worship. When Musa returned from the mountain with his tablets, he was angry and grieved to see the golden calf. Thinking that Harun had approved the actions of the Israelites, an angry Musa grabbed his brother by the hair and dragged Harun towards him. Harun hastily explained that the people had not listened to him and had even threatened to kill him when he opposed their activities. At this Musa prayed to Allah for forgiveness for both himself and his brother. He also prayed for mercy for those who repented of their evil deed in making the golden idol.

The ultimate destination of the people of Israel was the land of Canaan. Continuously they rebelled against Allah, and continuously Allah forgave them. When they were thirsty, Allah commanded Musa to strike a rock and from it sprang twelve springs of water, one for each of the tribes of Israel. When they were hot, Allah provided clouds to cover the sun. When they were hungry, Allah provided manna and salwa. Yet they were never grateful. They even complained about the sameness of the diet and asked for more variety.

At last they came to the land of Canaan. But because the people of Canaan were very strong-looking, the Israelites were afraid to invade their land. There were only two men who were willing to join Musa and Harun in an attempt to drive the Canaanites out. They counseled that if the proper gates were attacked, they could easily gain entrance. And once they were inside, they would easily be victorious if only they would put their trust in Allah. But the people of Israel would not budge. They told Musa and Harun to go with their Lord and fight, while they, the people, would sit and watch. At this Musa gave up trying to persuade his rebellious people. And Allah decreed that because of their behavior, the children of Israel would be condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty more years, before they would be allowed to enter the land of Canaan.

You can read about the story of Musa and his people in the wilderness in al-Quran 2: 51-61; 5: 23-29; 7: 138-162; and 20: 80-98.

Hadrat Musa ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and al-Khidr
Musa was a very wise and knowledgeable person, but there were many things which he did not know. He was instructed to seek out a servant of Allah, who would give him further knowledge. He was told to take with him a fish which would disappear when he had arrived at the place where he was to meet his teacher.

Musa vowed to his servant, as he set out on his journey, that he would travel to the place where the two seas met, or would spend many years traveling, in search of his teacher. When they at last reached the junction of the two seas, the fish which they had been carrying slipped away into the water and swam off. Musa did not see this happen and the servant, who had seen the fish's escape, forgot to mention it to Musa .

They continued on their journey but Musa grew tired, so he called for an early meal. It was then that the servant thought to tell Musa that the fish was gone. Musa realized that this was the sign for which he had been waiting. They retraced their steps to the place when the fish had slipped away and there they found the teacher, al-Khidr .

Musa asked al-Khidr’s permission to follow him, in order that Musa might learn some of the greater knowledge which Allah had imported to al-Khidr . al-Khidr agreed, provided that Musa would be patient and would not question anything which he saw happen until al-Khidr chose to speak about it.

They boarded a boat, and while they were in it, al-Khidr made a hole in it so that it would not be seaworthy. Musa was concerned at such an action and asked al-Khidr if he was trying to drown everybody. Al-Khidr reminded Musa of his promise not to ask questions and Musa apologized for forgetting himself.

They continued on until they met a young man, whom al-Khidr killed. Musa questioned why an innocent person had been killed. Al-Khidr asked what had happened to the patience which Musa was supposed to be exercising. Musa again apologized and declared that if he asked anything more, then al-Khidr would be right to dismiss him.

They entered a town and asked for food, but no one offered them any hospitality. In spite of this shabby treatment, al-Khidr repaired a wall which was on the verge of falling down. Musa , forgetting himself once again, exclaimed that at least al-Khidr should have been paid for fixing it. At this third infraction of their agreement, al-Khidr declared that it was time for them to part, but first he would explain his actions to Musa .

The boat, he explained, belonged to men who needed it to earn their living. But a king was about to seize it from them by force, so al-Khidr damaged it to keep it out of the king's grasp. Later it could be repaired and put to use again by its rightful owners.

The young man who was killed was the son of righteous parents, but he himself had gone astray. In order to spare his parents the grief of seeing their son go bad, al-Khidr killed him, knowing that the parents would have another son who would be more loving and obedient.

The wall belonged to two young orphans in the inhospitable town. The orphans were the children of a righteous man. Beneath the wall was a buried treasure, which would now be safe, under the strengthened wall, until the orphans were old enough to claim their inheritance.

Thus Musa learned how limited was his human knowledge. What had appeared to be the loss of a possession had actually been the preservation of it. What had seemed to be the loss of a son had been an act of mercy on behalf of the parents. The rebuilt wall had not been merely a generous act for undeserving recipients, but rather insured that justice would be done to deserving orphans. Only Allah has the full knowledge to understand the seemingly unfair aspects of human life and human suffering. We must accept that all that is good and all that is bad comes from Allah. In his infinite wisdom and mercy, Allah knows what is best for us.

The story of Musa and his teacher can be found in al-Quran 18: 60-82.

01-11-2006, 07:45 PM
Dawood and his son, Sulaiman were not only prophets, but also kings of the people of Israel. They were both known for their strength, wisdom, judgement, and devotion to Allah.

Before Dawood became king, Talut (Saul) was the king of Israel. When he set out with his army to fight Jalut (Goliath) and his forces, he tested his soldiers by telling them not to drink from a river which they were crossing. Only a small sip of water out of the hand was allowed. But only a very few men passed the test. With that small band of obedient soldiers, Talut prepared to meet the larger and stronger army of Jalut. The men put their faith in Allah, knowing that size and numbers were no match for a steadfast faith in the power of Allah. Dawood , who was a very young man in Talut's army, killed Jalut. After that, Jalut's army fell apart, and the small band of Israelites was victorious.

Dawood , besides being brave and wise, was known for his wonderful voice, which he used to sing the praises of Allah. When he sang, the mountains and valleys and all of nature seemed to join in. It was to him that the holy book, Zabur, was given by Allah. It is a book of songs praising Allah.

Allah also showed Dawood the art of making iron, so that he was able to make suits of armor to protect his soldiers.

The prophet Muhammad used to say, according to the traditions of Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4: 631), that the most beloved fasting to Allah was that of Dawood , who used to fast on alternate days. And the most beloved prayer was that of Dawood . He would sleep the first half of the night; then he would pray for one-third of the night, before going back to sleep for the remaining one-sixth of the night.

Dawood was a wise and just judge of disputes which arose in his kingdom, but his son Sulaiman surpassed him in the ability to provide a fair judgement.

In one tradition (Bukhari, Vol.4; 637), there were two women, each of whom had a child. One child was stolen and devoured by a wolf. Each woman claimed that it was the other woman's child who was taken. They brought the case to Dawood and he judged that the older woman should have the remaining child. Then they went to Sulaiman . He called for a knife, so that he could cut the child in half and give half to each woman. But the younger woman, who could not bear to see her child cut in half, cried out that the child belonged to the other woman. Sulaiman then gave the child to the younger woman.

In another story, referred to in the Quran (21: 78) a man's flock of sheep strayed into a farmer's field at night, destroying the crops that had been growing there. The case was brought before Dawood , who awarded the flock of sheep to the farmer as restitution for damages. But Sulaiman suggested another solution, which would repay the farmer without ruining the herdsman. Sulaiman ruled that the farmer would keep the sheep and use their milk and wool, until the herdsman had restored the damaged field to its original condition. When that had been done, the flock would be returned to the herdsman.

Both Dawood and Sulaiman , although powerful and rich, never ceased to acknowledge that all their gifts were from Allah. They remained obedient to Allah and used their power to follow Allah's will. Insha Allah in the next story we shall relate how Sulaiman led a powerful queen from idol worship to Islam.

You can read about Dawood and Sulaiman in the Quran 2:249-251; 21: 78-82; 34: 10-14; 38: 17-26, 30-40.

01-11-2006, 07:46 PM
Sulaiman () was a very powerful prophet and many wondrous stories are told about him. He could understand the speech of animals, even of the lowly ant, but despite his worldly powers, he never forgot Allah. He was grateful to Allah for all his gifts and he always tried to serve Allah.

Sulaiman () had jinn and birds serving in his army as well as men. They were all kept in order and ranks, and Sulaiman () demanded strict discipline among them. That is why he was very upset one day to find that one bird, the hoopoe, was absent without his consent. However, the hoopoe soon appeared to explain his absence. He had been scouting for Sulaiman () in areas where Sulaiman () had not yet scouted. He brought with him an account of the kingdom of Saba (Sheba).

The hoopoe reported that the kingdom of Saba was ruled by a rich and powerful queen. She and her people worshipped the sun and other idols instead of Allah. To test the truth of the hoopoe’s story, Sulaiman () sent a letter to the queen, greeting her and requesting her to submit to Allah.

The queen consulted with her ministers. They informed her that the country had the strength to wage a war, but they entrusted her with the decision of whether to use her armies or seek a peaceful settlement. The queen was reluctant to expose her country to the destruction and waste that would accompany a war. Instead she decided to try to please Sulaiman () by sending him expensive gifts. Her chiefs and ministers agreed with her decision.

When the messengers of the queen delivered the queen’s gifts to Sulaiman (), he rejected the gifts. He said that the gifts which he had received from Allah were infinitely better than those which she had sent. He sent the messengers back with the gifts and a message to the queen that she had better submit or he would send armies which would thoroughly destroy the Sabaeans and their country.

While Sulaiman () was awaiting the arrival of the queen, when she would come to him in submission, he desired that her throne be brought to him. A very strong jinn offered to bring it within a matter of moments. One who had knowledge of the Book said he could bring it within the twinkling of an eye. When the throne had been placed before him, Sulaiman () praised Allah and gave thanks to Allah. Sulaiman () did not desire the conquest of the queen of Saba to enhance his personal power. He desired that her throne be transformed from a seat of no faith to a seat of faith in Allah, that she would lead her people in submission to Allah, not to Sulaiman ().

Sulaiman () had the queen’s throne disguised in order to test whether she would accept it in its changed condition. When she arrived, she was asked whether it was her own throne. She confirmed that it was something like it and that she had been informed by Allah in advance of such a change.

When the queen was asked to enter the palace, she tucked up her skirts, because she thought she had to pass through a pool of water. Sulaiman (), not wishing to humiliate the queen, informed her that what she had mistaken for water was actually smooth slabs of glass which paved the courtyard. The queen acknowledged her misperceptions and submitted in Islam, with Sulaiman (), to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

You can read about this story of Sulaiman () in the Quran 27: 15-44.

01-11-2006, 07:48 PM
The story of the birth of Isa as told in the Qur'an demonstrates again the power of Allah who can make happen whatever He wills. Just as Ibrahim and Sara wondered at being able to have a son at their great age, Isa's mother, Maryam (peace be upon her) also wondered at being able to have a son when no man had touched her.

Maryam was the daughter of Imran. When her mother became pregnant with her, she dedicated her baby to Allah for His special service. Maryam grew up pure and beautiful in the special protection of Allah. Whenever her guardian, Zakariah , would visit her in her room, he would find that she had been provided with plentiful food and he wondered at it. It was Allah who was caring for her.

When Maryam became a young woman she was visited by a messenger from Allah. He told her that she would bear a son named Isa . He would speak to the people as a child and as an adult. Allah would teach him the Book and the Wisdom, and he would be a prophet to his people.

Maryam was amazed at this message. She was a well-behaved young, unmarried woman, so how could she have a baby? Allah's message was similar to that given to Ibrahim . Allah creates whatever he wills. All he has to do is say, "Be," and it is.

When the time came for Maryam's baby to be born, she withdrew from her family because she knew they wouldn't understand. As the pains of birth began, she came to a palm tree and cried out in despair that she wished she were dead. A voice answered her, telling her not to grieve, and telling her to shake the palm tree to obtain dates. Allah also provided her with a small stream to ease her thirst and cool her face during the birth of her son, Isa .

When Isa had been born, Maryam returned home with him. When her family saw him they were shocked, as she knew they would be. But she merely pointed to the baby in explanation and he, the newborn infant, spoke, declaring that he was indeed a servant of Allah, a prophet, blessed by Allah, enjoined to do prayer and charity, and be kind to his mother, humble and not overbearing, and that he would eventually die and be raised to life again.

You can read about Maryam and the birth of Isa () in the following suras of the Qur'an: 3:35-37, 3:42-49, 19:16-40.

01-11-2006, 07:49 PM
Yemen is a place in Arabia to the south of Makkah. A long time ago, it was ruled by people who worshipped other gods than Allâh. The ruler of those people, Dhu Nawâs, used to oppress the Christians who lived there. Once he had a big ditch or trench dug and put fire in it. Then he threw into it about 20,000 Christians. All those people died except one or two of them who ran away and came to the emperor of Syria for help.

The emperor of Syria wrote to the king of Abyssinia (Habashah), who was a Christian, and asked him to take revenge. So the Abyssinian leader (whose title was Najâshi) sent a huge army under the leadership of two commanders named Irbât and Abraha. Dhu Nawâs ran away from Yemen and later drowned, so Yemen came under the rule of the Abyssinians. After some time, an argument happened between the two commanders and a civil war broke out in which Irbât was killed and Abraha became the governor of Yemen.

At that time, all the Arabs used to make Hajj to the Ka’bah in Makkah. Even though they worshipped other gods than Allâh and did many wrong things, Allah kept His House a place which people always visited. Abraha saw them doing this and wanted to turn them away from it, so he built a huge cathedral in a city in Yemen called San’â. This church was so big that its roof could not be seen from the ground. It was decorated with gold, silver and pearls. Abraha announced that nobody should travel to the Ka’bah anymore. Rather, they should all come to this cathedral to perform worship.

Even though they were idolaters, the Arabs had great respect for the Ka’bah. So when Abraha made his announcement, they were very angry. Some of the Quraysh of Makkah went to the cathedral in secret and threw dirty stuff all over the floors and walls of it. Some also lit fire to it. When Abraha found out that these things were done by the Quraysh, he swore that he would take apart every brick of the Ka’bah and destroy it.

Abraha began gathering a big army. He asked permission from the Najâshi, who sent his personal elephant, Mahmûd, and eight other elephants with Abraha’s army. When the news of Abraha’s plan reached the Arabs, they prepared to oppose the attack. Abraha defeated the armies of several Arab tribes along the way to Makkah, and he took one of their leaders, Nufail bin Habeeb, as a prisoner and used him for a guide. As he approached Makkah, the people of Tâ’if decided that instead of trying to fight Abraha, they will help him out, so that he would not destroy their own temple. So they sent with him one of their leaders named Abû Righâl.

Abraha reached with his army up to Mughammas, a place close to Makkah. There were some camels feeding there, and the army overcame the herdsmen and captured these camels. Of these camels, 200 belonged to Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of the Prophet (), who was at that time the leader of the Quraysh. Abraha then sent a messenger to tell the people of Makka that he only wanted to destroy the Ka’bah and did not come to kill any people if they left him alone.

Abdul Muttalib came back with the messenger to meet Abraha. Abdul Muttalib, being the grandfather of the Prophet (), who was the best of creation, was himself a very handsome and striking personality. So, when Abraha saw him, he came down from his throne to sit next to Abdul Muttalib, even though this was not what the kings commonly did. He asked Abdul Muttalib what he had to say. Abdul Muttalib said that he wanted his camels back.

Abraha was very surprised. He said, “When I first saw you, I thought you were a very respectable and honorable man, but the first thing you have said has made me change my mind. I have come to destroy your Ka’bah and all you are worried about is your camels?!”

Abdul Muttalib replied, “I am the owner of the camels and they are my concern; while Allâh is the owner of the Ka’bah and He will defend it.”

Abraha replied, “Your Lord cannot defend it from me.”

Abdul Muttalib said, “Then do as you wish.” So Abraha gave back the camels and Abdul Muttalib returned to Makkah.

In Makkah, Abdul Muttalib went first to the Ka’bah and made a prayer to Allâh to protect the Ka’bah. Then all the people in Makkah left the city and went to the mountains around Makkah to see what would happen.

In the morning Abraha prepared to enter the city. He put Mahmûd, the elephant, in the front of the army. However, Nufail bin Habeeb, the captured Arab, secretly whispered into the elephant’s ear, “Kneel down! - Return safely from where you have come, for you are in the Secure Land (Balad Amîn).” After this, the elephant sat down and would not go forward. Abraha’s men tried to poke it and push it but it would not move. If they turned it around to face Syria or Yemen then it would start walking, but as soon as they faced it towards the Ka’bah it would sit down again. This was the sign of Allâh’s Power.

Suddenly, while this was happening, came the punishment which is mentioned in Sûrah Fîl of the Qur’an (Sûrah 105). Hundreds of birds which had never been seen before flew towards Makkah from the ocean. Each bird had 3 little stones- one in the beak and one in each foot. They flew over Abraha’s army and dropped the pebbles. Each pebble went straight through the bodies of the men. The elephants started running like crazy and the people were running back and forth getting killed. Some people, like Abraha, did not die right away. Instead they became extremely sick and died later on.

The result of this happening was that the Quraysh became very famous and respected among the other Arabs. No one else would dare to attack them or their caravans which they would send on business trips to Syria and Yemen. These trips are mentioned in the following sûrah (Sûrah 106) of the Qur’an, where Allâh says they should be worshipping and thanking Allâh Who gave them so many blessings of food, wealth and safety.

This amazing event was not a coincidence. The year in which this happened was the same blessed year in which the Prophet () was born, in the month of Rabî’-ul-Awwal. This event was one of many things which happened around the time of the birth of the Prophet (), which proved to the world that a wonderful person had been born, the last of the prophets, who would bring the message of Islâm which will last now until the Day of Judgment. When we study the life story of the Prophet () we find proof and evidence beyond doubt of his being the Messenger of Allah and the Last Prophet. May Allâh give us all the strength of imân to learn all about the life of the Prophet () and use it as our example in our lives.

01-11-2006, 07:51 PM
As you may recall, Ibrahim and his son Ismail had built the Ka'bah by the well of Zam Zam, which had provided water for Ismail and his mother, Hajira. But as generations passed, the Ka'bah became a center of idol worship and the well of Zam Zam had been buried under the sand and lost. The Arab tribe of Quraish had become guardians of the Ka'bah, which was the center of pilgrimage for all of Arabia.

We now come to the time of Muhammad's grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, a member of the Quraishi clan of Hashim, which was responsible for providing food and water to the pilgrims. One night Abdul Muttalib had a dream in which he was told to dig for the well of Zam Zam so that there would always be water for the pilgrims. The voice in the dream gave him detailed instructions on where he should dig.

Abdul Muttalib took his only son to the place where he knew he must dig, but as they started digging, a large crowd gathered to watch, some of whom opposed the idea of disturbing the ground next to their cherished idols. But Abdul Muttalib would not stop and continued to dig while his son stood guard beside him. It was a tense moment, until Abdul Muttalib's tools struck the covering of the long-lost well. Not only had he found the well, but the well had been filled at some time in history with the valuables which pilgrims had brought to the Ka'bah to offer to their idols. It was later decided that the treasure should be divided between the Ka'bah and Abdul Muttalib, and that the clan of Hashim should be in charge of Zam Zam, since it was their task to water the pilgrims.

Abdul Muttalib's experience at the well made him long for more sons who could stand beside him when the need arose. He prayed to Allah to give him more sons, and vowed that if he were blessed with ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them to Allah at the Ka'bah. His prayers were answered, and over the years he had nine more sons, the most favorite of whom was his youngest, Abdullah. He did not forget his vow, and when all his sons had grown up, he took them to the Ka'bah and had lots cast to determine who would be sacrificed. It was Abdullah who was chosen.

The entire community was in an uproar over the situation. The wives and daughters of Abdul Muttalib were upset and they called upon their families for support. The other brothers asked Abdul Muttalib to sacrifice something else instead of their youngest brother. Abdul Muttalib was upset because he had made a vow and must keep it, but he did not relish the idea of sacrificing his favorite son. Finally he agreed to consult a certain wise woman about whether a replacement could be provided, and what form it should take.

The wise woman provided the solution to the problem. She told Abdul Muttalib to cast lots between Abdullah and ten camels. If Abdullah were chosen, then he should add ten more camels, and continue until his Lord accepted the camels and the lot fell to them.

So they returned to the Ka'bah and cast lots, but Abdullah was chosen. They added ten more camels. But again Abdullah was chosen. This continued until there were one hundred camels. Only then did the lot fall to the camels. Abdul Muttalib had the test repeated a second and a third time, and each time the lot fell to the camels. Finally Abdul Muttalib was convinced that the hundred camels were acceptable to Allah as a replacement for his son. The camels were sacrificed and Abdullah was spared. He was to become the father of Muhammad .

(Note: Arabs before the advent of Islam were polytheists who considered Allah as one of their Lords.)

01-11-2006, 07:52 PM
In the previous story, we told how Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, had been chosen to be sacrificed to Allah, but had been spared by the sacrifice of one hundred camels. After the sacrifice of the camels had been accepted by Allah, Abdul Muttalib decided to find a wife for Abdullah. Aminah was chosen to be Abdullah’s wife.

Shortly after their marriage, Abdullah went with a caravan to trade in Palestine and Syria. On the way home he stopped in Yathrib to visit family members who lived there. He was taken fatally ill during his visit. Aminah was deeply grieved over the death of her husband. Her only consolation was the knowledge that she was carrying his unborn child. Sometime later her son, Muhammad , was born.

It was the custom of the great families of Arab towns to send their sons, soon after birth, to spend time in the desert with nomadic tribes. Not only was the desert air healthier for the boys’ bodies but the desert environment was also good for the boys’ spiritual and mental development, far from the corrupting influences of city life. Boys often stayed up to eight years with their foster families in the desert. Members of the nomadic tribes came periodically to Makkah to find babies to nurse and raise in the desert. One highly regarded tribe was that of Bani Saad. Haleema and her husband Harith were members of that tribe. There had been a drought at the time of Muhammad’s birth. Haleema and her husband had lost nearly everything. Haleema set out for Makkah on an old donkey which was so weak that it could hardly keep up with the others in the group. She and her husband also had an old camel which was so poorly fed that it didn’t provide any milk for them. As a result, Haleema was undernourished and could not produce enough milk to feed her newborn son, who cried with hunger every night.

When they reached Makkah, no one wanted to give their baby to Haleema because she was too weak and poor. At the same time, nobody wanted to take the baby Muhammad to nurse because he was an orphan and his mother was not rich. At last the only woman of Bani-Saad who had not found a baby to nurse was Haleema; and the only boy who did not have a nurse was Muhammad . So she agreed to take the baby. There was an instantaneous change in the fortunes of Haleema and Harith. When she put the baby to her breasts to feed, there was more than enough milk to satisfy him and her own baby too. The camel suddenly produced large quantities of milk for the woman and her husband, so that they were no longer hungry. On the journey home, her donkey carried her so quickly that the others had to shout to her to slow down. When they reached home, their flocks of sheep remained well-fed and produced large quantities of milk, while the sheep of their neighbors were hungry and would not produce a drop of milk. While the baby stayed with them, they continued to experience the special favors of Allah.

Haleema returned Muhammad to his mother when he was two years old. But since there were some dangerous illnesses circulating around Makkah at that time, Aminah returned Muhammad to Haleema to keep for a while longer.

Insha Allah, in the next story we shall continue telling of the boyhood of Muhammad .

01-11-2006, 07:54 PM
There were many signs as the prophet Muhammad was growing up and entering manhood that he was an extraordinary person. He was well known among the Quraish as a trustworthy and honest person. He was an eloquent speaker and a sound judge. But there was something more, something special, about him that was witnessed by many of those around him.

When Amina was pregnant with the baby Muhammad she was aware of a light within her, shining so intensely that she could see great distances. Shortly before the baby was born she heard a voice telling her that her child would be the leader of the people and that she should name him Muhammad , the praised one. She was not surprised when Haleema, the child’s foster mother, related the following strange happening.

Muhammad and the son of Haleema had been out in the fields with the sheep when two men dressed in white took Muhammad and laid him down and opened his breast. Haleema’s son ran back to tell his parents what was happening. When Haleema and her husband ran to him they found him very pale but standing. They could see no trace of the men, nor was there any sign of a wound on the boy, but neither boy would change a word of his story. The only mark on the boy’s body was a small mark on his back between his shoulders. But that had been there since his birth. Later in his life the prophet described the event more fully. He said that the two men in white carried with them a gold basin of snow. They opened his chest and removed his heart. They also opened his heart and removed a black clot. Then they cleansed his heart and his breast with the snow.

When Muhammad was six years old his mother died. He was then cared for by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, who died only two years after becoming Muhammad’s guardian. After his grandfather’s death, Muhammad was taken into the household of his father’s brother, Abu Talib. Abu Talib would sometimes take Muhammad with him on his travels with merchant caravans. On one such journey they stopped at a place named Bostra, on the way to Syria.

At Bostra there lived a Christian monk named Bahira. He lived there in solitude, studying old books and manuscripts which had been passed down to him from generations of monks who had lived there before him, all of whom were scholars of the scriptures. Among the books was one which predicted the coming of a prophet among the Arabs. Bahira believed that the prophet would come in his lifetime.

As the caravan from Makkah came to a halt near the monk’s abode, he noticed something very strange. A small cloud seemed to move slowly above the heads of a couple of the travelers, shielding them from the heat of the sun. When they took shelter beneath a tree, the cloud came to rest above them, and the branches of the tree itself were lowered over them to provide additional shade. Bahira was intrigued, and prepared a dinner for the entire caravan. It was no ordinary person who had caused the strange happenings which Bahira had witnessed. Perhaps the expected prophet was with the caravan.

When his guests arrived for dinner, he saw nothing unusual about any of them, so he asked if everyone had come. Sure enough, the youngest member of the caravan, Muhammad , had been left at the camp. At the monk’s request, Muhammad was summoned. Bahira knew at once from the boy’s face that this was the person for whom the shade had been provided. He asked the boy many questions, all of which were answered to his satisfaction. Finally the monk asked if he might see his back. There, between the shoulders, was the mark Bahira had expected to see, just as it had been described in his book.

Bahira advised Abu Talib to take his nephew back to Makkah. He warned him to keep the boy away from the Jews, for if they saw in him what Bahira had seen, they would try to harm him. He predicted that great things were in store for the son of Abu Talib’s brother. Between the shoulders of Muhammad , Bahira had seen what he knew was the seal of prophethood.

01-11-2006, 07:55 PM
As a young man, Muhammad was known for his truthfulness and honesty. For this reason many people called him as-Saadiq (the Truthful) or al-Ameen (the Trustworthy). Many people left their valuables and money in his care. He frequently accompanied merchants on their travels abroad to trade for goods. As time passed, merchants who were unable to make the journey themselves would ask Muhammad to go in their place. As he proved to be highly successful in handling the merchants’ business, more and more commissions came his way. Although he was still a young man, his judgment in all matters was greatly respected. The story of the rebuilding of the Ka'bah shows how he found a just solution to diffuse an explosive situation.

When Muhammad was about thirty-five years old, the Quraish decided to rebuild the Ka'bah. It had fallen into a state of disrepair and needed a roof, for it had none at all. Wood for the roof’s rafters would come from a dismantled ship which had been wrecked in a storm at Jedda. There was a skilled carpenter living in Makkah who was willing to help with the roof. They planned to completely dismantle the walls, which were made of loose stones, and rebuild from the bottom up. However, their respect and fear for the Ka'bah was so great that they were afraid to start tearing it down, especially since it seemed to be guarded by a large snake which threatened anyone who approached it. However, one day Allah sent an eagle which snatched up the snake and carried it away. The Quraish agreed that this was a sign that their good intentions had been accepted, especially in conjunction with the unexpected supply of wood, always in short supply in the desert, and the presence of a carpenter who knew what to do with it.

The first stone that was lifted from the wall jumped from the hands of the man who had removed it and returned to its place in the wall. Then all the people drew back from the walls and were afraid to start the work. Finally one man was brave enough to try , but he first prayed to Allah to accept his good intentions. The other men waited to see if any misfortune befell that man before they would join in the work. The following day, the man resumed work on the wall, still without any signs of disapproval from Allah. Then the other men took courage and began to tear down the walls until they had reached the foundation of Ibrahim.

Next came the task of rebuilding, using stones which they had gathered, as well as the original stones, to make the walls taller. Each clan, or extended family unit, within the tribe of the Quraish was assigned a certain portion of the walls to rebuild. At last the walls were high enough for the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad) to be rebuilt into its corner. Each clan wanted to have the honor of lifting it back into place, so a big disagreement arose. For four or five days the clans argued about which of them would have the honor of placing the Black Stone. As tensions mounted the threat of a war breaking out became very real. Finally the oldest man among them proposed a solution. They should choose the first man who entered the courtyard around the Ka'bah to settle the dispute for them.

The clans all agreed to the old man’s proposal and eagerly watched the gates. Who would have the honor of settling this grave dispute? The first man to enter the courtyard was Muhammad , who had been away on one of his journeys. Certainly no man was better suited to find a solution to their problem. They could all accept his judgment.

The problem was explained to Muhammad . He asked each clan to choose a representative. Then he spread his cloak out on the ground and placed the Black Stone in the middle of it. Next he asked all the representatives of the clans to take hold of the cloak along the edges and lift it. When it had been raised to the right height, he himself lifted the stone out of the cloak and placed it in its position in the wall. Then the work on the Ka'bah could be completed. All the clans were satisfied because they had shared in the honor of placing the Black Stone.

01-11-2006, 07:57 PM
Many non-Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was married to many wives for selfish reasons or that marrying more than one wife is a requisite for any Muslim man. Most people do not realize that the Prophet’s first marriage set a perfect example of a stable, long-lasting monogamous relationship. Indeed, in the course of his lifetime he was able to demonstrate the proper manner in which to be married to one wife or to more than one; in both cases mutual respect and fair treatment were always foremost in the relationship. He taught us monogamous relationship by practicing it for twenty-five years and polygamous relationship by practicing it for about thirteen years.

This month’s story will tell of Khadijah , the Prophet’s first wife. The story starts in Makkah, before Muhammad had been called to convey Allah’s message. He was a young man of twenty-five, who served as an agent for merchants who wished to trade in distant cities but did not wish to leave Makkah.

One of the richest merchants in the city of Makkah was a woman, Khadijah. She was a distant relation to Muhammad on his father’s side. She had been twice widowed, and being unable to travel herself, was accustomed to hire men to trade for her. She had heard about the trustworthy Muhammad , and contacted him about taking some of her goods to Syria. The expedition proved to be very successful.

Khadijah was very impressed with Muhammad . She was fifteen years older than he, but she began to wonder if she could interest him in marriage. She discussed the idea with her friend, Nafeesah, who offered to approach Muhammad on her behalf. Nafeesah asked Muhammad why he had not married, and he replied that he did not have the means to support a wife. She then said she knew a woman who could give him the means, and who was beautiful and from a good family also. When Muhammad found out who Nafeesah had in mind, he was doubtful that such a marriage could take place, but he expressed his willingness on his part. Nafeesah took his answer back to Khadijah and Khadijah sent word back to him through Nafeesah that she was willing to marry him. Muhammad’s uncle, Hamzah , went with Muhammad to formally ask Khadijah’s uncle for her hand in marriage. A dowry of twenty she-camels was agreed upon.

The marriage proved to be a wise match. Not only was Khadijah a good wife; she also became Muhammad’s cherished friend and counselor. She gave him six children. The eldest child was a son who was named Qasim, but he died before he was two years old. Then followed four daughters, Zainab , Ruqayyah , Umm Kulthum , and Fatimah . The last child, a son named Abdullah , also died in infancy.

When the Prophet was forty years old, he received his first visit from the angel Jibril . He was overcome with fear and awe after the visit from the angel, and he hastened down the mountainside, where he had been praying, to his home. Still shivering with fear, he shouted to Khadijah to cover him. She threw a cloak over him as he lay on his couch, and there he remained until his shaking had subsided. He then told her what had happened to him in the cave. Khadijah went to her cousin, who was a scholar of the Christian scriptures, and told him about her husband’s experience. Upon hearing the story, her cousin declared that Muhammad was indeed the prophet whose coming had been foretold. Khadijah conveyed his message to Muhammad , who, feeling reassured that he was not possessed by an evil spirit, returned to the mountain to complete his devotions. Khadijah was the first person to embrace Islam after hearing the words which had been placed in her husband’s heart.

Later the angel Jibril appeared to Muhammad and taught him how to do the ablution and how to pray. Muhammad hurried home as soon as the angel had left him and taught Khadijah how to pray.

Khadijah lent her husband her full moral and financial support during the first ten tumultuous years of his prophethood. Her service to him as a confidante and advisor was invaluable. The marriage of Khadijah and Muhammad lasted for twenty-five years, until her death at the age of 65. He was near 50 at the time of her death. He never forgot his happy harmonious marriage to his faithful Khadijah .

Years after Khadijah’s death, the Prophet’s wife Aishah , who had never personally known Khadijah , would relate: “I was not jealous of any other wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, for his constant mentioning of her and because Allah had bidden him give her good tidings of a mansion in Paradise of precious stones. And whensoever he sacrificed a sheep, he would send a goodly portion of it unto those who had been her intimate friends. Many a time said I unto him: It is as if there had never been any other woman in the world, save only Khadijah.” (Bukhari LXIII, 20).

01-11-2006, 08:04 PM
Among the Quraish there had always been a few men in every generation who would periodically retreat to a quiet place for the purpose of meditation, away from the distractions of everyday life. Muhammad was one of these men. He would devote a certain number of days each year to the worship of Allah. He would take provisions with him and retreat to a cave on Mount Hira, spend several days in devotion, and then return to his family.

It was when he was forty years old, towards the end of the month of Ramadan, that he was first visited by the angel Jibril in his mountainside retreat. The angel approached him in the form of a man and told him to read. But Muhammad had had no formal education so he replied that he could not read. The angel then squeezed him in a tight embrace and repeated the command to read. Again Muhammad replied that he could not read and again the angel hugged him tightly. For a third time the angel repeated the command to read, saying:

Read in the name of thy Lord who created!
He createth man from a clot of blood.
Read; and thy Lord is the Most Bountiful,
He who hath taught by the pen,
Taught man what he knew not.
(al Qur'an 96:1-5)

This time Muhammad repeated the words after the angel, and the angel left, but the words had been burned into Muhammad's heart and he could not forget them. He was overcome with fear and awe after the visit from the angel, and he hastened down the mountainside to his home. Still shivering with fear, he shouted to Khadija , to cover him. She threw a cloak over him as he lay on his couch, and there he remained until his shaking had subsided. He then told her what had happened to him in the cave.

Khadija went to her cousin Waraqah, an aged man who was a scholar of the Christian scriptures. Upon hearing the story, he declared that Muhammad was indeed the prophet of the Arab people whose coming had been foretold. Khadija conveyed his message to Muhammad , who, feeling reassured that he was not possessed by an evil spirit, returned to the mountain to complete his devotions. Upon his return to Makkah he met Waraqah at the Ka'bah, and the old man repeated his declaration, also predicting that Muhammad would be called a liar, would be ill-treated, would be cast out, and would have war waged against him.

The angel's command to read was the first part of the Quran to be revealed. It was followed soon after by a second revelation, which reassured Muhammad that he was not a madman but rather was chosen by Allah (al-Qur'an 68:1-4). Then there was a long period with no further revelations, until Muhammad began to fear that he had done something wrong to make Allah abandon him. At the end of this long silence, he again received reassurance from Allah that he would not be forsaken, and commanding him to proclaim the grace of Allah (al-Qur'an 93). It was at this point that he began to share his experiences not only with Khadija , but also with other close family members and friends.

One day Jibril appeared to Muhammad again. The angel struck his heel into the hillside where they were standing and a spring of water gushed out of the ground where his heel had touched. He taught Muhammad how to do the ablution to cleanse himself before prayer, and he taught him the postures and manner of praying. When the angel had left him, Muhammad hurried home to Khadija and they prayed together.

After Khadija , the first people to embrace Islam were the Prophet's nephew Ali , his adopted son Zaid , and his good friend Abu Bakr . Abu Bakr , who was well known and respected in Makkah, was instrumental in bringing several others into the fold of Islam, but it was a very small, private and select group. As Muhammad continued to receive revelations, however, he was commanded by Allah to expand his teachings to a much larger but not always friendly audience.

Insha-Allah, in future issues of Iqra we will see how the Prophet accomplished this.

Mounting Opposition
For about three years after the first revelation, Muhammad's message reached only a small group of family, friends, and acquaintances. These people were very discreet in their practice of Islam and tried to avoid confrontations with the idol-worshippers. But the situation began to change as the Prophet received commands to proclaim the glories of Allah, first to his clan, and then to all of the Quraish.

The Quraish, in general, had been tolerant of the new religion. However, as the Prophet's rejection of their gods became more public, the Quraish began to worry. Their high status among the Arab tribes depended on their guardianship of the Ka'bah and their hospitality to the pilgrims who traveled to Makkah from all over Arabia. They welcomed every man and his gods. It would not do to have those gods insulted. They also worried about the status of the tribe if too many people turned to Islam. The Quraish might be considered unsuitable as guardians of the idols in the Ka'bah and be replaced by another Arab tribe.

The Quraish wanted to do something to distance themselves from Muhammad . They wanted the pilgrims who would soon be flocking into the city of Makkah to know that he did not represent the thinking of the majority of the Quraish. They were concerned about the persuasiveness of the man. They themselves had been impressed by his sincerity and truthfulness in the days before he had started talking about Allah. Yet they dared not do any bodily harm to him, for the clan to which he belonged was among the strongest in the tribe, and would certainly retaliate if he were killed or injured.
The first plan of attack by the Quraish elders was to approach Muhammad's uncle, Abu Talib. They wanted Abu Talib to speak to his nephew, to ask him to cease his preaching. They were even willing to offer wealth or power in exchange for his silence. Abu Talib, who had remained neutral in the matter, agreed to have a talk with his nephew. However, although Muhammad did not wish to cause any trouble for his uncle and other members of his family, he declared to his uncle that even if the Quraish placed the sun in his right hand and the moon in his left, he could not abandon his preaching. Abu Talib respected the sincerity of his nephew and promised that he would do nothing to stand in his way.

The next line of attack was to set up roadblocks on every road leading into the city. Visitors would be warned in advance about Muhammad , and would be advised that he was a powerful sorcerer, capable of splitting families apart. They would be cautioned to avoid contact with him and his followers. However, some people who had heard of him from other sources still sought out the Prophet , some heard different stories about him from his followers and decided to see for themselves what he was like, and some were won over in spite of their efforts to avoid him. One man plugged his ears before he went to pray at the Ka'bah, where Muhammad was also praying. But enough of the Prophet's words filtered through the earplugs to make him want to hear more. Before returning to his distant home, he learned about Islam and took the shahada. Many of these pilgrims who came in contact with the Muslims made the profession of faith and returned to their people, carrying with them the message of Islam. In this way the word was spread to some of the far-flung tribes of Arabia.

Insha-Allah, in the next issue of Iqra, we shall tell of the Quraishi leaders' attempts to enter into direct negotiations with the prophet , in their continuing struggle to neutralize his influence.

The Three Questions
Was Muhammad really a prophet? Was he just a convincing fake? How could they find out? These are the questions which the leaders of the Quraish were continuously asking themselves. They finally decided to consult the Jewish rabbis in Yathrib about the problem, since Jews had had more dealings with prophets in the past and the rabbis were knowledgeable in the scriptures.

The rabbis advised the Quraish to ask Muhammad three questions. If he knew the answers to those questions, then he was truly a prophet. The first question was about some young men of long ago, who had left their people and had had a wondrous experience. The second question was about a traveler who had journeyed to the ends of the earth in the east and the west. The third question was about the Spirit, and what it was.

The Quraish hurriedly sent messengers to Muhammad to ask him the three questions. The Prophet told them to return the following day and he would have the answers for them. However, he failed to add, “insha Allah,” that is, “if Allah wills.” By the next day he had not received any revelation to help him answer the questions, and he had to ask the messengers to return the following day. This was repeated for fifteen days, while the people of Mecca laughed at Muhammad’s inability to answer the three questions. Finally Jibril appeared to the Prophet , and told him the three answers. He also explained the reason for the delay. In Surah 18: 23-24, is the warning that one should not plan to do anything in the future, without saying, insha Allah. All that we hope to do is only accomplished by the will of Allah.

The first question was about some young men who remained steadfast in their worship of one God, while the rest of their people turned to the worship of idols. No one is sure of the number of youth involved. That knowledge is Allah’s alone, although many scholars have disputed over the number. To escape persecution, the young men hid in a cave, where Allah caused them to fall asleep for about three hundred years (only Allah knows the exact length of time). They had a dog with them, and to anyone who happened to see them they would have appeared to be awake, and the person would have been filled with fear of them. When they finally awoke, it seemed to them as if only a short time had passed. It was when one of them was sent down to the town to buy food that they learned they had slept for centuries. The account of these sleepers is in the Quran, Surah 18:9-25.

The answer to the second question was about a great traveler identified as Zul-Qarnain, “the owner of two horns.” He had great power and had been given the ways and means to do all things. He traveled to the setting of the sun, which set in a murky pool. Nearby there lived a people over whom Zul-Qarnain had authority to punish or reward. He chose to punish those who did wrong and then send them back to Allah to be further punished. Those who believed in Allah and were righteous, would be rewarded. Then he journeyed to the rising of the sun, where he found a people who had been provided with no protection against the sun. Those people he left completely alone.

As part of his answer to the second question, Muhammad gave information about a third journey which Zul-Qarnain made. He traveled to a place between two mountains, where the people understood scarcely anything about Allah. They asked for his help in building a barrier between them and two beings called Yajooj and Majooj. In return for his assistance they promised to pay tribute to him. However he did not desire tribute. He replied that the power which he received from Allah was better than any tribute which they could offer him. And so he helped them erect a barrier of iron and lead, which Yajooj and Majooj were powerless to climb over or dig through. But the Quran warns that on a day appointed by Allah, they would break out of their place of confinement and cause great destruction. This would be one of the signs that the Day of Judgment was near. The story of Zul-Qarnain can be found in the Quran 18:84-103.

The third question, about the Spirit, had the shortest answer. The Quran (17:85) says that the Spirit comes by command of Allah, and that mankind does not have the knowledge to fully understand it. The Jews disputed that they had been given full knowledge in the Torah, but Allah tells us that their knowledge is very small, in comparison to Allah’s knowledge, which could not be recorded even if all the trees on earth were pens and all the seas were ink.

Despite Muhammad having answered all their questions successfully, the rabbis did not recognize him as a prophet, and the Quraishi leaders did not follow the rabbis’ advise to follow him as a prophet. But many other people were convinced and the number of believers increased. As the numbers of believers increased, the opposition felt increasingly threatened and resorted to persecution of the followers of Muhammad .

The First Emigration
Many of the early Muslims were persecuted and tortured for their belief in Allah. They were forced to worship in the utmost privacy, and for some, who had no privacy from their idol-worshiping masters or kinsmen, it was very difficult to worship at all. When the Prophet saw how these people were suffering, he suggested that they go to Abyssinia, where the king would grant them protection. The Prophet himself and other Muslims who were not so strongly persecuted did not go, but he did send some of his strongest supporters, such as Uthman , to lead and support the group. His cousin Jafar was sent as the Muslims’ spokesman, for he was very eloquent in his speech.

If you were to look at a map, you would not find Abyssinia on it. It is now known as Ethiopia, on the continent of Africa, just west of the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula. It was a journey of several hundred miles for the fleeing Muslims. They did not all leave at once from Makkah, for they knew that their families would try to prevent their departure. They left secretly in small groups, so that the Quraish were not aware of what had happened until all the emigrants had reached their destination. In Abyssinia, where most of the inhabitants were Christian, the emigrants were allowed to worship freely.

The Quraish were angered by the carefully planned departure of the Muslims and devised a plot to get them back. They sent to Abyssinia two men loaded with bribes for the king and his generals. First the men approached each general individually and presented their case and their gifts, so that when they made their request to the king for the return of the Muslims, the generals would side with the Quraish. However, the king was not about to hand over a group of people, who had come to him for protection, without hearing their side of the story. He had the Muslims summoned to his court.

The king asked the group of assembled Muslims to explain this new religion to him, a religion which was not like that of their kinsmen, but was not like any other religion with which the king was familiar. Jafar explained how they had been called from the worship of idols and images to the worship of Allah, and that this call had come from a Messenger who had been sent to them from their own people. He explained how their desire to worship the oneness of Allah had caused their people to turn against them and to try to get them to return to idol-worshiping. It was for this reason that the Muslims had fled from their homeland and had sought the protection of the king. Jafar then recited a passage from the Surah Maryam (19:16-21) which described how Maryam had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus . The king and his religious advisers wept when they heard the passage and wept again after it was translated. Surely, the king exclaimed, these words came from the same source as the teachings of Jesus . He refused to turn the Muslims over to the Quraishi representatives.

But the two men were not to be so easily turned aside from their mission. The following day they started a rumor that the Muslims claimed that Jesus was a slave. The king sent for the Muslims once more to hear from them what they said about Jesus . The Muslims were afraid of the outcome of their response but they had to say what Muhammad had taught them. They told the king that Jesus indeed was the slave of Allah and His messenger and His spirit and His word. The king recognized that this was no more than what Jesus himself had said. So once again he rejected the Quraishi demands and, returning all the gifts which the two men had brought, sent them in disgrace back to their country.

However, yet another crisis faced the Muslims, for many of the king’s people were angered at what the king had said about Jesus . He was well liked by his subjects, for he was a good and just ruler, but they demanded an explanation of his words. The king feared for the safety of the Muslims and sent word to them to prepare for a hasty departure if his people were to rise up against him. He then wrote on a piece of parchment the words which the Muslims had spoken of Jesus , about him being the slave of Allah, and concealed the parchment inside the front of his shirt. When the king addressed an assembly of his people, he asked them what they said of Jesus . They replied that Jesus was the son of God. The king placed his hand on his breast and declared that this was what he believed. The king was referring to the words on the piece of parchment under his hand, but his people thought that "this" referred to their statement about the son of God. The people were satisfied with his answer and the crisis was averted. The Muslims were free to worship as they pleased under the protection of the king of Abyssinia.

The Boycott
As you may recall, the Quraysh were divided into different family groups called clans, and the prophet Muhammad belonged to the clan of Hashim, his great grandfather. It was Hashim’s brother Muttalib who had been the guardian of Abdul Muttalib, the prophet’s grandfather. Although many of the Quraysh bitterly opposed Muhammad and his followers, most of the clan of Hashim were determined to protect their kinsman, whether or not they believed that he was a prophet. A notable exception was Abu Jahl, one of the most vehement persecutors of the Muslims.

The Quraysh decided to organize a boycott against the clan of Hashim. About forty leaders drew up and signed a document which forbade anyone to marry a woman of Hashim or to give his daughter in marriage to a man of Hashim. It also banned the sale of goods to anyone in the clan of Hashim, and prohibited anyone from buying goods from a member of Hashim. The boycott was extended to the clan of Muttalib when they refused to go along with the majority. The boycott was to remain in effect until the Hashim turned against the Prophet or until Muhammad renounced his claim to prophethood.

The boycott brought great hardship to the two clans, and they frequently faced starvation, but they were not without sympathizers. Muslims among the other clans, such as Abu Bakr and Umar , often managed to find ways to get supplies to the clans. Some sympathizers, although unbelievers, also defied the boycott. One man would load his camel with food and clothing and then send it running loose past the houses of the Hashim, so that they could catch it and unload it. Women who had married into the clan of Hashim were still considered members of their own clan even after marriage. In this way Khadija and other wives could receive goods from their kinsfolk without breaking the rules of the boycott.

The boycott went on for nearly two years, with no sign of the Hashim being ready to renounce Muhammad nor of Muhammad being ready to renounce his claim to prophethood. In addition, it had the unwanted effect of bringing more attention to the prophet . All over Arabia people were talking about the religion of Muhammad and his devoted followers. People were beginning to have second thoughts about the boycott, especially those who had close relatives who were suffering from it.

One of those who wished to see an end to the boycott was Hisham, the same man who had frequently driven his supply-laden camel past the homes of the Hashim. He managed to find four other leaders who felt the same as he, and together they devised a plan of action. The following day when they were at the mosque one of them spoke up against the boycott, saying he did not wish to see the people of Hashim die while his clan had plenty of food and clothing. One by one the four other men spoke up in support of his call to end the boycott. One of them entered the Ka'bah to bring out the written document, which had been placed there after it had been signed by the forty leaders. When he emerged, he held a small scrap of paper, all that was left of the original document, which had been eaten by worms. Most of the people, who were already only lukewarm about the boycott, considered the destruction of the document to be a sign. And so, after nearly two years, with public support strongly against the hardliners, the boycott was ended, and the clans of Hashim and Muttalib were reinstated into Qurayshi society.

After the boycott had been lifted, the Quraysh tried to obtain one more compromise from Muhammad . They tried to get him to agree that both sides would practice both religions. The Prophet’s response came in the form of a revelation, Surah 109. Most of you are probably familiar with this short but forceful statement:

In the name of Allah Most Gracious
Most Merciful
Say: O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way and to me mine.
(Al Qur'an 109)

01-11-2006, 08:10 PM
One of the most famous women of Islam was Aisha , the daughter of Abu Bakr Siddiq . Aisha was born in the month of Shawwal, four years after Apostlehood. Her mother’s name was Zainab, and she belonged to the tribe of Ghunaim bin Malik. The marriage of Aisha with the Messenger of Allah ended the Arab notion that a man could not marry the daughter of his adopted brother. The wedding also took place in the month of Shawwal, which repudiated the Arab custom of not marrying in the month of Shawwal, as plague had broken out in ancient times during this month.

Many incidents that culminated in Quranic revelations are linked to Aisha . These incidents alone make Aisha one of the most prominent Muslim women in the history of Islam. History records some of these incidents as follows.

During the Battle of Mustaliq in the 5th of Hijra, Aisha accompanied the Messenger of Allah . On the return journey, her necklace fell down somewhere and the whole caravan had to halt while she searched for it. When it was time for prayer, all the Companions of the Messenger of Allah became worried as water was not available anywhere. When the Messenger of Allah came to know about it, the verse regarding Tayyumum dry ablution was revealed. All of them were delighted at this special concession. Sayyid bin Hudair said, “ O’ progeny of Abu Bakr! You are a source of blessings for the people.”

In another incident, the Messenger of Allah led a very simple and ascetic life. Sometimes fire was not lit in the hearth for months and the whole family went without food every now and then. Although the wives of the Messenger of Allah held a venerable position among the people due to their status as wives of the Messenger of Allah , they also belonged to the human race and thus could not completely banish all human weaknesses. The conquests and expansion of Islam, and the feeling that a small portion of the booty which fell to the Muslims in the battles could have provided them with ease and comfort,induced them to demand more money for household expenses. On the advice of Abu Bakr and Umar their daughters, Aisha and Hafsa agreed not to bother the Messenger of Allah . The other wives, however, stuck to their demand. This incident affected the peace of mind of the Messenger of Allah so much that he resolved not to see his wives for one full month. After one month, the Messenger of Allah went to Aisha’s house. She was waiting for the Messenger of Allah anxiously. She said: “You had made a covenant not to see us for one full month and now only twenty-nine days have elapsed.” The Messenger of Allah replied: “Sometimes a month is of twenty-nine days.” Thereupon, the verse Takhayyar was revealed ordaining the Messenger of Allah to tell his wives that there were two alternatives before them. The incident is reported in history as follows. The Messenger of Allah came to Aisha and said, “You may consult your parents and then give a reply to my question.” “What is that question”, Aisha asked. The Messenger of Allah recited the following verses from Surah Ahzab of the Holy Qur’an: “O Prophet! say to your wives, if it be that you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allah and His messenger, and the home of the hereafter, verily Allah has prepared for the well-doers amongst you a great reward.” 33:28-29. On hearing this, Aisha said, “O Prophet of Allah, why should I consult my parents? I prefer Allah, His Prophet and the Hereafter over all mundane comforts.” The Messenger of Allah was pleased with Aisha’s reply and said that he will put the same question to all his wives. Aisha requested that her reply may not be disclosed to the others. The Prophet agreed and repeated the same question to all of his wives and all of them said what Aisha had said previously. The above mentioned verses from the Holy Qur’an are called the verses of Takhayyar.

Another significant incident linked to Aisha was that of Ifk. The details of Ifk are as follows. Once Aisha was accompanying the Messenger of Allah in a caravan. During the journey, the caravan stopped for a night’s stay. Aisha went out of her camp to relieve herself and lost her precious necklace somewhere along the way. As she came to know of this loss, she started searching for her lost necklace. In the meantime, the caravan moved on its journey. Aisha did not know that the caravan had moved. When she came back to her camp, she found the caravan had moved and she was left alone. She wrapped herself in a cloth sheet and waited to be rescued. Soon she was approached by Safwan , son of Muattal, whose duty was to trail behind the caravan to collect the leftovers and to join the caravan afterwards. He recognized Aisha and asked her to ride on his camel while he walked alongside. By noon, they joined the caravan. This incident fueled the fire for mischevious people, and gave them an opportunity to create a lot of misconceptions. These hypocrites started malicious propaganda against Aisha and accused her of adultery. The Messenger of Allah said, “If Aisha is innocent, Allah will defend her.” After quite a few days, the Messenger of Allah’s prediction proved true. In Surah Al-Noor, Allah confirmed the innocence of Aisha in the following verse: “Those who brought forward a lie are a body among yourselves; think it not to be an evil in you; On the contrary it is good for you; to every man among them will come the punishment of the sin that he earned and to him who took on himself the lead amongst them, will be a Chastisement grievous.” 24:11 Aisha’s mother asked her to bow in thanks before the Messenger of Allah , and she promptly replied, “No, I am only grateful to my Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah died in Aisha’s apartment. It is one of the outstanding merits of Aisha that her sacred apartment became the last abode of the Messenger of Allah .

In addition to the aforementioned incidents which make Aisha one of the most prominent Muslim women in history, the fact that she memorized so many hadith is an other quality by which she is remembered. She reported more than 2,000 hadith.

Aisha lived to be sixty-three years old. A few moments before death, she said, “Bury me in Jannat-ul-Baqi graveyard for common Muslims of Madinah where the rest of the Messenger of Allah’s wives are buried.” She had made a will that she should be buried at night, so she was buried in the night that she died, after her funeral prayers, in Jannat-ul-Baqi. Her funeral prayers were led by Abu Huraira . Earlier, when Umar was on his death bed, he had sent his son to Aisha with a request for being buried by the side of the Messenger of Allah . Aisha replied, “I had chosen this place as my grave but I would sacrifice it for Umar .” This act demonstrates her generous nature, and we can all benefit from reflecting upon all of the events of her life.

01-12-2006, 04:51 AM

a bit lengthy, but good thread :thumbs_up

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