THE PROPHET’S INVITATION TO ISLAM ON THE SAFA HILL

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The Prophet’s Invitation of Quraysh to Islam on the Safa Hill…

Commanded to begin the invitation to Islam with his relatives, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, the Light of Being, ascended the Hill of Safa to address the tribe of Quraysh, who had flocked to the Hill. Standing on a high rock, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- said the following words aloud:

“If I were to tell you, Quraysh, of enemy horsemen hiding in the outskirts of this mountain, in that valley, ready to attack you and seize your properties, would you believe me?”

Without a second thought they replied:

“Yes, we would as until now we have always found you dependable and have never heard you say a lie!”[1]

Hearing this confirmation from all those present without exception, the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- went ahead to inform them of the Divine Truth:

“Then be assured that I inform you of an approaching and severe torment that will befall those who disbelieve in Allah, against which I have been sent to warn you.

With respect to you, Quraysh, I am like a man who sees the enemy and fearing they may harm his family, rushes to warn them.

Quraysh! You shall die just the way you fall asleep, and you will be resurrected just the way you are awakened. There is no doubt that you will rise from your graves and be brought to the presence of Allah to give an account of all that you did in this world. You shall consequently reap the rewards of your good deeds and face a severe punishment for your bad deeds.” (Bu­kha­ri, Taf­sir, 26; Mus­lim, Iman, 348-355; Ah­med, I, 281-307; Ibn Saad, I, 74, 200; Ba­la­zu­ri, I, 119; Sa­mi­ra az-Za­yid, I, 357-359)

There was no overall reaction to the words of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, except for his uncle Abu Lahab who rudely interrupted:

“May your hands dry up! Is this what you called us here for?” He unashamedly continued making inappropriate remarks, breaking the heart of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- with vile insults.

The behavior of Abu Lahab brought about the revelation of the chapter al-Masad:

تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ

مَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُ مَالُهُ وَمَا كَسَبَ

سَيَصْلَى نَارًا ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ

وَامْرَأَتُهُ حَمَّالَةَ الْحَطَبِ

فِي جِيدِهَا حَبْلٌ مِّن مَّسَدٍ

“Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of Blazing Flame! His wife shall carry the crackling wood – As fuel! With a twisted rope of palm-leaf fiber round her neck!” (al-Masad, 1-5; Bukhari, Tafsir 26/2, 34/2, 111/1-2; Muslim, Iman 355)

The ayah also make mention of Abu Lahab’s wife because, like her husband, she caused much agony for the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, to the point of even laying thorns in his path. The chapter additionally implies that neither racial nor genealogical closeness hold absolute value. What is important is spiritual nearness. Spirit recognizes no race. Race is only a quality of the flesh and the flesh is set to perish in soil. A person’s value is determined by spiritual maturity; that is his noble attribute. The flesh, which is the material aspect of man, is like a mould which the spirit enters, a dress which it wears. Wearing clothes of different fabrics does not increase the value of man.

As a result of the endeavors of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, his aunts Safiyya and Atiqa, the freed slave of his uncle Abbas Abu Rafi, as well as Abu Dharr and Amr ibn Abasa –Allah be well-pleased with them- all accepted Islam.

Abu Zarr –Allah be well-pleased with him- had never worshipped idols, even during the days of ignorance. He explains his own experience of entering the true path as follows:

“I was from the tribe of Ghifar. Just when I received the news that a person had emerged in Mecca claiming to be a prophet, Allah cast the love of Islam into my heart. I told my brother Unays:

“Go to Mecca and speak to the man who says he receives news from the heavens, and return with the information!”

Unays headed to Mecca. After meeting with the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and listening to what he had to say, he came back.

‘What did you do? What news have you brought?’ I asked him.

‘I encountered a man in Mecca, of the same faith as you, who says he has been sent by the Almighty’, he replied.

‘What does the public say about him?’

‘Poet, sorcerer, magician and the like!’

A poet himself, my brother was well versed in poetry. He continued:

‘I am well aware of the words of sorcerers. His words do not sound like those of a poet in the least. I compared his words to poems of all kinds. But I swear, nobody in their right minds would call that poetry. He certainly speaks the truth. Those who slander him are liars! He only enjoins the good and acts of virtue and forbids the bad and acts of evil’.

I was still undecided. I grabbed my leather bottle and some food and quickly hit the road. I came to Mecca. Not only did I not know the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, I was also reluctant to speak to anyone else. I waited by the Kaabah, drinking some Zamzam to quench my thirst. In the meantime, Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him- came next to me:

‘It looks like you’re a foreigner’, he said.

‘Yes’, I replied.

‘Then be our guest!’ he offered.

I went with Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him-. Because of the climate of terror caused by the Meccans, he did not even enquire of the purpose of my arrival. The next morning, I again went to the Kaabah in hope of finding the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. But again despite waiting until night, I could not find him. Once more Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him- came and asked:

‘Have you still not found out where you want to go?’

‘No’, I responded.

‘Then come, be our guest again’, he again said.

When we arrived at his house, he finally took the opportunity to ask me.

‘So what is your story? Why have you come?’

After making him promise to keep it a secret and to help me, I said:

‘According to what we have heard, there is supposed to be someone here who says he is a Prophet. I have come to talk to him.’

‘You have done very well to come. That man is the Messenger of Allah; he is truly a Prophet’, he asserted and gave me the following instructions: ‘Follow me in the morning, into a house which I will enter! But if I sense a danger for you, I will face the wall and look as if I am mending my shoes, and you will pass me by!’

e finally arrived at the presence of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘as-Salamu alayka ya Rasulallah,’ I said, greeting him for the first time in the manner of Islam.

‘To what do you invite people, Muhammad?’ I then asked.

‘To Allah, who is One and who has no partners, to shun idols and to bear witness that I am the Messenger of Allah’, he replied.

After he explained Islam to me, I immediately became a Muslim. The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was overly happy, and smiled joyfully.

‘Now, Abu Dharr, keep this secret from the Meccans and return to your hometown’, he said.

‘But I wish to declare my faith, the Messenger of Allah!’ I stated.

‘I fear that the Meccans may harm you’, he said.

‘Even if it means they will kill me, I will surely do it’, I replied.

The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- remained silent.

Just as the men of Quraysh had assembled by the Kaabah, I said at the top of my voice:

‘Quraysh! I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger!’

‘The man must be mad! Let’s show this Sabiite[2] a lesson,’ the idolaters shouted and they began beating me until I lay halfdead. At that point Abbas, the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- uncle, arrived and shielded me with his own body, and shouted:

‘Shame on you! Do you forget you are traders whose route lies on the way of the tribe of Ghifar? Do you want your route cut off?’

Only then did they leave me.

When I arrived at the Kaabah the next morning, the same thing happened all over again. They left me for dead. I got up and went next to the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. Seeing my state, he said:

‘Had I not forbidden you?’

‘This was my heart’s wish, Messenger of Allah, and I fulfilled it’, I replied.

I stayed awhile next to the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. Afterwards I asked:

‘What do you command I do?’

The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- said:

‘When you receive my order, preach Islam to your tribe. And when you receive the news of our coming out into the open, come to me!’ (Bu­khari, Ma­naqi­bu’l-An­sar 33, Ma­naqib 10; Ah­mad, V, 174; Ha­kim, III, 382-385; Ibn Saad, IV, 220-225)

Meanwhile, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- continued inviting people to Islam. During the months of pilgrimage, he would always roam the fairs of Uqaz, Majanna and Zhul-Majaz, communicating Islam to whomever he came across, whether they were free or slave, weak or strong, rich or poor and he would invite them to belief in the unity of Allah, glory unto Him.[3]

Ayah revealed during this phase of prophethood generally warn of the Day of Judgment:

إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّكَ لَوَاقِعٌ

مَا لَهُ مِن دَافِعٍ

يَوْمَ تَمُورُ السَّمَاء مَوْرًا

وَتَسِيرُ الْجِبَالُ سَيْرًا

فَوَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ

الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي خَوْضٍ يَلْعَبُونَ

يَوْمَ يُدَعُّونَ إِلَى نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ دَعًّا

هَذِهِ النَّارُ الَّتِي كُنتُم بِهَا تُكَذِّبُونَ

“Most surely the punishment of your Lord will come to pass. On the day when the heaven shall move from side to side and the mountains will fly hither and thither. So woe on that day to those who reject the truth; to those who play and paddle in vain discourses! The day on which they shall violently be driven away to the fire of hell, when it will be said ‘This is the fire which you used to deny!’” (at-Tur, 7-14)

Once the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- proclaimed his prophethood and openly began inviting people to Islam, a condemnation of the idolaters and their idols followed:

إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ أَنتُمْ لَهَا وَارِدُونَ

“Surely you and what you worship besides Allah are the firewood of hell; to it you shall come.” (al-Anbiya, 98)

قُلْ اِنَّمَا اَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحَى اِلَىَّ اَنَّمَا اِلَهُكُمْ اِلهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَاسْتَقِيمُوا اِلَيْهِ وَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ وَوَيْلٌ لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ

“Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your god is One God, therefore follow the right way to Him and ask His forgiveness; and woe to the idolaters.” (Fussilat, 6)

When the Messenger of Allah began denouncing the idols the Meccans were worshipping, and telling them that their ancestors who had died as idolaters were destined for hellfire, he was rejected by the idolaters of Quraysh, who then united in enmity and hatred towards him. But as Abu Talib had the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- under his protection, they could not do anything.[4]

Ingrained idolaters like Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab, Walid ibn Mughira, Umayya ibn Khalef, As ibn Wail, Nadr ibn Harith, Uqba ibn Abi Muayt and Utbah ibn Rabia were among the miserable who went too far in their hostilities against the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and thus wrought with their own hands their eternal torment.

[1] Here, prior to communicating the Call, we see the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- demand a confirmation of his own character. Indeed, it is a person’s character that human beings are first attracted to, motivating them to obey. It is similarly imperative for those communicating Islam today to have the truthfulness of their characters confirmed, to be endowed trustworthiness and honesty, like the al-Amin and as-Sadiq the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- was. Habib’un-Najjar, the running man mentioned in Chapter Yasin, uses the following words to confirm the dependability of the righteous persons inviting his people to the Truth: اِتَّبِعُوا مَنْ لَا يَسْـَٔلُكُمْ اَجْرًا وَهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ “Follow those who ask of you no fee and who are rightly guided!” (Yasin, 21). The ayah places equal weight on the need for the invitation to be carried out strictly for the pleasure of the Almighty alone and, first and foremost, for the inviters to be on the path of guidance themselves.

[2] Meccans would occasionally refer to Muslims as ‘Sabiites’, meaning those who have deserted their religion of old.

[3] See Ibn  Saad, I, 216-217.

[4] Ibn Saad, I, 199.

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