Episode 44: Hamza (ra) Accepts Islam and The Aftermath of The Migration to Abyssinia
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
After the Encounter with the Negus
When Amr bin al-Aas came back to Makkah, he locked himself in his house and would not mix with anyone. This was unusual, as he was a leader and a businessman. He was deeply affected by the Negus accepting Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as a Messenger.
Later, some people came to Madina from Abyssinia. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) went and got food and supplies for them. The Sahaba said they would take care of it. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘These people honoured my companions when we were few and oppressed. Today, it is my honour that I get to serve them.’ The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had this lasting gratitude towards the people of Abyssinia.
Whenever the Negus was challenged about his faith, he had a piece of paper on which he wrote his testimony of being a Muslim: he kept this hidden in pockets made in shirts over his heart. He would place his hand on his heart and say, ‘This is exactly what I believe’. The Quran confirms that if someone fears for their life, they can say what they need to say, but keep firm on their iman in their heart.
Acceptance of Islam by Hamza (RA)
Hamza (RA) was the uncle of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and also a milk brother (Thuwaybah, a slave of Abu Lahab breast fed them both). Close in age, they were friendly and close, growing up as brothers. The majority of scholars say Hamza (RA) accepted Islam after the migration to Abyssinia.
Before Islam, he was a much respected individual. Hamza (RA) was the centre of attention, renowned for his fighting abilities as a warrior, ambidextrous swordsman and hunter. Whilst Hamza (RA) was away one day on a hunting trip, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) went to the Ka’ba and crossed paths with Abu Jahl. Abu Jahl started to berate and insult him. Witnessed by a slave woman, after Hamza (RA) returned from the hunt, she informed him that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was treated abysmally by Abu Jahl. In a rage, Hamza (RA) goes to Abu Jahl and hits him over the head with his bow, making him bleed. Hamza (RA) commented that if Abu Jahl disrespected Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), he would have to deal with himself. Abu Jahl remarked that it seemed like he had left their religion: Hamza (RA) affirms his belief in the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). A huge fight is about to ensue, but Abu Jahl tells everyone to back down, confirming that he did curse the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) badly.
Hamza (RA) leaves the scene and is emotional about what just happened: did he really believe or was this a hasty reaction? He makes dua: ‘Oh Allah, if this is true then put the truth into my heart and make me firm and if it is not, then Allah give me a way out’. His night passed in tension and finally he goes to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) for support and advice. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) inspires and warns him and eventually Hamza (RA) accepts the iman in his heart. Hamza’s (RA) conversion was a huge source of comfort and confidence for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Three days after this, Umar (RA) accepted Islam.
Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA)
Umar (RA) was from Banu Amir, a rival family of Banu Hashim. His mother was the sister of Abu Jahl. Umar (RA) had been mentored by Abu Jahl, thus he was a good leader. Pre-Islam, he was the delegate of Abu Jahl, sent to deliver the terms of contracts to tribes. He was very confident, direct and decisive, as well as imposing and a little intimidating. These qualities can work against someone without training e.g. pride and ego can increase. Before Islam, Umar (RA) was involved in womanising, drinking and getting into fights.
Umar (RA) had a few close encounters with Islam before finally accepting the Truth.
- Once, after drinking, he lay down in a temple. He woke to find people bringing an animal for sacrifice. Even before Islam, the worship of idols seemed unintelligent to him. After the sacrifice, a voice came from the animal: everyone present heard it. It commented that the time for the Prophet had arrived and it was time to go back to the worship of Allah alone. Everyone ran away: Umar (RA) remained, and tried to forget about the incident.
- At the Ka’ba, Umar (RA) saw the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and wanted to investigate what all the fuss was about. Umar (RA) goes behind him to get close and is captivated by the Quran he hears. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was reciting surah 69. Umar (RA) thinks, ‘He is a talented poet’. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recites:
- 69:41 And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe.
- Umar (RA) thinks, ‘He is a sorcerer’. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recites:
- 69:42 Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember.
69:43 [It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.
69:44 And if Muhammad had made up about Us some [false] sayings,
69:45 We would have seized him by the right hand;
69:46 Then We would have cut from him the aorta.
69:47 And there is no one of you who could prevent [Us] from him.
69:48 And indeed, the Qur’an is a reminder for the righteous
69:49 And indeed, We know that among you are deniers.
69:50 And indeed, it will be [a cause of] regret upon the disbelievers.
69:51 And indeed, it is the truth of certainty.
69:52 So exalt the name of your Lord, the Most Great.
- Umar (RA) walked away bewildered and he again tries to forget the incident.
His third encounter with Islam would be the final push that leads Umar (RA) to accept Islam.