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FADILATOU SHEIKH AL-ISLAM

ELH. IBRAHIM ABDULLAH NIASS (RA)

AL-FAYDATOU TIJANIA - BOROM JAMANO

007236“And We did not send you (Muhammad-saw) except as a Mercy to all creatures” (21:107)

ARCH ANGEL JIBREEL’S DESCRIPTION OF THE PRINCIPALS OF ISLAM:

Omar, the son of Khattab narrated, “We were sitting with the Holy Prophet (sa) one day, when an unknown man appeared to us. His clothes were brilliantly white, his hair jet black but there was no sign of traveling upon him.

SUBMISSION TO ALLAH (ISLAM)

He sat down in front of the Prophet (sa) and their knees touched. Placing his hands on his thighs he said, ‘Prophet Muhammad (sa) tell me about Islam.’ The Prophet (sa) replied, ‘Islam is that you bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and that you establish the prayer, pay the obligatory charity, fast the month of Ramadan, and make the Pilgrimage to the House (Ka’ba) if you can afford it.’ Then to our surprise the man confirmed the correctness of the answer saying, ‘That is right.’

FAITH AND BELIEF (IMAN)

Then the man said, ‘Tell me about faith.’ To this the Prophet (sa) replied, ‘ It is that you believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day and that you believe in predestination.’

SPIRITUAL PERFECTION (IHSAN, ISLAMIC SUFISM)

Again the man said, ‘That is right, now tell me about perfection.’ The Prophet (sa) replied, ‘It is that you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, and if you do not see Him, know that He is watching you.’ The man asked again, ‘Tell me about the Hour of Judgement.’ The Prophet (sa) replied, ‘He who is being asked knows no more about it than the one who asks.’ So the man asked, ‘Tell me about some of the signs of its approach.’ To this the Prophet (sa) replied, ‘The female slave will give birth to her master, and the bare-footed, naked, penniless goat-herders will live arrogantly in high mansions.’ The man departed, and I remained for a while. The Prophet (sa) asked me, ‘Omar, do you know who the inquirer was?’ I replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ So he told me, ‘It was Jibreel who came to teach you your Religion.’”

PROPHET IBRAHIM (AS) AND THE FIRST HOUSE OF ALLAH ON EARTH

Prophet Ibrahim (as) was born to honorable parents descended from Prophet Noah. He was born in the city of Hara, Iraq during the reign of King Nimrod and is often referred to as “The Friend of Allah” and "The Father of the Prophets". Before Ibrahim reached maturity his father passed away, and as was the custom in those days, he would, out of respect for his paternal uncle, refer to him as his father. There had been a void in guidance since the death of Prophet Nuh (as) and the people of Hara reverted to idolatry. Hara was renowned for its ornate, pagan temples and its citizens took great pride in the idols housed within them. Offerings were sacrificed to the idols and ritual ceremonies, wishfully invoking their favors performed before them. A lucrative commerce had grown around the activities of the temples. Carved replicas of the idols were a much sought after possession and it was to this profession that Azar, Ibrahim’s uncle, whom he now called “father” directed his talents.

WHO IS MY LORD

Ibrahim was unlike his contemporaries, he grew to be an upright, caring, young man repulsed by idol worship and sought the answer to a question that had consumed him for many years -- who was his Lord? In the process of his guidance, Allah in His Mercy caused Ibrahim to contemplate upon the kingdoms of the heavens and earth. One evening, as he gazed up into the night sky, he saw a planet shinning more brightly than the others and exclaimed, "This is surely my Lord!" but, as the morning light came the planet set he rejected his thought saying, "I do not like the setting ones!" On another occasion as he saw the moon rise he said once again, "This is my Lord!" But like the planet as the light of the morning broke it disappeared whereupon he said, "If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be amongst the astray nation!" Then, when he saw the sun rise upon the horizon he said, "This must be my Lord, it is larger!" But as it set he turned to his people saying, "O nation I am quit of what you associate (with Allah, the Creator) I have turned my face to Him who created the heavens and the earth, uprightly, and I am not among the idolaters!" Koran, Chapter 6 verses 76-79

IBRAHIM IS CHOSEN BY ALLAH AND BECOMES A PROPHET

Shortly after this Allah sent the Arch Angel Gabriel to inform Ibrahim (as) that He had chosen him to be His Messenger. Ibraham was deeply humbled by the news and Gabriel brought him, over a period of forty-two visits, ten Holy Scrolls. Prophet Muhammad informed his companions later on that the contents of the Scrolls were examples. Ibrahim's open rejection of idolatry caused a commotion, no one had ever challenged the deity of the idols of Hara; to his fellow citizens the notion was deemed blasphemous. However, Ibrahim was resolved, he had no doubt that Allah was the only One to be worshipped because he was convinced that it was He alone who had created everything.

THE LOGIC OF IBRAHIM

Abraham tried reasoning with those around him in the best manner, but they refused to accept his logic even after he had drawn their attention to the obvious fact that their idols had either been hewn from stone or carved from wood by people such as themselves. Ibrahim never stopped challenging his people and asked if their idols could do anything else other than just stand motionless, year after year, in the same place -- the place in which they themselves had been positioned many years before! He reminded his people that the idols neither ate nor drank from the offerings placed before them nor could they harm or benefit anyone. But still the people refused to abandon their idolatry. Over the course of time the idolaters became outraged and told Ibrahim that it was he who was wrong and that he must fear their gods. Ibrahim shook his head and asked, "And how should I fear what you have associated when you yourselves are not afraid that you have associated with Allah that which He did not send down for it upon you an authority.” Quran, Chapter 6 verse 81

IBRAHIM AND KING NIMROD

The news of Ibraham's preaching reached King Nimrod who considered himself to be a deity. Ibrahim feared no one except Allah, so when he was presented to the king he challenged him saying, "My Lord is He who revives and causes to die." But the artful king scoffed at Ibrahim and told him, "I revive and cause to die." The king knew exactly what Ibrahim meant, but had tired to outwit him with his reply by referring to the power he had as king to either spare the life of a guilty criminal, or put to death an innocent person -- whichever suited his whim. Ibrahim challenged him yet again saying, "Allah brings up the sun from the east, so you bring it from the west." This time the king knew he had been revealed and the color drained from his face, and Ibrahim waited to see if he would usurrender to Allah but he did not and so Abraham returned home. Quran, Chapter 2 verse 258

ABRAHAM AND THE MIRACLE OF THE FOUR BIRDS

One day, Ibrahim asked Allah to show him how He revived the dead. Allah asked Ibrahim, "Haven't you believed?" Ibrahim told Him that it wasn't that, rather, it was just to satisfy his heart. So Allah told him to take four birds, sacrifice them, then cut them into pieces and mix their bits and pieces together then go to the neighboring hills and place some of the mixed pieces on each of them. Allah told Ibrahim that after he had done this to call the birds and their severed parts would reassemble and fly to him. Ibrahim did exactly as he was told, he sacrificed a peacock, an eagle, a crow and a rooster, then, after he had mixed their body parts together he placed them upon the neighboring hills, keeping only their heads with him. Once this had been done he called to them whereupon their mixed parts were brought back to life, reassembled, and flew to join themselves to their respective head that Ibrahim still held in his hand. Quran.

ABRAHAM AND HIS “FATHER” PART COMPANY:

Now Azar was among those who refused to accept Allah as his Lord. Ibrahim asked him why he was so devoted to the idols but Azar could offer no better reply than to say that many people before him had worshipped them, and what was good enough for them was good enough for him also. Azar became upset and embarrassed by his nephew’s preaching and threatened to stone him if he persisted. Such was Abraham’s conviction that he did not stop preaching and after a while, Azar realized that his threats were of no use so he told his nephew he did not wish to see him again for sometime. As they parted company, tender-hearted Ibrahim told Azar he would ask Allah to forgive him, and that perhaps his Lord would accept his prayer. Abraham continued to preach against the idols but the people continued to spurn what he had to say. After each refusal he would ask them the same question he had asked his uncle -- what made them so devoted to their idols -- but they replied in the same way, which was simply because their fathers and ancestors had worshipped them. Some even accused Abraham of jesting with them, but he swore that this was not so, and that without doubt their Lord and Creator is and always had been the Lord of all that is in the heavens and earth, and that they should abandon their useless idols.

ABRAHAM OUTWITS THE IDOLS

No matter how hard Ibrahim tried they would not accept the truth, so he told them, "By Allah, I shall outwit your idols as soon as you have turned your backs and gone." No one took Abraham seriously so they left and went about their business. Some time later, Ibrahim, unseen with ax in hand, entered the temple in which the most revered idols were housed, and smashed all except the largest into pieces then left unseen. It wasn't long before the idolaters returned to the temple and saw their gods lying broken into pieces on the floor. There was an outcry of horror and those who had heard Abraham's challenge immediately suspected him, and so he was summoned before them. "Ibrahim," they asked, "was it you who did this to our gods?" Ibrahim replied, "It was their great one that did it. Ask them if they can speak." The idolaters huddled together in a corner knowing well in their hearts the truth of the matter and that Ibrahim had at last succeeded in exposing the worthlessness of their idols. Begrudgingly, they admitted, "You know they do not speak." Thereupon Ibrahim challenged them saying, "Would you then worship that which can neither benefit nor harm you, instead of Allah? Shame on you and that you worship other than Allah! Have you no understanding?" Quran, Chapter 21:68

THE BONFIRE

It was more than the idolaters could bear, their idols lay broken in pieces unable to do anything for themselves. Outraged by the whole situation they cried out, "Burn him and help your gods!" The idolaters hastened to build a huge bonfire with the intent of burning Abraham to death, however, Abraham remained calm having complete trust in His Lord and did not flinch. There was nothing that would tear him away from his belief in the Oneness of Allah. Ibrahim was led to the bonfire and placed in its center, and the kindling wood lit. It wasn't long until the flames leapt high into the air -- but not even a single hair of Abraham's head was scorched. That was because Allah had caused a miracle to occur. He commanded the flames to be cool and safe for Ibrahim and eventually, when the fire had consumed itself, Ibrahim walked away unharmed praising and thanking Allah for His mercy. Even though the idolaters had witness this great miracle they continued in their arrogance and refused to abandon their idols. In their hearts they knew that nothing they did would ever harm Ibrahim because he was protected by Allah, so in desperation they banished him and his wife, Lady Sarah, from their homeland.

IBRAHIM AND SARAH IN EGYPT

After a long, tiring journey, Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Lady Sarah reached Egypt and it was there they decided to make their home. During their time in Egypt, Haggar, one of the noble ladies-in-waiting in the court of Pharaoh, came to live in IbrahIim's household as a companion to Sarah. Haggar was a sweet natured lady, she loved Lady Sarah dearly and a very special friendship bonded them together. Idolatry was also commonplace in Egypt especially in the court of Pharaoh but when Haggar heard Ibrahim speak about Allah she was quick to recognize the truth and accepted it. In those days it was common place for a man to have more than one wife and Prophet Ibrahim and Lady Sarah, who were now elderly remained childless. Lady Sarah had given up hope of ever bearing a child so she suggested to Ibrahim that he might like to take Haggar to be her co-wife. Both Ibrahim and Haggar accepted her suggestion and shortly after Haggar became his lawful second wife. The family's wish was fulfilled when Lady Haggar conceived and gave birth to a fine son whom they named Ishmael. Lady Sarah was delighted and happy that Ibrahim had at long last been blessed with a son -- little did she know at that time that she too would be blessed in later years for her patience with a son of her own, Ishaque (as).

DECEIT

Throughout the centuries nationalistic Jews and Orientalists have sort to distort the truth about Prophet ibrahim’s legal marriage to Lady Haggar and the very close relationship between Ladies Sarah and Haggar. Their object has been and still is to undermine the great event which had been promised and recorded in the original, unadulterated Holy Scriptures that announced the coming of Islam with its protected revelation, the Holy Koran and the seal of all the prophets, Prophet Muhammad (sa).

PROPHETS OF ALLAH

Both the sons of Abraham were legitimate and destined to become prophets of Allah. Ishmael was sent as a prophet to the Arabs and Isaac as a prophet to the Hebrews, later on to be called the children of Israel and then Jews, peace be upon all the prophets. It is from the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac that two great nations evolved each having Prophet Ibrahim as their common ancestor. However, neither Jew nor Christian can claim he was a follower of their religion as both prophets Musa (as) and Eisa (as) were sent many centuries after the death of Prophet Ibrahim.

IBRAHIM AND HAGGAR IN BECCA, ARABIA

Before Ishmael completed his weaning, Prophet Abraham saw a vision in which he was instructed to take Lady Haggar and their son to a place called Becca, in the peninsular of Arabia, known today as Mecca, and leave them there. Mecca lies in a valley surrounded by mountains and hills with three passes. One to the north, another to the south and the other to the west. The valley had long been one of the most traveled caravan routes in Arabia, however, it remained uninhabited largely because it lacked water. Upon reaching Becca, Prophet Ibrahim settled Lady Haggar and Ishmael under the shade of a large tree and gave his wife a large bag of dates and a water-skin full of water, then, turned away and started to leave them. Lady Haggar followed after him and asked, "IbrahIm, where are you going, are you leaving us in an uninhabited provisionless wilderness?" She asked the same question several times, but Ibrahim did not reply. Then, searching for a reason and knowing her husband would never do anything to earn the displeasure of Allah she inquired, "Has Allah commanded you to do this?" whereupon he replied, "Yes". So she comforted them both saying, "Then He will not let us perish," and returned to her infant.

IBRAHIM SUPPLICATES FOR LADY HAGGAR, ISHMAEL & FUTURE GENERATIONS OF MUSLIMS

At a place called Thania, Abraham stopped and turned his face in the direction of the ruins of Ka'ba -- the first House of Allah to be built on earth -- which lay buried in the sand. He raised his hands and supplicated,

"Our Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley near Your Holy House; our Lord, in order that they establish the prayer. Make the hearts of people yearn towards them, and provide them with fruits, in order that they are thankful." Koran, Chapter 14 verse 37.

Allah had promised Abraham that from his offspring would arise great nations, that is why Abraham referred to having settled "some of his offspring" near Ka'ba. This promised was fulfilled as it was from the descendants of Prophet Ishmael that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon all the prophets, was born. Lady Haggar suckled her infant son and gave him water from the skin until none remained. It wasn't long until both were very thirsty but she was more concerned for Ishmael. Lady Haggar could not bear to have her son go without water so she searched frantically for some but could find none. In desperation she climbed a nearby hill, the hill of Safwa, and stood at its top and looked around in all directions to see if there was anyone in sight to help her -- but there was no one. She ran back down the hill and in her anxiety ran across the valley and climbed to the top of the neighboring hill of Marwah, but again to no avail. She ran between the two hills seven times, but could find neither caravaners nor water.

ALLAH HEARS THE CRY OF LADY HAGGAR

Upon the seventh time she reached the hill of Marwah Haggar heard a voice. She calmed herself and listened attentively, and called out, "I have heard Your voice, would that my supplication might reach You." And there, standing near the place we know today as Zamzam stood Angel Gabriel. Gabriel struck the ground with either his heel or wings, and water gushed forth. Hastily, she dug a hole in the ground into which the water flowed and filled her water-skin to the top as the water gushed forth with still greater force. Quickly, she drank a handful of water and raced back to her son to give him some. Then, Gabriel spoke saying, "Do not be afraid of perishing here, because it is here that your son and his father will build a House for Allah. Allah will not let those around it perish."

THE RUINS OF KA'BA

In those days, the ruins of Ka'ba were elevated on a piece of land covered by sand in the shape of a mound, and when rain eventually fell it would run on either side.

THE CARAVANERS

Ishmael and his mother continued to live in Mecca by themselves until one day caravaners from the tribe of Jurhum returning from Kada'a, struck camp a little distance from the place where Lady Haggar had made her home. As the caravaners were unloading their camels they observed birds circling in the sky not far away. Their experience had taught them that birds circling in this manner might well indicate water. Ever hopeful of finding a fresh supply of water in that desolate region, they thought it was worth investigating, although from their past experience they had never found water anywhere in that area. Several tribesmen were sent to investigate. When they reached the place over which the birds circled, to their great surprise and joy they found the spring of Zamzam and returned quickly to tell their fellow travelers. Upon hearing the good news the caravaners stopped what they were doing and rushed to both see and drink the fresh water.

LADY HAGGAR MEETS THE JURHUM CARAVANERS

When they reached Zamzam, the caravaners found Lady Haggar standing nearby and asked her permission to strike camp near her. Lady Haggar agreed on condition that she retained the water rights and that her son would be the prince. The Jurhumites agreed and settled themselves in Becca whilst sending word to their families to come and join them there.

ANGELS DO NOT EAT

Meanwhile, one day, when Prophet Abraham was at home with Lady Sarah they were visited by strangers. It was not uncommon to find strangers visiting their home as each day Abraham would light a large bonfire on the top of a nearby mountain to attract and welcome travelers. Abraham’s generous hospitality was well known, no one was ever turned away and as such he hardly ever ate alone. His guests were always well fed and during the course of a much welcomed meal Abraham would take the opportunity to tell to his guests about Allah. One day, strangers arrived at his home, and as was his custom he arranged for a fine meal of a roasted calf to be prepared for his guests. The meal was set before them but his guests declined to either eat or drink. Abraham was deeply trouble by this strange situation -- travelers were always hungry, or at least thirsty. Abraham's guests perceived his anxiety and told him not to be afraid because although they had taken the form of humans they were not humans as he supposed, rather, they were angels on their way to the city of his cousin Prophet Lot. Prophet Abraham felt at ease once more as he knew that angels, who are neither male nor female, and created from light, only worship Allah and do whatsoever they are ordered to do by Him. The angels proceeded to inform Abraham that the city of Prophet Lot, had become disobedient to Allah and were sexual perverts. The angels continued to tell him that it was because of this that Allah had ordered them to punish its people by utterly destroying both them and their city.

LADY SARAH BECOMES PREGNANT

As Lady Sarah entered the room, the angels told her that she would give birth to a son. She was overwhelmed by the news and clasped her hands on her cheeks in delight. She had been so happy when Lady Haggar gave birth to Ishmael several years before and now she too was to be blessed with a son of her own.

THE SEEDS OF ISHMAEL’S FORTHCOMING PROPHETHOOD

In His Wisdom, Allah had protected Ishmael in the harsh environment of the Holy Land in which he had matured. He had learned to speak Arabic in its purest, most eloquent form from the Jurhumites together with the art of horsemanship and had also become a highly skilled archer. The Jurhumites loved him, for his character was not only truthful and honorable but he was trustworthy and cared for their welfare; later on he was to marry from their tribe.

ISHMAEL, THE FIRST SACRIFICE

Despite his advanced years, Prophet Ibrahim would often journey to Mecca to visit Lady Hagar and his dearly beloved, eldest son, Ishmael who was now a young man. On one such visit Prophet Ibrahim saw a vision in which he was told to sacrifice his son for Allah. Soon after the vision shaytan came to Ibrahim and whispered, “How could you kill your beloved son?” Ibrahim instantly rejected and cursed shaytan, and in obedience to Allah went to Ishmael and said: "My son, I saw while sleeping that I shall sacrifice you, tell me what you think." It was time for shaytan’s second attempt to prevent the fulfillment of the vision and he whispered to Ishmael in a similar manner. Ishmael immediately rejected and cursed shaytan. Like his father, Ishmael’s love of Allah and obedience to Him was unquestionable and he replied: "Father, do as you are ordered (by Allah), Allah willing, you shall find me one of those who are steadfast." Quran, Chapter 37:102. Shaytan had failed twice, in his final attempt to prevent the fulfillment of the vision he went to Lady Hagar and whispered, “How could you let Abraham kill your only son?” But like her husband and son, she too loved Allah and was obedient to Him, and without hesitation she cursed and rejected shaytan.

THE THOUGHTFULNESS OF ISHMAEL

Prophet Ibrahim took Ishmael to a quiet place far from the people. As Ibrahim prepared himself to sacrifice his beloved son for Allah, Ishmael, being a loving, caring young man and without thought for himself, asked his father for three things. He requested that he should be permitted to face the ground so that his father would not see his eyes and then be overcome with mercy towards him, and disobey to command of Allah. Ishmael also feared for the safety of his father so he requested him to sit upon his shoulders so that if he struggled when the knife struck him he would not injure him. He knew his mother would be sad so his final request was to ask his father to give her his shirt to console her. It was time, Prophet Ibrahim tried to slit the back of his son's neck three times, but on each occasion the blade was prevented from penetration. After the third attempt, Allah called out to Abraham saying, "O Ibrahim, you have confirmed your vision.’ As such We recompense the good-doers. That was indeed a clear trial. So, we ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.” Quran, Chapter 37 verse 104-107 Later on, Prophet Muhammad, (sa) said referring to Prophet Ishmael and his own father Abdullah whose life was ransomed by the slaying of a hundred camels: "I am the son of the two sacrifices." When Prophet Muhammad (sa) revived the pilgrimage many centuries later, three stone pillars were erected outside Mecca en route to Arafat as a reminder of the three whisperings of shaytan to Prophets Ibrahim, Ishmael and Lady Hagar. These three pillars are cursed and stoned by all those who make the pilgrimage.

THE UNGRATEFUL SPOUSE

Lady Hagar had passed away before Prophet Ibrahim's next visit to Becca. When he reached the valley he made his way to Ishmael's home but when he found he was not at home he started to look for an object he left behind on a previous visit. Soon after Ishmael's wife returned, she showed him no respect, neither did she welcome him, nor was she hospitable to her elderly visitor. Ibrahim asked her where her husband was whereupon she told him he was away hunting. He then inquired about their life and circumstances but rather than being grateful, she told him things were difficult then proceeded to complain about everything in their life. Ishmael's hunting expedition took longer than expected and so Ibrahim who had been made unwelcome, decided it was time to leave. Before he left he asked Ishmael’s wife to give her husband a message saying, "When your husband returns, convey my greetings of peace to him and tell him that he should change the threshold of his door." A while after Abraham's departure Ishmael returned and sensed something unusual had happened during his absence, so he asked his wife if there had, in his absence, been any visitors. She told him of the elderly man that had stopped by and how he had asked about his whereabouts and their welfare. Ishmael asked if the visitor had left a message whereupon she told him that he had sent him greetings of peace and told him to change the threshold of his door. Upon hearing this Ishmael told his wife that the elderly gentleman was none other than his father and that he had directed him to divorce her. So Ishmael divorced his wife, and, as was his nature, treated her fairly and caused her no harm, and she returned to her people. Ishmael was loved by the Jurhumites and when he decided to remarry from their tribe they were delighted.

THE GRATEFUL SPOUSE

After a period of time Prophet Ibrahim returned to visit his son but once again he did not find Ishmael at home. He asked his new wife where he was and she told him that he had gone out to search for provisions and prepared a meal her visitor. As before, he asked Ishmael's wife about their circumstances but unlike the previous wife she praised Allah and told him they were comfortable. Ibrahim then inquired about their food whereupon she told him that they ate meat and drank water. Then, Prophet Ibrahim supplicated, "O Allah, bless their meat and water." Before leaving, Ibrahim asked her to convey the greetings of peace to Ishmael but this time he left instructions to strengthen the threshold. Soon after Ishmael returned and once again sensed something unusual so he inquired if there had been any visitors during his absence. His wife told him of the elderly gentleman and spoke kindly about him. Ishmael asked if he had said anything to her, she told him that he had inquired about their well-being and that she had replied everything was well. She also told him that the elderly gentleman had asked her to convey his greetings of peace to him and said that he was to strengthen the threshold of his house. Ishmael smiled, and told his wife that the elderly gentleman was none other than his father, Ibrahim, and that she was the "threshold" he had ordered him to keep. In the years that followed, Ishmael had twelve children, and it is from his son Kidar that many Arabs are descended.

RAISING THE HOUSE OF ALLAH

Time passed, and the next time Prophet Ibrahim came to visit Ishmael he found him sitting under a large tree near the spring of Zamzam repairing his arrows. As soon as he saw his father he stood up and they greeted each other affectionately with peace. After the greetings, Ibrahim told his son that Allah had given him another command -- the command to rebuild Ka'ba, the Holy Mosque of Allah. When Abraham asked Ishmael if he would help him fulfill his task he felt highly honored and accepted whereupon Ibrahim pointed to a mound of large stones and to its surrounding area and told him that it was the place where Allah had commanded him to raise the foundations of the Holy Mosque. Soon the rebuilding of Ka'ba was underway, Ishmael picked up the large stones, handed them to Ibrahim, who then positioned them to form a roofless cubic house with its corners pointing to the north, south, east and west. During its rebuilding, an angel came to them bearing a black stone that had lain on Abu Kubays, a nearby hill, ever since it had been brought from Paradise many, many centuries before. And so it was that Prophet Ibrahim positioned the Black Stone at the eastern corner of the Ka'ba. Many centuries later, their descendant, Prophet Muhammad, (sa) told his companions that when the stone was brought from Paradise it was whiter than milk, but, on account of the many sins committed by the children of Adam, it had changed color.

Once Ka'ba had been rebuilt, Ibrahim and Ishmael supplicated, "O our Lord, accept this from us. You are the Hearer, the Knower. Our Lord, make us both submissive (Muslims) to You, and of our descendants a submissive nation to You. Show us our (pilgrimage) rites, and accept (repentance from) us. You are the Receiver (of repentance), the Merciful. Our Lord, send among them (the inhabitants of this House) a Messenger from them (Allah answered the supplication by sending Prophet Muhammad) who shall recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book (Al Quran) and wisdom (Prophetic sayings), and purify them. You are the Mighty, the Wise." Quran Chapter 2 verses 127 -129 with the explanation of Sawi.

Prophets Ibrahim and Ishmael asked for the acceptance of repentance on behalf of their descendants as they, like all prophets, were protected from sin.

PILGRIMAGE TO KA'BA IS ESTABLISHED

Following the supplication Allah took a covenant from Ibrahim and Ishmael to purify His House for those who would make their pilgrimage to it and for those who would worship Him there. Allah accepted the supplication of Prophets Ibrahim and Ishmael and soon pilgrims from all over Arabia and beyond made their way to Mecca where they learned about Allah and worshipped Him alone and were also instructed how to offer their pilgrimage. Among those who offered their pilgrimage was Ishmael's younger, beloved half-brother, Prophet Ishaq. Centuries later their descendants, Prophets Suleyman (as), Da'ud (as), Yahya (as) and 'Iesa (as) made their pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque, Ka'ba, where they too worshiped Allah. It was not always possible for pilgrims to offer their pilgrimage during its special season. Those unable to offer what is known as the “Greater Pilgrimage” would come when they could during other times of the year and offer a lesser pilgrimage. And so it was that Mecca became the center of worship in Arabia, and a hub of activity on account of both its pilgrims and caravaners.

THE NEW GOVERNORS OF MECCA

REVERSION TO IDOLATRY

Prophet's Ibrahim, Ishmael and Isaac had passed away, and as the centuries passed, the worship of Allah, the Creator, became corrupted. However, the pilgrimage to Ka'ba continued with great treasures being brought by pilgrims that were then stored in the Ka'ba. Prophet Ishmael's descendants and the tribe of Jurhumites had increased greatly in number to the extent that many decided to leave Mecca and settle elsewhere. However, before leaving it had become their practice to gather stones from around the Ka'ba to take with them, then, upon reaching their new settlement position the stones and perform the pilgrimage rites around them. With the new settlements there also came new neighbors, and with their new neighbors came their reversion to idolatry. Their new pagan neighbors influenced them to the extent that soon idols were added to the stones; and as time progressed these idols were brought to Mecca, placed around Ka'ba and worshipped with the idolaters claim that their idols had powers to intercede between Allah and mankind. To them Allah had become remote and many ceased to believe in the Everlasting Life.

THE GOVERNORS OF MECCA

After the death of Prophet Ishmael, his eldest son, Nabit, became the custodian of Ka'ba, and after his death the custodianship had been entrusted to his maternal grand-father, Madad, and so it was in this way that the custodianship passed from the direct descendants of Ishmael to the tribe of Jurhum. The Jurhumites governed Mecca for many, many years but throughout this period terrible wars ignited and finally they were driven out of the city.

THE BURYING OF ZAMZAM

Before the Jurhumites left Mecca, they buried the well of Zamzam and hid many of the treasures stored in the Ka'ba inside the well. The new governors of Mecca were distant descendants of Prophet Ishmael from the tribe of Khuza'ah in Yemen. However, they failed to find the blessed well that had been given to Lady Hagar and Prophet Ishmael; although its miraculous story was still told and continued to be handed down from one generation to the next.

THE KHUZA'AH, NEW GOVERNORS OF MECCA

The coming of the new governors did not mean that the idols were to be barred from Ka'ba, on the contrary, some of the Khuza'ah inclined to idolatry. Once, when one of their chieftains was returning from an expedition that had taken him through the region we know to day as Syria, he came across the idol worshipping Moabites. Their idols made a great impression upon him so he asked if he might have an idol named Hubal to take back with him to Mecca. The Moabites agreed and upon his return he placed it inside the Ka'ba itself and for many centuries after, up until the opening of Mecca, Hubal became the chief idol of Mecca.

THE RELIGIONS OF ARABIA

Idolatry was commonplace in Arabia, as it was now claimed that Allah had become too remote for them to worship alone and only fragments of the teachings of Prophets Abraham and Ishmael remained. Pagan temples had been erected in many locations and distant second to Ka'ba, the most visited temples were those in the Hijaz dedicated to the idols of Al Lat, Al Uzza, and Manat whom their worshipers claimed were the trinity, daughters of Allah, capable of interceding on their behalf with Him! To the people of Yathrib, the most prestigious temple of Manat was in Kdayd by the Red Sea. As for the Koraysh of Mecca, their second choice was the main temple of Al Uzza, a short journey south of Mecca in the valley called the “Tree” (Nakhlah). It was in the fertile land of Ta'if, that lay some distance outside Mecca, that the Thakif, a branch of the tribe of Hawazin, who were descended from Prophet Ishmael, erected a highly revered temple dedicated to Al Lat. The Thakif took great pride in their temple and adorned it with riches, but despite its lavish adornments, and pleasant location they knew it could never reach the rank of Ka'ba. The importance of Ka'ba was acknowledged throughout Arabia and it was to the Ka'ba, and not to the other temples, that pilgrims flocked in great numbers each year. In Arabia there were also minority groups of Jews, Nazarenes and Christians, some of whom were knowledgeable of their scriptures and believed in the Oneness of the Creator. Their ancestors had chosen to settle in that barren region on account of a prophecy described in their ancient Holy Books that heralded the arrival of a new prophet to be born there. Each family hoped that the prophet would arise from their own family or tribe.

THE TRIBE OF KORAYSH

Among the descendants of Prophet Ishmael arose a powerful, yet chivalrous, honorable and noble tribe, the tribe of Koraysh. It’s hospitality and generosity, especially to pilgrims, was well recognized and it was from this honored lineage that Prophet Muhammad (sa) was destined to be born. Approximately four hundred years after Prophet Jesus ascent, a man from this tribe called Ksay, married Hubba, the daughter of Hulayl, chief of the Khuza'ah. Ksay was a prominent Arab and Hulayl preferred him to his own sons. Hulayl died during a skirmish that was later resolved through arbitration. Each party agreed that Ksay should become the new governor of Mecca and receive the much coveted custodianship of Ka'ba. Ksay accepted the appointment and sent for the rest of his family then settled them near the Ka'ba. Amongst the members of Ksay's family was a brother named Zuhra, an uncle named Taym, a cousin named Makhzum and several other cousins who were not as close to him as other members of his family. They, together with their families became known as the Koraysh of the Valley. Distant members of his family settled themselves outside Mecca in the surrounding hills and became known as the Koraysh of the Outskirts.

THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

Ksay governed Mecca with fairness and loved by everyone and was its undisputed, powerful leader. He took the matter of being the custodian of the Sacred House very seriously, and raised the standard of living of those who tended its upkeep by replacing their tents with permanent dwellings. It was during this time that he built a spacious house for himself in which he conducted tribal meetings. The house was also used for other important gatherings such as weddings and as a point of departure for caravans, and so it was that Ksay's house became known as "The House of Assembly".

PROVISION FOR THE PILGRIMS

Pilgrims flocked to Mecca each year to offer their pilgrimage, and among them were many needy pilgrims. As custodian of the Ka'ba it was Ksay's responsibility to ensure that the needs of the pilgrims were met and that they should neither suffer nor thirst. His own wealth was insufficient to cope with the needs of the ever increasing number of pilgrims so he called for a meeting to raise funds in which he asked the people of Mecca to pledge a modest annual contribution on their flocks. The Meccans were agreeable and by the time the pilgrims arrived for the Greater Pilgrimage there was sufficient food and water to accommodate the pilgrim’s needs. Ksay, anxious to do the best he could for the pilgrims also commissioned an additional leather trough of water to those already provided in Mecca at Mina. Mina lies several miles away on the route to Mecca across the arid and dusty desert, so the trough provided much welcomed relief not only for the pilgrims but for travelers. The income raised through the pledge was more than enough to meet the pilgrim’s needs and so it was through this excess that the first covering was made for the Ka'ba from cloth woven in Yemen.

A MATTER OF SUCCESSION

Abdu Manaf was one of Ksay's four sons, and had shown great signs of leadership beyond those of his brothers, who were themselves very capable. However, when the matter of succession arose Ksay's eldest son, Abd Ad-Dharr was Ksay's choice. Just before Ksay died he called for Abd Ad-Dharr and gave him the House of Assembly. He told him that he was going to equalize the matter of rank by decreeing, amongst other matters, that none should be allowed to enter Ka'ba unless he, Abd Ad-Dharr, opened it for them; that no pilgrim be allowed to draw water in Mecca unless he permitted them to do so and that pilgrims were to eat unless he provided for them.

OBEDIENCE OF ADU MANAF

When death came to Ksay, his son Abdu Manaf, complied with his father's wishes and accepted his brother as the new governor and matters ran smoothly.

DISCORD AMONG THE FAMILY

It was however, the next generation of Koraysh -- including the descendants of Ksay's brother Zuhra and is Uncle Taym -- that dissatisfaction was expressed regarding the way in which matters were being administered. They felt that Hashim, a son of Abdu Manaf, who had already succeeded in distinguishing himself in many honorable ways, was more capable and should have the rights transferred to him. Soon, there was a division among the Koraysh that left only the Makhzum and some distant relatives as well as Abd Ad-Dharr's near relatives in support of Abd Ad-Dharr.

THE ALLIANCE OF THE PERFUMED ONES

Hashim and his supporters met together in the precincts of Ka'ba where the daughters of Abdu Manaf prepared a bowl of expensive perfume and placed it before Ka'ba. Each of Hashim's supporters dipped their hands into the bowl and as they did took a solemn oath never to abandon one another. To seal their solemn pact, each supporter rubbed his perfumed hands over the stones of Ka'ba and from that time onward they were referred to as the "Perfumed Ones".

THE ALLIANCE OF THE CONFEDERATES

Those who supported Abd Ad-Dharr likewise swore an oath of allegiance, and became known as the "Confederates".

THE SANCTITY OF KA'BA AND ITS PRECINCTS

Soon there was an ice-cold atmosphere between the two parties. Matters deteriorated to the extent that the two factions reached the brink of fighting to the death to resolve the matter. However, Ka'ba and its surrounding area -- the perimeters of which extend for several miles -- had always been held sacred and fighting within this area had been strictly forbidden since the time of Prophets Abraham and Ishmael. However, before things reached the point of no return a compromise was proposed which proved acceptable to both parties. The compromise was that Abd Ad-Dharr should retain the keys to Ka'ba together with its rights and also keep his home -- the House of Assembly. On the other hand, Hashim should from now onward receive the right to collect the pledged contributions for welfare of the pilgrims.

HASHIM

HASHIM AND THE PILGRIMS

Before the pilgrimage each year, Hashim would invite the leaders of the tribes to attend a meeting in the House of Assembly to discuss the preparations for the pilgrimage. He would remind them that they had been blessed by being the neighbors of the House of Allah, and that the pilgrims were visitors to His House. He told them that because the pilgrims were the guests of Allah they had more rights upon their generosity than ordinary guests and after having drawn their attention to this right he would ask them to give their pledged contribution. Like his grandfather, he told them that if his own wealth had been sufficient, he would have accommodated the expense himself and not asked them for their contribution to the fund. All complied with Hashim's request and the contribution pledge was collected.

HASHIM ESTABLISHES CARAVAN ROUTES

The life of a caravaner was perilous, but for many it brought prosperity. A caravaner could expect to face many hazards other than the extreme heat of the desert followed by the intense cold of the night during certain times of the year. But, perhaps the greatest hazard of all was the fear of being attacked by marauding tribes. All too often caravans were attacked resulting in the loss of both life and merchandise. Hashim knew well the burden of the caravaner so he decided to visit with the tribal chieftains along the trade routes traveled by the Koraysh and use his powers of friendly persuasion and fairness to secure a safe passage. One by one the tribes agreed and soon the trade routes became less hazardous. Hashim's sense of fairness and compassion toward his fellow beings was demonstrated yet again during a year in which there was extreme drought followed by famine. Upon hearing of a neighboring tribe's suffering he arranged for a supply of food and water to be distributed among the stricken tribe. This upright act, and others like it, led to the strengthening of bonds between the Koraysh and other tribes. Hashim's just character and ability to organize were known not only by his fellow Arabs but to the great powers of the day, namely the Emperor of Rome and the King of Abyssinia, ruler of Yemen. It was through their admiration of Hashim that he succeeded to negotiate peaceful, lasting treaties, which in turn exempted the Koraysh from the payment of previously enforced trading taxes. Hashim's popularity was such that whenever Koraysh traders reach Angoria -- now Ankara, the Emperor himself would go out to welcome them and show great hospitality and inquire about Hashim. The two great trade routes were now secure, so during the winter when the heat of the desert had died down, caravans would set off on their journey to Yemen, then as summer advanced caravans would set off in the opposite direction on their long trail to the north-west reaching as far away as Palestine or Syria which was at that time part of the Roman Empire.

HASHIM MEETS SALMA, DAUGHTER OF AMR

On the route northwards caravans would make their way to a desert oasis called Yathrib -- now called Medina -- to trade and replenish supplies before setting off again on their long trip. The inhabitants of Yathrib were both Arab and Jew. At first, the Arabs were known as the children of Kaylah but as time passed they had divided into two tribes, the tribes of Aws and the tribe of Khazraj, both of whom were the sons of Kaylah. In those days its was common for a man to have many wives, some as many as forty. Hashim was already married when he met, in Yathrib, a noble, influential lady named Salma, the daughter of Amr from the tribe of Najjar, a branch of Khazraj. Hashim proposed to her and she accepted on condition that she remained in control of her own affairs and that when she gave birth to a son, the boy would remain with her in Yathrib until he reached the age of puberty. Hashim accepted her conditions and the two were married. It was a happy, successful arrangement and Hashim made frequent trips to Yathrib to stay with Salma. On several occasions Hashim continued on from Yathrib to Syria, however, on one such journey he was taken ill in the city of Gaza, Palestine. His illness proved to be serious and he did not recover. Salma was pregnant and later gave birth to a son whom she named Shayba. As Shayba grew up he loved to listen to the heart warming stories about his generous father, and it was through the example of his father’s noble sense of fairness and peaceful character that Shayba modeled his own life.

THE BROTHERS OF HASHIM

Hashim had two blood brothers named Abdu Shams and Muttalib, and a half-brother named Nawfal. Both Abdu Shams and Nawfal were traders, Abdu Shams' trade route lay between Mecca, Yemen and Syria, whereas, Nawfal's trade route, for the most part, took him to distant Iraq. On account of their commerce, the brothers were away from Mecca for long periods of time resulting in Muttalib, their younger brother, assuming the responsibility of the rights to collect the pilgrimage contribution pledge.

MUTTALIB'S SUCCESSOR

As time passed, Muttalib pondered over who should be his successor. His deceased elder brother Hashim had married four wives and from them he had three sons. Shayba, the son of Salma, although younger than his half-brothers, displayed signs of leadership at an early age. Traders passing through Yathrib would relate reports about him to Muttalib, and the more he heard about his nephew the more impressed he became as his character appeared to be developing to be much like that of his father. Wishing to know more about Shayba he decided to go to Yathrib to see for himself and visit with his extended family. Muttalib was not disappointed, the reports he received were correct, so he asked his mother to entrust Shayba to his guardianship. At first Salma was reluctant to let her son go with him, and Shayba, out of love and respect for his mother, refused to leave without her consent. Muttalib explained to Salma that Mecca had more to offer her son than Yathrib. He reminded her of the nobility of the Koraysh tribe and that it was they who had been entrusted with the prestigious custodianship of the House of Allah. He told her that he was of the opinion that her son stood an excellent chance of receiving the office his father had once held and thereby become one of the chieftains of the Koraysh tribe. Muttalib stressed the point however, that in order for her son to be considered as a candidate for such honors it was imperative for the people of Mecca to know him in person, otherwise he would simply be overlooked. Salma, was convinced by Muttalib's reasoning and knew the proposal was in her son's best interest, so she agreed to let his uncle take him to Mecca. She consoled herself with the knowledge that she could visit him fairly regularly as the journey to Mecca was relatively short, taking ten to eleven days of travel.

THE ARRIVAL OF SHAYBA IN MECCA

Muttalib, with Shayba riding behind him on the camel set out for Mecca. As they entered the City, the people saw Muttalib and thought the youth riding behind him was his new servant and commented: "Look, the servant of Muttalib -- Abd Al Muttalib!" Muttalib was amused and replied, "Be off with you, he is the son of my brother Hashim!" The mistake was a source of amusement and news of his arrival spread throughout Mecca, but the name stuck, so Shayba became affectionately known as Abd al Muttalib.

NAWFAL DISPUTES SHAYBAH'S INHERITANCE

It wasn't long after Shayba's arrival when Nawfal disputed the young man's right over his father's estate. Muttalib stood by his nephew, and pressure was also brought to bear from Yathrib and Shayba, now known as Abd Al Muttalib, received his rights.

THE DEATH OF MUTTALIB

As time passed, Abd Al Muttalib's character continued to grew in both integrity and honor; the people of Mecca loved him and without doubt he lived up to and surpassed the expectations of his uncle. From an early age he had displayed strong capabilities of just leadership. His uncle had taught him the importance of administering the rights of the pilgrims and he diligently assisted his uncle in its preparation. Several years after is arrival in Mecca, Abd Al Muttalib's uncle passed away. No one in Mecca disputed his nephew's qualifications to succeed him. In fact many Meccans were of the opinion that Abd Al Muttalib surpassed both his father and uncle in fulfilling the duties of Custodian of the House of Allah with all its weighty responsibilities.

THE VISION OF ABD AL MUTTALIB

Abd Al Muttalib was not an idolater, he directed his prayer to Allah alone and loved to be near the Ka'ba. It was because of this love that he would often have his mattress spread out in a place known as 'Hijr Ishmael' -- which is the place where Prophet Ishmael and his mother Lady Hagar lie buried and also where Prophet Ishmael used to pen his sheep --- and sleep there. It was on one such night that he had a vision in which it was said to him, "Dig the sweet one." He asked, "What is the sweet one?" but there was no reply. The next morning he awoke with an overwhelming feeling of happiness and peace, the like of which he had never experience before, so he decided to spend the following night near Hijr Ishmael. That night he had another vision in which the voice told him, "Dig for mercy". He asked the meaning of it but again there was no answer. When he returned to sleep there on the third night the vision came yet again but this time he was told, "Dig for the treasure." When Abd Al Muttalib asked what was meant by the treasure, the vision vanished as before. The vision came again on the fourth night, however this time the voice was more specific and told him to dig for Zamzam. Abd Al Muttalib asked about Zamzam, but unlike the previous occasions the voice answered saying, "Dig for it, you will have no regrets, it is your inheritance from your greatest ancestor. It will neither dry up, nor fail to suffice the pilgrims." The voice told Abd Al Muttalib that Zamzam lay buried under a place in which there was blood, dung and an ants' nest, and that amongst it all he would see a crow pecking. Before the vision departed, the voice told him to supplicate to Allah for the continuous flow of pure water that would suffice all pilgrims.

THE REALIZATION OF ABD AL MUTTALIB'S VISIONS

At dawn, Abd al Muttalib arose and as in the tradition passed down from one generation to the next from the time of Prophet's Abraham and Ishmael, he circumambulated Ka'ba seven times and reverently kissed the Black Stone. Having completed his rites, he made his way to the door of Ka'ba, took hold the metal ring that hung from its lock and started to supplicate in the manner in which the voice had instructed. As he supplicated a large black crow flew down behind him and not long after another crow joined it. After Abd Al Muttalib had finished his supplication he turned and observed the birds strutting toward two rocks that had been taken as idols, approximately a hundred yards away. The two idols had been named Isaf and Nailah and were among the lesser idols of Mecca. Legend had it that the idols had been early Jurhumites that had been turned into stone because of their profanity. It was between these two idols that the idolaters would slaughter their animals and consequently it was common to find both blood and dung upon the ground. As Abd Al Muttalib approached he noticed an ants nest and knew that this must be the place referred to by the voice in the vision. Wasting no time at all, he returned to his home to get a spade. His son Harith was there so he told him to go and fetch another spade and to come with him to the Ka'ba.

THE DISCOVERY OF ZAMZAM

The sun had risen as they set to work digging between the two idols. As the people started to rise and go about their daily chores and business they noticed Abd Al Muttalib and Harith digging away in the sacred area between their idols and not long after a crowd started to gather to see what they were doing. As much as the Meccans respected Abd Al Muttalib they felt he was going too far and told him he must stop desecrating the ground with his digging. Abd Al Muttalib refused and told his son to stand on guard to prevent anyone interfering with his digging. The digging progressed without any incident and the people began to tire of standing around and had started to disperse when to Abd Al Muttalib's great joy he struck the stone cover of the well of Zamzam. Immediately he thanked Allah, and the excited crowd regrouped around him. News of his find spread quickly throughout Mecca and it wasn't long until a very large, joyous crowd had gathered to celebrate this great discovery.

THE TREASURE OF ZAMZAM

Abd Al Muttalib and his son removed the large stone cover from the forsaken well of Zamzam and as they did to the amazement of everyone, their eyes fell upon the treasure that had been taken from Ka'ba many centuries before when the Jurhumites had been driven from Mecca. There was great excitement and everyone laid claim to a share of the treasure. In those days it was the practice of Meccans to use divining arrows and cast lots to settle major issues with the ceremony taking place within the confines of Ka'ba before their chief idol Hubal. There were three stakes; one that the treasure should be returned to Ka'ba, another that it should be retained by Abd Al Muttalib, and the other that the treasure be divided between the tribes. When the time came for the settlement everyone gathered anxiously by the Ka'ba and the diviner cast the arrows. As the arrows fell they fell in favor of some of the treasure being restored to the Ka'ba, and the remainder being retained by Abd Al Muttalib, none fell in favor of the Koraysh. After the division had been settled it was also decided that the tribe of Hashim should take charge of the Well of Zamzam as it was their responsibility to provide water for the pilgrims.

ABD AL MUTTALIB TAKES A VOW

To many it would have appeared that Abd Al Muttalib had everything he could desire. He was the Custodian of Ka'ba, handsome, wealthy, generous, and of noble character that had won him the respect of the people of Mecca. However, he only had one son, Harith, whereas his cousins Umayyah, chief of the tribe of Abdu Shams and Mughirah, chief of the tribe of Makhzum had many. The fact that he had just one son hadn't concerned him greatly until he met with resistance from his fellow Meccans during the excavation of Zamzam. At that time he felt weaker than at any other and wished he had more sons to support him. He felt humble to be chosen as the one to be honored to restore the well and was grateful to Allah for His blessings to him, but his heart prompted him to supplicate to Him for ten sons. As he supplicated in earnest, he promised Allah that if He would favor him with ten sons that reached the age of manhood, he would sacrifice one of them in the Ka'ba. Allah heard his supplication and as the years passed he had, to his great pleasure, nine more sons. He never forgot the promise he made to Allah and as his sons reached manhood the matter pressed hard upon his mind, especially as the youngest of his sons, Abdullah, had now reached maturity. Abdullah had grown into a handsome, fine, upstanding young man like his father and although Abd Al Muttalib loved his other sons, Abdullah had become his favorite. Abd Al Muttalib knew that the time had come to fulfill his vow. He was a man of his word and had no intention of turning away from his oath. Until this time, Abd Al Muttalib had kept the matter between Allah and himself secret, no one in his family knew of the oath he had taken many years before.

THE SACRIFICE

Abd Al Muttalib had raised his sons to be true men, and all were obedient to him. One day he called his ten sons together and told them of the oath he had taken. They all accepted, their father's vow was their vow, and bravely they asked him how the matter would be decided. He told them that the matter would be determined by arrow divining and that they must each take an arrow and make their mark on it. After their marks had been made, Abd Al Muttalib sent a message to the arrow-diviner of the Koraysh tribe to meet him in the Ka'ba. Then he took his ten sons into the Sanctuary and led them inside the Ka'ba, then, when the arrow-diviner arrived he told him of his oath. Each son presented his arrow and Abd Al Muttalib stood ready with his knife drawn. The arrows were cast, and the lot fell against Abdullah. Without hesitation, Abd Al Muttalib took his son's hand and led him to the door intending to make straight for the place of sacrifice.

ABDULLAH'S REMALE RELATIVES

Abd Al Muttalib had not considered the fact that he might have to deal with his wives as he did not know they had learned of his intention. Fatima, the mother of Zubair, Abu Talib and Abdullah who were all candidates for the sacrifice, was, on her mother's side, descended from Abd, one of the sons of Ksay and belonged to the very influential tribe of Makhzum. When Fatima learned of the vow, she immediately rallied her co-wives, who were from less influential tribes, and together with her own powerful tribe they now marched in force to the Ka'ba to prevent the sacrifice. As Abd Al Muttalib opened the door of Ka'ba his eyes fell upon the large crowd assembled in the courtyard. Everyone noticed that the expression on Abd Al Muttalib and Abdullah's faces had changed. Fatima and her kinsmen were quick to realize that it was Abdullah who had been chosen as the sacrifice. Just then, someone in the crowd called out, "For whom is the knife!" and others took up the cry although it was evident for whom the knife was intended. Abd Al Muttalib tried to tell them of his vow, but was interrupted by Mughirah, the chief of Makhzum who told him that they would not permit him to make the sacrifice. He told him that they were prepared to offer a sacrifice in his stead, even to the extent of ransoming Abdullah with all the property of the sons of Makhzum. They were adamant, and prepared to take whatever steps were necessary in order to spare the life of Abdullah. By this time Abdullah's brothers had come out of Ka'ba. Until then none had spoken, but now they too turned to their father imploring him to spare the life of their brother and to offer some other kind of sacrifice instead. There was no one present who did not urge him not to do so. Being an upright man, Abd Al Muttalib did not want to break the vow he had taken, but the pressure upon him was great. Reluctantly he agreed to consult with a wise, Jewess who lived in Yathrib and was familiar with matters such as this and could tell him whether a substitution was in fact permissible in this case, and if it was, what form of ransom would be required.

THE WISE WOMAN OF YATHRIB

Abd Al Muttalib set off with Abdullah and several of his brothers for Yathrib -- Abd Al Muttalib's birth-place. When they reached Yathrib they inquired the whereabouts of the wise lady and were told she no longer lived there but in Khyber that was approximately ninety miles north of Yathrib. So they continued their journey through the hot desert until the reached Khyber were they found the wise woman. Abd Al Muttalib told her of the oath he had taken and inquired whether it was possible to offer a ransom instead. She listened intently and told them to return the following day after she had time to consider the matter and that she would give them an answer. Abd Al Muttalib prayed fervently to Allah and the next morning he and his sons returned for the verdict. The wise woman greeted them and asked what was the usual compensation offered amongst their tribe, so they told her that it was common place to offer ten camels. Upon hearing this she told them to return home and as soon as they arrived to put Abdullah and ten camels side by side and cast lots between them. She told them that in the event the arrow should fall against Abdullah they were to increase the number of camels by ten, and cast lots yet again until Allah accepted them by the arrow falling against the camels. She also told them that once the number of camels had been determined all were to be sacrificed immediately in order that Abdullah might live.

THE SACRIFICE OF 100 CAMELS

After having thanked the wise woman, Abd Al Muttalib and his sons set out for home straight away and upon reaching Mecca Abdullah and ten camels were taken into the courtyard of Ka'ba. Abd Al Muttalib went inside the Ka'ba and supplicated to Allah asking Him to accept what they were about to do. Upon the conclusion of his supplication he came out of the Ka'ba and the lots began to be cast. The first arrow fell against Abdullah, so ten more camels were added. The lot was cast again, but once more the arrow fell against Abdullah, and ten more camels were added and so it continued. It was only when the number of camels reached one hundred that the arrow finally fell against the camels.

THE RANSOM IS ACCEPTED

Everyone was overjoyed including Abd Al Muttalib, however, he wanted to make quite sure that this was, without a shadow of a doubt the ransom required by Allah to decide the issue, so he insisted that the lots be cast twice more. Anxiously, everyone looked on as the lots were cast, but to everyone's relief on each occasion, the arrow fell against the camels. There was no doubt left in Abd Al Muttalib's mind that Allah had accepted his expiation, and the camels were sacrificed immediately and the abundant supply of meat was amply distributed amongst the poor, needy and the orphans. There was so much meat left over that every sector of the community ate from it and joined in the great celebration.

THE MARRIAGE OF ABDULLAH TO AMINA

There was great happiness amongst Abd al Muttalib's family, not to mention his tribe, and the day-to-day life resumed once more. Shortly after this significant event, Abd al Muttalib started to make plans for Abdullah's future. Abdullah was now eighteen years of age and his father thought it was time for him to marry, so he started to search for a suitable match. After much consideration he came to the conclusion that Amina, the orphaned daughter of Wahb, would be the most compatible bride for his son. Amina was of noble birth, her father, Wahb had been the chief of the Zuhra -- a branch of the Koraysh -- but upon his death, her paternal uncle, Wuhayb had become its new chieftain and taken care of her. His own daughter, Halah, was of similar age and so the two girls had grown up together like sisters. Among Amina's many qualities she was known for her honorable, endearing character and to compliment these characteristics she was very intelligent. Years later, Prophet Muhammad, (sa) confirmed her status when he told his companions, "I have been chosen from the most choice." During Abd Al Muttalib's search for a suitable bride for his beloved son, it came to his notice that Wuhayb's daughter, Halah, was also of marriageable age, so he asked his permission to marry her himself. A proposal such as this was indeed a great honor and through these kind of arrangements essential inter-tribal ties were often strengthened. Upon his return, Abd Al Muttalib told Abdullah that he had found the perfect match for him. Abdullah was overjoyed when he heard all the wonderful things his father had to say about Amina and so preparations for a double wedding were made. As soon as the wedding preparations had been finalized, the bridal party set out for the house of Wahb. On the way to the celebration, people came out of their houses to greet the procession and wish them well. Abdullah had always been handsome, but that day he looked more handsome than ever. As the party passed the homes of the Bani Asad, Abdullah's cousin, Kutaylah, sister of Warakah, called to him and with the permission of his father he stopped to speak with her. Kutaylah had noticed something very special about Abdullah that day, she had seen a radiant light upon his face, the like of which she had never seen before. On impulse she asked Abdullah to marry her, offering him the same number of camels that been sacrificed in order to save him. Abdullah was astonished by the proposal but decline her offer and the bridal procession continued on its way. In those days it was the custom to stay in the house of the bride for several days after the marriage and then take her to her new home shortly afterwards. However, a few days after Abdullah and Amina's marriage, it was necessary for Abdullah to return home. On his way he met Kutaylah who told him that she was no longer interested in him because the radiant light she had seen on his face was no longer there. Amina conceived on the first night of their marriage and the young couple were very happy together. Everything his father had told him proved to be true, and Abdullah was as delighted with Amina as she was with him. Two months after their marriage Abdullah joined a trading caravan destined for Al Shams. Today, Al Shams is a conglomerate of several countries known to us as Syria, Jordan and Palestine. On the return journey, Abdullah was taken seriously ill in Yathrib. Abdullah had many relatives in Yathrib and so the caravan left him in their care and continued on to Mecca without him.

THE DEATH OF ABDULLAH

A messenger bearing news of Abdullah's illness was sent on in advance of the caravan and as soon as Abd Al Muttalib heard the disturbing news he sent his eldest son, Harith, to Yathrib to bring Abdullah home. Harith was not destined to see his brother again as Abdullah died before he reached Yathrib and so he was buried near his cousins, the children of Adiyy, the son of Najjar in Yathrib. Harith returned to Mecca and conveyed the saddening news to his father and Amina whereupon great sorrow fell upon the entire family.

LADY AMINA'S PREGNANCY

Allah, the Most High, made Lady Amina's pregnancy easy for her, in fact she commented that she didn't feel any different from her usual self. However, as her pregnancy progressed Lady Amina became aware of a light shinning from within her. One night in particular, the light was so spiritually, intensely bright that she had the ability to see the castles and turrets of far away Basra in Al Shams. During her pregnancy Lady Amina had many visions concerning her unborn baby. On one such occasion she heard a voice telling her, "You are carrying in your womb the master of this nation. When he is born say, 'I place him under the protection of the One from the evil of every envier; call him Muhammad.'"

THE MEMORABLE YEAR OF THE ELEPHANT

Fifty days before Muhammad was born, an event occurred which every person in Mecca would remember for the rest of their life. It was an attempt by Abraha, the governor of Yemen, to destroy the Sacred Ka'ba with an elephant's might. Before that time the Arabs paid little attention to the passage of years, although each month was recognized by the new moon. From that year onwards the Arabs would refer to events as being either before the year of the elephant or after it. At that time, Yemen was under the rule of Abyssinia. The King of Abyssinia, called the Negus, had appointed a governor named Abraha to govern Yemen in his absence. The Negus was a Nazarene who followed the true teachings of Prophet Jesus and not the trinitarian teachings of Paul, and Abraha, anxious to promote himself still further in the eyes of his king, decided he would build a magnificent church with the intent of luring pilgrims from Ka'ba to it. The church was built in Sanna with marble pillaged from the ruined palaces of Sheba, whilst its interior was embellished with gold and silver, and its pulpit carved from ivory and ebony. Upon completion, Abraha sent word to the Negus that he had built a magnificent church in his honor and mentioned his underlying intention. Abraha bragged so much of his intention to lure pilgrims away from the Ka'ba that word spread like the fury of a violent sandstorm throughout Arabia. As could be expected the Arabs were enraged by the whole affair to the extent that a man from the tribe of Kinanah, a branch of the Koraysh, was so incensed by the audacity of Abraha that he set out for Sanna determined to defile the church. When he reached Sanna night had fallen so he crept unseen into the church and defiled it with trash and filth. Having accomplished his mission he left undetected. When news of the defilement reached Abraha his anger was so great that he swore to take revenge and to lead an army to would destroy Ka'ba once and for all. Immediately, orders were issued to his army and they prepared themselves for the long march across the hot and sandy desert to Mecca. He also gave orders that an elephant should lead them as a sign of his might. As soon as the preparations were complete Abraha gave the order to march with the canopied elephant leading the way. Not far out of Sanna the army encountered resistance from a small band of Arabs, but they were greatly out numbered and fled. Their leader, Nufayl, from the tribe of Khathan, was captured and in fear for his life offered to guide Abraha and his soldiers on to Ka'ba. The news of Abraha's march to destroy Ka'ba reached Ta'if ahead of their arrival, so a delegation from the Thakif, fearing Abraha might mistake their temple of Al Lat for Ka'ba, rode out to meet him and offered to be Nufayl's co-guides, and Abraha accepted. At a place called Mughammis, a few miles outside Mecca, Abraha decided to strike camp and it was there that Nufayl died and was buried. Meanwhile, Abraha sent his spies on in advance to the outskirts of Mecca. On their way they came across a herd of camels belonging to Abd Al Muttalib together with some other animals so they seized them together with anything else they could lay their hands on and sent their plunder back to Abraha. In the meantime, Abd Al Muttalib, together with other Korayshi chieftains and chiefs from neighboring tribes met together to discuss how they might best defend their beloved Ka'ba. After much deliberation all concluded that Abraha's army was so great in number that they did not stand a chance against him, so Abd Al Muttalib decided it was best for the people of Mecca to seek refuge on the slopes of Mount Thabir saying, "O people of Koraysh, you will be protected," and assured them that Ka'ba would be unharmed saying, "Abraha and his army will not reach the Holy Ka'ba because it has a Protecting Lord." As the people of Mecca made their way to the mountain, Abd Al Muttalib supplicated saying, "O Allah, it is customary for one to protect his possessions, so please, protect Yours." Soon after, Abraha sent his envoy into Mecca inviting their leader to visit him in his camp and so Abd Al Muttalib, together with one of his sons accompanied Abraha's envoy back to the camp. As Abd Al Muttalib approached, Abraha was greatly impressed by his noble composure and rose to greet him. Abraha then told Abd Al Muttalib of his intent to destroy the Ka'ba and asked him if there was any favor he might grant him. Abraha was extremely surprised by Abd Al Muttalib's reply, he expected him to plead with him to spare Ka'ba but instead Abd Al Muttalib asked for the return of his herd of camels. Abraha scoffed at his request but the wise, trusting, Abd Al Muttalib replied, "I am the lord of my herd of camels, so I must protect them. The Lord of Ka'ba will protect His House." After this totally unexpected reply, Abd Al Muttalib and his son returned to Mecca. Soon after this Abraha gave the order to advance on Ka'ba and the soldiers took their marching positions behind the elephant. Now that all was ready the elephant was given the command to rise and march, but it refused and sat still. Its handlers tried to tempt it, but when that failed they beat it, driving iron hooks deep into its flesh, but still the elephant refused to march on Ka'ba. Then, one of its handlers had an idea to trick the poor elephant by turning it around to face the direction of Yemen, then, as soon as it started to walk to turn it around to march on Ka'ba. His deception worked for a while. They succeeded to get the elephant to stand, and even take a few steps in the direction of Yemen, but when he tried to turn it around to march on Ka'ba, the elephant, with all its might, sat down and despite the renewed extreme cruelty it endured the elephant still refused to march on Ka'ba. Suddenly, the sky became blackened with flocks of birds named "Ababil". Each bird carried three stones, one in each claw and another in its beak. When the birds reached Abraha's army they pelted the soldiers with them. As soon as a soldier was struck by a stone he died -- not one single stone missed its mark. As for Abraha, he did not die instantly, the stones that hit him brought about a painfully slow death that caused his bones to crumble thereby bringing about the agonizing collapse of his ribs. These miraculous affairs were witnessed by all the citizens present in Mecca that day, and as a result the year became known as the "Year of the Elephant." As for the grave of Nufayl, the guide who had led Abraha to Ka'ba, the Koraysh took stoning it. Unfortunately, there are some misguided people who promote the theory that the stones carried by the birds were not in fact stones but rather microbes or germs. Their knowledge of the Words of Allah is indeed pitiful, because their theory is in direct contradiction to the unchangeable word Allah, Himself, uses in the Koran to describe the event. The word Allah uses is "Hijaratin" which means "stones" -- and the knowledge of Allah is the truth. Allah sent down the following chapter confirming the event:

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Most Merciful. Have you not seen how Allah dealt with the companions of the Elephant? Did He not cause their schemes to go astray? And He sent against them flights of birds pelting them with stones of baked clay, so that He made them like straw eaten (by cattle). Chapter 105, The Elephant

The Message of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Movie

Khatam al-Anbiya "Seal of the Prophets"

THE BIRTH OF THE LAST PROPHET OF ALLAH,

THE SEALING OF THE PROPHETHOOD,

THE PROPHECY IS FULFILLED

On Monday, 12th of Rabi-al-Awwal -- 570 years after 'Iesa (as) (Jesus) ascended into heaven to await his return before the end of the world -- Lady Amina gave birth to her blessed son in the house of Abu Talib. Ash-Shaffa, the mother of Abd Al Rahman, attended his birth and as Lady Amina gave birth her blessed baby was delivered prostrating upon his tiny hands and knees, then sneezed and said, "Al Hamdulillah" -- praise be to Allah -- whereupon a voice from the heavens replied, "May Allah have mercy upon you." As Ash-Shaffa looked out into the night sky the horizon became illuminated so that the very distant castles of Greece became clearly visible to her. Incidentally, "Al Hamdulillah” was the same praise Prophet Adam offered as he sneezed upon reaching earth. The beautiful baby was born without a trace of dirt upon him, and a sweet aroma caressed his perfect little body. Lady Amina remembered the instruction she had been given in her vision and supplicated to Allah with it for her little son, then gave him to Ash-Shaffa, the mother of Abd Al Rahman to hold. News that Lady Amina had given birth to a son was sent straight away to Abd Al Muttalib. As soon as he heard the good news he rushed to see his new grandson. When he reached the house his heart was filled with joy and tender loving care. He cradled the sweet baby wrapped in a white cloth in his arms and then took him to the Ka'ba where he offered a prayer of thanksgiving to Allah for the safe delivery of his grandson. Before returning his new grandson to Lady Amina he went home to show him to his own family. Standing at the door waiting for his father's return was his three year old son Abbas. Lovingly, Abd Al Muttalib told his son, "Abbas, this is your brother, give him a kiss," so Abbas, who was in reality his uncle, bent over and kissed his new baby brother. After everyone had admired the baby, Abd Al Muttalib returned to Lady Amina and in accordance with her vision and a vision Abd Al Muttalib had seen, the sweet baby was named Muhammad. When people asked why they had named him Muhammad they replied, "To be praised in the heavens and earth." Before that time the name Muhammad was unknown and no other child had ever been given that special name. Abu Talib's house, the house in which the Holy Prophet (sa) was born exists today and is used to house an Islamic library.

SPECIAL EVENTS DURING THIS BLESSED NIGHT

Ash-Shaffa was not the only person to witness miraculous events of this very special night. As Othman, the son of Abi As's mother gazed up into the night sky she witnessed the stars lower themselves and a light so brilliant appeared at the time of his birth that she could see nothing except light. In the kingdom of Chosroes, fortifications shook and balconies collapsed, whilst the waters of Lake Tiberias ebbed, and the famous flame of Persia, which had not been extinguished since it was lit a thousand years before, was suddenly quite unexplainably extinguished. In the heavens, meteors were commanded to be on guard so as to prevent the satans from listening to the news the angels bore about the events of this very blessed night.

THE KNOWLEDGEABLE JEW

Amongst the citizens of Mecca were several Jews, one of whom was knowledgeable of the scriptures. He knew from his learning and the signs of the time that the birth of a new prophet was imminent and anxiously awaited his arrival. On the night Prophet Muhammad, (sa) was born, a strange feeling came over him that prompted him to rush to the door of his house and ask some Koraysh tribesmen, who happened to be passing, if they had heard of any births that night. The tribesmen replied that they knew of none, so he asked them to go and find out then bring word to him. He felt sure that this was the night in which the new prophet had been born, and if his feelings were correct he knew he would indeed be able to recognize him by a special, prominent mark on his skin that lay between his shoulders. Sometime later, the tribesmen returned to the expectant Jew and told him that a son had indeed been born to Lady Amina, the widowed wife of Abdullah, son of Abd Al Muttalib. The Jew asked them to take him to see the newly born and his mother, so in haste they made their way to Abu Talib's house. When they arrived, Lady Amina presented her darling son to them and as the cloth that covered him was gently rolled back the Jew saw the unmistakable mark and fainted. When he regained consciousness he announced the prophethood had been taken away from the Children of Israel and said, "O people of Koraysh, by Allah, he will conquer you in a way that the news will traverse both east and west." The mark the Jew referred to was circular and read, "There is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet", and it was from this identifying mark that the sweet aroma of musk exuded.

THE DECISION OF LADY AMINA AND ABD AL MUTTALIB

Abdullah was a young man when he died and therefore had very little to leave his wife and unborn baby. All he was able to leave them was an Abyssinian maid named Barakah, which means blessing, a few camels and some goats. Barakah was also known by the name Umm Ayman. During the first days of our beloved Prophet's life, Barakah helped his mother to take care of him, and Thuwaybah, who attended his birth, became his first wet-nurse. In those days it was the practice of noble and well-to-do families to entrust their newly born infants to the care of good families living far from Mecca where the infant would be less likely to contract the many diseases that all too often accompanied the pilgrims. Among the many advantages of sending a newly born to be raised in the desert was that it was there that Arabic in its purest form was spoken, and the accomplishment of speaking pure Arabic was a most sought after quality. Youngsters also learned the essential art of survival through the mutual love and care for one another that in turn lead to excellent manners and a chivalrous nature. With this in mind Lady Amina and Abd Al Muttalib decided to send Muhammad to be raised in the desert. HALIMA Soon after his birth, several Bedouin families made their twice yearly journey to Mecca in search of a child to foster. No fee was requested by the foster parents as one might suppose, rather, the intent was to strengthen ties between noble, well-to-do families and perhaps receive a favor from its parents or relatives. Amongst the prospective foster mothers was a lady called Halima, the daughter of Abdullah Al Sadiyyah from the tribe of Banu Hawazin. Halima's family had always been poor, and that year in particular had been harsh for them on account of the drought that devastated the area. Halima had a young baby of her own, so together with her husband, Abi Kabshah, and baby they traveled in the company of other families from their tribe to Mecca. Halima carried her son as she rode upon their donkey whilst her husband walked by her side and the sheep ran along beside them. When they set out, the sheep's milk had been a constant source of nourishment for them, but the strain of the journey took its toll and its milk dried up. Halima's own milk was insufficient to satisfy her baby, and many a time her baby cried itself to sleep out of hunger. Before reaching Mecca, there was another setback, Halima's donkey started to show signs of lameness, so they proceeded slowly at their own pace whilst the others went on ahead. Because of the delay, Halima and her family were the last of the prospective foster parents to reach Mecca. By the time she arrived each of the other prospective foster mothers had visited the homes of parents wishing to send their newly born to the safety of the desert, and chosen a baby. However, the planning of Allah was that all had declined the offer to take Lady Amina's baby on account of him being an orphan, and so when Halima arrived he was the only one available. As Halima entered Lady Amina's house she found the tiny baby sleeping upon his back wrapped in a white woolen shawl under which a green piece of silk had been placed. Instantaneously, with just one glance, in the same way that the wife of Pharaoh’s heart had been filled with love for the baby Moses, Allah filled Halima’s heart with overflowing love. Halima was overcome by his beauty, and as she bent down to pick him up she smelt the delicate fragrance of musk. Fearing she might disturb him, she placed her had over his chest and as she did he smiled, then opened his eyes and from his eyes beamed a radiant light. Gently, and lovingly she kissed him between his eyes and offered him her right breast and immediately felt a surge of milk, he accepted her breast and suckled away contentedly. After a little while she offered him her left breast but even at this very tender age fairness was inherent in his nature and he declined leaving it for his new suckling brother. Later on that day, Halima returned to her husband and told him that there was no doubt in her mind that she wanted to foster Lady Amina's baby -- it was of no consequence to her that the baby was an orphan, or that future favors may not be possible -- the baby had completely captivated her heart.

THE BONDING

It is through the nourishing milk a foster mother gives to her charge that the baby gains an extended family into which marriage to its siblings is not permitted. And so it was that Halima's foster child would refer to her in later years as his mother, and to her children as his brothers and sisters. Right from the very beginning, the bonding between Halima and her foster child proved to be a very great blessing for not only her family but the entire tribe. And it was because of this very close relationship that her people were, in the years that followed, protected and led to Paradise.

THE PEACEFUL NIGHT

Whilst Halima was nursing Lady Amina's baby, her husband, Abi Kabshah, went to tend his sheep and was very surprised to find its udder full of milk. When he milked it there was so much milk that there was more than enough to satisfy the entire family, that night they drank their fill and slept peacefully. When they awoke, Abi Kabshah exclaimed, "Halima, by Allah, I see you have chosen a blessed spirit, did you notice how we spent such a blessed night and are enjoying its benefits?"

LIFE IN THE DESERT

The time soon came for the foster parents to set off for their desert home with their charges, so Halima made her farewells to Lady Amina who handed her beloved son up to her as she sat upon her donkey. Halima and her husband were quick to notice the multiple blessings that constantly came their way. Their donkey had always been the slowest ride because it was frail, and more recently showed signs of progressive lameness, but now it out-ran the others whilst the rest of the party looked on in amazement asking Halima if the donkey was the same one she had come with.

THE LAND OF BANI SA’AD

Before they reached the land of Bani Sa’ad, the vegetation had already become scant, but upon reaching it there was no vegetation in sight, the land was barren with signs of drought everywhere. However, Halima's sheep would wander off yet always return full. It was so noticeable that the others in her party told their shepherds to take their sheep and follow Halima's, however, hers always returned full but theirs did not and yielded abundant milk. The blessings never ceased to escape the attention of Halima's family and when they reached home their land became fertile once more an the palm trees bore an abundance of dates.

AL SHAIMA

Halima had an older daughter named Hudhafa, also known as Al Shaima. Al Shaima loved her new brother dearly and never had to wait to be asked to look after him. It was a very happy time for the entire family and Halima's foster child grew rapidly in strength and out grew other children of similar age. Halima's tribe in particular was famous for speaking pure Arabic and many of its tribesmen had become famous on account of their eloquent speech and poetry; it was in such an environment that the young Muhammad learned the art of the precise diction of pure Arabic, however he did not learn how to read or write.

THE RETURN TO MECCA

Halima never ceased to wonder at the growth and strength of her foster son and thought it was time for him to visit his mother in Mecca so preparations were made for the journey. When they reached Mecca Lady Amina was delighted to see and hold her son once more, but an epidemic had broken out and she feared for his safety so it was agreed that Halima should take him back with her to their desert home.

THE TWO ANGELS

Little Muhammad loved to play with his brothers but also enjoyed sitting alone by himself. Several months had passed since his return from Mecca when one day as his brothers were playing not far away among the sheep and he sat alone, two angels, having taken the appearance of men, dressed in pure white robes came to him with a golden bowl containing snow. Muhammad was neither afraid nor yet concerned when they miraculously opened his chest, felt around his heart, washed it, then sealed his chest and left leaving no trace whatsoever of an incision. His brothers saw the two men, and watched in awe what had happened and as soon as they left ran as fast as their legs could carry them to tell their mother. Halima and her husband rushed to Muhammad and found him standing alone. His face looked somewhat pale and Halima held him gently in her arms and asked what had happened. He told them about the two men and how they had opened his chest and looked for something, but what it was they were looking for he told them he did not know. Halima looked at his chest but there were no signs of an opening whatsoever, nor yet were there any traces of blood. She looked for the two men, but there was no sign of them either. The only difference she could find was that the small mark she had taken to be a birth-mark between his shoulders appeared to be raised a little more than usual. Halima and her husband questioned their sons repeatedly, but none deviated from the account they first related and were convinced that the boys had spoken the truth. Halima and her husband were extremely worried by the incident and feared that bad jinn were trying to harm their beloved foster son. Fearing for his safety, it was decided to return the young Muhammad to Lady Amina, so once again Halima set off with Muhammad to Mecca.

HALIMA'S DECISION

Halima decided not to tell Lady Amina the real reason for his early return but Lady Amina was quick to realize she was concealing something. At last Lady Amina persuaded Halima to tell her the real reason for her son's hasty return. Lady Amina listened intently to the account of the opening of his chest and of Halima's fear that some bad jinn may be trying to harm him. Lady Amina comforted her and told her that no harm would come to him because she had been told that he was destined for an important role. She also told Halima about her blessed pregnancy and of the light that had shone from her womb. After hearing this Halima's heart was at peace once more and greatly relieved to know her fears for her beloved foster child were unfounded. Lady Amina thanked Halima for the loving care she gave her son and once again Halima and her foster son returned to their home in the desert where he lived with his extended family until he reached five years old at which time he returned to live with his mother in Mecca. The event of his chest opening was described in detail by Prophet Muhammad, (sa) in later years. He told his companions that the men were angels and when they opened his chest they were looking for a speck of black. Upon finding it they removed it and washed his heart in pure snow from the golden bowl then resealed his chest. He also said that each son of Adam, except Mary and her son, is touched by satan at birth.

A NEW LIFE IN MECCA

It wasn't long before the young Muhammad had settled down very happily to his new lifestyle in the City of Mecca and found that he had lots of cousins, an affectionate grandfather named Abd Al Muttalib, as well as many uncles and aunts. Amongst the children Muhammad loved most were Hamza and his young sister Saffiyah, the children of his grandfather, Abd Al Muttalib. Muhammad and Hamza were practically the same age, however, Muhammad was the elder, although technically speaking, Hamza was his uncle and Saffiyah his aunt.

THE JOURNEY TO YATHRIB

One day, Lady Amina learned that a caravan would soon be leaving Mecca and pass through Yathrib (Medina) on its way north. It was a wonderful opportunity for Muhammad, who was now six, to meet the rest of his cousins and relatives that lived there. Barakah, Lady Amina's maid, made the necessary preparations for the eleven day journey and they left with the caravan riding two camels, one ridden by Lady Amina and her son, the other by Barakah. They stayed in Yathrib for a month and the young Muhammad met more of his cousins, the children of Adiyy. He enjoyed being with them and went kite flying and sometimes they would take him to their large well where he learned to swim. It was a happy time but the month soon passed and the caravan destined for Mecca was ready to leave, so they made their farewells and departed.

THE DEATH OF LADY AMINA

As the caravan journeyed to Mecca, Lady Amina was taken seriously ill and never recovered. The angels took away her soul at a village called Al Abwa and it is there that she lies buried. Barakah did her best to comfort the sobbing young Muhammad whose heart became vacant at the loss of his mother and together they made the heartbreaking journey to the house of his grandfather in Mecca. Abd Al Muttalib, deeply saddened by the loss, took his grandson into his own household and a very special love bonded them even more closely together.

THE LOVE OF ABD AL MUTTALIB

For many years Abd Al Muttalib had taken to sleeping near the Ka'ba at Hijr Ishmael, the place where he had been told in a vision to dig for the well of Zamzam many years before Abdullah, Muhammad's father was born. At Hijr Ishmael his couch would be spread out for him and more often than not it was there that one would find him. There was an unwritten rule that no one sat on his couch, not even his young son Hamza, however, such was the love he had for his grandson Muhammad that he alone was welcome to join him there. One day some of Muhammad's uncles found him sitting on the couch and suggested he should not do so. Immediately, his grandfather told them, "Let my son stay, by Allah, he has a great future." The young Muhammad was a constant source of pleasure to his grandfather and both enjoyed the company of each other. Such was his endearing personality that anyone who met him loved Muhammad. It was noticeable that even at such a tender age, Muhammad showed signs of wisdom far beyond his years and when Abd Al Muttalib attended important tribal meetings in the House of Assembly with other elders of the tribe, he would take his grandson with him. Muhammad's opinion was often sought in earnest despite his age, whereupon, Abd Al Muttalib would proudly comment, "There is a great future ahead for my son!" Abd Al Muttalib always referred with pride to his grandson as being his "son".

THE DEATH OF ABD AL MUTTALIB

Abd Al Muttalib was now eighty-two years of age and a few months after his grandson's eighth birthday he was taken ill and passed away. Before Abd Al Muttalib died he entrusted the care of his grandson to his son Abu Talib, the blood brother of Muhammad's father Abdullah, so without hesitation Abu Talib gladly became Muhammad's guardian and took him into his own household. As Abd Al Muttalib's bier was carried to a place known as Al Hujun for burial, many walked in his funeral procession and his young grandson shed many tears as he walked with them to the graveside. It was a time of great sorrow. Like his father before him, Abu Talib became a loving guardian to his nephew and his wife, Fatima, daughter of Asad, Hashim's son, and half brother of Abd Al Muttalib, did all she could to compensate for the mother he had lost. Indeed, such was the degree of her care that in later years after her beloved trust had attained prophethood, he told those around him that rather than let him go hungry, Fatima would have preferred to let her own children go without, but he was never of a greedy nature and would share whatever he was given. Upon the death of Abd Al Muttalib the ascendancy to the house of Hashim had weakened for his family. All but one of the honorable offices he had held for so long now passed to Harb, the son of Umayya. The only position left for his household was that of providing for the pilgrims.

THE GUARDIANSHIP OF ABU TALIB

When Abd Al Muttalib passed away there was very little left for his heirs to inherit and Abu Talib, although his circumstances were restricted, was rich in heritage, honor and nobility. Like his father, he loved his nephew dearly, there wasn't anything he would not do for him. Many a night the young Muhammad would be found snuggled up to his uncle in bed, sleeping peacefully until the light of the morning. During the day, Muhammad would go with him wherever he might go and when he was old enough Abu Talib taught him the skill of how to masterfully shepherd, with both tenderness and care his sheep, which was a vital source of food and income to his family. It was a position of trust and one will no doubt recall that most prophets, peace be upon him, were shepherds at one time or another during their life.

THE DROUGHT

Drought had stricken Mecca and its neighboring settlements in the valley yet again. It was a hard time for everyone both old and young alike. Abu Talib was highly respected in his tribe and in times of need, such as this, they would often turn to him for help and advice. The situation continued to worsen and so in desperation several of the Koraysh went to Abu Talib to ask him to pray for rain. Muhammad was with him and heard their request so together, with Abu Talib carrying him on his shoulders, they made their way to the Ka'ba to supplicate to Allah. As they entered the precincts of Ka'ba the sky was blue and the heat of the sun beat down just as it had done so for many weeks. Muhammad, with his delicate tiny hand held on tightly to his uncle's fingers and together they supplicated for rain. Within moments, clouds gathered from all directions and rain started to fall -- the drought was over. Like Halima, Abu Talib was quick to recognize the multiple blessings he and others shared on account of his nephew.

THE EARLY YEARS

It was time for the annual trip to Syria. Even though Hashim had secured pacts with tribes along the caravan route many years before, the journey was arduous and not without danger. With this in mind Abu Talib decided to leave his nephew behind thinking it was better for him to remain at home with Fatima and his other children. When the time came for the caravan to depart, Muhammad, who was now twelve years old, rushed up to him and threw his arms around him. Abu Talib never had the heart to refuse his nephew anything at all and so it was agreed that he would join him on the long trip north to Syria.

BUHAIRAH, THE MONK

After many weeks of arduous travel the caravan reached a place called Tayma, a village on the outskirts of Basra. It was there that a monk by the name of Buhairah lived alone in a hermitage that had been inherited by a succession of hermit monks. Over the centuries, important religious documents had been brought to the hermitage and left by his predecessors so Buhairah had made it his life's work to study them well and had become very knowledgeable. In the documents were prophecies that told of another prophet to come after Jesus, peace be upon him. The prophecies described in detail the time in which he would be born, his appearance, character and background and it was Buhairah's dearest wish to be blessed to live long enough to see him. One day as Buhairah was meditating outside his hermitage he noticed a caravan in the distance making its way towards the city. It was a common sight to see caravans making their way there, but as he gazed towards it he noticed there was something very different about this one. In the blue sky was a lone white cloud that floated just above the caravaners heads, when the caravan changed direction the cloud would follow. He watched the caravan more intently and when it started to descend the neighboring hills he witnessed the palm tress bow their branches as the caravan passed by. He noticed something else even more strange, when the caravan came to rest under the trees the cloud disappeared and the palm branches bowed down still further to provide a dense and cooling shade. Just before the caravan reached the market place it halted again under the shade of the trees and Muhammad, being the youngest, was asked to tend to the camels whilst the others went to the marketplace. Buhairah made haste to greet the caravaners and invited them to eat with him; caravans had stopped there many times before, but Buhairah had never invited them nor yet any other caravaners to join him. As they sat down to eat Buhairah looked at each one in turn, then asked if there was anyone missing from the party. They informed him that there was another, a boy, whom they had asked to tend the camels. Buhairah insisted that the boy should join them, and the caravaners felt embarrassed at their unintentional forgetfulness and so Muhammad was invited to join them. When he arrived, Buhairah observed his appearance and manners closely. After a while he questioned him and then asked him to swear by the idols of Mecca -- which was common practice amongst the Arabs. Muhammad refused saying, "There is nothing more hateful to me than to do that." The answers Muhammad gave Buhairah convinced him ninety-nine percent that the young boy, in whose company he was, was none other than the one prophesied in the scriptures to become the last Prophet of Allah. However, one thing bothered him, Abu Talib had referred to Muhammad as being his son, and the scriptures stated quite clearly that the last prophet would be an orphan, so he inquired about Muhammad's parents and was told that indeed Muhammad was an orphan, and that Abu Talib was not his real father, rather, he was his paternal uncle. Now, Buhairah knew for certain that his dearest wish had been fulfilled and that he had been blessed to live long enough to meet the boy destined to be the last Prophet of Allah. He was overcome with joy but at the same time a great sense of fear struck deep within his heart. He told Abu Talib that he must take great care of Muhammad and advised him not to continue onto Basra as he feared the descendants of the Jews that had migrated to Arabia many years before to await the arrival of the last prophet would also notice his signs and try to harm him as he was not of their race. Abu Talib took Buhairah's advice and they returned to Mecca.

EARLY CHARACTER

Muhammad had grown into a quiet, thoughtful youth preferring to look after his uncle's sheep rather than playing with the other children of Mecca. He loved the peace and tranquility of the valleys and mountainside and whilst tending his uncle’s flock would pass his time observing and marveling at the wonders of the creation of Allah. Like all boys of the Koraysh tribe he was taught the art of manhood and how best to defend himself. Muhammad had very keen eyesight and so it wasn't surprising that he became an excellent archer like his ancestor Prophet Ishmael. His reputation for being honest, trustworthy and among other fine qualities, intelligent, was recognized by all who knew him, however, it wasn't until after his prophethood that he learned to read or write.

THE WEDDING

There was to be a wedding in the city, elaborate preparations had already been made, and a fine table prepared. When Muhammad's friends learned of the festivities they were anxious to join in all the fun and rushed to find Muhammad to ask him to go with them. Festivities such as these did not attract him very much but his friends wanted him to go with him and he was not a person to disappoint anyone so he agreed to accompany them. As they neared the bride's house the sound of music grew louder and louder. Suddenly, Muhammad was overcome by extreme tiredness so he told his friends to go on without him, and shortly thereafter fell sound asleep and didn't wake up until the following day when all the festivities were over

THE AGE OF IGNORANCE

The situation in Arabia had deteriorated to such an extent that murder, lewdness, profanity, gambling and drunkenness in conjunction with other depravities had become common. The poor and weak were treated very badly and the position of women was quite deplorable. Many women were deprived of all their rights, they could be bought and sold at whim, and if they happened to inherit, their wealth was, more likely than not, ceased by their spouse. To many, the greatest shame for a woman was to give birth to a daughter. She alone was blamed and disgrace fell upon the family and all too often innocent baby girls were buried alive or even strangled at birth. Most tribes knew little or no form of government, each tribe was independent from the other except for the occasional alliance; as a result rivalries and deep rooted jealously often prevailed. Tribal feuds were common and all too often the origin of the feud had faded from memory but that was of no consequence, a feud was a feud, and therefore it was perpetuated without regard from one generation to the next resulting in the shedding of much blood. As for the Ka'ba, it now housed over 360 idols and fortune-tellers were consulted for both major and trivial decisions. Superstition was now a way of life and very few knew how to read or write -- it was a dark age -- the age of ignorance.

THE BATTLE OF FIJAR

Muhammad was fifteen years of age when a clash between the tribes of Koraysh under the command of Harb, Ummaya's son and the Banu Huwazin erupted. Since the time of Prophets Abraham and Ishmael, certain months of the years had been held sacred. During these months physical hostilities between the tribes had become strictly forbidden. However, the rule was broken when Al Barrad, Kais Al Kinani's son, killed Urwah Al Rahal, Utbah Al Huwazini's son. The battle that ensued became known as the "Battle of Fijar" because it took place during the forbidden months. Abu Talib took part in the fighting which was destined to erupt spasmodically over a period of four years, however, Muhammad did not take part, rather, he gathered stray arrows for his uncle.

THE TREATY OF FUDUL

After the recent battle the chieftains of the divided tribe of Koraysh known as the "Perfumed Ones" and the "Confederates" put aside their differences and met together in the house of Abdullah, Judan's son. They realized that if they were to show any sign of weakness between them it could result in either party falling prey to an enemy, and in the long term bring about the fall of the Koraysh tribe. There was also another important factor to take care of that related to the protection of the harmed and the rescue of not only of the weak living in Mecca but also the visitors who suffered injustice on account of their weakened position. All who were present took an oath that from that day onward they would take them under their protection and ensure that the injured party received their rights. This treaty was indeed a landmark as injustice was rampant. Such was the importance of this treaty that the Prophet (sa) later told his companions, "Indeed, I witnessed with my uncles, in the house of Abdullah Judan's son, a treaty which is more beloved to me than a herd of cattle. Now in Islam, if I were to be asked to partake in something similar, I would accept." Those that participated in the treaty were the descendants of Hashim, Muttalib, Abd Manaf, Asad, Zuhra and Tamin together with the young Muhammad and his uncles. Abu Bakr, who was in later years to become one of the most sincere and dearest friends of the Prophet (sa), together with his and his father Abu Kuhafah of Taym were also participants.

THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE TREATY

Amongst the Koraysh tribes known as "Confederates" was that of Sahm. It was from that tribe that a man of note agreed to purchase some valuable goods from a merchant visiting Mecca from Yemen. The deal was struck, the tribesman of Sahm received his goods, but then refused to pay the agreed price. Although the merchant from Yemen was far from home and had no fellow tribesmen to support him, he was not daunted by the weakness of his position. He climbed to the top of Abu Kubays, a nearby hill on which the Black Stone which now graced the wall of Ka'ba had been found, and appealed to those present about the unjust transaction. His plaint fell upon the ears of Abdullah, Judan's son, chief of Taym who offered the use of his house to hear the matter, and so a meeting was convened. Notables from both the "Perfumed Ones" and the "Confederates" gathered together in his house to hear the complaint whereupon the tribesman from Sahm was ordered to pay his debt and those allied to his tribe who were not present at the recent oath-taking raised no objection.

TRADE

By now, Muhammad was a young man. The caravan journeys he had made with his uncle had taught him many things, so it was natural that he too should take to trading as a livelihood. There were those in Mecca who gained much wealth through trading. Some of them, for one reason or another, choose not to accompany the caravans on their missions, preferring to entrust their goods and money to a caravaner who would in return be given a share of the profit. However, reliable, trustworthy people had become increasingly difficult to find. Muhammad's word was his bond, his reputation for fairness, honesty and trustworthiness were known by all in Mecca so when he took to trading, Meccan businessmen welcomed him as their profit-sharing partner. It was not only with their trade that the Meccans trusted him. They trusted him completely in the knowledge that anything placed in his safe-keeping would be returned without decrease. One might have expected that he would have been paid a fee for such service, however he never requested, desired, nor accepted a fee. His inherent sense of fairness dictated that receiving a fee would ultimately detract from the value of the person’s wealth. Such was his impeccable reputation that both businessmen and tribesmen would refer to him as "Al Amin", the trustworthy. It was through Muhammad’s example of fair-trading that, in later years, his companions emulated his practice and became very successful in all aspects of commerce. Those who traded with them, be they Muslim or non-Muslim in Arabia or in other countries, knew that they could rely upon their trading partner and would never be cheated.

THE UNSETTLED TRANSACTION

Muhammad had negotiated a business transaction with a man by the name of Abdullah, however, part of the transaction remained unsettled, so it was agreed that the two should meet again to finalize the matter on a specific day. The matter slipped Abdullah's memory and Muhammad waited patiently for him to arrive for three days. On the third day when Abdullah finally arrived, Muhammad neither raised his voice nor did he take offense at being kept waiting, the only comment he made was that he had been concerned for him on account of his delayed arrival. This degree of tolerance and concern were indeed very rare qualities to be found in Arabs of that day. It was not in Muhammad’s nature to quarrel nor yet to turn anyone away. In fact the more impertinent and ill-tempered a person behaved towards him, the more tolerant and graceful he became. Later on during his prophethood, the sincere followers of prophets Moses and Jesus, made it known that this characteristic, together with his description and other signs, were written in their Holy Books so that they might easily recognize and follow the last Prophet of the Creator.

KHADIJAH, DAUGHTER OF KHUWAULID

Among the traders of Mecca was a well respected, honorable, refined, wealthy widowed lady named Khadijah. She was very beautiful and had many suitors, however, she declined their offers of marriage. Abu Talib suggested to his nephew, who was now twenty-four, that he might wish to contact Khadijah to ask whether she might like him to trade on her behalf. Muhammad, having dealt only with male traders, was somewhat respectfully shy to ask her, so he told his uncle that perhaps she would contact him if she needed his services. When news of the conversation reached Khadijah, who was twelve years his senior. She told those close to her that if she had only known he was willing to trade with her wealth she would have offered him the opportunity long before, and so a messenger was sent to invite him to come to her house and discuss arrangements. When Khadijah met Muhammad she respectfully asked if he would take it upon himself to act on her behalf with her merchandize. She told him that she had already learned of his reputation for honesty, truthfulness and knew of his high morality. Muhammad, agreed and as a mark of appreciation she told him she would gift him with twice the usual amount. Muhammad accepted and thanked Khadijah for her generosity and returned to his uncle to tell him the good news. His uncle was delighted and told him Allah had sent him this blessing. Just before the end of the month of Dhul Hijjah, Muhammad, in the company of Khadijah's devoted servant Maysarah, set out on his first trip. Upon reaching a placed called Tayma, Muhammad and Maysarah sat down to rest under the shade of a tree not far from the hermitage of a monk named Nastura, who, surprisingly rushed out to greet him. After the exchange of greetings, Nastura kissed Muhammad's head and feet then said, "I believe you, and bear witness that you are the one Allah mentioned in the Torah." When Nastura saw the mark between his shoulders, he kissed him yet again and bore witness that Muhammad was to become none other than the Messenger of Allah, the illiterate prophet of whom Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, had prophesied would come. Then, he turned to Maysarah and told him, "He is the last Prophet, I wish I could be with him when he is called!" Maysarah was taken aback by Nastura's statement, it was indeed something to tell his mistress. After taking their farewells Muhammad and Maysarah continued on their way to Basra and as the heat of the mid-day sun blazed down, Maysarah noticed clouds, driven by two invisible angels, casting their continuous, protective shade over his companion. When they reached their destination Muhammad concluded his commerce and wasted no time setting off back to Mecca. Many days passed before they reached the familiar outskirts of Mecca then, at long last, they finally reached Khadijah's house around mid-day. Just before their arrival Khadijah, who had been resting in an upper room, happened to glance out of her window and saw them returning riding on their camels, then, to her amazement as she looked up into the sky she saw the clouds drifting above Muhammad, shading him from the intense heat of the sun. After the camels had been attended Muhammad went to greet Khadijah and tell her of the trades he had made; to her surprise she found her commerce had doubled. Khadijah, true to her word kept her promise and gave Muhammad his handsome gift. Later, Khadijah spoke to Maysarah about the matter of the clouds and he too confirmed he had seen the same thing throughout the journey. He also related the bewildering conversation and witnessing of the hermit monk, Nastura, and told of the many blessings they encountered upon their journey.

THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN MUHAMMAD AND KHADIJAH

Khadijah had been deeply moved and impressed by the things Maysarah told her. Her cousin, Warakah, who was well versed in the scriptures, also spoke highly of him and so she sent her friend, Nufaysah, to discreetly inquire why he had not married. His reply was simple, it was because he had very little money to support a wife and family. Nufaysah asked him if he would consider marrying a rich, beautiful lady of noble birth, whereupon Muhammad inquired who the lady might be and was told it was Khadijah. Muhammad was very happy, he respected Khadijah as she was known among the ladies of the Koraysh as the "Mistress of the Koraysh" and "Al Tahirah" - the pure. Muhammad went to Abu Talib to tell of the proposal, and they, together with Hamza went to ask Khadijah's uncle for her hand in marriage as her father has passed away. Khadijah's uncle, Amr, Asad's son gave his permission and the day of the wedding was set. On the day of their marriage Muhammad released Barakah, his maid, from service. Shortly after Barakah married a man from Yathrib and later gave birth to a son named Ayman, however, in the years to come Barakah was to return to the Prophet's household.

ZAYD

As part of his wedding gift, Khadijah gave her husband the services of a youth name Zayd from the tribe of Kalb in Syria. Several years before, Zayd's mother had taken her son to visit her family in the tribe of Tayy. During their visit the village had been raided by marauders from the tribe of Bani Kayn and amongst their plunder they seized Zayd then sold him in Mecca. Zayd's father, Haritha, had led a search party to find his son, but the search proved unsuccessful -- there was no trace whatsoever of him and he feared the worst. Khadijah and Muhammad had been married for only a few months when the pilgrimage season began and soon pilgrims from all over Arabia and beyond came to Mecca. It was in that year that tribesmen from Kalb decided to partake in the pilgrimage and by chance Zayd happened to see and recognized some of them. Zayd knew his parents would have grieved over his loss. At first, he too had been devastated at being torn from his parents, but nowadays his circumstances had changed and he was very happy living in the household of Muhammad. However, now that the opportunity presented itself he was able to send his parents a comforting message via the pilgrims. Members of Zayd's family were recognized as master poets so he composed a verse conveying the news that he was alive, happy and well. The verse told them not to grieve for him any longer because he lived near the Holy Ka'ba with a blessed and noble family. As soon as the pilgrims reached home they went straight to Haritha and delivered the poem. Haritha was overjoyed to receive news that his son was alive and immediately ordered mounts to be made ready for himself and his brother to ride to Mecca to ransom his son. Upon reaching Mecca they inquired the way to the house of Muhammad and when they reached it earnestly begged him to allow them to ransom Zayd. Haritha was prepared to offer any amount of money to free his son, however, they were surprised when Muhammad told them that if Zayd wished to return with them he was free to do so and the payment of a ransom was unnecessary. Zayd was sent for and asked if he recognized the two men standing before him. Zayd was overjoyed to see his father and uncle again and confirmed that they were indeed his family. Then, Muhammad asked if he wished to return with them or to remain with him in his household. The reply Zayd's father and uncle were about to hear astounded them, Zayd replied that he wished to remain as he was happy where he was. Zayd's father could not comprehend how anyone, let alone his own son, could choose the life of a servant to that of a freeman, but Zayd respectfully told them that he did not wish it otherwise. Upon hearing these touching words, Muhammad took Zayd by the hand and went to the Ka'ba. There he announced Zayd's freedom saying, "All those who are present, bear witness that Zayd is as my son, I am his heir and he is mine." Haritha and his brother returned home and told their fellow tribesmen of Zayd's decision. They recounted the circumstances and the great bond they had witnessed between Muhammad and Zayd, and told them that Zayd was a freeman.

THE DAILY LIFE OF MUHAMMAD AND KHADIJAH

Muhammad’s marriage with Khadijah was very happy and blissful. He continued to manage Khadijah's affairs with great skill and her business flourished bringing further wealth to the household. Despite the abundance of wealth, Muhammad choose to live a simple life giving most of his away to those in need. Muhammad’s aunt, Saffiyah, Abd Muttalib's daughter, and sister of Hamza, married a relative of Khadijah and visited with them often taking her son, Zubair, whom she had named after her elder brother, with her. When Khadijah became pregnant, Saffiyah offered the services of her own maid Salma, to assist with the birth. Khadijah gratefully accepted and so Salma became the midwife to all of the children born to them. Their sons names were Kasim and Abdullah -- who was also known as Al Tahir or Al Tayyib -- and their daughters were named Zaynab, Rukiyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatima. However, their sons were not destined to live long. Kasim died shortly before his second birthday, and Abdullah died during infancy shortly after his father became the Seal of the Prophets of Allah, (sa).

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF KA'BA

Muhammad was thirty-five when a fire broke out in the Ka'ba, causing a weakness to its walls. Thereafter, the already unstable walls were weakened yet again by a tremendous flood which engulfed the Ka'ba. The Koraysh were deeply concerned about its condition and felt it necessary to demolish it completely then rebuild it using the same stones. They also proposed to make it larger and to add a roof -- before that time the Ka'ba was roofless. All agreed that its reconstruction must be funded with pure money, money gained unlawfully such as that earned by interest, prostitution and such like was automatically rejected. Such was the deep rooted reverence for the Ka'ba that the Koraysh feared their actions might be deemed sacrilegious. Although their intentions were honorable, they remembered what had happened to Abraha when he tried to raze it to the ground some thirty-five years before. This fear was greatly increased when a large serpent was seen slithering out of Ka'ba each day and then sunning itself against its walls. When anyone attempted to approach it, it would raise itself up in readiness to strike and hiss violently at the intruder. Then, one day whilst the serpent was sunning itself, Allah sent an eagle that swooped down, seized it and flew off with it in its talons. The Koraysh were deeply relieved by this sign and their hearts were satisfied that their intention to rebuild Ka'ba had been approved. The Koraysh were about to start upon its reconstruction when news came that a ship had been wrecked off the coast near Jeddah, whereupon one of their tribesmen named Walid, Mughira's son, hastened to Jeddah to purchase its salvageable timber. One of the ship's survivors was a Roman mason named Bakum, so Walid procured his services and together they journeyed back to Mecca with the timber for Ka'ba. The first person to start removing the stones was Abu Wahb, brother of Fatima, but, as soon as he picked up the stone, it leapt out of his hands and returned to its original position. The greatly perturbed the onlookers were afraid to continue with the work, however, Walid supplicated to Allah saying, "O Allah, we intend nothing but good," and then started to demolish part of the wall near the Black Stone. This time nothing happened, but the tribesmen were reluctant to continue and agreed that they should wait overnight to see if anything happened to Walid. The consensus was that if nothing happened to him then they would continue with the proposed work knowing that Allah was pleased with their actions, but, on the other hand if something happened to him before sunrise they would know their actions were not acceptable in which case they would just reinforce its walls. Sunrise came and nothing had happened to Walid so work resumed. When it came to the removal of the Black Stone, a Syriac inscription -- the language of Prophet Abraham -- was unearthed. No one knew what it said so it was put to one side and shown later on to a knowledgeable Jew. To the wonder of all the deciphered inscription read: 'I am Allah, the Lord of Becca, I created her the day I created the heavens and the earth, the day I formed the sun and the moon, and I placed round about her seven inviolable angels. She shall stand so long as her two hills stand, blessed for her people with milk and water.' After a lot of effort they reached the foundations Prophet Abraham laid so many centuries before and came across large, round, greenish colored stones. A tribesman, using a lever, tried to lift one of the stones, but as he did the stone quaked and its shudders were felt throughout Mecca so the stones were left alone. Everyone took it as a sign that these stones should remain undisturbed. Near the door of Ka'ba lay and still lies, a small rock. Miraculously imprinted in the rock is the footprint of Prophet Abraham. During the reconstruction of Ka'ba another inscription was found beneath the rock that read: 'Ka'ba, the Holy House of Allah. Her sustenance comes to her from three directions. Do not let her people be the first to profane her.' Amongst those who took part in the rebuilding was Muhammad. In those days it was the custom of builders to raise the lower portion of their garments above their head when building. Shyly, Muhammad was about to do the same when he was prevented. He fell to the ground and heard an angel call reminding him, "Your privates". This was the first occasion an angel had spoken to him. Upon picking himself up his uncle advised him to raise his garment above his head but Muhammad declined telling him that the reason he had fallen was to prevent his privates from being seen. As the rebuilding progressed new stones were added to the original stones to make the Ka'ba higher; before its rebuilding its height had been approximately that of a man. Work on the reconstruction continued to go well until it was time for the repositioning of the Black Stone. Each tribal chieftain was anxious to receive the honor its placing and so inevitably a heated dispute arose between them. The dispute continued for four days and nights without a decision being reached and tempers neared breaking point. It was obvious that none of the chieftains would relinquish their right to place the stone. After much deliberation it was accepted by all that they would let the first person to enter the precincts of Ka'ba place the stone. The first person to enter was Muhammad, everyone was delighted, his character was impeccable and no one raised the slightest objection so they went and informed him of his most honorable role. Muhammad was guided by blessed wisdom that was to satisfy everyone. He asked for a piece of cloth to be spread out on the ground, then, placed the Black Stone in the middle and asked the chief of each tribe to take hold of the cloth, raise and carry it to the corner of the eastern wall of Ka'ba. Each took hold of the cloth and carried it, then, when they reached the corner, Muhammad picked it up and positioned it, just as his blessed ancestor, Prophet Abraham, had done so many centuries before. The honor of each tribe was secured and everyone was happy with the solution. It was around that time that Muhammad started to receive visions, all of which were to materialized shortly after.

ALI, SON OF ABU TALIB

There was one year in particular when many areas, including Mecca, were stricken by drought followed by inevitable famine. Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle, had a large family, but by now some of his children had married and left home. However, the drought had made it all but impossible for him to provide adequately for those still remaining at home. Muhammad realized the hardship his uncle and family faced so he went to Abbas and suggested that they should each take one of Abu Talib's sons into their own household until matters improved. Without hesitation, Abbas and his wife, Umm Al Fadl, agreed so they went to Abu Talib to ask his permission. Their proposal was gratefully accepted and it was agreed that Abbas should take Jaffar and that Muhammad should take Ali into their homes. Ali was around the same age as Muhammad’s daughters, and so they played happily together under the supervision of Zayd.

THE GIFT OF KHADIJAH

The land of the Bani Sa’ad, the vicinity in which Muhammad had been raised, suffered greatly on account of the drought. Whenever Halima visited Mecca she would make a point of visiting with Muhammad and his family. Khadijah always welcomed her and her visits caused great joy among the family, but this time it was obvious something was troubling Halima. The drought had caused her to loose almost all her livestock and when Khadijah learned of her plight she, without a moment’s hesitation, gave her forty of her own sheep as well as a healthy, strong camel to ease her situation.

THE MARRIAGE OF THREE DAUGHTERS

Muhammad’s uncle Abu Lahab was a prominent figure amongst the Koraysh, however, even at this early stage he was not as close to Muhammad as the rest of his uncles. However, Abu Lahab recognized the high regard people had for his nephew and proposed the marriage of his two sons Utba and Utayba to Muhammad’s daughters Rukiyah and Umm Kulthum. The proposals were accepted, however, the marriages remained unconsummated. Lady Khadijah thought the match between their daughter Zaynab and her nephew Al As, Rabi's son would be a happy union and so she discussed the matter with her husband. Muhammad was agreeable for he never opposed Khadijah's wishes and so the young couple were married.

THE PROPHETHOOD

Just outside Mecca lies a mountain called Mount Hira and it was there that Muhammad would often retreat to one of its cave to contemplate and worship Allah alone through the means of mediation. The formal way in which his ancestors, Prophets Abraham and Ishmael, had worshipped were long forgotten and he knew no other way of worship. During the month of Ramadan, it had become his custom to make a special retreat to the cave taking with him some water and dates for his provision. When Khadijah thought his provisions might be getting low she would either go there herself or send her maid to bring him fresh supplies. The affairs Muhammad observed in Mecca troubled him deeply, but most of all he abhorred the increased worship of the idols placed in and around Ka'ba, for he had never been an idolater, he directed his worship to the One and only God, Allah, who created and creates all things. Muhammad was now forty years old and the month of Ramadan had come around again, so he made his way once more up to the cave. And it was there during his retreat, on the 27th day of Ramadan, that Allah sent the Arch Angel Gabriel to him. Prophet Muhammad (sa) was deeply disturbed when Gabriel appeared, and tried to look away, but no matter which direction he turned his face, the angel filled the horizon. Then, the angel spoke commanding him to read. Prophet Muhammad (sa) had never learned to read and respectfully replied, "I cannot read" whereupon Gabriel took him and pressed him firmly to him and commanded him again to read. Once again the Prophet (sa) respectfully replied saying, "I cannot read." Gabriel took the Prophet (sa) yet again and pressed him firmly to him but this time when he released him he commanded him saying, "Read in the Name of your Lord who created, created the human from a (blood) clot. Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the pen, taught the human what he did not know." Koran Chapter 96 verses 1-5 and so the Prophet (sa) recited the words exactly as the angel had taught him. The verses he had been given were indelibly written deep into his very being and Gabriel departed. The event was of tremendous proportion and constantly consumed his thoughts but at the same time he was a little concerned that perhaps he had been visited by a bad spirit or an evil jinn. In haste, the Prophet (sa), left the cave and as he made his way down the mountainside towards his home when he met Khadijah climbing up the mountain with fresh provisions. As soon as he saw her he exclaimed with respect in plurality, "Zammiluni, Zammiluni “ meaning “You all, cover me, cover me!” Khadijah had never seen him like this before and he told her of his experience in the cave then of his thoughts. Khadijah tried her best to comfort and reassure him telling him that she was certain his concern was unfounded and that the event was nothing other than good tidings from Allah. She reassured him saying that Allah would never disappoint him because he was not only good to his family, but to those in need, and reminded him that he always spoke the truth and whenever asked he would comfort and help people solve their problems and then again, he was always hospitable. Lady Khadijah had an elderly cousin by the name of Warakah, Nawfal's son who was knowledgeable of the Scriptures. He had studied both the Torah and the Gospel and became a Nazarene many years before, but now his sight had failed and blindness overtook him, so she suggest that they should go to him and tell him exactly what had happened and ask his authoritative opinion. Warakah, like a handful of other people knowledgeable of the Scriptures, felt sure from their learning that the time was imminent for the coming of the last Prophet of Allah. He remembered the prophecy of Jesus, peace be upon him, to his disciples, "But now I go my way to Allah who sent me, and none of you asketh me, 'Whither goest thou?' But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter (Prophet Muhammad) will not come unto you; but if I depart, he will be sent unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of its lack of righteousness, and judgment. Nevertheless when he, the Spirit of Truth (Gabriel) is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he (Prophet Muhammad) shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come." Bible, New Testament John 58:80-82 and so Warakah listened intently to the events the Holy Prophet (sa) described. Warakah had no doubt whatsoever in his mind that Muhammad had been chosen to be the last Prophet of Allah (sa) and informed him that the angel that appeared to him was the same as he who had visited Prophet Moses and that it was none other than the Arch Angel Gabriel. Warakah told the Prophet (sa) how much he wished he could have been a youth when the order came from Allah for him to preach His Message, and warned that he would have to migrate from Mecca. The Prophet (sa) was surprised by Warakah's comment and asked, "Will I have to migrate?" Warakah confirmed what he had said saying, "Yes, there has never been a man who brought what you are going to come with that has not been the target of his enemies, but, if I am alive when your time comes, I will be your strong supporter."

THE REVELATION, RANK OF THE PROPHETS, MESSENGERS AND THE ARCH ANGEL JIBREEL

The night before Prophet Muhammad, (sa) received the first revelation in the cave, Allah sent the Holy Koran from the protected tablet "Al Lawh Al Muhfz" to be lodged in the lower heavens in the House of Honor and there it remained until Allah commanded its verses and chapters to be sent down at their predetermined time. The Revelation of the Holy Koran took place over a period of twenty-three years, sometimes with long intervals between their sending. Allah refers to this great event in Chapter 97 of the Koran: "We sent this (the Holy Koran) down on the Night of Honor. What could let you know what the Night of Honor is! The Night of Honor is better than a thousand months, in that the angels and the Spirit (Gabriel) descend by the permission of their Lord upon every command. Peace it is, till the break of dawn." Allah refers to it again in the Koran, Chapter 2 verse 185 "The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Koran was sent down, a guidance for people, and clear verses of guidance and the criterion ..." Until the advent of Prophet Muhammad, (sa) each prophet had been sent for their own specific nation -- they were not sent to save the whole of humanity. In one of his sermons Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, spoke of his own particular mission in the New Testament, "He answered, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." (Matthew 24 40:15), in other words, the sincere Jews who were trying to follow the true teachings of Moses but found it difficult to do so on account of the corrupt teachings of erring rabbis who better served and feared their secular masters rather than their Creator. The mission of Prophet Muhammad, (sa) was not to be restricted to the Arab nation but for all nations of the world. He was sent with a Book, -- Al Quran -- that Allah, in His Mercy has promised to protect from any form of corruption. "It is We who sent down the Quran, and We watch over it." Quran Chapter 15 verse 9 Before the prophets were sent to their respective nations, each took a covenant with Allah: "'And when Allah took the covenant of the Prophets: ‘That I have given you of the Book and Wisdom. Then there shall come to you a Messenger (Muhammad) confirming what is with you, you shall believe in him, and you shall support him, to be victorious, do you agree and take My load this?' They answered: 'We do agree.' Allah said: 'Then bear witness, and I will be with you among the witnesses.'" Quran Chapter 3 verse 81 The rank of the Arch Angel Gabriel is that of the highest of all angels. It is he who received the honor of delivering the Scriptures to all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, from the time of Adam up until the Seal of the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad and visited Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus, bringing her the news of her miraculous conception, peace be upon all the prophets and their righteous families. Amongst authentic Islamic records are that Gabriel visited Prophet Adam twelve times, Prophet Idris four times, Prophet Noah fifty times, Prophet Job three times, Prophet Moses four hundred times, Prophet Jesus ten times - thrice when he was young and seven times after he reached the age of maturity - and that he visited Prophet Muhammad on twenty-four thousand occasions during which time he delivered the Divine Revelation, the Koran that contains 6236 verses as well as 12,000 prophetic quotations. We also know that he visited Prophet Ishmael at least once when Gabriel struck his feet on the ground and Zamzam started to flow, and at least once to Prophet Joseph when he was thrown into the well by his brothers. Peace be upon all the prophets.

THE MIRACULOUS QURAN

When Allah intended His special miracles to be demonstrated by His Prophets, He created something similar, yet clearly superior to the highly acclaimed skills of that day. To all but the proud, the miracles He sent were clearly recognizable and accepted as such by practitioner and layman alike. For example, during the time of Moses and Pharaoh, sorcery and magic had reached its highest peak. To prove to Pharaoh and his nation that Prophet Moses had been sent with the truth, Allah caused the Staff of Moses, as well as other miracles, to turn into a serpent and devour the magical snakes of the sorcerers. When the sorcerers saw the miracle they surrendered immediately to the truth, knowing well that the miracle was a reality whereas their skills were nothing other than trickery. Another example is that of the miracles given to Jesus. Prophet Jesus was sent at a time when the art of healing had reached an extremely high level. Among the healing miracles Allah permitted him was that he might raise the dead, and heal the sick from incurable diseases. Physician and layman alike witnessed these miracles and knew that they were not the skills of a skillful physician, rather, they were divine, holy miracles given to him by his Creator. Earlier, we spoke of the pride Arabs took in their language and of the prestigious rank of a poet within their tribe. At no time in the history of Arabia had the science of language been greater or more eloquent. Annual poetry competitions were held in Mecca and elsewhere in Arabia to which people flocked just to listen to the beauty of the language and perhaps partake. Although Prophet Muhammad, (sa) was given many great miracles the greatest miracle given to him, was the Holy Koran for its composition, grammar, eloquence and fineries surpasses the work of any author or poet. Allah issues a challenge in the Koran to anyone to compose a chapter or even just a verse of the same quality and beauty to those in His Koran and at the same time warns that no one will ever be able to do so. In His Mercy, Allah has promised to keep the Koran free from alteration or corruption. The miracle of the Koran was and still is apparent to all whose ego does not resist. "If you are in doubt of what We have sent down to Our worshipper (Prophet Muhammad), produce a chapter comparable to it. Call upon your helpers, other than Allah, to assist you, if you are true. But if you fail, as you are sure to fail, then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is people and stones prepared for the unbelievers." Koran Chapter 2 verses 23:24 Prophet Muhammad, (sa) was also given miracles both similar and superior to those of Prophets Jesus and Moses, peace be upon them.

THE EARLY REVELATIONS

Not long after the Prophet (sa) received the first verses of the Revelation he received another. This time it was a single letter with a mystical meaning. Later on during the Revelations the Prophet received other mystical letters. The next time Prophet Muhammad, (sa) received verses they included a Divine Oath of reassurance, these verses were also preceded by one of the mystical letters, the letter "nuun". "Nuun. By the Pen and that (the angels) write, you are not, because of the favor of your Lord, mad. Indeed, there is an unfailing wage for you. Surely, you (Prophet Muhammad) are of a great morality ..." Koran Chapter 68 verses 1 - 4 There was to be a long interval between these last verses and the sending down of the next, whereupon, the Prophet (sa) was concerned thinking that perhaps he had done something to displease Allah. Lady Khadijah tried her best to console and reassure him, but now that Warakah had passed away there was no one else except her to turn to. Then, the much awaited Revelations resumed once more and again it contained a Divine Oath that laid to rest his concern and comforted both his heart and soul. It was in this Revelation he received the order to preach, telling of the favors of his Lord. "By the mid-morning, and by the night when it covers, your Lord has not forsaken you (Prophet Muhammad), nor does He hate you. The Last shall be better for you than the First. Your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied. Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? Did He not find you a wanderer so He guided you? Did He not find you poor and suffice you? Do not oppress the orphan, nor drive away the one who asks. But tell of the favors of your Lord!" Koran, Chapter 93

THE FIRST TO BELIEVE

Now that Prophet Muhammad, (sa) had received the instruction to tell of the favors of his Lord, he spoke to Lady Khadijah in depth about Allah. Lady Khadijah recognized the truth and became the first to embrace Islam. In those early days of Islam, the Prophet (sa) confined his preaching to his immediate family. At the time Lady Khadijah embraced Islam, Prophet Muhammad, (sa) had not received instructions as to the manner in which he should offer his prayers. Then, one day on the outskirts of Mecca, Angel Gabriel came to him and struck the ground with his heels. From the indentation, a spring of water began to flow and the Angel showed the Prophet (sa) the ritual cleansing procedure he should make before offering his prayer. Now that the Prophet (sa) had learned how to perform the ritual ablution, Angel Gabriel taught him how to offer his prayers with its postures of standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting which was the same way in which his great ancestors, Prophets Abraham and Ishmael has offered their prayers so many centuries before. He informed him that he should commence the prayer with the words "Allahu Akbar" -- Allah is the Greatest, and to conclude the prayer by turning the head first to the right then saying "As-Salaamu alaykum" -- peace be upon you -- and then to repeat the same to the left. Thereafter, Gabriel departed and the Prophet (sa) returned home to teach Lady Khadijah and together they offered their prayer in unison.

ALI EMBRACES ISLAM

One day, Ali, Abu Talib's son, who had lived with them since the time of the famine, entered the room and found the Prophet and Lady Khadijah praying together. As soon as they concluded their prayer Ali asked what they were doing whereupon he was told that they were praising and giving thanks to Allah, then, the Prophet (sa) spoke to him about Islam. Ali was struck by the things he learned. He thought deeply about them and was unable to sleep that night. The following morning Ali went to the Prophet (sa) to tell him that he believed and wanted to follow him. And so Ali, at the tender age of ten, became the first male to embrace Islam. Abu Bakr, who had been a friend of the Prophet (sa) for many years was next. He was a very amiable, tender-hearted man from the tribe of Taym, respected not only by his own tribe but by others. He had gained a reputation for offering sound advice and interpreting visions, therefore it was not uncommon for tribesmen to consult and confide in him. Whenever circumstances presented themselves Abu Bakr would speak to those whom he trusted about the Prophet (sa) and his message. Amongst those who were receptive were Abdu Amr and Abu Ubayda both of whom embraced Islam and changed their names to Abd Ar Rahman -- worshiper of the Merciful.

THE VISION OF KHALID, SON OF SA'ID

One day, Abu Bakr received an unexpected visit from Khalid, Sa'ids son. It was obvious from Khalid's face that something was worrying him. Khalid took Abu Bakr to one side and told him that as he slept he had seen a very disturbing vision and knew it should not be dismissed. Khalid told Abu Bakr that in his vision he had seen his father trying to push him into a very deep, raging pit of fire and of a violent struggle he had with him. He was about to fall when suddenly, he felt a strong pair of hands grip him tightly around his waist and that he was sure that if it had not been for those hands he would have undoubtedly been pushed into the fire. Khalid told Abu Bakr that when he looked round to see who had saved him, he saw the hands were none other than those of Prophet Muhammad (sa), and then vision vanished. Abu Bakr's face lit up as he told Khalid that Muhammad had become the Prophet of Allah, (sa) and that if he followed him he would indeed be protected from the burning fires of Hell. Khalid was awe struck and made straight for the house of the Prophet (sa) to ask him about the message he had been given. After listening intently he embraced Islam. However, the Prophet (sa) told him that for the time being he should keep the matter a secret from the rest of his family. Abdullah, Masood's son was a shepherd who tended a flock of sheep belonging to Ukba, Abd Muayt's son. One day when the Prophet (sa) and Abu Bakr were passing they stopped and asked him for a cup of milk. Abdullah told them that unfortunately the sheep did not belong to him and that he did not have any of his own to be able to offer them a cup of milk. The Prophet (sa) asked Abdullah if there happened to be a lamb that had not yet been mated in the flock. Abdullah told him that there was and went to fetch it. The lamb was set down in front of the Prophet (sa) whereupon he massaged its udder as he supplicated to Allah. Miraculously, the udder filled with milk and they all drank. After thanking Allah they continued on their way. A few days later Abdullah went to the Prophet (sa) and embraced Islam. Later on, Allah in His Mercy, blessed Abdullah in such a way that he was able to recite by heart no less than seventy chapters of Koran with its precise diction.

OTHMAN AND TALHA

Othman, Ahllan's son, was a trader and was upon his return journey from Syria, when one night as he and his fellow caravaners slept he heard a voice saying, "O you who sleep, wake up, indeed Ahmad has come forth!" The voice with its message penetrated deep inside him and consumed his thoughts for many days. He did not know what to make of the message, and who was “Ahmad” -- which means the “praised one” and is one of Prophet’s names mentioned in the previous Holy Books. As he drew near to Mecca, Talha, a cousin of Abu Bakr, caught up with the caravan and rode along with Othman. Talha had an experience similar to that of Othman. He had been on a journey that had taken him through Bostra, when, much to his surprise a monk approached him asked if "Ahmad" from the people of the Holy House had come forth. Talha was taken aback and asked the monk who "Ahmad" might be, the monk answered that his grandfather was Abd Al Muttalib and that his father was Abdullah, then he told him that it would be during that month he would appear. Talha did not know what to make of the monk's inquiry and like Othman the matter had consumed his thoughts. Talha and Othman shared their experiences with one another; both were completely bewildered and agreed that the only way to understand the meaning of these events would be to go straight to Abu Bakr upon reaching Mecca and ask him. As soon as they reached Mecca they went to Abu Bakr to tell of their experiences and he in turn took them to see the Prophet (sa) and asked them to relate their accounts. The Prophet (sa), listened then told them about Allah and that he had been called to the prophethood. Without hesitation both Othman and Talha embraced Islam.

ABU DHARR

Abu Dharr belonged to the tribe of Bani Ghifar, and had defended his rights in many hold-ups. He was also amongst the first to convert to Islam. Abu Dharr had heard that a man from Mecca laid claim to being a prophet, so he asked his brother to go to Mecca and bring back news of him, so dutifully, his brother left for Mecca. Upon his return Abu Dharr asked him what he had heard, whereupon his brother told him that he had heard him advocating goodness and forbidding evil. Abu Dharr was not satisfied with this meager amount of information so he gathered his water-skin and stick and set off. When he reached Mecca he did not like to ask anyone straight away about him so he settled himself in the precincts of the Mosque and waited. As he waited, Ali happened to pass by and realizing he was a stranger offered him a place to stay. Abu Dharr accepted and followed Ali back to his house, but did not disclose the reason for his visit. The following morning Abu Dharr went to Ka'ba again to wait, but this time he asked about the Prophet (sa) but no one was forthcoming. Ali happened to see him there again so he went across to him and asked why he had come to Mecca. Abu Dharr told him, in confidence, that he had heard that a Prophet had appeared in Mecca and that he had sent his brother a while before to find out more about him. However, he told Ali, his brother had returned with an answer which did not altogether satisfy him, so he had decided to journey to Mecca himself to hear more. Ali told him he had found what he had come for and to follow him at an undetectable distance to avoid any possible harassment. He also told him that if he saw someone whom he thought might bother him, he would pretend to adjust his shoe and this would be warning for him to go away. However, there was no need for concern, and Abu Dharr followed him and was at last was brought to the Prophet (sa). That same day, Abu Dharr embraced Islam and the Prophet (sa) advised him to return to his village but keep his conversion secret until he learned of their victory. But Abu Dharr was so enthused that he declared, "By Him, who has sent you with the truth, I will announce my conversion to Islam publicly!" Then, he went directly to the Ka'ba where he proclaimed for all to hear. "I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger." The Koraysh tribesmen were infuriated and almost beat Abu Dharr to death and if it had not been for Abbas who threw himself between him and his assailants he would have been severely injured. Abbas rebuked the angry crowd saying, "Woe to you, do you want to kill a man from the tribe of Ghifar, when your caravans pass through their territory!!" Abu Dharr was not to be put off, and the next day he went to Ka'ba and declared his witnessing again. The same thing happened over again and Abbas intervened once more then he returned home to his tribe. Later on when the ever-increasing number of Muslims met with extreme hostility and persecution from the Koraysh Abu Dharr took to the roads once more. There he would lie in wait, ambush the Koraysh caravans and retrieve the stolen belongings and restore them to their rightful Muslim owners.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EARLY MUSLIMS

Those who embraced Islam in its early years were seekers of the truth and by nature, upright and truthful. Living in Mecca at that time were a group of people called "Ahnaf". To them idol worship was repugnant. They tried their best to follow the way of their great ancestor, Prophet Abraham, but apart from their belief that God is One, there was little else left of the religion of Abraham to guide them and it was in this group of people that Sa'id, Zayd's son belonged. Othman, Maz'un's son had abstained from alcohol long before the advent of Islam. After embracing Islam he wished to live the life of a recluse, however, Prophet Muhammad, (sa) persuaded him otherwise. Another characteristic of the early Muslims was that none of them were from the Koraysh hierarchy which prompted the scorn of the unbelievers. Allah quotes their mockery in the Koran when they said to the believers: "Are those whom Allah favors amongst us?"Quran Chapter 6 verse 53 Upon reflection, one remembers that the followers of previous prophets were, for the most part, those considered by some to be on the lower and unimportant edge of society. The Holy Quran reminds how the council said to Prophet Noah: " We see your followers are none but the lowliest amongst us, and their opinion is not to be considered. We do not see you superior to us, rather, we consider you liars." Koran Chapter 11 verse 27 The early followers of Prophet Jesus were also of the same upright nature and similar in status and his leading disciple James, was known as “James the Just”.

THE HIERARCHY OF THE KORAYSH

To gain a better understanding of the leaders and their position within the tribe of Koraysh during these early years of Islam we should know the roles of these prominent people, because each one was destined to play an important role in one way or another in the years that followed: The custodianship of the Ka'ba and keeper of its keys was Othman, Talha's son, whilst the family entrusted to look after the welfare of the pilgrims was Nuwfal, under the direction of Harith, Amir's son, whereas it was the responsibility of Abbas to provide them with water. The advisor to the Koraysh was Yazid, Rabi'a Al Aswad's son from the tribe of Asad. However, when the need came for an arbitrator, Abu Bakr was called upon. The chief of the tribe of Ummaya was Abu Sufyan, who was also its standard bearer. During times of war, Walid, Mughira's son from the tribe of Makhzum was responsible for organizing camp affairs. He also commanded the cavalry, however, when Harb, Ummaya's son died, Abu Sufyan, was thought not be sufficiently proficient to assume the command, so the position was given to Waleed who was also the uncle of the Abu Lahab, also known as Abu Jahl. Omar from the Koraysh tribe of Adi was the liaison officer. He would also decided upon important issues such as lineage. Superstition was rampant, and the chief interpreter of omens was Safwan, another son of Ummaya. The office of treasurer was administered by Harith, Kais' son from the tribe of Sahm. The chieftain of the tribe of Hashim was Abu Talib, later to be succeeded by the infamous Abu Lahab. It is important to remember that the tribes of Hashim and Ummaya were equally prominent, for many years they had been jealous of one another and acute rivalry existed between them.

THE COMMAND TO PREACH

Three years after the Prophet (sa) received the first Revelation, Allah commanded him to extend his preaching publicly saying: "Proclaim then, what you are commanded and turn away from the unbelievers. We suffice you against those who mock, and those who set up other gods with Allah, indeed, they will soon know. Indeed, We know your chest is straitened by that they say." Quran Chapter 15 verse 94-97 The number of converts had risen steadily, many of whom were relatives of the Prophet (sa). However, there were many more in his large family, including four uncles who were not among them. When the Prophet (sa) received another revelation telling him: "Warn your tribe and your near kinsmen, and lower your wing to the believers who follow you." Quran Chapter 26 verse 214-215 he thought of ways in which he could best fulfill this command. He knew that he could expect resistance from some members of his family and tribe so he concluded the best way to present Islam to them would be to invite them all to a meal and then tell them. Approximately forty invitations were delivered and the Prophet (sa) asked Ali to prepare a shoulder of lamb and a cup of milk to feed them.

THE MIRACULOUS MEAL

The uncles of the Prophet, Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas and Abu Lahab arrived with the other guests and the Prophet (sa) asked Ali to bring the shoulder of lamb and the cup of milk he had prepared. Ali thought that the meat and milk were scarcely enough to satisfy just one man let alone forty, but the Prophet (sa) took the meat, broke it in half, put it back into the dish and invited his guests to eat saying, "Take it in the Name of Allah." Everyone ate from the shoulder and drank from the milk until their stomachs were full, not one among them remained either hungry or thirsty. This was to be amongst the first miracles of the Prophet (sa) however, before he had chance to address his guests, Abu Lahab arose exclaiming, "Your host has bewitched you!" Whereupon his guests got up and left. The next day, the Prophet (sa) asked Ali to invite them all together for another meal that very day and to prepare another shoulder of lamb and cup of milk just as he had done the day before. The invitations were accepted and once again they gathered together for another meal. After they had all sat down the Prophet (sa) supplicated then divided the meat just as he had done the last time, and they ate and drank as before. No sooner had they finished eating, the Prophet (sa) wasted no time to address them saying, "O sons of Abd Al Muttalib, I know of no Arab who has come to his people with a nobler message. I have brought you the best of this world and the next. Allah has ordered me to invite you to Him. So who will help me in this matter, my brother, my executor and successor being among you?" Silence fell heavily over the gathering and no one stirred, then, young Ali got up and went to the Prophet's side and said, "Prophet of Allah, I will be your helper in this matter." Whereupon the Prophet (sa) put his hand on the back of Ali's neck and said, "This is my brother, my executor and my successor among you. Listen to him and obey him." There was an outburst of laughter from his guests who now turned to Abu Talib and said mockingly, "He has ordered you to listen to your son and obey him!" Although Abu Talib, Hamza and Abbas had not accepted the invitation to Islam, their love and loyalty to the Prophet (sa) remained unquestioned, so it was not surprising that Abu Talib did not object to the conversion of his children, Ali, Jaffar and Saffiayah. Saffiayah had five other sisters, but they were not as yet prepared to make a commitment, however, Abbas' wife, Umm Al Fadl was and embraced Islam.

THE INVITATION TO THE KORAYSH

One day, the Prophet climbed to the top of Safwa -- the hill Lady Hagar had once climbed centuries before in search of water -- and called the Koraysh to come and listen to the message he brought, and amongst those that came to listen was none other than his uncle Abu Lahab. Silence fell upon the crowd as the Prophet (sa) asked, "If I were to tell you that behind this hill there was a great army, would you believe me?" Without any hesitation they replied, "Yes, you have never been known to lie!" The Prophet continued, "Then I urge you to surrender to Allah because if you do not a harsh punishment will befall you." The crowd that had just testified to the truthfulness of the Prophet lost their senses, became deeply offended and left.

EARLY PHYSICAL HOSTILITY TOWARDS MUSLIMS

In order to avoid the taunts of the unbelievers, the companions would often offer their prayers in the peaceful valleys that lay just outside Mecca. It was upon one such occasion when Sa’ad, Abu Wakkas' son, in the company of several other friends, were in the midst of saying their prayers that some passersby from Mecca came across them. The passersby could not resist the temptation to make fun, so they started to jeer and insult them. The provocation worsened to the extent that it became difficult for the companions to continue with their prayer. Understandably, the believers were very upset by this unwarranted intrusion, so they asked why they weren't content to leave them alone to offer their prayer in peace. The Meccans had hoped that their provocation would prove fruitful and soon the situation got out of hand whereupon there was an exchange of blows. During the disturbance, Sa’ad happened to glance upon the ground and saw the jawbone of a camel laying there, he seized it, struck and wounded one of the Meccans; this was the first time blood had been shed by a Muslim. Later, when the Prophet (sa) learned of the encounter, he told his followers that it was better to be patient with the unbelievers until Allah commanded otherwise. Not long after, the companions were to be blessed by the offer of the use of Arkam's, house located near the hill of Safwa. At last they had a place large enough in which to gather and offer their prayers in peace and safety, far from the unwarranted hostile taunts of the Koraysh.

THE KORAYSH AND ABU TALIB

Prophet Muhammad, (sa) was not to be deterred by the ever growing resistance to the Message he brought, and continued his preaching, inviting all who would listen to Islam. However, he was deeply saddened, and concerned that many appeared to disbelieve him when he told them that what he brought was from Allah. Thereafter, Allah sent down the following verse that told the Prophet (sa) that it was not him they disbelieved, rather, it was the verses of Allah. “We know what they say saddens you. It is not you that they belie; but the harmdoers belie the verses of Allah.” Koran, Chapter 6 verse 33 Such was their anger that a state of open hostilities began to emerge. Road blocks were set up along the routes leading into Mecca to warn pilgrims and traders not to listen to a man named Muhammad who claimed to be the Prophet of Allah and preached against their idols. However, the Koraysh miscalculated and the warnings served to arouse the curiosity of many travelers and actually helped spread the news of his arrival. There wasn't a visitor to Mecca who had not heard of the Prophet and when they returned to their homes in distant parts of Arabia and beyond they took with them the news the Koraysh had attempted to suppress, his name was about to become a household word; a topic of conversation. The Koraysh were angered by the Prophet's preaching on several counts. They hated the fact that he preached against their idols because the idols housed in and around Ka'ba attracted pilgrims by the thousands each year. Lucrative trades such as idol carving, fortune telling and their like played an important role in the economy of Mecca, and they didn't want the situation to change. However, the Sacred House together with its City had been created for the worship of the Creator, even before the creation of Adam and humanity. First the angels had built it, then, it was rebuilt later on by the jinn and restored by Prophet Abraham. There were also those steeped in the folklore of their idolatrous traditions, who, on account of pride, refused to acknowledge its value as being tantamount to nothing. To this sector, the fact that their forefathers had seen fit to practice and uphold the folklore was sufficient reason for them to continue in the same way. As such they were not prepared to question the authenticity of their heritage, rather, they chose to blindly defend the tradition their forefathers invented. Allah speaks about them in the Holy Koran saying: "When it is said to them: 'Come to that which Allah has sent down, and to the Messenger,' they reply: 'Sufficient for us is what we found our fathers upon,' even though their fathers knew nothing and were not guided." Quran Chapter 5 verse 104

THE SUPPORT OF ABU TALIB

Although Abu Talib had not converted to Islam, he unconditionally offered his support and his love for his nephew remained unfaltering. Abu Talib would not entertain a word against him and was always his strong supporter whenever the need arose. One day, in desperation, a group of influential Koraysh approached Abu Talib to ask him to persuade his nephew to stop preaching against their idols, however, Abu Talib avoided giving a direct answer and did nothing. After a while the Koraysh realized their visit to Abu Talib had been unfruitful so they visited him yet again, but this time their visit was more forceful. This time they spoke harshly to him reminding him of his rank and honor saying, "Abu Talib! We have asked you to speak with your nephew yet you have not done so. We swear that we will neither allow our forefathers to be insulted, our ways rebuked, or our gods reviled. You must stop him or else we will fight both of you!" Having delivered their ultimatum they left in the same manner in which they had come. Abu Talib went straight away to the Prophet (sa) to report the alarming conversation and said, "O son of my brother, spare me and yourself, do not burden me with more than I can bear." Caringly, yet saddened by the request, the Prophet (sa) answered, "I swear by Allah, if they were able to give me the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left in exchange for my abandonment of this way before He has made it victorious, or I have died on account of it, I will never do so." Abu Talib could see the deep upset of the Prophet (sa) and how certain he was of his mission that he replied, "O son of my brother, go, say what you will, because, by Allah I will never abandon you on any account."

TUFAYL FROM THE TRIBE OF DAWS

Tufayl's tribe resided outside Mecca, he was a poet of high renown and as such had earned great respect from not only his own tribe but also that of others. It became necessary for Tufayl to journey to Mecca, so he set out on his journey to the City. As he neared Mecca he was stopped by a party of the Koraysh blocking the road. The Koraysh warned Tufayl about the Prophet, whom they now described as being, amongst other things, a sorcerer. The frightening things the Koraysh said disturbed him to the extent that upon reaching Mecca he plugged his ears tightly with cotton to protect and prevent him from hearing anything. When he reached Mecca, the familiar sounds of passersby and the market place were now silenced on account of the cotton placed firmly in his ears and he felt at ease. For many years it had been Tufayl's custom to visit the Ka'ba and circumambulate it before attending to business. As he entered the precincts of Ka'ba he noticed a lone figure standing near the Black Stone offering his prayer. It was never the practice of the Prophet (sa) to offer his prayer in a loud manner, and this prayer was no exception, yet Allah, allowed his quiet recitation to penetrate the cotton with which Tufayl had plugged his ears. Tufyal knew well the intricacies of the Arabic language and was captivated by the compelling beauty and rhythm of the verses. He had heard many poets recite most excellent poetry, but the composition and arrangement of these words with their message was quite the most beautiful and certainly unique. He had never heard anything that could be remotely compared to the verses he now heard. Suddenly, he remembered the warning, but Allah caused reason to prevail. Tufayl knew he was able to distinguish between right and wrong and realized that what he had just heard was anything but evil. After the Prophet (sa) finished offering his prayer, Tufayl followed him to his home and entered. He told the Prophet how the Koraysh warned against him and how he had plugged his ears tightly with cotton so that he would be unable to hear him, yet, he had heard his beautiful recitation. Tufayl asked the Prophet (sa) to tell him more about his message, whereupon the Prophet (sa) told him that the verses he recited were not his own composition, rather, they were from the Holy Koran sent to him from Allah via the Angel Gabriel. The Prophet (sa) to the great pleasure of Tufayl, proceeded to recite several more verses. As soon as the recitation had finished Tufayl could no longer restrain himself and converted to Islam, then returned home with the instruction to tell others in his tribe about Islam. Upon his return, Tufayl recited verses from the Koran and spoke about Islam to his family and tribesmen, but only his father and wife came into its fold. Tufayl was both very disappointed and angry that so few had accepted the invitation so he returned to the Prophet (sa) in Mecca to ask him to curse those who refused to follow. The Prophet (sa) spoke kindly to Tufayl, but rather than cursing his tribe he supplicated to Allah for their guidance and told him to return home, continue preaching and to be patient with their shortcomings. Tufayl obeyed the Prophet (sa) and in the years to come many families in his tribe accepted Islam under his patient guidance.