Seerah episode 34: The Prophet Presents Islam & Appeals to Banu Hashim

— Following the generation of Sahaba, Seerah was the primary tool to lay the foundation of the Ummah & understanding of one’s religion. Qur’an is the blueprint of Islam, but one of the primary prerequisites of properly understanding the Qur’an is to know the historical context of the Qur’an

  • E.g. if someone talked about taqwa (God-consciousness) for hours, talking about its theology, quoting some ayat & hadith, & giving the encyclopedic account of taqwa, you might gain in knowledge, but how would you apply all that information about taqwa in your life? You would need something human to illustrate the manifestation of taqwa
  • Side note: A friend likened taqwa to imagining a police car driving behind you at all times. You might not be doing anything wrong or illegal, you’re not speeding & your tailights work just fine, but you take extra care to pay good attention to your driving so that you don’t mess up & give the cop a reason to give you a ticket. Similarly, taqwa is being conscious of the fact that Allah is always watching you, even if you’re not doing anything wrong. You live life with the awareness that Allah & the angels on your shoulder are watching & recording everything, & you don’t want to get a “ticket” or a bad deed recorded, so you monitor your actions so as not to commit any misdeeds

— Allah tells us that without a doubt, within the Prophet (saw), we have the most excellent role model

— In the early phase of Prophethood, there were about only a dozen Muslims, done through private da’wah. In the 2nd phase of Prophethood, it was time to take the message public, but that didn’t mean all at once. The public phase would occur in a gradual process, & it began with the ayah:

  • “Warn the closest of your tribespeople (your khandan, your ashira, extended family) & whoever follows you from the believers, then be humble to them.”

— The Prophet told his cousin Ali bin Abi Talib (ra),  “I know that if I go & start with my family members, then what I know about them is that they won’t like what I say, so I hesitate to talk to them about Islam.”

  • Jibril (as) came to the Prophet & told the Prophet, “If you do not do what your Lord has commanded you, then He will punish you.”
    • Allah is holding the Prophet accountable for delivering the message
  • The Prophet then told Ali, “O Ali, prepare a goat for us. Prepare some other food along with it. Also, go bring a bowl of milk. Then go and call all the family of Abdul Mutallib.”
    • Ali did what he was told

— There were about 40 people who got together. Amongst them were the paternal uncles of the Prophet – Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas, & Abu Lahab

  • Ali presented the food to them. Then Ali describes one of the early miracles of the Prophet. When he presented the food, the Prophet took a bite of the food, put it in a side of the plate, and said, “Eat in the name of Allah.”
  • Everyone dug in & it was a feast, despite there being only one goat. There was one bowl of milk, which was enough only for one man, but 40 men were able to drink from it
    • 40 people were able to eat & drink from a meal that would have served at most 2 people

— Once everyone ate their fill & Prophet was about to speak, Abu Lahab jumped in, “This brother of yours, Saheb, has done magic to all of us. 40 people feed on one goat? 40 people drink from one bowl? Look, Muhammad is practicing his magic on us.”

  • People got nervous & start to leave, didn’t give Prophet chance to address them. Another narration states that once Abu Lahab made his statement, he got up & left the Prophet’s house. Since he’s a leader of the family, others follow suit & leave along with him

— The next day, the Prophet told Ali to make similar arrangements as before. Prepare one goat & one bowl of milk

  • Everyone got together & everyone ate their fill even though food was prepared for one person
  • As soon as the Prophet was about to speak, Abu Lahab jumps in again. He shows up to eat the food, but gets everyone to leave by claiming that the Prophet was doing magic

— On the third day, they do it again. Food is prepared, everyone gets together, & they eat. The Prophet spoke up & beat Abu Lahab to the punch

  • “Ya Bani Abdul Mutallib.”
    • This is a respectable address, because Abdul Mutallib wasn’t just a leader of the people, he  was a legendary leader who united & organized the Arabs under his leadership
  • “I swear to Allah, I don’t know any man from the Arabs who has come to his people with something better than what I have come to you with today. I have come to you with something that will benefit you both in this world & in the Hereafter, and Allah has commanded me to call you to it. So who amongst you will aid me and be my brother in this cause?”

— Ali bin Abi Talib describes that no one responded. Everyone was quiet. The Prophet’s uncles, Abbas & Hamza, who were not Muslim yet, were inclined to this truth, & Ali could see from their faces that they were inclined to Muhammad’s words, but were hesitant

  • The Prophet presses them. “Who will support me? Who will join this cause?”
  • Ali couldn’t wait any longer. He was 12 or 13 years old at the time. He said, “I will, O Messenger of Allah.”
  • Prophet, “Anta? You?”
  • Ali said, “Yes.”
    • Years later, Ali recalls, “On that day, I was the least dignified of them all. I was of the least social standing out of all of them. They were the most powerful men in Arabia. I was the most fresh-eyed out of all of them; I was a child, a boy.
  • The Prophet was so pleased at Ali standing up & showing his support, that he praised Ali at that time in front of everyone
    • The Prophet says, “Ali is my brother, and he is my aid. He will be a leader, after me as well.”

— As this exchange happened, Abu Lahab, seeing the Prophet praise Ali, says to Abu Talib, who had inherited the leadership of Makkah after Abdul Mutallib’s death, “Look, look at what our nephew says. Our nephew says that he wants you to be submissive to your own 13-year-old boy. He tells the father that the son will be the leader. What does that make you? A follower of your own boy? I thought you were the big dog of Quraysh, the chief of Makkah. Your nephew humiliates you. Your nephew puts your own boy in a position of leadership.”

  • Abu Lahab basically twists the Prophet’s words to insult Abu Talib, who cared for Muhammad in his younger years. The Prophet had a strong bond with Abu Talib, like a father-son bond.
  • After hearing Abu Lahab, the Prophet broke down into tears
    • The Prophet said, “Dear Uncle, Ya Ammi, I never wanted to harm you. I never meant insult to you.”
  • Once Abu Lahab said this & got up & walked away from the Prophet’s house, everyone else got up and dispersed

— This was the first time the Prophet went public with Islam. This was the first public address of Islam to Banu Hashim

  • Sometime after this, all the speculation was over. Islam was out there now. The Prophet now took the publicity to the next level & gathered the Quraysh. He gathered only the tribe, not all of Makkah. First it was the family (Banu Hashim), now just the tribe

— The Prophet was a man of great respect. He was very measured with his words. Even in pre-nubuwwah (pre-Prophethood), Muhammad was quiet & didn’t speak unnecessarily. So if he publically gathered people to address them, everyone took him very seriously

— The Prophet climbed up the mountain of Safa, & addressed the Quraysh, “Ya Sabaha (emphatic address of listen, listen; Wa abāah!  means, “O calamity of the morning!” In Arabia, this alarm was traditionally raised by anyone who noticed an enemy tribe advancing against his tribe at dawn

  • The Prophet addresses each family of Quraysh, “Brothers of mine, listen. Ya Bani Abdul Mutallib. Ya Bani Luway. Ya Bani Fihr. Ya Bani Hashim. If I said there was a cavalry, a battalion of the other side of this mountain that was about to attack us, would you believe me?”
  • The Quraysh respond, “Yes, O Muhammad. We’ve never found you to be a liar. Why wouldn’t we believe you?”
  • The Prophet continues, “I’m here to tell you about a very serious punishment that’s coming your way. O community of Quyash, save yourselves from the Fire of Hell.”
    • He addressed each family to save themselves from the Fire of Hell. In some narrations, the Prophet even says, “Ya Fatima bint Muhammad, save yourself from the Fire of Hell.” In another narration, the Prophet also addresses his aunt, “Ya Safiya bint Abdul Mutallib, save yourself from the Fire of Hell.”
  • “I don’t control your fate. Most definitely, all of you here have a relationship with me. I will honor our family relationship with you to the best of my ability. But you have to realize what you have to do. You have to realize what’s at stake. Ask me for my money as much as you want. I will literally stand here and give them away. I do this out of compassion. Please, just take this message from me.
    • Bi-bilaliha: an expression in classical Arabic; it means “I’ll take care of this, regardless of what it takes. No matter how difficult it is, I’ll take care of it.”  Basically, “I’ll bankrupt myself, giving to you. I’m not here to take, I’m here to give.”
    • The Prophet just didn’t talk big game, he backed it up. He didn’t just preach flowery things (I’ll take care of you), but he did take care of them (whatever you need, take). When the Prophet passed away, he had very little in the way of material things to give away, because he spent most of his wealth on others

— For a moment, consider the amount of courage it took the Prophet to do this, to gather all of the families of Quraysh & to stand in front of them to deliver his message. He put all his cards on the table. It must have been difficult for him to pour his heart out like this at that moment. If you were to do the same, you would be hanging on, waiting with bated breath as to how your tribe will respond to you

  • Once again, Abu Lahab speaks up, “May be you damned. May you be wretched. May you be ruined all throughout the days (for the rest of your life). Did you not gather us here for any other reason but this garbage?”
  • As soon as Abu Lahab said this & walked away, everyone else also walked away with the Prophet still standing there. Imagine how heavy & discouraging that must have been for the Prophet. You pour your heart out to your own family, to your own people, only to be dismissed & brushed aside due to the words of your own blood relative

— One might have the incorrect assumption that the Prophet’s message was only taken out of family loyalty & tribal affiliation, but that’s not the case at all. His own family & his own people rejected him

  • The Prophet was preaching something that was completely new to the lives of the people. For centuries they knew only of the type of worship their forefathers knew
  • Still, the Prophet didn’t quit preaching. He didn’t stop when the going got tough. He had the resilience to continue to deliver Allah’s Message. He took care of his responsibility, beginning with his family members


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