Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.): The Call to Islam
By: Yasin T. al- Jibouri
Muhammad Receives Revelation (610 A.D.)
Muhammad was forty years old when the first verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed to him. They were the first verses of Surat al-Alaq (chapter 96), and they were revealed during the month of Ramadan 13 years before the Hijra, at the cave of Hira, his favourite place for isolation and meditation, a place which is now visited by many pilgrims. Muhammad went back home heavy-hearted, profoundly perplexed, deeply impressed by the sight of arch-angel Gabriel and by the depth of meaning implied in these beautiful words: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Proclaim (or read)! In the Name of your Lord and Cherisher Who created (everything). (He) created man of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Proclaim! And your Lord is the Most Bountiful Who taught (the use of) the pen, Who taught man that which he knew not… (Qur'an, 96:1-5)
He felt feverish, so he asked to be wrapped and, once he felt better, he narrated what he had seen and heard to his faithful and supportive wife. “By Allah,’ Khadija said, “Allah shall never subject you to any indignity…, for you always maintain your ties with those of your kin, and you are always generous in giving; you are diligent, and you seek what others regard as unattainable; you cool the eyes of your guest, and you lend your support to those who seek justice and redress.
Stay firm, O cousin, for by Allah I know that He will not deal with you except most beautifully, and I testify that you are the awaited Prophet in this nation, and your time, if Allah wills, has come.’ After a short while, Khadija told her husband about the prediction of the Syrian monk Buhayrah regarding Muhammad's Prophethood, and about her dialogue with both her servant Maysarah, who had informed her of what Buhayrah had said, and with her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal. She then accompanied her husband to Waraqah's house to narrate the whole incident. “Let me hear it in your own words,’
Nawfal said to Muhammad, adding, “O noble master!’ Having heard the Prophet's words, Nawfal took his time to select his words very carefully; he said, “By Allah, this is the prediction which had been conveyed to Moses and with which the Children of Israel are familiar! [Moses] had said: ‘O how I wish I could be present when Muhammad is delegated with Prophethood to support his mission and to assist him!'‘
It was only natural for Khadija to receive her share of the harassment meted to him by none other than those who, not long ago, used to call him al-Sadiq, al-Amin. Khadija did not hesitate at all to embrace Islam.
Yahya ibn ‘Afeef is quoted saying that he once came, during the period of jahiliyya (before the advent of Islam), to Mecca to be hosted by al-’Abbas ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, one of the Prophet's uncles mentioned above. “When the sun started rising,’ says he, “I saw a man who came out of a place not far from us, faced the Ka’ba and started performing his prayers. He hardly started before being joined by a young boy who stood on his right side, then by a woman who stood behind them. When he bowed down, the young boy and the woman bowed, and when he stood up straight, they, too, did likewise.
When he prostrated, they, too, prostrated.’ Then he expressed his amazement at that, saying to al-’Abbas: “This is quite strange, O ‘Abbas!’ “Is it, really?’ retorted al-’Abbas. “Do you know who he is?’ al-’Abbas asked his guest who answered in the negative. “He is Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah, my nephew. Do you know who the young boy is?’ asked he again. “No, indeed,’ answered the guest. “He is Ali son of Abu Talib. Do you know who the woman is?’ The answer came again in the negative, to which al-’Abbas said, “She is Khadija daughter of Khuwaylid, my nephew's wife.’
This incident is included in the books of both Imam Ahmad and al-Tirmithi, each detailing it in his own Sahih. And she bore patiently in the face of persecution to which her revered husband and his small band of believers were exposed at the hands of the polytheists and aristocrats of Quraish, sacrificing her vast wealth to promote Islam, seeking Allah's Pleasure.
Among Khadija's merits was her being one of the four most perfect of all women of mankind, the other three being: Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Maryam bint ‘Omran (Mary daughter of Amram), mother of Christ and niece of prophet Zakariyya, and ‘Asiya daughter of Muzahim, wife of Pharaoh. Prophet Zakariyya, as the reader knows, was the father of Yahya (John the Baptist), the latter being only a few months older than Prophet Jesus.
The Prophet of Islam used to talk about Khadija quite often after her demise, so much so that his youngest wife, ‘Ayisha daughter of Abu Bakr, felt extremely jealous and said to him once, ‘… But she was only an old woman with red eyes, and Allah has compensated you with a better and younger wife (meaning herself).’
This caused him to be very annoyed, and he said, “No, indeed; He has not compensated me with anyone better than her. She believed in me when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful when others called me a liar; she sheltered me when others abandoned me; she comforted me when others shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her while depriving me of children by other women.’ Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Hatim, al-Dulabi, al-Tabari, and many others, all quote ‘Ayisha saying: “One day, the Messenger of Allah mentioned Khadija affectionately, so I was carried away by jealousy and said about her what I should not have said.
It was then that his face changed colour in a way I never saw it change except when he was receiving revelation, so I realized what I had done and felt overwhelmed by regret to the extent that I could not help uttering these words: “O Lord! If You remove the anger of Your Messenger right now, I pledge not to ever speak ill of her as long as I live.' Having seen that, he forgave me and narrated to me some of her merits.’
Both Muslim and Bukhari indicate in their respective Sahih books that among Khadija's merits was the fact that the Lord of Dignity ordered Jibraeel (Gabriel), peace be upon him, to convey His regards to her. Gabriel said to Muhammad: “O Muhammad! Khadija is bringing you a bowl of food; when she comes to you, tell her that her Lord greets her, and convey my greeting, too, to her.’ When he did so, she said: “Allah is the Peace, and He is the source of all peace, and upon Gabriel be peace.’
Khadija died of an attack of fever on the tenth or eleventh day of the month of Ramadan, ten years after the start of the Prophetic mission (in the year 620 A.D.), 24 years after her marriage with Muhammad, and she was buried at Hajun in the outskirts of Mecca. The Messenger of Allah dug her grave and buried her… Funeral prayers (salat al janaza) had not yet been mandated in Islam. It is reported that by the time she died, her entire wealth had already been spent to promote Islam; she left neither a single gold dinar nor a single silver dirham, nor anything more or less…
soul that are at rest! Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with Him), well-pleasing (Him), so enter among My servants, and enter into My garden.(Qur'an, 89:27-30)
The Dawn of Prophethood
It was a man from among themselves who was to lift the Arabs from their slough of ignorance and depravity into the light of faith: devotion to one God.
Because of its geographical position and connection by land and sea routes with the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, Arabia had been powerfully influenced by the superstitious beliefs and evil ways prevailing in many parts of these continents. But once it forsook disbelief and unbecoming practices, it could, as a result of the same geographical position, easily become the center of enlightenment, radiating guidance and knowledge to the entire world.
When Muhammad was 38 years old, he spent most of his time in meditation and solitude. The cave of Hira, which overlooks the Ka’ba from a distance of about three miles north of Mecca, was his favourite place. It is there that he used to retire with food and water and spend days and weeks in remembrance of Allah. Nobody was allowed to go there except Khadija and Ali. He used to spend the whole month of Ramadan therein.
The period of waiting had come to a close. His forty years of life had varied experiences, and from the world's point of view, he had developed a maturity of mind and judgement, although in reality he was the embodiment of perfection from the very beginning. He has said: “I was a prophet when Adam was between water and clay.’ His heart was overflowing with profound compassion for mankind and a pressing urge to eradicate wrong beliefs, social evils, cruelty and injustice.
It was during the month of Ramadan of the year of the elephant (610 A.D.), 13 years before the Hijra, that revelation descended on Muhammad for the first time. This event will always be immortalized in the history of the human species. It changed the history of mankind for all time to come. Nobody has ever influenced the events on our planet more than Muhammad. Nobody ever will.
The flow of the Divine message which continued for the next twenty-three years had begun with that date, and the Prophet had arisen to proclaim the Unity of God and the unity of mankind, of the human family, to demolish the edifice of superstition, ignorance, and disbelief, to set up a noble concept of life, and to lead mankind to the light of faith and celestial bliss. Revelation was received in different ways: sometimes the Almighty inspired him to do something or say something, sometimes through visions, sometimes Gabriel came to him in human form and sometimes in his angelic appearance…
Inception of The Mission (610 A.D.)
The task was stupendous. The Prophet, therefore, started his mission cautiously, confining it initially to his own close relatives and friends. He was met with immediate success. His wife Khadija testified to his truth as soon as she heard the news of the revelation from God. Then his cousin Ali, and his liberated slave and adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah, readily accepted the new faith, Islam, “submission to the Will of God.’ The fourth was Abu Bakr, and his conversion's story is excerpted here from Al-Seera al-Halabiyya, Usd al-Ghaba, and Tarikh al-Chamois: Abu Bakr ibn Abu Quhafah was thirty-eight years old when he made a trip to Yemen where he met an old and learned sage of the Azd tribe who predicted that a prophet was to appear in the near future in Mecca. Upon his return from the trip, he paid a visit to his friend Muhammad who invited him to accept his religion, Islam, declaring himself the Prophet. Abu Bakr asked Muhammad to prove his Prophethood, and Muhammad at once related to Abu Bakr the prediction which Abu Bakr had heard when he was in Yemen. Muhammad was not there to witness the incident which involved only Abu Bakr and the sage of the Azd tribe. He was at Mecca during the entire period while Abu Bakr was in Yemen. Abu Bakr accepted Islam.
Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani in his book Al-Isabah, and ‘Abdul Malik ibn Hisham in his book As-Sifah have written that Ali was the first male to accept Islam and pray (offer salat), and that he accepted whatever was revealed to the Messenger by the Lord. At that time, Ali was only ten years old and Muhammad forty. After Ali, Zayd ibn Harithah accepted the Islamic creed and prayed and then Abu Bakr embraced Islam as stated above. The companions of the Prophet, Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarzi, Salman the Persian, Abu Tharr al-Ghifari, al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad al-Kind, Khabbab ibn ‘Arrat, Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri and Zayd ibn al-Arqam testify that Ali was the first to proclaim Islam. These celebrated companions have given Ali preference over others.
Justice Ameer Ali writes the following in his Spirit of Islam: It is a noble feature in the history of the Prophet of Arabia, and one which strongly attests the sincerity of his character, the purity of his teachings and the intensity of his faith in God, that his nearest relations, his wife, beloved cousin and intimate friends, were most thoroughly imbued with the truth of his mission and convinced of his inspiration. Those who knew him best, closest relations and dearest friends, people who lived with him and noted all his movements, were his sincere and most devoted followers.’
John Davenport writes the following: It is strongly corroborative of Muhammad's sincerity that the earliest converts to Islam were his bosom friends and the people of his household, who, all intimately acquainted with his private life, could not fail to have detected those discrepancies which more or less invariably exist between the pretensions of the hypocritical deceiver and his actions at home.
Slowly the message spread. During the first three years, he gained only thirty followers. In spite of the caution and care exercised, Quraish were well posted with what was going on. At first they did not make much note and only jeered at the Prophet and the plight of his followers. They doubted his sanity and thought he was possessed. But the time had come for proclaiming the will of God in public.
Inviting The Near Ones (613 A.D.)
After three years, the call from Allah came thus: “And warn thy near relations’ (Qur'an, 26:214). This ayat (verse) ended the period of secret preaching and heralded the open proclamation of Islam.
“Abu Muhammad’ Husain al-Baghawi, in his Tafsir MaAlim al-Tensile, Shaikh ‘Ala'uddin Ali ibn Muhammad al-Baghdadi, known as Khazin al-Baghdadi, in his Lubabut-Ta'wil, best known as Tafsir Khazin, Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Husain al-Bayhaqi (in his Dalailun-Nubuwwah), Jalaluddin al-Sayyuti (in his Jam’ul Jawami’), ‘Ala'uddin Ali Muttaqi (in Kanzul-’Ommal), Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (in Tarikh al-Rusul wal Muluk), Abu Sa’dat Mubarak ibn Athir al-Jazari (in Tarikhul-Kamil) and Isma’il Abul-Fida' (in his history work Kitabul-Mukhtasar fi Akhbaril-Bashar) have quoted Ali as saying: “When the verse Wa anthir ‘ashiratakal-aqrabin was revealed, the noble Messenger called me and ordered me, ‘O Ali! The Creator of the world has commanded me to warn my people about their doom, but in view of the condition of the people and knowing that when I give them the words of Allah, they will misbehave, I felt depressed and weakened and, therefore, I kept quiet until Gabriel came again and informed me that there should be no more delay. Therefore, O Ali, take a measure of food grain, a leg of a goat and a big bowl of milk and arrange for a feast, then call the sons of ‘Abdul-Muttalib unto me, so that I may deliver to them the words of Allah.' I did what the Prophet had told me and the sons of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, who numbered about forty, assembled together. Among them were the uncles of the Prophet: Abu Talib, Hamzah, ‘Abbas and Abu Lahab.
When the food was brought, the Prophet lifted a piece of meat and tore it into small pieces which he scattered on the tray and said, ‘Start eating in the Name of Allah.' All people present there had the food to their fill although the milk and the food were just sufficient for one man. Then he intended to speak to them, but Abu Lahab interferred and said, “Verily, your comrade has bewitched you!'‘ Having heard this, all of them dispersed and the Messenger did not get a chance to speak to them.
“On the next day, the Messenger of the Lord again said to me: ‘O Ali! Make arrangements again for a feast as you had done yesterday, and invite the sons of ‘Abdul-Muttalib.' I arranged for the feast and gathered the guests as I was asked to do by the Prophet. Once they had finished eating, the Messenger addressed them thus: ‘O sons of ‘Abdul- Muttalib, I have brought you the best blessings of this world and of the next, and I am appointed by the Lord to call you unto Him. Therefore, who amongst you will help me in this cause so that he may be my brother, vizier, and successor?'
Nobody responded. But I, although the youngest of the congregation, said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I am here to be your helper in this task.' The Prophet then patted my neck very kindly and said, ‘O my people! This Ali is my brother, my vizier and my successor amongst you. Listen to him and obey him.' Having heard it from the Prophet, they all burst laughing and said to Abu Talib, ‘Hearken! You are ordered to obey and follow your own son!'‘
This event has also been recorded by Thomas Carlyle in Heroes and Hero Worship, by Gibbon in Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Davenport in Apology for Muhammad and The Koran and by Washington Irving in Muhammad And His Successors, with all its details.
Then one after another came the Divine commands: Disclose what has been ordained to thee. (Qur'an, 15:94)
thou wrapped (in thy mantle)! Arise and warn, and thy Lord do magnify. And thy raiment do purify. And uncleanness do shun. And show not favour seeking gain! And for the sake of thy Lord be patient. (Qur'an, 74:1-7)
The method to be employed was: Call to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and dispute with them in the best way. (Qur'an, 16:125)
The Prophet proclaimed the Oneness of God in the Ka’ba. Quraish were aghast. Their reaction was sharp and violent. They mobbed the Prophet. Al-Harith son of Abu Halah tried to protect him but was slashed to death. It was the first martyrdom in the cause of Islam. Till then, Quraish had held the Prophet and his followers in contemptuous disdain, but now they were genuinely alarmed. The new movement amounted to a denunciation of their forefathers. It meant the termination of their authority and privilege as the guardians of the Ka’ba.
Quraish retaliated violently. A life and death struggle for Islam ensued. The Prophet was not allowed to worship in the Ka’ba, thorns were strewn in his way, dirt and filth were thrown at him while he was engaged in prayers, and street urchins were incited to follow him, shouting and clapping their hands in derision. When he prayed, they made loud cries, hooted or sang wild songs in order to drown his voice.
To their great disappointment, they could not prevent him or discourage him. Such is the mark of great men. Such are men of God; nobody and nothing stands in their way. He and his followers were subjected to all types of calumnies and humiliation. His followers were taunted and insulted. Oppression and relentless persecution were let loose. In an effort to force the believers to renounce the new faith and to go back to the older cults, they were subjected to extremes of physical torture. They were mercilessly beaten, made to lie on burning sand while heavy blocks of stones were placed on their chests. Nooses were put around their necks and their bodies were dragged.
One of the faithful, named Yasir, succumbed to toture and, when his wife Sumayya, an African, protested, her legs were tied to two camels, and the animals were driven to opposite directions, tearing her body in halves. The believers, under the inspiration of their great Teacher, were, however, fired with holy zeal. They braved all persecution and danger and bore up against all agonies and torture.
Two Hijras To Abyssinia (615 A.D.)
In around 615 A.D., when endurance was reaching its limits and persecution became unbearable, the Prophet advised a group of his followers to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where a benign Christian king reigned. This was the first hijra (migration) in Islam and fifteen people, eleven men and four women, including ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and his wife Ruqayya, took part in it: And those who become fugitives for Allah's sake being oppressed, verily We shall give them good abode in the world and surely the reward of the Hereafter is greater, if they only knew. (Qur'an, 16:41)
What was all this tyranny and persecution for? They were just for believing in one God and for leading a chaste and pious life! Further migration of some people led to intensified persecution of those left behind. The Prophet advised a second Hijra to Abyssinia. Thirty men and eighteen women left Mecca individually or in small groups fleeing to Abyssinia. Ja’far ibn Abu Talib, the elder brother of Ali, followed them with fifty more; thus, one hundred and sixteen refugees reached Abyssinia safely. Quraish sent a deputation headed by ‘Amr ibn al-’As and ‘Ammara ibn Rabi’ah to the Negus (Nijashi), king, of Abyssinia, to demand the deportation of the emigrants back to Mecca to be punished by death. Having won the favour of the clergy, the deputations tried to prejudice the king against the fugitives. Asked to explain the position of the Muslims, Ja’far delivered a speech which is a brilliant summary of the fundamentals of Islam and all that it stands for: king! We were plunged into the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols; we lived in unchastity; we ate dead animals, and we spoke abomination. We disregarded every feeling of humanity, and the duties of hospitality and neighbourhood. We knew no law but that of the strong. At that time, God raised from among us a man of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty and purity we were aware, and he called us to the Unity of God and taught us not to associate anything with Him.
He forbade us from worshipping idols and enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful, and to regard the rights of neighbours. He forbade us from speaking ill of women and from eating the subsistence of orphans. He ordered us to flee from vices, to abstain from evil, to offer prayers, to render alms, and to observe the fast. We have believed in him; we have accepted his teachings and injunctions to worship God, and not to associate anything with Him. For this reason, our people have risen against us and persecuted us in order to make us forego the worship of God and return to the worship of idols of wood and stone and other abominations. They have tortured us and injured us. Having found no safety among them, we have come to thy country and hope thou wilt protect us from their oppression.
The king refused to oblige the deputations, and the latter had to return disappointed. Muslim traditions indicate that the king later on secretly converted to Islam.
Some European critics, with the objective of assigning some ulterior motives for the migration, go to the length of saying that persecution was only slight and at worst confined to slaves and the poorer people who could find no clans to protect them. There is a mass of historical data recorded in original sources about the names and numbers of persons put to physical torture, the names of their tormentors and the manner of their physical torture and persecution. Although these critics admit that even Abu Bakr had to undergo the indignity of being bound to a clansman and to solicit the protection of a nomadic chief, they would still suggest that the persecution was limited to persons who had no clans to support them. Such people received, no doubt, the worst treatment, but when people of a clan were oppressing their fellow clansmen for accepting Islam, clan protection could not help the victims.
What protection could be expected from the clan when a father chained his son, a brother tortured his sister, or a husband injured his wife? Furthermore, the slaves and the poor people constituted the bulk of the disciples at that stage. A Western historian surmises that the migration was caused either by a rift in the Muslim ranks, as some Muslims might not have liked the attitude of the Prophet towards the Meccan opposition, or was undertaken with the goal of making Abyssinia a base of attacking Meccan trade or to solicit military help to enable the Prophet to seize control of Mecca.
If such fantastic conjectures can be made when the Muslims were yet a handful and survival was the only consideration before them, when all along they stood solidly behind the Prophet, when no Meccan caravan was ever attacked from Abyssinia, when that country never provided any military help to the Muslims, and when the Prophet did not seize control of Mecca even when it lay at his feet, what fairness in exposition and presentation can be expected from such historians?
Prophet ar Al-Arqam's House
Following the migration of such a number of his loyal followers, the Prophet realized how precarious his position in Mecca had become. Having felt insulted at the mere fact that their deputation to the Negus had failed in its mission, Quraish now is even more than ever bent on avenging their wounded pride. They intensified their persistence in opposing his preachings. The Prophet, therefore, after years of his struggle to disseminate the Islamic faith, sought refuge at the house of al-Arqam al-Makhzumi, a highly respected Meccan dignitary. The house was near the sanctuary of the Ka’ba.
One day, Muhammad was sitting outside the house as Abu Jahl happened to pass by. Abu Jahl blasted his nephew with a barrage of abusive language. Muhammad felt it very sorely but could not utter a single word. A slave gird of ‘Abdullah ibn Ju’dan, who lived nearby, was very much moved by such uncalled for insults. A short while later, she narrated the incident to Hamzah, Muhammad's other uncle, who was passing by her house on his way home from a sporting excursion. Hamzah was famous among the Arabs for his great valour and chivalry, and he felt deeply resentful of Abu Jahl's behaviour; so, he proceeded straight to Abu Jahl's house.
Remonstrating with him, Hamzah hit him with his bow, striking a blow on his head. Abu Jahl's men stood up to avenge Abu Jahl who stopped them. Trying to pacify Hamzah, Abu Jahl told him that he had abused Muhammad only because he vilified their gods. Hamzah, thereupon, boldly declared that he, too, despised the stony gods and challenged Abu Jahl to do anything at all about it. Hamzah loudly recited the Islamic declaration of faith: “There is no god but the One and only God, and Muhammad is the prophet and messenger of God,’ thus publicly announcing his acceptance of the Islamic creed. Ever since then, Hamzah proved to be a staunch follower of Islam till the last moment of his life. When he was martyred at Uhud, which will be discussed later, he was given the title of sayyid al-shuhada, “Master of the Martyrs,’ a title which remained his till the martyrdom of Muhammad's younger grandson Husain…
Hamzah's conversion was surely a great victory for the Prophet in particular and for the small band of Muslim believers in general especially at that very juncture when they so badly needed a valiant supporter to defend them and to rally their cause. Following the conversion of Hamzah, the Prophet, accompanied by some of his followers, ventured twice to offer his prayers at the Ka’ba publicly. There was also no need any longer (at least for the time being) to conduct secret meetings at the house of al-Arqam.
Attempts to Kill Muhammad (615 A.D.)
Now we have reached the sixth year after the Declaration of Prophethood (615/616 A.D.). In spite of the persecution and exodus of some people, the Prophet was laboring quietly but incessantly to wean his people from the worship of idols.
Once, on the suggestion of Abu Bakr, the Prophet came into Al-Masjid al-Haram and Abu Bakr started a lecture. Quraish violently stopped him and the Prophet had to once more take refuge in the house of al-Arqam near the hill of Safa. (Now, that house has been included into the extension of al-Masjid al-Haram where the Ka’ba, the Muslims' qibla, is housed).’Omar ibn al-Khattab accepted Islam in those days. How did ’Omar accept Islam?
Abu Jahl set a reward for one hundred camels or one thousand ounces of gold for anyone who brought him the head of his nephew Muhammad. Abu Jahl was the maternal uncle of ’Omar ibn al-Khattab who aspired to win this coveted prize. He was 33 years old. Armed by his sword, he went to the house of al-Arqam where Muhammad and the Muslims used to meet. On his way, he met Sa’d ibn Abul-Waqqas to whom he confided that he intended to kill Muhammad, not knowing that Sa’d had already accepted Islam!
Sa’d first warned ’Omar against committing such a crime, reminding him that he would do better taking care of his sister and her husband who had both embraced Islam. ’Omar now decided to go after his sister and brother-in-law instead of pursuing his attempt to kill Muhammad. Having reached his sister's house, he over-heard a recitation of the Holy Qur'an by Khabbab ibn ‘Arrat who was then teaching the Holy Qur'an to Amina, ‘’Omar's sister, and to Sa’eed ibn Zayd, her husband. ‘’Omar abruptly entered the house and proceeded directly to Sa’eed with whom he wrestled, throwing him down on his back and sitting on his chest with the intention to kill him. It was then that Amina interceded and was slapped so hard that she bled, yet she, in a fit of anger, cried out, “O son of al-Khattab! Do what you sought to do, for verily I (too) have changed my faith!’ She admitted that both she and her husband were adherents to the Islamic faith.
Feeling ashamed of having driven his sister to such impudence, ‘’Omar stood aside and asked her to recite to him what she was learning. She rectied the first 14 verses of Surat Taha (Chapter 20) with such solemnity that the very core of ‘’Omar's heart was moved. Here are those verses: In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful
Ta Seen Meem. These are the verses of the Book that makes (things) clear. We recite to you from the account of Moses and Pharaoh with the truth for people who believe. Surely Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into parties, weakening one party from among them; he slaughtered their sons and let their women live; surely he was one of the mischief-makers. And We desired to bestow a favour upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs, and to grant them power in the land, and to make Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts see from them what they feared. And We inspired to the mother of Moses saying: Nurse him, then when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear, nor should you grieve; surely We will bring him back to you and make him one of the Messengers. And Pharaoh's family took him up so that he might be an enemy and a (source of) grief for them; surely Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts were wrongdoers. And Pharaoh's wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you! Do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son, and they did not perceive. And the heart of the mother of Moses was free (from anxiety); she would have almost disclosed it had We not strengthened her heart so that she might be of the believers.(Quran, 20:1-10)
‘’Omar was quite amazed at the excellence and beauty of the language which had such a supernatural effect on him, one which he could no longer resist. Finally, he asked both of them to take him and introduce him to Muhammad. Khabbab ibn ‘Arrat, the teacher who had hidden upon seeing ’Omar approaching, now came out. The whole group went to al-Arqam's house.
‘Omar met Hamzah at the door. ’Omar was brough into the presence of the Prophet. ‘’Omar was so over-awed that he could not help shuddering as he stood before the Prophet. The kind and gentle Prophet caught ‘’Omar by the hand and said to him, “Will you not cease, O ‘’Omar, till God sends upon you a calamity and a chastisement such as the one He sent upon al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah?!’ He invited ‘’Omar to accept Islam, which he did. ‘’Omar's conversion to Islam took place only three days after Hamzah had embraced the Islamic creed; six years had passed since the inception of the Prophet's historic mission.
Al-Walid Ibn Al-Mughirah
What calamity was the Prophet referring to above and what chastisement?
Al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah, father of the famous Khalid ibn al-Walid, was a man of experience and cunning, a senior among Arab seniors of his time, a man of great wealth according to the testimony of the Holy Qur'an as we read in Surat al-Muddaththir (Chapter 74 of the Holy Qur'an). All the clans of Quraish used to collectively share the expense of the covering sheet of the Ka’ba one year, and in the next year, al-Walid would pay the entire expense all by himself. In Mecca alone, he had ten sons and ten slaves, and each one of his slaves used to trade in a merchandise valued at one thousand dinars, each dinar weiging one qintar, talent, of gold (equivalent to four thousand dinars).
He used to always ridicule Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet used quite often to recite the Holy Qur'an (and sometimes he would ask others to recite it in his presence). The Quraishis assembled at the house of al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah and said to him, “O ‘Abd al-Shams! What is this that Muhammad is saying? Is it poetry, sorcery, or oratory?!’ “Let me hear it myself,’ said he, going close to where Muhammad was as he recited the Qur'an. “O Muhammad!’ said al-Walid, “Recite to me some of your poetry.’ The Prophet said, “It is not poetry; it is the speech of Allah with which He blessed His angels and prophets.’ “Recite some of it for me,’ said al-Walid. The Messenger of Allah recited these verses of Surat Ha-Meem al-Sajda (Chapter 41 of the Holy Qur'an): In the Name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
Ha Meem. (This is) a revelation from the most Beneficent, the most Merciful, God: a Book of which the verses are made plain, an Arabic Qur'an for a people who know: a herald of glad tidings and a warner, but most of them turn aside, so they hear not. And they say: Our hearts are under coverings from that to which you call us, and there is a heaviness in our ears, and a veil hangs between us and you, so do (whatever you please), we, too, are doing (whatever pleases us). Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your God is one God; therefore, follow the right way to Him and ask His forgiveness, and woe unto the polytheists, those who do not give zakat, and they do not believe in the hereafter. (As for) those who believe and do good deeds, they shall surely have a reward never to be curtailed. Say: What?! Do you indeed disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two periods, and do you set up equals with Him?! That is the Lord of the Worlds. And He made in it mountains above its surface, and He blessed therein and made therein its foods, in four perioods, alike for the seekers. Then He directed Himself (His attention) to the heavens and it is a vapor, so He said to it and to the earth: Come both willingly or unwillingly. They both said: We come willingly. So He ordained them seven heavens in two periods, and revealed in every heavens its affairs, and We adorned the lower heavens with brilliant stars and (made it) to guard; that is the decree of the Mighty, the Knowing. But if they turn aside, then say: I have warned you of a scourge like the scourge of (the people of) ‘Ad and (the people of) Thamud. (Qur'an, 41:1-13)
When the Prophet finished reciting the last verse quoted above, al-Walid shuddered and his hair stood up. He went home without giving Quraish an answer.
Quraish, therefore, went to Abu Jahl and said, “O Abu al-Hakam! ‘Abd al-Shams is inclined towards Muhammad's creed; have you seen how he did not come to us with a follow-up?’ Abu Jahl went to him and said, “O uncle! You have caused our heads to stoop down in humiliation and have exposed us and made our enemies happy on our account by you inclining towards Muhammad's creed.’ Al-Walid said, “I have not inclined to his creed, but I heard something he said which is quite weighty, a speech because of which the skins shudder.’ “Is it an address that he delivered?’ asked Abu Jahl.
Al-Walid said, “No, it is not, for an address is a continuous speech, and this is prose some parts of which are not similar to others.’ “Is it poetry?’ asked Abu Jahl. “No,’ al-Walid answered, “for I have heard all types of the Arabs' poetry; it is not poetry.’ “Then what is it?’ asked Abu Jahl. “Let me think about it,’ answered al-Walid. On the next day, he was asked again, “O ‘Abd al-Shams! What do you say about our query?’ He said, “Tell people that it is sorcery, for this will affect people's hearts better.’ It is then that the Almighty revealed the following verses to express His Wrath at what al-Walid had attributed to Him and to His Prophet: Leave Me and him whom I created alone and gave him vast riches, and sons dwelling in his presence, and I adjusted affairs for him adjustably; and yet he desires that I should add more! By no means! Surely he opposes Our Signs. I will make a distressing punishment overtake him. Surely he reflected and guessed, but may he be cursed how he guessed! Again, may he be cursed how he guessed! Then he looked, then he frowned and scowled, then he turned back and was big with pride, then he said: This is naught but sorcery narrated (from others); this is naught but the word of a mortal. I will cast him into hell. And what will make you realize what hell is? It leaves naught, nor does it spare aught. It scorches the mortal. Over it are nineteen (keepers).(Qur'an, 74:11-30)
Muhammad Frustrates Quraish
Yet because of the prestige of Abu Talib, Quraish did not dare to kill the Prophet. But they were making him suffer as much affliction as possible. No less was the heartache caused to him by the sufferings of the helpless Muslims. He himself said: “No prophet was ever made to suffer such afflictions as I was.’
All along, Islam was gaining adherents not only from Quraish but also from the neighbouring tribes. The oligarchy of Mecca was now desperately trying to stem the movement.
The forbearance of the Prophet was making Quraish wonder as to why a man should put himself in such a precarious situation. Their outlook was materialistic, their ideals were: wealth, beauty and power. They, naturally, ascribed the same motives to the Prophet.
‘Otbah ibn Rabi’ah, father-in-law of Abu Sufyan, was sent to him to convey the message of Quraish: “Muhammad! If you want power and prestige, we will make you the overlord of Mecca. Or do you want marriage in a big family? You may have the hand of the fairest maiden in the land. Do you want hoards of silver and gold? We can provide you with all these and even more. But you should forsake your nefarious preaching which implies that our forefathers, who were worshipping these deities of ours, were fools.’
Quraish were almost certain that Muhammad would respond favourably to this offer. But the Prophet recited Sura 41 in reply which, inter alia, contained the following warning: “But if they turn away, then say: I have warned you of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt of the people of ‘Ad and of the Thamud’ (Qur'an, 41:13).
‘Otbah was overwhelmed with this ringing warning. He did not accept Islam (till death overtook him) but advised Quraish to leave Muhammad alone and to see how he would fare with other tribes. Quraish said that he, too, was bewitched by Muhammad.
Then a deputation was sent to Abu Talib. They demanded that Abu Talib should either persuade his nephew to desist from his mission or hand him over to suffer the extreme penalty or be prepared to fight the whole tribe. Finding the odds too heavy against him, Abu Talib said to the Prophet: “O son! Do not put such a burden on my shoulders which I am unable to bear.’ The Prophet's reply to his uncle gives an indication of his indomitable will, profound trust in God, and confidence in his Mission. Said he: O uncle! If they placed the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left to persuade me to renounce my work, verily I would not desist therefrom till God makes manifest His cause or I perish in the attempt.
Having said this, he was overwhelmed with grief. Abu Talib was moved by this reply and said: “By Allah, Quraish can never reach thee in spite of their great number till I am buried in the earth. Therefore, pronounce what order thou hast; nobody can do any harm to thee; be happy with this (promise) and keep thy eyes cool (i.e. be consoled).’
In their final attempt, they took a young man, ‘Ammarah ibn al-Walid, to Abu Talib, offering to exchange him with Muhammad. They said to him: “This young man is a well-known poet of the tribe; he is also very handsome and wise. You better exchange Muhammad with him. You may adopt him as your son: he will be a good helper to you. And give us your Muhammad; we will kill him. Thus, you will not suffer any loss because you will have ‘Ammarah in place of Muhammad, and by eliminating Muhammad, all this strife and friction in the tribe will come to an end.’
Abu Talib was extremely furious on hearing this outrageous proposal. His voice was raised in wrath as he said: “What a worst bargain you have proposed! Why, you want me to give you my son, so that you may kill him, and are giving me your son so that I should feed him and look after him?! Go away! This bargain is nothing if not foolishness.’
Clans of Hashim and Muttalib Sanctioned (616 A.D.)
Frustrated, the idolaters decided to ostracize the whole clans of Hashim and Muttalib and thus destroy them completely. Urged by Abu Sufyan, the heads of the different opposing families decided to form a league in order to sever all ties with Muhammad, his followers, and Banu Hashim altogether. An agreement, therefore, was signed seven years after the inception of the Prophet's mission (in about 616 A.D.) to implement a boycott. It was written by Mansur ibn ‘Ikrimah, signed by forty of Quraish's chieftains then sealed. In order to give it an air of solemnity, it was hung on the Ka’ba. One of he Meccan dignitaries, namely Mut’im ibn ‘Adiyy ibn Nawfal ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib ibn ‘Abd Munaf, refused to sign it, saying that it was unjust.
The Prophet was now 47 years old. The agreement said that they would neither take the daughters of these two clans nor will they give them their daughters in marriage; they would neither sell anything to them nor buy anything from them. Not only that, they would not have any contact with them nor even allow any food or drink to reach them.
“This boycott would continue till these clans agree to hand over Muhammad to Quraish,’ it stated.
Abu Talib had no alternative but to take these two clans (who had always stood together) into the valley called Shi’b Abu Talib. All members of Banu Hashim, with the exception of Abu Lahab and his family, were now lodged there. It was a place in Mount Hajun which belonged to Abu Talib. There were 40 adults in the clans. For three long years, they were beleaguered. It had begun in Muharram, 7th year of Bi’that (Declaration of Prophethood) and continued up to the beginning of the 10th year.
They were made to undergo the most acute hardships and privations, so much so that at times they had nothing but tree leaves to sustain them. Only twice a year did they dare to come out: in the months of Rajab and Thul-Hijjah, when every type of violence was taboo according to the Arabian custom. If any relative sent them any food, and the news leaked out, that relative was publicly insulted and put to shame. Quraishites used to express their pleasure on hearing the cries of the hungry children.
During the entire time, however, Muhammad did not stop his mission. He used to go out during the pilgrimage season to meet with Arab tribesmen and to say to them, “Let me recite for you from the Book of your Lord, and your reward shall be Paradise.’ But Abu Lahab was always behind him. “Do not agree to listen to him,’ Abu Lahab would then tell those tribesmen, “He is nephew, and he is a lying sorcerer.’
Abul-’as ibn al-Rabee’, husband of Zainab daughter of Khadija and Muhammad's step-daughter, used to bring his camels laden with wheat and dates to the entrance of the Shi’b at night, telling them to proceed. They would enter the Shi’b, and Banu Hashim would unload them.
Some Miracles of The Prophet (618 A.D.)
Books have already been written detailing the miracles performed by Prophet Muhammad. One of the best references detailing the Prophet's miracles is no doubt Bihar al-Anwar by ‘allama al-Majlisi. As many as two hundred and four pages, that is, from page 225 to page 421, Vol. 15, narrate numerous incidents involving the Prophet performing miracles. Surely there is no room here to quote all or even some of them, yet reference to the Prophet's miracles has been made throughout this book: The early childhood of the Prophet and his trips to Syria, the Prophet at the cave of Mount Thawr, the story of Umm Ma’bad, the incidents of the physicians who tried to “cure’ the Prophet of his alleged “madness,’ and, most importantly, the miracle of the Holy Qur'an, his very greatest miracle, which concludes this Chapter and this book as a whole. Here is one more for the kind reader: Among the earliest converts to Islam were some princes or heads of tribes. The latter's conversion spurred that of their tribesmen. Here is the summary of the story of one of those princes who accepted Islam which can be reviewed on pp. 57-60 of Washington Irving's book Life of Muhammad: Habib ibn Malik, surnamed “the wise’ on account of his vast knowledge and erudition, was one such convert. He was deeply versed in magic and the sciences and acquainted with all religions to their very foundations, having read all that had been written about them and acquired practical information about them. He had belonged to them all by turn: First he was a Jew, then Christian, then a Magi. When he died, he had reached the age of 140 years. He came to Mecca in 618 A.D. as head of a powerful host of twenty thousand men, bringing with him his young daughter Satiha for whom he was praying at the Ka’ba.
She had been struck dumb, deaf, blind and paralyzed in her limbs. Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl thought that the presence of this very powerful, wise and, most importantly, idolatrous prince, being the head of such a formidable host, was a favourable opportunity to effect the ruin of Muhammad and his creed. They accordingly informed Habib the wise of the “heresies’ of the “pretender prophet’ and prevailed upon him to summon him into his presence at his camp in the Valley of Flints and challenge him to defend his doctrines. They hoped that his insistence upon error would draw upon him either banishment or death.
The men of Quraish arrayed themselves in splendid formations on horseback and on foot, having put on their best, led by Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl. Habib the wise was seated in pomp and splendor under a tent of crimson on a throne of ebony inlaid with ivory and sandal-wood and covered with plates of gold.
When summoned to attend this formidable tribunal, Muhammad was at home with his wife Khadija (and the date was two years before her death which took place in 620 A.D.). Khadija was alarmed, and so were her daughters, who were visiting her. They hung about Muhammad's neck weeping and lamenting, thinking that he was going to a certain death. But he gently calmed their fears and bade them place their trust in Allah, their Protector and his.
Unlike Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl, he approached the scene of trial in simple guise clad in a white garment with a black turban and a mantle which had belonged to his grandfather ‘Abdul-Muttalib and which had been woven in ‘Aden, southern Arabia. His hair floated on his shoulders, the mysterious light of prophecy beamed from his countenance. Although he had not anointed his beard, nor did he use any perfume at the moment except a little musk and camphor for his moustache, yet wherever he passed, a bland of sweet smell diffused itself all around him, being the fragrant emanation from his own holy person.
A silent awe fell upon the vast assembly as the Prophet approached. Not a murmur, not even a whisper could be heard; even the very brute animals were charmed to silence. The neighing of the steed, the bellowing of the camel, and the braying of the ass were all mute.
The venerable Habib received him graciously. His first question was direct and to the point: “They say that you pretend to be a prophet sent by God. Is it so?’ “Even so,’ replied Muhammad. “Allah has sent me to proclaim the veritable faith,’ he continued. “Good!,’ rejoiced the sage, “but every prophet has produced a proof of his mission by signs and miracles. Noah had his rainbow, Solomon his mysterious ring, Abraham the fire of the furnace that became cool at his command, Isaac the ram which was sacrificed in his stead, Moses his wonder-working rod, and Jesus brought the dead to life and appeased the tempests with a word. If, then, you are really a prophet, show us a miracle in proof.’
Muhammad's followers trembled for him when they heard this request, while Abu Jahl clapped his hands and extolled the sagacity of Habib the wise. But the Prophet rebuked Abu Jahl with scorn. “Peace! Dog of your race!’ exclaimed Muhammad, “Disgrace of your kindred and of your tribe!’ He then calmly proceeded to carry out Habib's wish.
The first miracle demanded of Muhammad was to reveal what Habib had inside his tent, and why he had brought it to Mecca. Muhammad bent towards the earth and traced figures upon the sand. Then he raised his head and replied, “O Habib! You have brought here your daughter Satiha, deaf and dumb, lame and blind, in the hope of obtaining relief of Heaven. Go to your tent; speak to her, and hear her reply, and come to know that God is All-Powerful.’
The aged prince hastened to his tent. His daughter met him with light step and extended arms, pefect in all her faculties! Her eyes were beaming with joy, her face clothed with smiles, and she was more beautiful than the moon in an unclouded night!
The second miracle demanded by Habib was that the Prophet should cover the noontide heavens with supernatural darkness and cause the moon to appear upon the top of the Ka’ba. The Prophet prayed. Instantly, complete darkness covered the daylight and the glorious orb of the moon shone above the sanctuary. The Prophet made a sign with his finger and the orb was divided into two halves so that Mount Abu Qubays stood between them. After a while, he again made a sign and both halves were reunited.
More details can be reviewed in the famous work titled Al-Mawahib al-Laduniyya which includes names of eyewitnesses. As a matter of fact, the Prophet caused the moon to be rent asunder into two halves in response to his command on two different occasions. The list of eyewitnesses who saw such miracles includes: Ibn Mas’ud al-Aswad, Anas ibn Malik, Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab, Huthyafah al-Yemani, Jubayr ibn Mut’im, Ali ibn Abu Talib, and Abu Huthayfah al-Arhabi.
The prince, four hundred and seventy of his followers, and a number of Meccans, all embraced the Islamic creed there and then to the outrage of both Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan and the infidels who rallied behind them. This incident took place five years before the Hijra, that is, in 618 A.D., two years before the death of Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle and protector.
Imam Ali son of Muhammad has said,
Al-Harith ibn Kildah al-Thaqafi was the most skilled physician of the Thaqif tribe. He came once to the Messenger of Allah and said, “O Muhammad! I have come to heal you from your madness, for I have treatted many madmen and healed them all.’ The Messenger of Allah said to him, “You yourself are doing what madmen do, yet you attribute madness to me!’ Al-Harith asked him, “What madness have I done?’ “Your own attributing madness to me,’ the Prophet answered, “without first examining me or putting me to the test, and without looking into my truth or falsehood.’ Al-Harith said, “Have I not come to know about your madness from the claim you have put forth to prophethood of which you are not capable?’
The Messenger of Allah said, “And your own claim that I am incapable of it is another act typical of madmen! This is so because you did not ask me why I put forth such a claim, nor did you demand any proof so that you would conclude that in the lack of proof, I am incapable of it.’ Al-Harith said, “You have said the truth; I should test you by a miracle I require you to produce; so, if you are truly a Prophet, call that tree (and it was a huge one very deeply rooted) to come forth. If it comes to you, I will conclude that you are, indeed, the Messenger of Allah, and I shall testify to you to the same. Otherwise, you are the same mad person about whom I have been informed.’ The Messenger of Allah raised his hands to that tree and beckoned to it to come forward. The tree was uprooted at once, and it came to him boring a huge hole in the ground like a river canal till it came near the Messenger of Allah and spoke in an articulate voice saying, “Here I am, O Messenger of Allah! What do you order me to do?’
The Messenger of Allah said to it, “I order you to testify to my Prophethood after testifying to the Unity of Allah and then to testify to this Ali as the Imam, and that he is the one upon whom I depend, my supporter and helper, my pride and dignity, and that had it not been for him, Allah, the most Exalted and the most Sublime, would not have created anything at all.’ The tree spoke out thus: “I testify that there is no god except Allah, the One Who has no partner at all, and I further testify that you, Muhammad, are His Servant and Messenger; He sent you in truth as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner and a caller to Allah by His permission and a lantern of light. And I testify that Ali, your cousin, is your Brother in creed and the one who is the most informed of Allah's creation of the creed and the one whose portion of promoting Islam is the very greatest, that he is your supporter and helper, the one who subdues your foes and helps your friends, the gate of your knowledge in your nation.
And I further testify that your friends, those who befriend him and who are antagonistic towards his enemies, are the stuff of Paradise, and that his enemies who befriend his foes and who are antagonistic towards his friends, are the stuff of the Fire.’ The Messenger of Allah at that juncture looked at al-Harith ibn Kildah and said, “O Harith! Is anyone who produces such a miracle regarded as a madman?!’ Al-Harith ibn Kildah said, “No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah! But I do testify that you are the Messenger of Allah and the master of all creation.’ His conviction proved to be firm.
Here is another testimony by Imam al-Hasan al-’Askari: As for the mountains, the rocks, and the stones saluting him, when the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, abandoned trading in Syria, spending all his earnings by way of charity, all what Allah Almighty bestowed upon him of wealth from those trade trips, he used to go daily to the Hira cave. He would ascend it and look from its height at the Signs of the Mercy of Allah and the norms of the wonders of His Mercy and the beauty of His wisdom. He would look at the heavens and the countries of the earth and of the seas, at the deserts and the valleys.
So he would derive wisdom from those norms and would remember his Lord through those Signs and worship Allah as He should be worshipped. When he became fully forty years old, Allah looked at his heart and found it the best of hearts, the most honourable, the most submissive to Him the most obedient. So He opened the gates of the heavens, and Muhammad kept looking at them. He permitted the angels to desced as Muhammad looked on. And He ordered Mercy to descend upon him from the leg of the ‘Arsh to Muhammad's head, overwhelming it. He looked at Gabriel, the trusted spirit, the one circled by light, the peacock of angels, who descended to him, and he held him and shook him saying, “O Muhammad! Read (or Recite)!’ He said, “What should I read?!’
He said, “O Muhammad! Read (or Recite) in the Name of your Lord Who created…’ Then he inspired him whatever His Lord, the Sublime, the most Exalted One, wanted to inspire him. Then he (Gabriel) ascended. Fever overtook him and he was greatly upset that Quraish would call him a liar and would attribute madness to him, and that the demons possessed him although he was, from the very beginning, the most wise of Allah's creation, the most honoured of His beings, and the most hated thing to him were: Satan and the deeds and statements of mad people.
Allah, the most Exalted and the most Sublime, therefore, wanted to please him and to encourage him, so He permitted the mountains, the rocks, and the rain to speak to him. Whenever he reached any of them, it would say to him, “Assalamo ‘Alaikom, O Muhammad! Assalamo ‘Alaikom, O friend of Allah! Assalamo ‘Alaikom, O Messenger of Allah! Good news to you! Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, favoured you, beautified you, showered you with His honours, and preferred you over all His creation, the first and the last! Let not Quraish's accusation of your being mad and deviated from their creed grieve you, for virtuous is the one who is favoured by the Lord of the Worlds, and honourable is the one who is honoured by the Creator of all creation!
Do not be grieved when Quraish and the arrogant ones from among the Arabs belie you, for your Lord will bestow upon you the ultimate of all favours, and He will raise you to the most lofty of stations, and He will bring bliss and happiness to your friends and will appoint Ali ibn Abu Talib as your wasi who will disseminate your knowledge among the servants and throughout the lands, through your key and the gate of your knowledge Ali ibn Abu Talib! He will cool your eyes through your daughter Fatima, and out of her and of Ali He will bring into the world al-Hasan and al-Husain, the masters of the youths of Paradise!
He will disseminate your creed throughout the land and will best honour those who love you and who love your brother, and He will place in your hand the standard of praise, so you will place it in the hand of your brother Ali, so much so that each and every prophet, testifier to the truth, and martyr will be in a status lower than his. He shall be their leader, all of them, into the Gardens of bliss!’ The Prophet used to wonder, “Lord! Who is this Ali ibn Abu Talib whom you have promised me? (Ali was then a child) Is he the same as my cousin?’ When Ali moved a little, he asked again, “Is he this one?!’ Whenever he thus inquired, the Scales of greatness would descend upon him, so Muhammad and Ali would be weighed in one of them and all his nation in the other, and their scale would weigh heavier. The Messeger of Allah then knew exactly who he was and what his attribute was. And Muhammad was addressed within thus: “O Muhammad! This Ali ibn Abu Talib is the one whom I chose to support this religion (Islam), and he weighs heavier than all members of your nation with the exception only of your own self.’
This is how Allah expanded the Prophet's breast in order to carry out the Message, thus making the burnden of struggling with the nation lighter, facilitating for him to combat the arrogant ones and the tyrants of Quraish.