Seerah episode 5: Monotheism before Islam

A sahabah said: Before Islam, in the Era of Ignorance, if we could not find a constructed idol to worship, we would put together some dirt into a mount. Then we would find a goat, milk it on top of that dirt-mound. Then we would begin circumambulating it.

This tells us several things.
• How badly deteriorated the spiritual condition of these people was.
This is the predicament of the common person. They at least had inclination towards some level of spirituality – there was a type of imaan. Albeit a very wrong one. But They had not reached that reckless level of arrogance where they lost any and all spirituality like the agnostics and the atheist.
The Arabs were desperately looking for some thing to worship. They did not know where to look for it and how to access it.
o In the initial stages of the Messenger of Allaah’s s calling, it was the lower part of society that would come forth to accept the revelation.
o The chieftains had the arrogance of not being paired with a faith that was surrounded by the lower-levels of society.

What monotheism completely lost?
For the masses, yes. There were, however, a few people – known as al-hunafah – who were holding on to the religion of Ibrahim ‘alayhi as-salaam.

Hanif | Word Analysis
The root of the word and its derivatives as used by the ancient Arabs will help us understand its meaning.
They would these types of people as ‘rajulan ahnaf’.
To understand the meaning of hanif, Picture someone who has severely inwards turned feet (severe pigeon-footedness). Normally, when someone walks his feet point outwards. This person, however, has feet that constantly walk towards the middle. He is constantly centered.
The word for a faucet or water tap is hanafiyah. It streamlines or focuses the water’s path. Therefore, hanif is someone who is constantly focused.

In the supplication of Ibrahim ‘alayhi as-salaam, an opening supplication of prayer. (Sahih Muslim):

وجهت وجهي للذي فطر السموات والأرض حنيفاً وما أنا من المشركين

I have turned my face sincerely towards He Who has brought forth the heaven and the earth (from nothing), (I am) centered and I am not of those who associate others with the rights of Allaah.

There were perhaps a dozen individuals at the time of the birth of the Messenger of Allah who were called hunafa by the Qur’aan, ahadith, and the Arabs themselves.

Who were the hunafa?
There were those few who actually interacted with the Messenger of Allah. It is interesting to look at these examples because this was the last spark of tawhid on the earth at that time. Christianity and Judaism had become polluted by that time.

The Trinity was rampant and rabbinical law was the law of the
people. Some of these persons came into contact with the Messenger of Allah before he received revelation and they recognized the signs of prophethood. They expressed their desire to be with him when the message arrived or they accepted the faith when it came. There were also some who held the essence of tawhid, but were too arrogant to associate with the Messenger of Allah.

1. Zayd b. ‘Amr b. Nufayl
Asma b. Abi Bakr narrated that, “I saw Zayd leaning against the Ka’bah and he was addressing the Quraysh. [He was a knowledgeable and respected, but eccentric elderly man].

He said, ‘O people of Quraysh, I swear by the One Who has Zayd’s life in His hands, none of you is truly upon the religion of Ibrahim other than myself.’ And then he would say, “Allaahuma, if I knew what is the most beloved way of worshipping You, I would worship You in that manner. O Allaah, but there is very little left of Your true message today and I do not know what you want from me, but if I knew, I would do it.”

Then, he would literally make sajdah there. He would come and pray near the Ka’bah in the direction of the Ka’bah. He would say, “My God is the God of Ibrahim. My religion is the religion of Ibrahim. That is all I know.” He don’t know more than that.

[Feeling spiritually connected in any shape or form, makes one feel the need for morality. Morality or desire thereof may exist outside of spirituality, but that is short-lived or perverted.]
[If one goes through the motions of worship, but there is no impact upon his persona and being as a human, than he has not actually prayed.]

He would go around trying to save the first-born daughters of the middle-class to lower-class families from being buried (as a sacrifice to the gods). When he would find a man intending to go bury his newborn daughter, he would say, “Give her to somebody who may care for her. If she starts to find some place in your heart, please keep her. If you don’t, give her up. I will take her.”

Similarly, he was also very particular. He didn’t want to indulge or sanction some of the very pagan practices. When they would sacrifice animals in the name of their idols, he would not participate. He would say, “I do not eat from that which you sacrifice for your idols. I do not eat except that which is sacrifice in the name of Allah.”

When they would have these feasts in the name of idols, he would come and reprimand them. He would say, “This goat you have sacrificed, Allah has created it. Allah rained down water from the sky for it. Allah allowed vegetation to grow from the earth to nourish it. Then after all this process, you sacrifice this goat for other than Allah?”
He passed away before revelation came, but the Messenger of Allah is narrated to have said, “That man will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection as an ummah by himself. As the ummah that existed between me and between ‘Isa b. Maryam ‘alayhuma as-salaam.”

As we know from Ibn Kathir’s rahimahu Allaah narrations, he was of the opinion that there were 500-odd years between the two messengers; other historians argue it was closer to 600-odd years. That long duration will have him resurrected on his own.

In another narration, the Messenger of Allah said that in one of his miracles he saw that, “I entered Paradise and I saw reserved for this man dohatayn (two HUGE trees).”

He had met the Messenger of Allah before prophethood, but passed away before the advent of revelation.

2. Waraqah b. Nawfal
Zayd b. ‘Amr b. Nufayl travelled outside of Arabia, anywhere he could go, to find the true religion. During these travels, Waraqah b. Nawfal had been his companion. They were not comfortable with the spiritual condition of Makkah. So would search for the truth outside.

While traveling together, he went on a different route. Zayd came across Christianity and Judaism, but was not comfortable with them. As a result, Zayd latched on to the religion of Ibrahim ‘alayhi as-salaam.

Waraqah on the other hand, came across certain monks who were adhering to Christianity. They were practicing a slightly more old and clean version of Christianity. They were monks because they were disturbed by the polluted ideas of the Trinity et al.

He was the first one to translate the Bible into Arabic and bring it to the Hejaz region. He would literally, write and copy manuscripts of the Bible to distribute and teach among the people.

His key role was that he was the cousin of Khadijah b. Khuwaylid g. When the first revelation came and the Messenger of Allah told his wife all that he had experienced when he received the first revelation, and she took him to her cousin Waraqah, who knew some things about scriptures and prophets.

Waraqah told them, “If he speaks the truth (about this Angel), it is the same Angel that would come to Musa ‘alayhi as-salaam. If he is sent out to preach his message by Allaah and I am still alive, I will not only believe in him, but I will fully support him and help him in his message.” For this reason, he is often classified as Muslim.

3. Qoos b. Sa’ida al-Iyyadi
Iyyad was a tribe. When the convoys came to the Messenger of Allah to accept Islam and learn about the religion, one of the tribes came from his tribe. When this tribe came, the Messenger of Allah asked them if they knew about this man. They mentioned to the Messenger of Allah that he passed away. He s said, “I saw him one day at the place of Ukaaz.” This was a place outside of Makkah where the Pagans would have fanfare (poetry and idol worship). “He was riding a red she-camel. He was speaking some words that were very astonishing and deep. I don’t remember what he was saying, but just that it was so profound.”

One of the people of the caravan said that he remembered what Qoos would say. He would say, “O people, gather together, everyone who dies, then that person has perished. But every single thing will come back later.” He was basically saying that everything we do in this world has a consequence.

“The night is very dark and deep, but has huge forts (shining stars), but at the same time we have the ocean raging with waves and mountains deeply rooted in the earth and streams flowing in the earth. In the sky there is a huge reflection and call for us.”

“Why is it that I see people go, but they do not come back? Do they become so happy with where they have gone that they do not return? Or do they know the truth, but have simply fallen asleep?”

“I take an oath by Allaah in which there is no doubt, verily for Allah there is a deen and that deen which Allah has deserved and it is more pleasing to Him than what you are practicing.”

He would read this poetry and use it to advise the people.

4. Umayyah b. Abi as-Salat
The Messenger of Allah said that Umayyah was very close to accepting Islam. In another narration, the Messenger of Allah said that Umayyah was very close to accepting Islam by his poetry. Meaning, his poetry was oozing with imaan.

It is said that he was a practitioner of the Christian faith, but would write poetry about tawhid. He did not believe in Isa’s divinity or the Trinity. So he followed a pure form of Christianity. He would speak about resurrection on the Day of Judgment – very anti-Arab practice and belief.

He was also a giant of poet during his time. He lived until the time of revelation, but he did not accept Islam because of arrogance. He could not listen to this young man whilst he was a much elder, learned, and respected man.

Many of the scholars of tafsir say that Allaah the Most High spoke about him in (7:175)

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ

And recite to them, [O Muhammad], the news of him to whom we gave [knowledge of] Our signs, but he detached himself from them; so Satan pursued him and he became of the deviators.

This man could look at the sky and recognize something profound, he could hear the Qur’aan and recognize the truth in it, but he literally extracted himself from that guidance (fansalakha). He was very conscious of removing himself from guidance. He then lived a life in complete dissolution.

He died in either 2 AH or 9 AH, but he did not accept Islam. He realized there was some truth, however, and wrote a poem memorializing the people who died in the Battle of Badr and what would transpire of them in the Hereafter.

5. Labid b. Rabi’ah al-‘Aamiri d
He was also a giant of poet. He received the distinct honour of that time for his poetry – his poems
would be hung in and around the Ka’bah.

The Messenger of Allah said about him, “Some of the truest words a poet has spoke were the words of Labid.” This phrase is quoted by scholars from past to present.

A very famous snippet from one of Labid’s poems:
“Listen up! Each and every single thing other than Allah is unstable (not on established ground, has no foundation, here today & gone tomorrow)”
Everything is only in existence for as long as Allah allows it to be in existence
Everything will eventually expire, but only Allah will remain.

This is very in line with when Allaah says in (55:26-27)

كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ
وَيَبْقَىٰ وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ

All that is on earth will perish.
And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honour.

He accepted Islam and died much later during the caliphate of ‘Uthman b. Affan.

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani rahimahu Allaah and others mention that he lived to the age of 150! He had a lot of experience and deep profound wisdom.

Other Noteworthy Names

Ka’b b. Luayy b. Ghaalib al-Qurashi
He is a great-great-great-grandfather of the Messenger of Allah. He adhered to tawhid during a time that was predominantly attached to shirk.

‘Amr b. Abasa As-Sulaami
Allaah honoured him by giving him Islam.

Abd’l-Muttalib (by some scholars)
We will see this in the incident of the Elephants. At the Battle of Hunayn, the Messenger of Allah s cried out, “I am the Messenger of Allah and this is not a lie. I am the (grand-) son of Abd’l-Muttalib.” The fact that the Messenger of Allah linked himself to this man indicates there must have been some true faith in his life.

Family History of the Messenger of Allah.
The scholars mention that when Lut ‘alayhi as-salaam experiences the difficult situation of having the
angelic guests and his immoral people are advancing. He ‘alayhi as-salaam says (11:80)

قَالَ لَوْ أَنَّ لِي بِكُمْ قُوَّةً أَوْ آوِي إِلَىٰ رُكْنٍ شَدِيدٍ

He said, “If only I had against you some power or could take refuge in a strong support.”

He ‘alayhi as-salaam is wishing that he could have some family support – that strong support.

The Messenger of Allaah came from a very blessed and prestigious lineage. While slowly finding value
based upon your family is spiritually superficial, there is some value in it. It provides credibility when speaking to others who had this value of superficiality and it provides one with support. Look at the example of Abu Taalib.

The Messenger of Allah says, “Allah selected Kanana from the children of Isma’il, then He selected the Quraysh from the Kanana, then from the Quraysh He chose Banu Haashim, then He chose me from
Banu Haashim.”

Meaning, he has been selected from the best of the best of the best.
In another narration, he said, “The day when Allaah created the creation, He put me amongst the
best of people. Then when Allaah distributed the people further, He put me in the better of the two. Then when He distributed them further, He put me in the best of tribes. Then when He distributed people into homes from their tribes, He put me in the best of homes. That is why I come from the best of lineages and from the best of homes.”

Remember when Abu Sufyan was put before the Emperor of Rome and asked about the Messenger of Allah and whether he had any ulterior motives he may have for his messengership, Abu Sufyan said, “No, he comes from a very great lineage.”
A beauty of the religion is that the lineage of the Messenger of Allah is preserved up until Adam ‘alayhi as-salaam.

Portion A
This is unanimously accepted.
Muhammad; Ibn ‘Abd Allah; Ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib; Ibn Hashim; Ibn ‘Abd Manaf; Ibn Qusay; Ibn Kelaab; Ibn Mor’ah; Ibn Ka’ab; Ibn Lo’ayy; Ibn Ghalib; Ibn Fa’hr; Ibn Malik; Ibn Al’Nadar; Ibn Kenana; Ibn Khuzaymah; Ibn Modrakah; Ibn Elias; Ibn Modhar; Ibn Nizaar; Ibn Ma’ad; Ibn ‘Adnaan.

Portion B
There are some differences of opinion regarding the names here and there, but it is still
The second part: Adnaan Ibn Add Ibn Humaisi’ Ibn Salaman Ibn ‘Aws Ibn Buz Ibn Qamwal Ibn Obai Ibn ‘Awwam Ibn Nashid Ibn Haza Ibn Bildas Ibn Yadlaf Ibn Tabikh Ibn Jahim Ibn Nahish Ibn Makhi Ibn Aid Ibn ‘Abqar Ibn ‘Ubaid Ibn Ad-Da’a Ibn Hamdan Ibn Sanbir Ibn Yathrabi Ibn Yahzin Ibn Yalhan Ibn Ar’awi Ibn Aid Ibn Deshan Ibn Aisar Ibn Afnad Ibn Aiham Ibn Muksar Ibn Nahith Ibn Zarih Ibn Sami Ibn Mazzi Ibn ‘Awda Ibn Aram Ibn Qaidar Ibn Ismaa’eel (Ishmael) son of Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allaah exalt their mention.

Portion C
This is after Ibrahim ‘alayhi as-salaam, which is much accepted.
The third part: beyond Ibraaheem Ibn Tarih (Azar) Ibn Nahur Ibn Saru’ Ibn Ra’u Ibn Falikh Ibn Abir Ibn Shalikh Ibn Arfakhshad Ibn Sam Ibn Nooh (Noah) Ibn Lamik Ibn Mutwashlack Ibn Akhnukh [Prophet Idrees (Enoch)] Ibn Yarid Ibn Mahla’il Ibn QaIbn Anusha Ibn Shith Ibn Aadam .

People have this lineage memorized, but they do not have their own
lineage memorized. This shows the importance of prophet.

May Allaah allow us the reality of who prophet was. May Allaah allow us true love of His Messenger.
May Allaah give us the ability to practice everything that was said and heard.

Link to the next episode:

Link to the podcast: 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s