IDOLATER ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE QURAN

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How were idolaters attitudes towards the quran? What did they make allegations against the Quran?

Islam spoke of truth, justice, the Hereafter, resurrection and reckoning in the presence of Allah, promising that no wrong committed will be left unpunished. That Islam was therefore aiming to put an end to their egoistic lives was a disturbing thought for idolaters to entertain. Islam was moreover throwing their idols into disrepute, declaring them as false. With the additional “great news” delivered by the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, Mecca began shaking. The opening of chapter Naba describes this terrifying scene thus:

عَمَّ يَتَسَاءلُونَ

عَنِ النَّبَإِ الْعَظِيمِ

ي هُمْ فِيهِ مُخْتَلِفُونَالَّذِ

“Of what do they ask one another? About the great news; about which they differ…” (an-Naba, 1-3)

Because human beings are naturally predisposed towards the truth, hearts are never satisfied with the unknown. They always run to what is known. What they do not know and what they may never know therefore causes them severe anguish. Despite having been given insight by prophets, humanity has always been occupied with the problem of death. The mystery of death eats away at the mind like a venomous snake and causes terrible anguish. Some try to dismiss it from time to time with various views and push its inevitability out of the realm of consciousness. But since death captures all with more tremendous force than even life itself, and because it is a reality that awaits all, to provide it with a clear explanation heads the list of the objectives of humanity.

This timeless riddle, impossible to grasp through human thinking, can only be undone with the power of Revelation. Though this news of the future brought by Prophet Muhammad -upon him blessings and peace- and all prophets before him should have been welcomed with appreciation, it has only been met with ridicule and indifference by certain groups lacking even a modicum of human dignity. Idolaters and disbelievers leading a life opposite to the aim of creation, met the news of the Hereafter brought by the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- with perplexity, and with a stubbornness and selfishness, turned their backs on the invite to eternal salvation, simply because it clashed with their selfish lifestyles.

The Quran speaks of the Hereafter as ‘the great news’. The reason for this is clear. Regardless of their particular conditions, human beings feel collective anguish at the face of death. That all the paths of life ultimately converge in death leaves all hearts, especially those of disbelief, in pain. One would expect at least the severity of any news regarding death to be understood, to the degree that for a living being there is no greater concern. In fact those who have come to a proper understanding have abandoned passing desires for the true, eternal life. A life without taking a lesson from death is no different from a life of darkness and disaster. The star of happiness is only born with death, at the end of a life lived beautifully, which is the very reason why Islam has advised the constant remembrance of and preparation for death.

Troubled with the Quran’s expressions regarding the Hereafter and death which, furthermore, clashed with their self-interests, the idolaters asked the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to change those news to their liking:

“Bring us a Quran that does not command us to stop worshipping Lat and Uzza. If Allah does not reveal a Quran as such, then you devise it, or change the one you have. Place mercy instead of punishment, permissible instead of unlawful, and vice versa!”

The following ayah were revealed in regard:

وَاِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ اَيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءَ ناَ ائْتِ بِقُرْاَنٍ غَيْرِ هذَا اَوْ بَدِّلْهُ قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِى اَنْ اُبَدِّلَهُ مِنْ تِلْقَاءِ نَفْسِى اِنْ اَتَّبِعُ اِلاَّ مَا يُوحَى اِلَىَّ اِنِّى اَخَافُ اِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّى عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

“And when Our clear communications are recited to them, those who hope not for Our meeting say: Bring a Quran other than this or change it. Say: It is not up to me that I should change it of myself; I follow only what is revealed to me. If I disobey my Lord, I surely fear the punishment of a mighty day.”  (Yunus, 15) (Wahidi, p.270; Alusi, XI, 85)

The idolaters did not know what to do. So they turned to oppressing, persecuting and torturing Muslims, which increased by the day and made life in Mecca unbearable. Like many other Muslims, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- also asked the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- permission to migrate. Once he was given permission, he made his way towards Abyssinia.

One or two days into the journey, he came across Ibn Daghinah, the chief of the tribe of Qara. He said:

“A man like you, Abu Bakr, can neither leave his home nor be driven out. I swear you are the gem of your tribe! You do what’s good and look after your relatives. You labor for those who cannot! Turn back! You are under my protection!”

With Ibn Daghinah next to him, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- returned to Mecca. When they entered the town, Ibn Daghinah openly declared his protection. The Qurayshis laid down some conditions.

“Tell Abu Bakr to worship his God at home! Let him perform his salat and recite the Quran as much as he wants there. But he must not disturb us by performing the salat or reciting the Quran anywhere else! We fear he will enchant our women and children!”

Ibn Daghinah delivered the Meccan requests to Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- who gave his agreement. He made a small place for salat in front of his home. There he began praying and reciting the Quran. As he was a gentle man with a tender heart, he would become emotional when reciting the Quran, unable to hold back his tears. The wives and children of the idolaters began to gather around him, and listen admiringly. This again worried the idolaters. They appealed to Ibn Daghinah to either prevent Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- from doing this or lift his protection from him.

He sent Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- the message:

“Either stay home and keep quiet or declare that you have left my protection!”

Fully resigned to the will of the Almighty, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- gave the following response:

“I return your protection to you. The protection of Allah is enough for me!” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 45; Ibn Hisham, I, 395-396)

Because the Arabs were very keen on literature, they admired and were greatly affected by eloquent words; so much so that sometimes even a rhyme was enough to praise one to the skies while humiliating another. Considering the enormous influence of the Quran which from time to time even had them under its grip, the idolaters took certain self-styled measures. In addition to having banned the recital of and listening to the Quran, the idolaters would also make noises to suppress the sound of the Quran they heard in one way or another, to prevent the warming of hearts towards it. Such is how the Almighty mentions them:

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَالْغَوْا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَغْلِبُونَ

“And those who disbelieve say: Do not listen to this Quran and make noise therein, perhaps you may overcome.” (Fussilat, 26)

Despite the ceaseless oppression and harassment of his tribe, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- continued delivering the message of Islam and inviting them to eternal salvation. The idolaters, on the other hand, would greet the neighboring Arabs who visited Mecca for pilgrimage or other reasons outside of the town, to warn and even threaten them against approaching the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and taking notice of his words. Claiming the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to be a madman, a magician and so forth, they would seek to keep people away from him, with allegations they themselves did not even believe.

When Tufayl ibn Amr[1] came to Mecca, he was met by a few Meccan notables who suggested, “You are a poet much respected among your tribe, Tufayl. Though you have come to our town, beware of that man among us! His condition has us worried. He has completely disrupted our community. His words have the effect of magic and separate a man from his father, wife and siblings. We fear that what has happened to us will also happen to you and your tribe. So never should you speak to him nor listen to anything he has to say!”

Under the influence of these words, Tufayl decided not to speak and listen to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- at all. When he went by the Kaabah, he even stuffed his ears with cotton in order not to hear, even by accident, any of the words of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. A while later, he felt ashamed of his actions and he thought, “What am I thinking? I am a poet with sound reason. I can tell a good word from a bad one. Then what could be wrong with listening to what the man has to say? If it is good I will accept it, otherwise not.” He waited. After the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- left for home, he caught up with him and said:

“Muhammad! Your tribesmen said so and so about you to me. They scared me so much that I even stuffed my ears with cotton not to hear your words. Now something has come over me and I want to listen. Could you explain to me your cause?”

Tufayl describes what happened next:

“The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- explained Islam to me and recited the Quran. By Allah, I had never heard words more beautiful than the Quran, nor of a religion more beautiful than Islam. Right away I became a Muslim and bore witness that there is no god but Allah.”

After remaining with the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- for a few days, Tufayl –Allah be well-pleased with him- asked permission to return to his tribe with the intention of spreading Islam. He asked the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- to pray to Allah the Almighty to give him a sign with which to call others to the path. With the blessing of the Prophet’s prayer, he was granted a light right between his eyes, on his forehead. Then with his request, the light moved from there to the edge of his stick. In this state, Tufayl –Allah be well-pleased with him- returned to his tribe, busying himself with struggling in the cause until ultimately becoming a martyr.[2]

The first person to heed to Tufayl’s –Allah be well-pleased with him- call to Islam was Abu Hurayrah –Allah be well-pleased with him-, the prominent Companion who narrated the greatest number of hadiths.[3]

Although they adopted such negative attitudes towards the Quran, when left alone with their consciences, the idolaters accepted the truth in their hearts, unable to keep themselves from listening to the Quran in secret. But then they found another excuse:

وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِّنَ الْقَرْيَتَيْنِ عَظِيمٍ

“And they say: If only this Qur’an had been revealed to some great man of the two towns?” (az-Zukhruf, 31)

Even though they recognized in their conscience the truth of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and the Quran, their egos prevented them from accepting. They agreed that the Quran was a revelation from Allah, glory unto Him, but they ascribed error to His will. Their thinking, veiled from the truth by their own selfishness, told them that the Quran should not have been revealed to an orphan of barely any wealth, but instead to either one of the rich men of Mecca and Ta’if, in Walid ibn Mughirah or Amr ibn Umayr.

Walid ibn Mughirah is in fact known to have said:

“Why should the Quran be revealed to Muhammad, when there is me, the elder and lord of Quraysh, or Amr ibn Umayr, the notable of Ta’if?” (Ibn Hisham, I, 385)

But the value of human beings in the sight of the Almighty comes neither from wealth or nobility, but from piety. Having said that, lineage wise, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was indeed the noblest among them.

ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE PROPHET -UPON HIM BLESSINGS AND PEACE- AND THE QURAN 

The idolaters, left helpless against the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- despite all that they had tried to muster, showed they could be stupid enough to claim he had learned the Quran from a Christian slave, despite being well aware of him being unlettered. Could they not think that a slave capable of laying the foundations of a great religion would never leave the honor to another? Besides, after an effort of the kind, could he still remain a Christian?

The Quran responded to this unfounded claim:

وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُمْ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّمَا يُعَلِّمُهُ بَشَرٌ لِّسَانُ الَّذِي يُلْحِدُونَ إِلَيْهِ أَعْجَمِيٌّ وَهَـذَا لِسَانٌ عَرَبِيٌّ مُّبِينٌ

“We know indeed that they say, “It is a man that teaches him.” The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.” (an-Nahl, 103)

وَمَا كُنتَ تَتْلُو مِن قَبْلِهِ مِن كِتَابٍ وَلَا تَخُطُّهُ بِيَمِينِكَ إِذًا لَّارْتَابَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ

“And you did not recite before it any book, nor did you transcribe one with your right hand; for then could the naysayers have doubted.” (al-Ankabut, 48)

Moreover, the Almighty advised His Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- not to become upset over the claims of the idolaters:

فَذَكِّرْ فَمَا اَنْتَ بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ بِكَاهِنٍ وَلاَ مَجْنُونٍ اَمْ يَقُولُونَ شَاعِرٌ نَتَرَبَّصُ بِهِ رَيْبَ الْمَنُونِ قُلْ تَرَبَّصُوا فَاِنِّى مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الْمُتَرَبِّصِينَ

“Therefore continue to remind, for by the grace of your Lord, you are not a soothsayer, or a madman. Or do they say: A poet, we wait for him the evil accidents of time? Say: Wait! For surely I too with you am of those who wait.” (at-Tur, 29-31)

قَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَاءَ هُمْ هذَا سِحْرٌ مُبِينٌ اَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَيهُ قُلْ اِنِ افْتَرَيْتُهُ فَلاَ تَمْلِكُونَ لِى مِنَ اللهِ شَيْئًا هُوَ اَعْلَمُ بِمَا تُفِيضُونَ فِيهِ كَفَى بِهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنِى وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّح۪يمُ

“And when Our clear revelations are recited to them, those who disbelieve say with regard to the truth when it comes to them: This is clear magic. Nay! They say: He has forged it. Say: If I have forged it, you do not control anything for me from Allah; He knows best what you utter concerning it; He is enough as a witness between me and you, and He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (al-Ahqaf, 7-8)

Without the slightest intention of entering the right path, the idolaters went to great lengths to make up claims against the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and the Quran. But they knew the truth. Fearing the spread of Islam outside the borders of Mecca, the notables of Quraysh gathered next to Walid ibn Mughirah, where they asked one another:

“What should we tell the visiting people about Muhammad?”

Walid had spoken to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- and had listened to the Quran personally from him. He suggested:

“I know all kinds of poetry. What I heard from him was not a poem. It was superior. Neither was it prose. I have never heard such an elegant harmony pervaded by an exceptional eloquence from anyone before. They did not sound like words of sorcerers either. They were certainly not the ravings of madmen; I saw not one sign of madness in him. We can hardly call him a witch, because he does not engage in their activities!”

After these words, Walid forced himself to provide a solution, as if to assist the ill intentions of the idolaters:

“But he separates a man from his brother. He sows the seeds of conflict between relatives. Thus his word can only be magic!” (Ibn Jawzi, VII, 403-404; Hakim, II, 550; Wahidi, p. 468)

Unsuccessful in their allegations against the Quran, the idolaters this time turned their insults against the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- himself. Taking advantage of the passing away of the Noble Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- two-year-old son Qasim, As ibn Wail began spreading the rumor that the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had become abtar, that is, his lineage had been cut off and become extinct. By doing this, they wanted the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- to fall into disfavor among the public and cancel his influence on people’s hearts.

But they found no success. Chapter Kawthar came like a slap in their faces:

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ

إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

“Surely We have given you the Kawthar! Therefore pray to your Lord and make a sacrifice. Surely your enemy is the one who shall be cut off!” (al-Kawthar, 1-3)

As understood from the ayah, in whatever time and place, the common feature of those with malice towards the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- is that they are abtar, or cut off. This applies equally to the vulgar people with the nerve to claim the Blessed Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- was backward, to the idiots who try to project their own meanness onto the Best of Creation, and to the fools who see the religion of truth he brought as a “law of the desert.” It is these and their ideas that are cut off, without prospect.

As expressed beautifully in a poem:

The sun of your face

Lights both worlds with grace.

The accursed, with no love for your children,

Are, on the Day, cut off more than Satan!

Just like those who rejected previous messengers, those who could not stand the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- were mainly arrogant leaders and a crew of spoiled rich individuals.

The Almighty states:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُم بِهِ كَافِرُونَ

وَقَالُوا نَحْنُ أَكْثَرُ أَمْوَالًا وَأَوْلَادًا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ

“Never did We send a warner to a population, but the wealthy ones among them said: “We believe not in the (Message) with which ye have been sent.” Say: “Verily my Lord enlarges and restricts the Provision to whom He pleases, but most men understand not.”” (Saba, 34-35)

وَلاَ تُطِعْ كُلَّ حَلاَّفٍ مَهِينٍ هَمَّازٍ مَشَّاءٍ بِنَمِيمٍ مَنَّاعٍ لِلْخَيْرِ مُعْتَدٍ اَثِيمٍ عُتُلٍّ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ زَنِيمٍ اَنْ كَانَ ذَا مَالٍ وَبَنِينَ اِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِ اَيَاتُنَا قَالَ اَسَاطِيرُ اْلاَوَّلِينَ

“And yield not to any mean swearer, defamer, going about with slander, forbidder of good, outstepping the limits, sinful; ignoble, besides all that, base-born; just because he possesses wealth and sons. When Our revelations are recited to him, he says: Stories of old.” (al-Qalam, 10-15)

In fact Abu Lahab, concerning whom chapter al-Masad had been revealed, was complaining:

“Down with a religion which treats me on a par with others!”

On the other hand, Abu Jahl, the fiercest enemy of the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- and Islam, would say, “We know what Muhammad says is true! But until now, whatever his clan did, we did the same. And now they boast of having a Prophet! Now how could we produce a Prophet like him from among us? Impossible! There is no way I can ever accept Muhammad’s prophethood!” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 113)

Embittered, Abu Jahl had once also remarked during a fit of rage, “If I see him offer salat, I swill stomp on his head!”

He later saw the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- offer salat by the Kaabah. Though he made a move to fulfill his promise, he suddenly grew pale and was overcome with fear. He could not even hold on to the rock that he had picked up in his hand. He turned his back and fled. Those around him asked what had gone wrong. Trembling, Abu Jahl replied:

“As I drew closer to him, I was met with a wild camel. I swear I have never seen a terrifying beast like that before! It was about to devour me!” (Ibn Hisham, I, 318; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 92-93)

They knew little that the Almighty had the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-and His religion under protection and He was constantly holding them superior.

Yet the idolaters still could not stomach the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and were distancing themselves from the truth of the Quran. They were simply running away from Divine reality:

فَماَ لَهُمْ عَنِ التَّذْكِرَةِ مُعْرِضِينَ كَاَنَّهُمْ حُمُرٌ مُسْتَنْفِرَةٌ فَرَّتْ مِنْ قَسْوَرَةٍ

“What is then the matter with them that they turn away from the admonition, like frightened mules fleeing from a lion?” (al-Muddaththir, 49-51)

That the idolaters kept distance from the Truth even though they knew, and that guidance is only in the hands of the Almighty is treated nicely by a poem:

Ability does not suffice, Lord, without guidance from You,

To Abu Jahl, though he knew Arabic, what could a verse do?

Time came when, as part of the Divine test, the stubborn turning away of the idolaters grew into an unbearable persecution of Muslims.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect, Erkam Publications

[1] Tufayl ibn Amr ad-Dawsi –Allah be well-pleased with him- was an honorable, wise and hospitable man with a flair for poetry. His door was open to all visitors. He would feed the hungry, protect those seeking shelter and aid those in need of help. Following his acceptance of Islam in the 10th year of Prophethood, up until the Hegira of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to Medina, he continued inviting his tribe Daws to Islam. He was eventually martyred in the Battle of Yamama after showing great courage.

[2] Ibn Hisham , I, 407-408; Ibn  Saad, IV, 237-238.

[3] Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, II, 226.

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