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General Invitation to Islam by Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)

By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
Three years had passed since the commencement of the prophetic mission of the Prophet. After inviting his nearest kinsfolk, the Prophet resorted to general invitation. During these three years he had guided some persons by special contacts to accept the Islamic faith, but this time he invited the general public openly to the religion of worshipping Allah, the One and the Unique One. One day he took his place on a high rock and said aloud: 'Ya Sabahah'! [1]
The Holy Prophet's call received attention. Some persons belonging to different families of Quraysh ran up to him. Then he turned to those assembled there, and said: "O people! Will you believe me if I tell you that your enemies have taken positions on the other side of this hill ( Safa) and intend attacking your lives and property?" All of them said, "We have never heard anything false from you throughout our lives". Then he said: "O people of Quraysh! Save yourselves from fire. I cannot do anything for you in the presence of Allah. I warn you of painful torture!" Then he added: "My position is like that of a watchman, who observes an enemy at a far-off point and immediately runs to his people for their safety and warns them of the impending danger by saying 'Ya Sabahah' in the particular manner".
These sentences indicate the basis of his invitation and religion. Quraysh were more or less aware of his religion, but these sentences created such a fear in their hearts that one of the leaders of infidelity (Abu Lahab) broke the silence of the people and said: "Woe be to you! Did you call us for this thing?" Then the people dispersed.

THE ROLE OF FAITH AND FORTITUDE
The secret of everyone's success lies in two things: Firstly, faith in one's aim and secondly steadfastness and effort in the path of its attainment. Faith is the inner stimulant which perforce pushes man to his object and invites him day and night to attain his aim, because he firmly believes that his welfare, supremacy, prosperity and good end are associated with it. And, in view of the interest which man takes in himself, whenever he develops faith and confidence the strength of his faith automatically directs and persuades him to overcome all difficulties and keeps him away from every doubt, notwithstanding the fact that his prosperity may be dependent upon the attainment of a specific target. For example, a sick man, who knows that his remedy and welfare lies in taking a bitter medicine, takes it easily, and a diver who believes that there are precious gems beneath the tides of the sea throws himself into the mouth of the tides without any apprehension; and returns to surface, after achieving his purpose.
However, if the ailing person or the diver are doubtful about the achievement of their objects or do not at all believe in the usefulness of their job, they either do not take any steps in that direction or, even if they do, they are faced with hardship and anguish. Hence, it is the very strength of belief and faith which solves all difficulties.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt about the fact that achievement of one's target is associated with difficulties and obstacles. It is, therefore, necessary for us to combat against those hurdles and to make necessary efforts in that behalf, so that all the obstacles may be removed with our full might. It has been said since olden times that wherever there is a flower (a prized object) there is also a thorn (difficulty) with it. The flower should, therefore, be plucked in such a way that the thorn does not prick one's hands or feet.
The Holy Qur'an has mentioned this subject (that the secret of success lies in faith in one's aim and steadfastness in its attainment) in a short sentence and has said: "As for those who say: 'Our Lord is Allah,' and take the right path.........."
(Surah al-Fussilat, 41:30). (Viz. those who have faith in Allah and believe in a particular aim and then display steadfastness and fortitude, will definitely achieve their object and are helped by the angels).

STEADFASTNESS AND FORTITUDE OF THE HOLY PROPHET
As a result of the special contacts of the Prophet before the 'general invitation' and his indefatigable efforts thereafter, a selected and faithful team came into existence against the forces of infidelity and idolatry. The Muslims, who had embraced Islam secretly before the 'general invitation', developed complete acquaintance with those who responded to the Prophet's call thereafter and the bells of danger rang in all the assemblies of infidelity and polytheism. No doubt it was quite easy for the strong and well-equipped Quraysh to crush a newly-born movement, but the reason for their being afraid was that the members of the movement did not belong to only one family but persons belonging to various families had also embraced Islam. Hence it was not easy for Quraysh to take a decisive action.
After mutual consultations the chiefs of Quraysh decided to remove the very foundation of this faith and the founder of the new religion by different means. They proposed to achieve this purpose by approaching him sometimes with allurements and at other times by extending to him various promises and occasionally by using threats and torture. For ten years Quraysh behaved in this manner and eventually they decided to kill the Holy Prophet. In order to save him, therefore, Allah ordered him to quit Makkah.
During the aforesaid period the chief of the family of Bani Hashim was Abu Talib. He was a man who possessed a noble nature and a magnanimous spirit, and his house was an asylum for the needy and the orphans. Besides being the chief of Makkah and possessing some offices with regard to the Holy Ka'bah he enjoyed a very high position in the Arab society and as he had been the guardian of the Prophet after the demise of Abdul Muttalib, the other chiefs of Quraysh approached him in the form of a group [2] and addressed him thus: "O Abu Talib!
Your nephew abuses our gods, speaks ill of our religion, laughs at our thoughts and beliefs and considers our forefathers misguided. Ask him to keep aloof from us or surrender him to us and refrain from supporting him".[3]
The elder of Quraysh and the head of the family of Bani Hashim replied to them in a tactful manner and in a soft tone, and consequently they abandoned their activities. However, Islam was penetrating and expanding day after day and the spiritual rapture of the religion of the Prophet and the attractive and eloquent words of the Heavenly Book (the Qur'an) were lending support to it. The Prophet especially presented his religion before the people in the months in which fighting was prohibited, when a large number of pilgrims gathered in Makkah. His eloquent and sweet speeches and his attractive beliefs impressed many persons. In the meantime the Pharoah of Makkah also realized that the Holy Prophet had gained popularity amongst all the tribes and had acquired many followers amongst the settled and unsettled Arab tribes. They, therefore, decided to approach the Prophet's only supporter (Abu Talib) once again and to make known to him the dangers to which the liberty of the Makkans and of their religion had become subjected owing to the propagation and expansion of Islam. Hence, they once again approached him jointly, and referring to their former demands spoke to him thus: "O Abu Talib! You are superior to us in the matter of nobility and age. However, we met you earlier and requested you to restrain your nephew from propagating the new religion, but you did not pay any heed to our words. The position had now become unbearable for us. We cannot tolerate any longer that a person should abuse our gods and should consider us to be foolish and ignorant. It is necessary for you to restrain him from all these activities, failing which we will fight against him as well as against you, who are his supporter, so that the duty of each group should become specific and one of them should be wiped out".
Abu Talib, the distinguished supporter and defender of the Prophet realized through his sagacity and perfect wisdom that it was appropriate to show forbearance to the people whose entire dignity of existence was now open to danger. He, therefore, adopted a peaceful attitude and promised that he would convey the sentiments of the chiefs to his nephew. No doubt this reply was given primarily with the object of quenching the fire of their wrath so that an appropriate way of solving the difficulty could be adopted later. Hence, after the departure of the chiefs he contacted his nephew and conveyed their message to him and incidentally, in order to test his faith in his own object, demanded a reply from him. However, while replying, the Holy Prophet uttered a sentence which is considered to be one of the outstanding and golden lines of history. Here is the text of his reply: "Dear uncle, I swear by Allah that even if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand (i.e. even if they provide me with rule over the entire world) I shall not desist from propagating my religion and pursuing my object, and shall continue my efforts until I overcome the difficulties and achieve my final goal or lay down my life for its sake".
Thereafter the Prophet's eyes were filled with tears on account of his love and enthusiasm for his object and he stood up and departed from his uncle's presence. His penetrating and attractive speech made such a wonderful impression on the chief of Makkah that, notwithstanding all the dangers to which he was exposed, he called back his nephew and said to him: "By Allah! I will not give up my support to you and you may very well pursue your object to its end". [4]

QURAYSH APPROACHED ABU TALIB FOR THE THIRD TIME
The ever-increasing expansion of Islam disturbed Quraysh very much and they were keen to find out a solution to this problem. They assembled once again and were of the view that Abu Talib's support to Muhammad was possibly due to the fact that he had adopted him as his son and if that were so it was possible that they might take the most handsome young man to him and ask him to adopt him as his son. They, therefore, took with them 'Ammarah bin Walid bin Mughayrah, who was the most handsome of the Makkan young men, and approaching Abu Talib for the third time began complaining and threatening in these words: "O Abu Talib! Walid's son is a young man, who is a poet and is also handsome and intelligent. We are prepared to hand him over to you so that you may adopt him as your son and cease supporting your nephew". On hearing this Abu Talib was cut to the quick and shouted upon them with a burning face and said: "You are doing a great injustice to me. You wish that I should nurture your son and surrender my dearest child to you so that you may kill him. I swear by Allah that it will not be so". Mut'am son of Adi then stood up and said: "The offer made by Quraysh is quite fair, but you are not going to accept it". Abu Talib replied: "You have not been just and I am sure that you want to humiliate me and to instigate Quraysh to fight against me. However, you are free to do what you can".

QURAYSH TRY TO ALLURE THE HOLY PROPHET
Quraysh became sure that it was not at all possible to make Abu Talib agree to their suggestion and, although he did not declare openly to be a follower of Islam, he had a great faith in his nephew and dearly loved him. They, therefore, decided to refrain from entering into any discussion with him. They, however, thought of another plan and it was that they should allure Muhammad by offering him status, wealth, gifts and beautiful women so that he might abandon his call. They, therefore, went to the house of Abu Talib in the form of a group at a time when his nephew was also sitting with him. The spokesman of the group opening the talk said: "O Abu Talib! Muhammad has scattered our united ranks and has created dissension amongst us. He has laughed our intellect down and has ridiculed us and our idols. If he has been prompted to do so on account of his poverty and indigence we are prepared to place enormous wealth at his disposal. If he wants status we are ready to accept him as our ruler and will listen to him. And in case he is invalid and needs medical treatment we will bring an expert physician to attend upon him............."
Abu Talib turned his face to the Prophet and said: "The elders of your tribe have come and request that you should refrain from criticizing the idols so that they, too, may leave you alone". The Holy Prophet replied to his uncle thus: "I don't desire anything from them. As against these four offers they should accept one word from me so that, under its auspices they may rule the Arabs and make non-Arabs their camp followers". At this stage Abu Jahl stood up and said: "We are prepared to hear you ten times". The Prophet replied: "My only word is that you should admit Oneness of the Lord". The unexpected words of the Holy Prophet were like cold water thrown on a hot kettle. They were so much engulfed in amazement coupled with disappointment and despair that they said involuntarily all at once: "Should we forsake 360 gods and worship only one Allah?"
Quraysh left the house while their faces and eyes were burning with anger and they were thinking about the means for achieving their object. In the following verses of the Holy Qur'an this very incident has been related: [5] It seems strange to the pagans that a man from their own people should come to them as a Prophet. The unbelievers have said, "he is only a lying magician ". They say, "Has he condemned all other gods but One? This is certainly strange". A group of the pagans walked out of a meeting with the Prophet and told others, "Let us walk away. Be steadfast in the worship of your gods. This man wants to dominate you. We have heard nothing like this in the latest religion. This is only his own false invention. (Surah Sa'd, 38:4-7)
Notes:
[1] Instead of ringing a bell of danger the Arabs use these words and generally begin alarming reports with them.
[2] Ibn Hisham has mentioned the names and particulars of these person in his 'Seerah'.
[3] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. X, page 265.
[4] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. I, pp. 265-266.
[5] Tarikh-i Tabari, vol. II, pp. 66,67; Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. I. pp. 295,296

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