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Secret Invitation to the New Religion

Secret Invitation to the New Religion

For three years, the Holy Prophet invited people to the new religion secretly, because the circumstances at Mecca were not yet ready for an open invitation. During these three years, he secretly met people whom he thought mentally ready to accept the new religion.[1] He invited them to accept the uniqueness of Allah and his prophethood. Meanwhile, Quraysh became aware of his claims; whenever they saw him on the roads and streets, they used to remark, “The young man of Ban£-`Abd al-Mu§§alib talks about the heavens.”[2] However, they were not aware of the content of his invitations since he did not proclaim his ideology. Therefore, they would not react harshly.

During this time, some people became Muslims. Then, one of these newly converted, named Arqam, offered his house which was at the foot of ¯af¡ Mount to be used by the Prophet.

Up to the time when he initiated his open invitation, the Holy Prophet and Muslims would gather at this house, which had become a center for the religious propaganda, and prayed therein.[3]

The First Muslim Woman and Man

In accordance with the unanimous view of Muslim historians, Khad¢jah was the first woman to accept Islam. Among men, `Al¢[4] was the first man to accept Islam.[5] This is because it was natural for the Prophet to inform Khad¢jah, his wife, and `Al¢, who was a member of his household and was educated and nourished by him, of his ideology as soon as he returned home from °ar¡’. Those two who were familiar with Mu¦ammad's sincerity, confirmed him immediately. It would not be difficult to prove this issue even in the absence of valid historical documents. However, there are ample documents, some of which we will address here:

The Reasons Behind `Al¢'s Taking the Lead

(1) The Holy Prophet explicitly referred to `Al¢'s pioneering in accepting Islam. At the presence of a group of Muslims, he declared:

The first person among you who will meet me at the side of the heavenly fountain [Kawthar], on the Resurrection day, will be `Al¢, who is the first among you who accepted Islam.[6]

(2) Great and well-known narrators report that Mu¦ammad (¥) became a prophet on Monday and `Al¢ prayed with him on Tuesday.[7]

(3) Imam `Al¢ (s), concerning this issue, remarks:

On that day, Islam had not yet entered the house of the Holy Prophet and Khad¢jah: I was the third one after them. I could vividly see the light of prophethood and smell its fragrance.[8]

(4) Elsewhere, Imam `Al¢ (s) refers to his pioneering in Islam:

O God, I am the only person who answered the Prophet's call and turned to You. Except for the Prophet, nobody else prayed You before me.[9]

(5) Imam `Al¢ (s) says elsewhere:

I am God's servant and the brother of the trustworthy Prophet. I prayed with him seven years prior to the others. Nobody may deny it except for a wicked liar.[10]

(6)  `Ufayf ibn Qays al-Kind¢ says:

During the Ignorance Era, I used to be a trader of perfumes. On one of my journeys, I entered Mecca and visited `Abb¡s, one of the Meccan merchants and the Prophet's uncle, on an extremely hot day. A young man whose face was as bright as the moon came. He looked up at the sky, stood in the direction of the Kaaba and started praying. After a short time, another good-looking young man arrived, stood next to him and started praying. Then a veiled woman arrived, stood behind them and started praying. I was astonished to see three persons praying at the center of the idolaters. I turned my face toward `Abb¡s and exclaimed, “What restful scenery!” He repeated my sentence and added, “Do you recognize these three?” I replied, No, I do not.” He said, “The first person was my nephew, Mu¦ammad ibn `Abdull¡h; the second was my other nephew, `Al¢ ibn Ab¢-±¡lib; the third was Mu¦ammad's wife. Mu¦ammad claims that his religion has come from Allah. Now, these are the only believers in this religion on the entire earth.”[11]

This issue vividly shows that at the beginning of the spread of Islam, it was Imam `Al¢ who joined the Prophet after Khad¢jah. Pioneering in the acceptance of Islam is a value which the Holy Qur’¡n has highly stressed:

And the foremost are the foremost; these are they who are drawn near to Allah. (56:10-11)

The Holy Qur’¡n also considers of great value the conversion to Islam of those who, prior to the conquest of Mecca, sacrificed their lives and wealth         for God’s sake and accepted the new religion:

…not alike; among you are those who spent before the victory and fought. They are more exalted in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards; and Allah has promised good to all; and Allah is aware of what you do. (57:10)

The significance of conversions to Islam prior to the conquest of Mecca (which occurred at the eighth year AH) lies in the fact that they accepted Islam at a time when it was not yet powerful and when Mecca was still the stronghold for the idolaters and Muslims' lives and wealth were at risk from permanent danger. Of course, Muslims achieved some security after their migration to Medina and the acceptance of Islam by the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj and the other neighboring tribes; in later military conflicts, Muslims were triumphant. However, the environment was still dangerous. For these reasons, the acceptance of Islam under those perilous and turbulent times was quite significant. Such early acceptance of Islam was a great honor for the Prophet's close followers. Having this in mind, we will realize how important Imam `Al¢'s early acceptance could have been.

[1] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 1:280; ±abar¢, op cit, 2:216; Mas`£d¢, Mur£j al-Dhahab 2:275-276; al-Bul¡dhar¢, op cit, 1:116; T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:19; °alab¢, op cit, 1:456; ±£s¢, al-Ghaybah, pp. 202. 

[2] T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:19; Ibn Sa`d, al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 1:199; al-Bul¡dhar¢, op cit, 1:115.

[3] °alab¢, op cit, 1:456-457.

[4] Ibn Hush¡m mentions the names of the first eight Muslims as follows: `Al¢, Zayd ibn °¡rith, Ab£-Bakr, `Uthm¡n ibn `Aff¡n, al-Zubayr ibn al-`Aww¡m, `Abd al-Ra¦m¡n ibn `Awf, Sa`d ibn Ab¢-Waqq¡¥, and ±al¦ah ibn `Ubaydull¡h. See al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:262-364.

[5] Imam `Al¢ was monotheist even at his early age; he never served idols. Thus, his becoming a Muslim does not imply that he stopped worshipping idols like the other companions of the Holy Prophet. Imam `Al¢ accepted Islam that is based on the Divine principle of monotheism. Concerning this, Da¦l¡n wrote, “`Al¢ never practiced idolatry. He followed the Holy Prophet closely. It is narrated that three persons were never involved in idolatry; the Faithful of ªl-Y¡s¢n, `Al¢ ibn Ab¢-±¡lib, and ªsiyah, Pharaoh’s wife.” See al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:92. Concerning Imam `Al¢, Ibn Sa`d narrates that he never worshipped any idol because he was too young! See Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 3:21. Ibn °ajar (974 AH), quoting Ibn Sa`d’s previous statement, states, “For this reason, `Al¢ is mentioned with the statement of ‘karrama all¡hu wajhah£ (May Allah honor his face)’. See al-¯aw¡`iq al-Mu¦riqah, pp. 120.

Regarding `Al¢'s age when he accepted Islam, see Shar¦ Nahj al-Bal¡ghah, 13:234-235.

[6] Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Is¢`¡b 3:28; Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, op cit, 13:229; al-°¡kim al-Nays¡b£r¢, al-Mustadrak `Al¡’l-¯a¦¢¦ayn 2:81, °alab¢, op cit, 1:432. In some narrations, we read, “The first to join the Divine Pond (on the Resurrection Day) will be the first to accept Islam; namely, `Al¢ ibn Ab¢-±¡lib.” See °alab¢, op cit, pp. 432.

[7] Ibn `Abd al-Barr, op cit, pp. 32; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:57. Al-°¡kim al-Nays¡b£r¢ (al-Mustadrak `Al¡’l-¯a¦¢¦ayn 3:112) has recorded this narration in two ways, “Allah’s Messenger received prophethood…” and “Allah’s Messenger received the Divine Revelation on Monday.” In some narrations, we will read, “The Prophet received prophethood on Monday, and `Al¢ accepted Islam on Tuesday.” See, Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, op cit, pp. 229; al-Juwayn¢, Far¡'id al-Sim§ayn. Emphasizing the same issue, Imam `Al¢ used to remark, “Allah’s Messenger received the Divine Message on Monday, and I accepted Islam on Tuesday.” See al-Suy£§¢, T¡r¢kh al-Khulaf¡', pp. 166; Mu¦ammad al-¯abb¡n, Is`¡f al-R¡ghib¢n, pp. 148; Ibn °ajar, al-¯aw¡`iq al-Mu¦riqah.

[8] Nahj al-Bal¡ghah, Sermon 192.

[9] Ibid, Sermon 131.

[10] ±abar¢, op cit, 2:212; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh.

The same issue is brought up in al-Mustadrak `Al¡’l-¯a¦¢¦ayn 3:112; Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, Shar¦ Nahj al-Bal¡ghah 13:200, 228; Ibn Mardawayh, Man¡qib `Al¢ ibn Ab¢-±¡lib, pp 47-48.

[11] ±abar¢, op cit, 2:212; Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, op cit, 13:226. Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d has reported the same from `Abdull¡h ibn Mas`£d. Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Is¢`¡b 3:165; Ibn Is¦¡q, al-Siyar wa’l-Magh¡z¢, pp. 137-138; al-Kar¡jak¢, Kanz al-Faw¡'id 1:262. For further information concerning Ali's pioneering in the acceptance of Islam, see al-Ghad¢r 2:214, 3:220-224.

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