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Fear of the Neighboring Power

(3) Fear of the Neighboring Power

The Holy Qur'¡n refers to their fear of the neighboring states and powers and finds this worry baseless:

And they say: If we follow the guidance with you, we shall be carried off from our country. What! Have We not settled them in a safe, sacred territory to which fruits of every kind shall be drawn? Sustenance from Us; but most of them do not know. (28:57)

Once, °¡rith ibn Nawfal ibn `Abd-Man¡f said to the Holy Prophet, “We know that what you say is right; but if we believe in you, we fear that the Arabs might throw us out of our land and we are not strong enough to confront them.[1]

From their statements, worry could be observed and fear of the Iranian kings and Roman emperors[2] could be identified; this was the Arabs’ weak point towards the neighboring political powers.

This fear could be seen in the following event: The Holy Prophet had invited some of the great Arab personalities and read them some of the verses of the Holy Qur'¡n which dealt with ethical training. All of them were highly impressed and each one of them started admiring them. However, their leader, Muthann¡, said, “We are caught between two waters: on one side are the Arab waters and shores, and on the other side there lie Iran and Khosrow rivers. Khosrow has ordered us not to use any turmoil and not to shelter any wrongdoer. The acceptance of your faith by us is not palatable for the kings. If we do anything wrong here in our land, it might be excused. However, such an error around Iran is not pardonable by their king.”[3]

(4) Tribal Competition and Jealousy

Tribal competitions and false pride were prevalent among the Arab tribes and communities. Since the Holy Prophet belonged to Ban£-H¡shim, the chiefs of the other tribes—due to their jealousy—could not accept his faith, which was in the long run a sign of dignity for Ban£-H¡shim. Ab£-Jahl, who was from Ban£-Makhz£m tribe and one of the most influential and wealthy people of Quraysh, frankly revealed his secret, “We struggled against the children of `Abd-Man¡f over the attainment of dignity. They fed the needy; so did we. They gave horses to the needy; so did we. They provided the needy with money; so did we. Then we were neck to neck. But, then, they say that they have a prophet among themselves who gets revelation from God. Now how can we ever get equal to them? By God, we shall never believe in what he says nor shall we ever confirm him.”[4]

Umayyah ibn Ab¢-¯alt, a nobleman and great poet of ±¡’if, did not believe in Islam for the same reason. For years, he waited for the arrival of the Promised Prophet and at the same time, he wished that he himself would be that Prophet. When he heard about the prophethood of Mu¦ammad (¥), he abstained from following him and the reason he offered for his denial was the following: “How could I tell the women of ±¡’if that another person had obtained the status of prophethood? I have always told them that I would be the promised prophet. Now how could I endure this shame on my side to follow the young man of `Abd-Man¡f?”[5]

[1] ±abars¢, Majma` al-Bay¡n 7:260; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, Man¡qib 1:51.

[2] Man¡qib 1:59.

[3] Qi¥a¥ al-`Arab 2:258; Ibn Kath¢r, al-Bid¡yah wa’l-Nih¡yah 3:144.

[4] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 1:337; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, Man¡qib 1:50; Ibn Kath¢r, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:506-507.

[5] Ibn Kath¢r, Al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:130.

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