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Inviting His Relatives to the New Religion

Inviting His Relatives to the New Religion

Inviting His Relatives to the New Religion

After three years of his mission, the Holy Prophet received an order from Allah to invite his relatives to his faith:

And warn your nearest relations, and be kind to him who follows you of the believers. But if they disobey you, then say: Surely, I am clear of what you do. (26:214-216)

Having received this revelation, the Holy Prophet ordered Imam `Al¢ to prepare some food and invite the sons of `Abd al-Mu§§alib to hear God's revelation. Imam `Al¢ (s) carried out the order. Nearly forty people showed up. Among them were Ab£-±¡lib, °amzah and Ab£-Lahab. The food seemed insufficiently little; however, every body was able to eat their fill. Ab£-Lahab declared, “This man has hypnotized you.” This statement caused the Holy Prophet to abandon his propagation of the faith on that day and the meeting came to an end with no result. Next day, `Al¢ (s) once again prepared some food and invited the same group. This time, the Holy Prophet, after dinner remarked,

I do not know of anybody among Arabs who has brought to his people anything better than what I am bringing to you. I am bringing to you the good of this world and the Other World. God has ordered me to guide you all to Him. Now, who is ready among you to help me and he will be my brother and successor?”[1]

Nobody answered. `Al¢ (s), who was the youngest among them, said, “O Messenger of God; I will help you.” Then, the Holy Prophet replied,

“This is my brother, my representative and my successor. Listen to obey him.”

p This event leads us to the basic fact that the issues of prophethood and Imamate are inseparable; during the first years of his prophethood and on the first day of his mission, the Holy Prophet brought up the topic of Imamate and the future leadership of Muslims.

On the other hand, it should not be assumed that the Holy Prophet, up to his death and during the event of Ghad¢r Khumm, brought up `Al¢'s Imamate. Later on, he brought up the same issue on other occasions, such as in the famous ¦ad¢th al-manzilah (Narration of Position).[2] However, the event of Ghad¢r Khumm was the most significant for the announcement of `Al¢'s successorship due to the fact that there were so many witnesses present.

With regards to the sequence of the s£rahs (chapters of the Holy Qur'¡n), it could be understood that the invitation of the relatives could have happened prior to the public invitation to the new faith.[3]

Chapter Two
The Public Propagation and the Start of Oppositions

The Start of the Public Invitation

Having made the public invitation for some time, the Holy Prophet received an order from God to make his propagation public and not to be afraid of the infidels:

Therefore, declare openly what you are bidden and turn aside from the polytheists. Surely, We will suffice you against the scoffers. (15:94-95)

Having received this revelation, the Holy Prophet rose up in the Ab§a¦[4] and declared:

I am God's apostle. I invite you to my new faith to worship the One and Only God. Stop worshipping idols which are neither useful nor can they create, nor provide you with sustenance, nor give you life, nor cause you to die.[5]

From then on, the Prophet's invitation entered a new stage as he was engaged in the propagation of his faith in social gatherings, at the °ajj ceremonies, at Min¡, and among the tribes living in the outskirts of Mecca.

Struggle with Quraysh

People of Quraysh did not show any severe reactions during the early stages of the propagation for Islam. However, as soon as the Holy Prophet started explicitly negating their idols, calling them senseless and useless entities, they became exasperated; they started animosity against him.[6] With regards to the tribal system which existed in Mecca, attacking Mu¦ammad (¥) would entail revenge-taking of Ban£-H¡shim. Therefore, the chiefs of Quraysh, after much deliberation, came to the conclusion that they would better make use of his uncle, Ab£-±¡lib, and talk to him is such a way so that he could discourage his nephew from the way he was following. To this end, they arranged for several meetings with Ab£-±¡lib during which they reminded him of his dignity and high social status. They asked him to discourage his nephew from cursing their idols, humiliating their customs and belittling their ancestors. They used threats at times and tried to bribe him by offering wealth and social ranks. Receiving no positive feedback from him, they offered to exchange Mu¦ammad with `Im¡rah ibn al-Wal¢d ibn al-Mugh¢rah, the young, powerful, and handsome poet. Ab£-±¡lib did not accept either. Once, when Ab£-±¡lib and his nephew were threatened with death, the Holy Prophet had the following reaction:

“If they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in the left, I would not stop my way. I have two options, either God will help me or I will be destroyed.”[7]

Ab£-±¡lib's Announcement of Assistance

Upon these threats, Ab£-±¡lib announced his support to Mu¦ammad (¥) and mobilized the members of Ban£-H¡shim, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to protect Mu¦ammad (¥). He warned the chiefs of Quraysh against a bloody revenge by Ban£-H¡shim in case anything would happen to his nephew.[8] Since tribal wars were hazardous and their consequences unpredictable; and due to the fact that the chiefs of Quraysh lacked the capacity for such a war, they could not carry out their threats; rather, they became disillusioned. Out of Ban£-H¡shim, only Ab£-Lahab joined the enemy front.

Motives of Quraysh's Oppositions

A question is raised here as to why the Quraysh did not show animosity toward Mu¦ammad (¥) in the first years of his propagations during which not many verses of the Holy Qur'¡n were revealed to him yet. What kind of threats did they feel in the first verses revealed during the early days of prophethood? Did they oppose him because of their insistence on their idolatry or were there other reasons?

Of course, we are talking about the motives of the chiefs of Quraysh, because the general publics were simple and naive followers of those chiefs; and to mobilize them against the new religion was not a hard job. This is because they were not strong believers of their sect and customs anyhow.

Considering Quraysh's influence and high social status in Mecca, we could easily find the reasons behind their opposition. This is because, as we have seen above, Quraysh had monopolized some social privileges related to Mecca, such as social and economic power; they would not tolerate any rival. They used to receive tribute and toll from other tribes by force and imposed their own policies over other tribes related to the pilgrims.

Thus, it was natural for them not to tolerate Mu¦ammad (¥), because they found out very early in Mu¦ammad's propagations that the new faith was in conflict with their ideology. They could also anticipate that one day, the Holy Prophet would become famous and this was in conflict with their pride.

However, an investigation of the content of some s£rahs and verses revealed to the Holy Prophet at Mecca, we could pinpoint some of the most significant motives for the opposition of Quraysh to the Holy Prophet during the first years of propagations:

(1) Worry over the disintegration of the social order

Concerning the tribal system dominating the social order in Mecca and due to Quraysh’s special prerogatives, a form of aristocratic government was prevailing there. The chiefs of Quraysh were accustomed to this system; they did not expect any blow to be leveled against it. This was the social condition while the first followers of Mu¦ammad (¥) were the youths, the impoverished, the deprived and the slaves. Mu¦ammad (¥) did not belong to the nobility. From his childhood, he was an orphan; and during his youth, he was poor belonging to the second class inside Quraysh. His uncle, Ab£-±¡lib, despite his ancestral prestige and dignity, was insolvent. All these were warnings to the tribal system of Quraysh that the very basis of their social order would be shaken. Having noticed that, they worried about the youth and the deprived for their inclinations towards the new faith. The envoy of Quraysh to Abyssinia to bring back the Muslim migrants introduced themselves to the king as the special envoy of the Meccan nobility.

The Holy Qur'¡n reveals the Quraysh's aristocratic attitude in their objection to the idea of prophethood not being offered to one of the noblemen of either Mecca or ±¡’if:

And they say: Why has not the Qur'¡n been revealed to a man of importance in the two towns? (43:31)

According to an interpretation, by men of importance is meant Wal¢d Ibn Mugh¢rah, the head of Ban£-Makhz£m in Mecca, and `Urwah ibn Mas`£d al-Thaqaf¢, the well-known wealthy man of ±¡’if.[9] The reason behind the revelation of this verse is said to be the following event:

Once, Wal¢d said, “Why should the Qur'¡n be revealed to Mu¦ammad and not to me while I am the head of Quraysh?”[10] Thus, the Quraysh showed their animosity to Mu¦ammad (¥) because his faith was a real threat to their social order.

[1] Muslim scholars name this issue as bid' al-da`wah (The Beginning of the Promulgation), yawm al-d¡r (The Day of the House), and yawm al-indh¡r (The Day of Warning). It is reported in the following reference books with some difference: T¡r¢kh al-±abar¢ 2:217; Ibn Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:63; Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, Shar¦ Nahj al-Bal¡ghah 13:211; al-Bayhaq¢, Dal¡'il al-Nubuwwah 1:278; ±abars¢, Majma` al-Bay¡n 7:206; Shaykh Muf¢d, al-Irsh¡d, pp. 29; ±¡w£s, al-±ar¡’if 1:20; °alab¢, al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 1:461; al-Majlis¢, Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 18:78, 181, 191, 214; `All¡mah Am¢n¢, al-Ghad¢r 2:278-279; Murta¤¡ `Askar¢, the role of the Imams in the revival of the Religion 2:86, 6:17-18; Musnad A¦mad 1:159. It is worthy noting that among historians, ±abar¢ has distorted the Holy Prophet's statement drastically in his interpretation: he has changed representative and successor into so and so. Ibn Kath¢r, too, has distorted the truth in his three books in his three books (Tafs¢r 3:351, al-Bid¡yah wa’l-Nih¡yah 3:40, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:459). Considering the attitude of these two, it is not difficult to recognize their motive for this dramatic distortion.

[2] °ad¢th al-Manzilah reads: “O `Al¢, your position to me is the same as Prophet Aaron’s position to Prophet Moses except that there shall be no prophet after me.”

[3] S£rah al-Shu`ar¡' was revealed to the Holy Prophet after S£rah al-W¡qi`ah. The following are the S£rahs that were revealed after that: al-Naml, al-Qa¥a¥, al-Isr¡', Y£nus, H£d, Y£suf and then al-°ijr in which the order for the public invitation was given. See Mu¦ammad H¡d¢ Ma`rifat, al-Tamh¢d f¢ `Ul£m al-Qur'¡n 1:105.

[4] Ab§u¦ is a valley near Min¡. See Y¡q£t al-°amaw¢, Mu`jam al-Buld¡n. 1:74. This event probably took place at the time of °ajj when pilgrims had gathered at Min¡.

[5] T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 1:19. There are other reports on the Holy Prophet’s first open declaration of his faith. Most probably, he invited the idolaters within short time intervals through the same statements. See T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢, pp. 19; ±abar¢, op cit, 2:21; al-Bul¡dhar¢, Ans¡b al-Ashr¡f 1:121; al-Bayhaq¢, op cit, 1:279; ±abars¢, I`l¡m al-War¡, pp. 39; al-Majlis¢, Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 18:185; °alab¢, op cit, 1:461.

[6] ±abar¢, op cit, 2:218; Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:282; Ibn Sa`d, al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 1:199; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:63.

[7] ±abar¢, op cit, 2:218-220; Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, pp. 282-287, 313, 316; al-Bayhaq¢, op cit, 1:282; Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 1:202-203; al-Bul¡dhar¢, op cit, 1:231-232; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:63-65; °alab¢, op cit, 1:462-463; Ibn Kath¢r, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah. 1:479; al-Majlis¢, op cit, 18:185.

[8] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, pp. 287; ±abar¢, op cit, pp. 220; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, al-Man¡qib 1:59; Ibn al-Ath¢r, op cit, pp. 65; Ibn Kath¢r, op cit, pp. 477, °alab¢, op cit, pp. 463.

[9] ±abars¢, Majma` al-Bay¡n 9:46.

[10] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:387; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, al-Man¡qib 1:50.

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