The Life of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
FROM THE BEGINNING OF PROPHETHOOD UNTIL THE MIGRATION TO ABYSSINIA
During this period, we know that the following historical events took place:
1. The Revelation (wahy) came to the Prophet ﷺ .When the Prophet ﷺ reached the age of forty, Jibreel (Gabreal) came down to him with the Revelation on Monday 17 Ramadaan. Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) tells us the story in his Saheeh, with a continuous isnad going back to 'Aa'ishah Umm al-Mu’mineen, of how the Revelation came to him. 'Aa'ishah said:
"The way in which the Divine Revelation to the Messenger of Allah began was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hiraa' where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before he would want to see his family. He used to take with him the food for his stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadeejah to take his food again, until suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hiraa'. The angel came to him and told him to read. The Prophet ﷺ replied, 'I am not a reader.' The Prophet ﷺ said, 'The angel embraced me and squeezed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. Then he released me and again told me to read, and I replied, 'I am not a reader.' Thereupon he embraced me again and squeezed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. Then he released me and again told me to read but again I replied, 'I am not a reader.' Thereupon he embraced me for the third time and squeezed me, then he released me and said,
"Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created [all that exists]. He has created man from a clot [a piece of thick coagulated blood]. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught [the writing] by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not."
(Qur'an 96: 1-5)
Then the Messenger of Allah returned, having memorized these verses, with his heart beating severely. Then he came to Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid and said, 'Cover me! Cover me!' They covered him until he calmed down, then he told her everything that had happened and said, 'I fear for myself.'
Khadeejah replied, 'Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You uphold the ties of kinship, help the poor and the destitute, honour your guests and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.' Khadeejah then took him to Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn 'Abdul-'Uzza, who was the son of Khadeejah's paternal uncle. He had become a Christian during the Jaahiliyah and he was a scribe who could write Hebrew. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had become blind.
Khadeejah said to Waraqah, 'Listen to the story of your nephew, O' my cousin!' Waraqah asked, O' my nephew! What have you seen?' The Messenger of Allah described what he had seen and Waraqah said, 'This is the Namoos -- the bringer of Revelation, i.e., Jibreel -who came down to Moosa. 1 wish that I were young and strong, and could live up to the time when your people will drive you out.' The Messenger of Allah said, 'Will they drive me out?' Waraqah said, 'Yes, no man has ever brought something similar to what you have brought but he was treated with hostility. But if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I will support you strongly.' But after a few days Waraqah died and the Revelation also ceased for a while.
According to the report narrated by Ibn Hishaam from Ibn Ishaaq: Jibreel came to him whilst he was sleeping in the cave of Hiraa', bringing a coverlet of brocade on which there was some writing, and said, "Read!" ... So I read it, and he departed from me, and I awoke from my sleep, and it was as if those words were written on my heart. Then I went out and when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying, "O' Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah, and I am Jibreel." I raised my head to look up at the sky, and I saw Jibreel in the form of a man standing astride the horizon, saying, "O' Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah, and I am Jibreel." So I stood and looked at him, moving neither forward not backward, then I began to turn my face away from him, but wherever I looked I saw him there on the horizon. I continued to stand there, neither advancing nor turning back, until Khadeejah sent her messengers to look for me ...
2. The first one to believe in him and enter Islam was his wife Khadeejah, then his cousin 'Ali, who was ten years old. Then his freed slave Zayd ibn Haarithah, then Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq. The first slave to become Muslim was Bilaal ibn Rabaah al-Habashi. So Khadeejah was the first one to believe in him. The Prophet ﷺ prayed with her late on Monday, and that was the first day he prayed. At that time the prayer was two rak’ahs in the morning and two rak'ahs in the evening.
3. Then after that the Revelation ceased for a while. The reports differ as to how long that time lasted. The longest estimate is three years and the shortest is six months, which is the correct view. The cessation of the Revelation caused great distress to the Prophet, until he was about to go out to the mountains and throw himself down from a peak4, thinking that Allah had forsaken him after He had chosen him for the honour of Prophethood. Then the Revelation came back to him, as Imam Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh from Jaabir ibn 'Abdullah al-Ansaari, who reported that the Prophet ﷺ said:
"Whilst I was walking, I heard a voice from heaven, so I looked up and saw the angel who had come to me in the cave of Hiraa', sitting on a throne between heaven and earth. I was afraid of him, so I went back, saying,'Cover me!' Then Allah revealed the words:
4Although this sentence - "He was about to throw himself down from the mountaintops out of grief because the Revelation had ceased" - appears in Saheeh al-Bukhari, it is part of the commentary of Az-Zuhri and cannot be traced back to the Prophet. See Al-Fath, 12/316.
'O' you [Muhammad] enveloped in garments! Arise and warn! And glorify your Lord [Allah]! And purify your garments! And keep away from Ar-Rujz [the idols] ! ' (Qur 'an 74: 1-5)
So the Revelation resumed and continued to come."
4. After that, the Messenger started to call to Islam those whom he knew to be mature. This went on for three whole years, until a number of men and women, who were known to be mature and of sound nature, had embraced Islam.
5. Then, after the number of those who had entered Islam had reached approximately thirty, Allah commanded His Messenger to convey the message openly. That was when Allah said:
"Then declare what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists." (Qur 'an 15: 94)
6. Then began the period of persecution of the new believers and of the Messenger of Allah. The mushrikeen were upset because the Messenger cast aspersions upon their reasoning and criticized their gods, and brought them a new religion which called them to One God,
"Whom no vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all vision and He is Al-Lateef [the Most Subtle and Courteous], Well-Acquainted with all things" (cf. Al-An 'aam 6: 103).
7. During this period, the Messenger would meet with the believers in secret in the house of Al-Arqam ibn Abi al-Arqam who had also become Muslim. The Messenger used to recite to them the verses of the Qur'an that had been revealed to him, and he would teach them about the rulings of the religion and the laws that had been revealed at that stage.
8. Then the Messenger was commanded to warn his tribe and kinsmen. So he stood on As-Safa and called the clans of Quraysh one by one, and invited them to enter Islam, and give up idol-worship; he told them of Paradise and warned them about Hell. Abu Lahab said to him, "May you perish! Was it for this that you called us together?"
9. Quraysh wanted to harm the Messenger but his uncle Abu Taalib protected him and refused to surrender him to them. Then after they had left, he asked him to tone down his call. He thought that his uncle was going to let him down, and he uttered the famous words:
"By Allah, if they were to put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left to make me give up this matter, I will never give it up until Allah makes it victorious or I perish in the attempt."
10. After that the mushrikeen’s persecution of the Messenger and his companions became even worse, until some of them died under torture, and some of them became blind.
11. When Quraysh saw how the believers were clinging steadfastly to their beliefs, they decided to negotiate with the Messenger, offering to give him however much money he wanted, or to make him their king, but he refused all of that.
12. When the Messenger saw how stubborn Quraysh were and how they persisted in persecuting his Companions, he said to them,
"Why do you not leave and go to Abyssinia, for in that land there is a king under whom no one is mistreated, until Allah grants you a way out from the difficulties you are facing."
So in the first migration twelve men and four women migrated, then they came back after they heard that 'Umar had become Muslim and Islam was being proclaimed openly. But it was not long before they went back (to Abyssinia), taking other believers with them. In the second migration, eighty-three men and eleven women went to Abyssinia.
13. The mushrikeen boycotted the Messenger of Allah, Banu Haashim and Banu al-Muttalib. They stopped trading with them, intermarrying with them, mixing with them and reused to accept any deal with them. The boycott lasted for two or three years, during which the Messenger and the believers with him suffered a great deal of hardship. Then the boycott ended with the help of wise men among Quraysh.
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
1. When Allah wants to guide a person to call people to good and reform, He instills in his heart a dislike of the misguidance and corruption that prevail in his society.
2. Muhammad was not hoping to become a Prophet ﷺ and he did not dream of doing so. Rather, Allah inspired him to withdraw and engage in worship as a means of purifying himself and preparing himself spiritually to bear the burdens of Prophethood. If he had been hoping to become a Prophet, he would not have been frightened when the Revelation came to him, and he would not have gone to Khadeejah asking her the reason for what he had seen in the cave of Hiraa'. He was not certain that he was the Messenger of Allah until after he had seen Jibreel telling him, "O' Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah, and I am Jibreel," and until after Waraqah ibn Nawfal and Khadeejah had reassured him that what he had seen in the cave was the Revelation that used to come down to Moosa (Moses).
3. If the call for reform is foreign to the beliefs and mentality of the masses, the daa 'iyahs should not proclaim it openly until a number of people who are prepared to sacrifice everything believe in it, so that if the leader of the call is harmed, his followers who believe in his message will fulfill the obligation of calling others, and so that the continuation of the call will be guaranteed.
4. The Messenger of Allah surprised the Arabs with something they were not expecting; they rejected his call vehemently and wanted to kill him and his Companions. This historical fact is a refutation of some nationalists who claim that the call of Muhammad simply reflected the hopes and ambitions of the Arabs at that time. This is a ridiculous claim which is refuted by the proven historical facts as we have seen. The only reason why these people say such things is their extreme nationalistic views which make them regard Islam as something based on Arab ideas and identity. This is a clear denial of the Prophethood of the Messenger (Blessings and Peace be upon him) and a denigration of his great message.
5. The steadfastness of the believers in adhering to their beliefs, even though the evildoers inflicted various kinds of torture and persecution on them, points to the genuine nature of their faith. They were so sincere in their beliefs and so noble in spirit that to have a clear conscience and peace of mind, and to hope for the pleasure of Allah, was more important than the persecution and torture they suffered.
The sincere believers and daa'iyahs give precedence to the spiritual considerations over the physical ones. They hasten to obey the dictates of their souls, at the expense of the demands of their bodies for rest and pleasure. This is how the da'wah prevails, and this is how the masses are set free from darkness and ignorance.
6. The words that the Prophet ﷺ -- said to his uncle Abu Taalib, and his rejection of the wealth and kingship offered to him by Quraysh, point to the sincerity of his claim to Prophethood and his keenness to guide the people. By the same token, the daa'iyah should be determined that his call should continue, no matter how many people gang up on him. He should ignore the followers of falsehood who tempt him with offers of position and status. Striving for the sake of the truth brings the believers peace of mind and contentment. The pleasure of Allah, the Exalted, the Almighty, and His Paradise are more precious to them than all the positions, status and wealth of this world.
7. The daa'iyah should meet with his supporters at intervals each day or each week, to increase their faith in the call and to teach them its ways, means and etiquette. If he fears that some danger may befall himself or his group if he meets with them openly, then he must meet with them in secret, lest the followers of falsehood find out about them and destroy all of them, or increase their persecution against them.
8. The daa'iyah must pay attention to his relatives, and convey to them the call for reform. If they turn away, he will have an excuse before Allah and before people for the corruption and misguidance that they are following.
9. If the daa'iyah finds out that his group is in deadly danger or that their beliefs are exposed to fitnah (trial), then he must prepare for them a place where they can be safe from the enmity of the followers of falsehood. This is not contrary to the daa'iyah’s obligation to be prepared to sacrifice himself. For if the daa'iyahs are few, the followers of falsehood could finish them off with one blow and put an end to their call. If the daa'iyahs are in a safe place, this guarantees that the da'wah will continue to spread.
10. The fact that the Prophet ﷺ told his Companions to migrate to Abyssinia twice, indicates that the relationship between religious people, despite the differences in their religions, is stronger than their ties to idol-worshippers and atheists. For the divinely-revealed religions - in their true and original forms -- share the same social goals, as well as belief in God and His Prophets and the Last Day.
This is what makes the ties among them stronger than any ties of kinship, blood or nationality with atheists, idol worshippers and those who disbelieve in the laws of Allah.
11. The followers of falsehood will not give in easily to the people of truth. Every time they fail in one means of resisting and defeating the call to truth, they will come up with something else. This is how it will continue until truth attains its final victory and falsehood is finally defeated.