Early Years of Islam: Hardship 2 Part 4
As salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
May the peace, blessings, and mercy of God be upon you.
During the last video, we talked about the early revelation period. Islam was not preached openly; rather people learned about Islam through small group meetings and one-on-one meetings with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Quraysh were in firm opposition to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and actively sought out any ways that they could prevent others from learning about the message.
But the difficulties did not stop there. During these first three years, the believers faced many hardships and even torture. Here too with these events, the revelations emphasized the need for steadfastness, patience, and promise of better days to come. In this video, we will talk about some of these hardhips.
One such case was Khalid ibn Said. He had a dream in which he saw himself being dragged towards the edge of a fire that looked like Hell. His father was standing behind him and was pushing him towards the fire. Just when he was about to fall into the flames, the Pride of Humankind came to his rescue, held him by the waist, and pulled him out. After consulting with Abu Bakr, Khalid came to the presence of Muhammad (pbuh), and took the shahadah. (p.146)
While Khalid willing submitted himself, he had a very stubborn father. On hearing the news, his father took a piece of wood and hit his son until he bled. When Khalid’s response was to say, “I swear by Allah that I have submitted in faith to Him and I will never return,” his father reacted harshly, and swore, “Go wherever you will! I swear that I will not give you a penny from now on.”
Similarly, when Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas embraced Islam after a spiritual dream, his mother began to cause him problems swearing, “Either you leave this religion of yours, or I will stop eating and drinking until I die.” Thus passed a whole day and night, and Sa’d’s mother did not eat or drink. The next morning, the Truthful Gabriel descended with the message:
But if they strive with you to make you associate with Me something of which you certainly have no knowledge, do not obey them. Even then, treat them with kindness and due consideration in respect of this world. Follow the way of him who has turned to Me with utmost sincerity and commit to seeking My approval. Then, to Me is your return, and then I will make you understand all that you were doing. (Luqman 31:15)
With this revelation, Sa’d felt relieved. He went to his mother and said: “Dear Mother! If you had a thousand lives and if you died each one of them every day, I will not leave my religion.” This was not something that a man of such tender character as Sa’d would normally say. His mother saw that Sa’d was even more determined than she, so she stopped her hunger strike and started to eat and drink.
Just as children suffered from the abuse of their parents, slaves endured even greater torture as they had no tribal protection. Among these was an Abyssinian slave named Bilal, who one day while he was grazing sheep, had a chance to observe Rasul Allah (Messenger of Allah pbuh) and Abu Bakr who had gone outside of Mecca to discuss new verses and to pray together. The two friends were like the sun and the moon; it was impossible not be mesmerized by the scene. Bilal thought to bring them a bowl of milk as it gave him a reason to approach them. Other incidents followed and Bilal came to know Islam before many free men. One day, Rasul Allah (Messenger of Allah pbuh) and Abu Bakr heard that Bilal was acting rudely towards the idols in the Ka’ba. The Meccans were infuriated that a slave could speak disrespectfully about his masters’ objects of worship. They harassed his owner as well, and Umayya ibn Khalaf did not intend to put himself at risk for a slave. Bilal was a slave among numerous of Umayya’s slaves. He said to Umayya ibn Khalaf and Abu Jahl, “Take him, he can be yours, you can do whatever you like with him!”
They took Bilal to the desert. They pushed him down on the hot burning sand, they put heavy rocks over him and inflicted him with pain and pressure. They extorted psychological pressure to recant his belief in Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him. Abu Jahl’s enmity seemed to have no bounds. He could not fathom how a slave could accept a power other than him. Abu Jahl tortured him until Bilal lost all his strength and did not have any power left in him to speak but one word, “Ahad! Ahad! One! One!”
Abu Bakr approached the men and asked “How can you subject any man to such torture?” Then he bought and saved Bilal and showed him the way to freedom.
Another slave, Habbab ibn Arat, worked as blacksmith forging swords and shields from iron. He too accepted Islam, and he would work in front of the fire all day long, and then when he stepped outside of his hut at the end of the day, he would face the fire coming from the Quraysh, and his pain would not cease. One day his master came to him and beat him badly, tied his arms and pressed the red hot iron onto his body and tortured him until he lost consciousness. He barely came out of this beating alive. Desperate, he came to the presence of the Prophet and said the following: “Can you not ask help for us, O Messenger of Allah (pbuh)? Can you not raise your hands and pray for us?”
The Pride of Humanity knew what his followers were going through, but he had no resources. He knew that while passing through such difficulties, one had to stand firm. The revelations were coming down sharing that it was not only them who were suffering such troubles, but that those who came before them had suffered worse and winning Paradise was not an easy task. It seemed that Allah demanded a stance of patience and firmness from those who had been the first to take on the cause in order that they may prepare themselves better and rise to the challenge when faced with greater difficulties that they were about to experience.
At the same time, the revelations sent through Gabriel promised that one day the snow would melt and a new spring would be witnessed in human horizons, and light would be scattered everywhere. Today, some people were pouring all their resources into trying to extinguish the light of the cause of Allah, but Allah the Almighty promised in this revelation:
They seek to extinguish Allah’s light from their mouths. Whereas Allah refuses but to complete His light, however hateful this may be to the unbelievers. He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, however hateful this may be to those who associate partners with Allah. (at-Tawbah 9:32-33)
And with this verse among many others:
So be patient; surely Allah’s promise is true, and do not let those who lack certainty shake your firmness. (Ar-Rum 30:60)
Muslims today are going through difficult dark days as well. We can take solace in the precedence of these noble companions who suffered greatly for the cause of Allah the Almighty, and in the knowledge of the promise of the spring to come.
As salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
Note. This text was adapted and abridged from Prophet Muhammad Sultan of Hearts, vol 1 by Resit Haylamaz and Fatih Harpci, Tughra Books, New Jersey, 2014.