بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah The most Gracious The Most Merciful
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) set out towards At-Ta’if, about 60 kilometres (37.5 miles) from Makkah, in the company of his freed slave Zaid bin Haritha inviting people to Islam. He approached the family of ‘Umair, who were reckoned amongst the nobility of the town. But, to his disappointment, all of them turned deaf ear to his message and used abusive language as regards the noble cause he had been striving for.
Three brothers from the chieftains of Thaqeef, ‘Abd Yaleel, Mas‘ud and Habeeb , sons of ‘Amr bin ‘Umair Ath-Thaqafy met the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), who invited them to embrace Islam and worship Allâh, but they impudently jeered at him and refused his invitation. “He is tearing the cloths of Al-Ka‘bah; is it true that Allâh has sent you as a Messenger?” said one of them. “Has not Allâh found someone else to entrust him with His Message?” said the second. “I swear by Allâh that I will never have any contact with you. If you are really the Messenger of Allâh, then you are too serious to retort back; and if you are belying Allâh, then I feel it is imperative not to speak to.” said the third. The Messenger of Allâh (صلى الله عليه وسلم), finding that they were hopeless cases, stood up and left them saying: “Should you indulge in these practices of yours, never divulge them to me.”
For ten days the Prophet stayed in Taif but to no avail people pelted him with stones, jeered at him and hurt him in every way. A stone hit the head of his companion Zaid and the Prophet was hurt so bad that blood was flowing down his legs. The prophet fled from there and tood refuge in an orchard and supplicated to Allah. He was weary and wounded but confident of the help of his Lord:
“O Allâh! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before mankind. You are the most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak, O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of an unsympathetic distant relative who would sullenly frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control over my affairs? But if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about.”
“I seek protection in the light of Your Countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone.”
‘Aishah (May be pleased with her) (the Prophet’s spouse). She said: “I asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him) if he had ever experienced a worse day than Uhud. He answered that he had suffered a lot from those people (the idolaters) but the most painful was on the day of ‘Aqabah. I went seeking support from Ibn ‘Abd Yalil bin ‘Abd Kalal, but he spurned me. I set out wearied and grieved heedless of anything around me until I suddenly realized I was in Qarn Ath-Tha‘alib, called Qarn Al-Manazil. There, I looked up and saw a cloud casting its shade on me, and Gabriel addressing me: Allâh has heard your people’s words and sent you the angel of mountains to your aid. The latter called and gave me his greetings and asked for my permission to bury Makkah between Al-Akhshabain, the two mountains flanking Makkah. I said in reply that I would rather have someone from their loins who will worship Allâh, the All–Mighty with no associate.”
A concise meaningful answer fully indicative of the Prophet’s matchless character and the fathomless magnanimous manners. The Messenger of Allâh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then came back to wakefulness and his heart was set at rest in the light of that invisible Divinely provided aid. He proceeded to Wadi Nakhlah where he stayed for a few days. During his stay there, Allâh sent him a company of jinns who listened to him reciting the Noble Qur’ân:
“And (remember) when We sent towards you [Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ] Nafran (three to ten persons) of the jinns, (quietly) listening to the Qur’ân, when they stood in the presence thereof, they said: ‘Listen in silence!’ And when it was finished, they returned to their people, as warners. They said: ‘O our people! Verily! We have heard a Book (this Qur’ân) sent down after Moses, confirming what came before it, it guides to the Truth and to a Straight Path (i.e. Islam). O our people! Respond (with obedience) to Allâh’s Caller [i.e. Allâh’s Messenger Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ], and believe in him (i.e. believe in that which Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has brought from Allâh and follow him). He (Allâh) will forgive you of your sins, and will save you from a painful torment (i.e. Hell-fire).’” [46:29-31]
The same incident is referred to in Sûrah Al-Jinn:
“Say [O Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ]: “It has been revealed to me that a group (from three to ten in number) of jinns listened (to this Qur’ân). They said: ‘Verily! We have heard a wonderful Recital (this Qur’ân)! It guides to the Right Path, and we have believed therein, and we shall never join (in worship) anything with our Lord (Allâh).’” [72:1,2] … Till the end of the 15th verse.
“And whosoever does not respond to Allâh’s Caller, he cannot escape on earth, and there will be no Auliyâ (protectors) from him besides Allâh (from Allâh’s punishment). Those are in manifest error.” [46:32]
The Miraculous Night Journey from Makkah to the Farthest Mosque in Jerusalem, and the Ascent through the Spheres of Heavens:
The Messenger of Allâh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was carried in body from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the Distant Mosque in Jerusalem on a horse called Al-Buraq in the company of Gabriel, the archangel. There he alighted, tethered the horse to a ring in the gate of the Mosque and led the Prophets in prayer. After that Gabriel took him to the heavens on the same horse. When they reached the first heaven Gabriel asked the guardian angel to open the door of heaven. It was opened and he saw Adam, the progenitor of mankind. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saluted him and the other welcomed him and expressed his faith in Muhammad’s Prophethood.
Gabriel alaihis salaam then ascended with the Prophet to the second heaven, asked for opening the gate and there he saw and saluted John, son of Zachariya (Yahya bin Zakariya) and Jesus, son of Mary. They returned the salutation, welcomed him and expressed their faith in his Prophethood. Then they reached the third heaven where they saw Joseph (Yusuf) and saluted him. The latter welcomed the Prophet and expressed faith in his Prophethood.
The Prophet, in the company of Gabriel, then reached the fourth heaven where he met the Prophet (Idris) and saluted him. Prophet Enoch returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Then he was carried to the fifth heaven where he met the Prophet Aaron (Harun) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood.
In the sixth heaven he met Moses (Musa) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) on leaving, saw that Moses began to weep. He asked about the reason. Moses answered that he was weeping because he witnessed a man sent after him as a Messenger (Muhammad) who was able to lead more of his people to the Paradise than he himself did. Then Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) reached the seventh heaven and met Abraham (Ibrahim) (Peace be upon him) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood.
He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was then carried to Sidrat-al-Muntaha (the remotest lote tree) and was shown Al-Bait-al-Ma‘mûr [(the much frequented house) which is like the Ka‘bah (Sacred House) encompassed daily by seventy thousand angels, so that the angels who once encompassed it would not have their turn again till the Resurrection]. He was then presented to the Divine Presence and experienced the thrill of witnessing the Divine Glory and Manifestation at the closest possible propinquity. There the Lord revealed unto His servant that which He revealed, and ordained fifty daily prayers for him.
On his return, he spoke to Moses that his followers had been enjoined to pray fifty times a day. Moses addressing the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Your followers cannot perform so many prayers. Go back to your Lord and ask for a remission in number.” The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) turned to Gabriel as if holding counsel with him. Gabriel nodded, “Yes, if you desire,” and ascended with him to the Presence of Allâh. The All-Mighty Allâh, Glory is to Him, made a reduction of ten prayers. He then descended and reported that to Moses, who again urged him to request for a further reduction. Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) once more begged his Lord to reduce the number still further. He went again and again in the Presence of Allâh at the suggestion of Moses for reduction in the number of prayers till these were reduced to five only. Moses again asked him to implore for more reduction, but he said: “I feel ashamed now of repeatedly asking my Lord for reduction. I accept and resign to His Will.” When Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) went farther, a Caller was heard saying: “I have imposed My Ordinance and alleviated the burden of My servants.”
Some significant suggestive incidents featured the ‘Night Journey’ of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم):
The Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) breast was cleft by Gabriel, his heart extracted and washed with the water of Zamzam, a sacred spring in Makkah. In the same context, there were brought to him two gold vessels. There was milk in one, while the other was full of wine. He was asked to choose either of them, so he selected the vessel containing milk and drank it. He (the angel) said: “You have been guided on Al-Fitrah or you have attained Al-Fitrah. Had you selected wine, your nation would have been misled.” [It is a symbolic way of saying that good and evil in the form of milk and wine were brought before the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and he instinctively made a choice for the good. It is very difficult to render the Arabic term ‘Fitrah’ into English. It denotes the original constitution or disposition, with which a child comes into this world, as contrasted with qualities or inclinations acquired during life; besides it refers to the spiritual inclination inherent in man in his unspoilt state].
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) told that he saw two manifest rivers, the Nile and the Euphrates and two hidden ones. It appears that the two manifest rivers, the Nile and the Euphrates, symbolically describe the area in whose fertile valleys, Muhammad’s Message will settle, and the people whereof will always remain the adherent bearers of Islam that will be passed on from generation to another. They can by no means suggest that they well up from the Garden. He had the opportunity to see Malik, the guardian of Hell, with a cheerless frowning face. Therein, he saw the Hell dwellers, of whom were those who unjustly eat up the property of the orphans. They have flews similar to those of camels, swallowing red-hot stones and then issuing out of their backs.
There were also the people who take usury with bellies too big to be able to move around; they are trodden by the people of Pharaoh when these are admitted into Hell. In the same abode, he saw the adulterers offered tasty fatty meat and rotten smelly one but they make option for the latter. The licentious women were also there hanging from their breasts.
The disbelievers, however, found it a suitable opportunity to jeer at the Muslims and their creed. They pestered the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) with questions as to the description of the Mosque at Jerusalem, where he had never gone before and, to the astonishment of many, the Prophet’s replies furnished the most accurate information about that city. He supplied them with all the news about their caravans and the routes of their camels. However, all this increased in them nothing but flight from the Truth, and they accepted nothing but disbelief.
For the true Muslims, however there was nothing unusual about the Night Journey. The All-Mighty Allâh, Who is Powerful enough to have created the heavens and the earth by an act of His Will, is surely Powerful enough to take His Messenger beyond the heavens and show him those signs of His at firsthand which are inaccessible to man otherwise. The disbelievers on their part went to see Abu Bakr on account of this event, and he readily said: “Yes, I do verify it.” It was on this occasion that he earned the title of As-Siddiq (the verifier of the truth).
The most eloquent and most concise justification of this ‘Journey’ is expressed in Allâh’s Words:
“… in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.)” [17:1].
THE FIRST ‘AQABAH PLEDGE:
On the occasion of the pilgrimage, there came a group of twelve disciples ready to acknowledge Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as their Prophet. They avowed their faith in Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as a Prophet and swore: “We will not worship any one but one Allah; we will not steal; neither will we commit adultery, nor kill our children; we will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood and we will not disobey you in any just matter.” When they had taken the pledge, Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “He who carries it out, Allâh will reward him; and who neglects anything and is afflicted in this world, it may prove redemption for him in the Hereafter; and if the sin remains hidden from the eyes of the men and no grief comes to him, then his affair is with Allâh. He may forgive him or He may not.”
After the Pledge (in the form of an oath had been taken) the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) sent to Yathrib (Madinah) Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair Al-‘Abdari, (May Allah be pleased with him) the first Muslim ‘ambassador’ to teach the people there the doctrines of Islam
THE SECOND ‘AQABAH PLEDGE:
In the thirteenth year of Prophet hood, during the pilgrimage season, over seventy converts from Madinah came in the trail of their polytheist people to perform the rituals of pilgrimage in Makkah. The oft-repeated question amongst them was “Isn’t it high time we protect Muhammad instead of leaving him forsaken, deserted and stumbling in the hillocks of Makkah?”
The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then preached the Faith, and the pledge was taken. Al-Imam Ahmad, on the authority of Jabir, gave the following details:
The Ansâr (Helpers) asked the Messenger of Allâh about the principles over which they would take a pledge. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) answered:
1) To listen and obey in all sets of circumstances.
2) To spend in plenty as well as in scarcity.
3) To enjoin good and forbid evil.
4) In Allâh’s service, you will fear the censure of none.
5)To defend me in case I seek your help, and debar me from anything you debar yourself, your spouses and children from. And if you observe those precepts, Paradise is in store for you.
In another version narrated by Ka‘b, he said:
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) began to speak, recited some Qur’ânic verses, called people unto Allâh, exhorted them to enter the fold of Islam and concluded saying: “I give you my pledge that you debar me from whatever you debar your women and children from.” Here Al-Bara’ bin Ma‘rur, caught him by hand, and said: “Oh yes, we swear by Allâh, Who sent you as a Prophet in Truth, that we will debar you from whatever we debar our women from. Have confidence in us, O Messenger of Allâh. By Allâh, we are genuine fighters and quite reliable in war, it is a trait passed down to us from our ancestors.”
After the pledge of Aqabah the Muslims started migrating to Medinah. The polytheists were paralyzed by the carefully planned and speedy movement of Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) followers towards their new abode in Madinah.
They wanted to stop the influence of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) from spreading and met at their Parliament house to discuss the effective measures they could take. Iblis disguised as an elderly man from Najd attended the meeting too. After contemplating different means to get rid of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) Abu Jahl bin Hisham suggested that they assassinate him. But assassination by one man would have exposed him and his family to the vengeance of blood. The difficulty was at last solved by Abu Jahl himself, who suggested that a band of young men, one from each tribe, should strike Muhammad simultaneously with their swords so that the blood-money would be spread over them all and therefore could not be exacted, and his people would seek a mind-based recourse for settlement. The sinful proposal was unanimously accepted, and the representatives broke up the meeting and went back home with full determination for immediate implementation.