Episode 34: The Prophet Presents Islam & Appeals to Banu Hashim
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).
The second phase of Prophethood was initiated- it was time to take the message public. This did not occur all at once, but occurred as a phased approach.
26:214 And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred.
26:215 And lower your wing to those who follow you of the believers.
Allah had instructed the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to warn his closest tribes people, and hinted of the possible negative response of his endeavours, by encouraging the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to show mercy to the believers who would soon encounter difficulties.
The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told Ali of his concerns that his family would not like the message, so he hesitated. However, Jibreel came and said ‘Oh Muhammad, if you do not do what your Lord has commanded, your Lord will punish you’. Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was being held accountable for delivering the message.
First Public Invitation
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) called Ali and asked him to prepare a goat, some accompanying food and a big bowl of milk. He was asked to gather the family of Abdul Muttalib. About 40 people came, including the uncles of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam): Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas and Abu Lahab. One of the miracles of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) occurred at this meeting: the spread was not sufficient for the gathering, but everyone ate and drank to their fill.
Just as Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was about to speak, Abu Lahab interjected, commenting on how Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had done magic in relation to the food and got up and left. The rest of the gathering followed suit and exited.
The next day, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told Ali to make similar arrangements, as he did not have the opportunity to address the people. Everyone gathered and again, they all ate and drank miraculously from the small amount of food presented. Abu Lahab once again cut in as soon as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was about to speak.
The third day, preparations were made again. Everyone ate, and then the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) beat Abu Lahab to the post. He said, ‘ Oh Banu Abdul Muttalib, I swear to God, I do not know any man from the Arabs who has brought to his people something that is more beneficial than what I bring to you- I have come to you with something to benefit you in this world and the hereafter. Allah has commanded me to call you to it, so who amongst you will help and aid me and be my brother in this cause?’
Silence… no-one responded. Ali, who at the time was 12 years old and the person of least social standing at the gathering said, ‘I will, oh Messenger of Allah’. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) expressed pleasure at Ali’s allegiance, praising him in front of everyone and commenting on how he would be a leader after him. Abu Lahab struck, taunting Abu Talib that his nephew was saying that Abu Talib should follow his own son. Abu Lahab left and the gathering dispersed.
The Call on Mount Safa
Now, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) gathered the Quraysh. He ascended Mount Safa and addressed each family individually, saying, ‘Listen, my brothers! What if I said there is a cavalry on the other side of this mountain that is about to come and attack you, would you believe me?’
They responded, ‘Yes, oh Muhammad, we have not found you to ever be a liar’. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) responded, ‘I am here to warn you about a severe punishment coming your way’. He informed them all that he could not control anyone’s fate, but he would help in whatever way to the best of his ability, even if that meant giving away all his money. Abu Lahab spoke out: ‘May you be doomed all throughout the days! Did you not call us here except for this rubbish?’ He walked away and the crowd dispersed.
What a painful and heavy moment for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), left standing alone on Mount Safa! Imagine the courage this action must have taken, as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was knowingly putting his social standing, reputation, everything he had developed over his lifetime, on the line for the sake of Allah. He showed true resilience in the face of repeated rejection.