The Life of  Muhammad (PBUH)

By: Allama Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi

Translation by: Abdullah al-Shahin

p. 139-164

The Prophet’s missionary and intellectual life began from the Cave of Hara’.[1] He stayed their away from the noise of life pondering on the universe and the irrefutable signs in it that proved the existence of the Great Creator. He looked at the planets and his faith and certainty in the greatness of Allah the Almighty, the Creator of the universe and Giver of life, grew more and more.

What increased his pains were the deviation, ignorance, and foolishness of his people who worshipped idols away from Allah the Almighty. Those idols did not create, give, harm, or benefit. The Prophet (a.s.) said with himself: Where is reason? Where is the truth? Why do these people live in darkness that had no glitter of light?! Why do they worship idols and live astray? He pitied them and thought with himself: they must be guided and saved from this deviation…

He was distressed and sad for his people and Allah announced that in the Qur’an by saying, (It may be that you fret yourself with grief because they do not believe).[2]

The Cave of Hara’ was the source of light in this planet that we live on, and it was this mountain from which the lights of guidance glittered in Mecca and spread then to all peoples and nations of the earth.

Prophet Muhammad (a.s.) stayed in the Cave of Hara’ worshipping and glorifying Allah the Almighty. He was certain that he would be the reformer and savior of humanity who would spread monotheism in the earth and do away with idolatry, and that he was the coming prophet whom the Divine Books had brought good news about.

He was certain with no doubt that he would be the messenger of Allah for all human beings with their different races and languages. In the cave, he pondered deeply on reforming and guiding human beings and spreading knowledge and understanding among them all to get rid of their ignorance and bad habits.

The revelation

The beginning of the revelation was in that blessed cave of Hara’ when Muhammad (a.s.) was forty years old. It was on the first of February in the year 610 AD as fixed by Mahmud Basha al-Falaki (astronomer), falling on the seventeenth of Ramadan, thirteen years before the hijra.

Gabriel brought down the holy mission to Prophet Muhammad (a.s.) beginning with the Sura of Iqra’.[3] The Prophet (a.s.) declared that he could not read. Gabriel repeated the command for the second and the third time and then the Prophet (a.s.) said, “What shall I read?”

Gabriel revealed,

(Read in the name of your Lord Who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is Most Honorable, Who taught by the pen. Taught man what he knew not.)[4] Muhammad (a.s.) read it and it was engraved inside his heart, and then the Angel left.[5]

The Prophet (a.s.) came back to Mecca while his holy soul was filled with fright and fear of Allah the Almighty, but he submitted to undertake that great responsibility to save people from their ignorance and deviation. Gabriel was following after him along the way and congratulating him on this great and high position near Allah the Almighty.

With Khadijah

The Prophet (a.s.) hastened to his loyal wife Khadijah while he was trembling. He said to her, “Wrap me! Wrap me!”

Khadijah wrapped him and she was occupied by great fear. She said to him, “O Abul Qassim,[6] by Allah, tell me what has happened to you.”

He told her what had happened to him and she began calming down and encouraging him to undertake the mission of his Lord. She said to him, “By Allah, Allah will not disgrace you at all. You maintain kinship, help the weak, clothe the needy, and help others against the calamities of time. My cousin, be delighted and determined. By Him in Whose hand the soul of Khadijah is, I hope that you shall be the prophet of this nation.”[7]

She calmed him down, aroused in him determination and activity, and removed from him that fears.

Khadijah went to her cousin Waraqah bin Nawfal who was a faithful Christian and expert in the Bible. She told him about what had happened to Muhammad (a.s.). He pondered deeply, and then raised his head while being terrified and astonished saying, “Most Holy! Most Holy! By Him in Whose hand Waraqah’s soul is, O Khadijah, if you were truthful in what you told me, the Great Law that came to Moses has come to him and he is the prophet of this nation. Say to him to be firm.”

Khadijah was very delighted. She hurried back to her husband to bring him that good news of Waraqah. She found him asleep, but suddenly he trembled and broke into sweat. It was Gabriel that came down revealing to him,

(O you who are wrapped up, arise and warn, and your Lord do magnify, and your garments do purify, and uncleanness do shun, nor expect, in giving, any increase (for yourself), and for the sake of your Lord, be patient.)[8]

Allah ordered him to rise and invite people to monotheism on which all powers of good and peace would be based and to warn them against the severe torment of Allah that He would afflict the unjust and the unbelievers with.

Khadijah asked him to go back to his bed, but he replied, “O Khadijah, the time of sleep and rest has gone. Gabriel has ordered me to warn people and to invite them towards Allah and towards His worship. Whom shall I invite and who will respond to me?”

Khadijah and Ali’s faith

At once, Khadijah believed and embraced Islam, and then Imam Ali (a.s.) embraced Islam. They were the first ones who became Muslims.[9]

Imam Ali (a.s.) talked about his and Khadijah’s precedence in embracing Islam by saying, “…and no house, then, gathered in Islam except the messenger of Allah, Khadijah, and me the third of them.”[10]

When becoming a Muslim, Imam Ali (a.s.) was seven years old, and it was said nine years.[11]

The Prophet’s prayer in the Kaaba

On the second day of the revelation and prophethood, the Prophet (a.s.) went to the Kaaba and offered the prayer in it.[12] Khadijah and Imam Ali (a.s.) offered the prayer behind him, and this was the first prayer in Islam offered in the Holy Kaaba. This prayer was a matter of wonder and astonishment. Afif al-Kindi narrated, “Once in the pre-Islamic era, I came to Mecca intending to buy from its clothes and perfumes to my family. I went to al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib who was a merchant. While I was sitting with him looking at the Kaaba and the sun was high in the sky, a young man came, looked at the sky, and stood up towards the Kaaba. After no long, a young boy came and stood on his (the young man) right, and then a woman came and stood on his left. The young man bowed down, and the young boy and the woman bowed down like him. Then, the young man prostrated and the young boy and the woman did the same. I said astonishedly, ‘O Abbas, it is a wonder!’

Al-Abbas said, ‘Yes, it is a wonder. Do you know who this young man is?’

I said, ‘No.’

He said, ‘He is my nephew Muhammad bin Abdullah. Do you know who this young boy is? He is Ali bin Abi Talib. Do you know who this woman is? She is Khadijah his (Muhammad) wife.

My nephew (he pointed to Muhammad) told me that his god, the god of the heaven and the earth, has ordered him of this religion on which he is. By Allah, there is no one on the whole earth on this religion other than these three ones.’”[13]

Circumambulating the Kaaba

The Prophet (a.s.) circumambulated the Kaaba, and it was the first Islamic circumambulation around the Kaaba. Abdullah bin Mas’ud narrated, “The first thing I knew about the matter (religion) of the messenger of Allah (a.s.) was that once I came to the Kaaba with some of my relatives and we were guided to al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib. We came to him while he was sitting at the well of Zamzam. We sat with him. While we were still with him, a man came from the as-Safa Gate. He was white with some reddishness. He had thick, curled hair until the middle of his ears. He had small nose, shining white front teeth, black eyes, thick beard, thin neck, and big hands and feet. He had two white garments on as if he was the full moon of the fifteenth night. After him there was a beautiful, beardless, young boy; a teenager or adult, followed by a woman veiling all her body. He (the man) went toward the (Black) Rock and kissed it, and then the young boy kissed it and then did the woman. Then he circumambulated the House (the Kaaba) seven times, and the young boy and the woman circumambulated with him. We said, ‘O Abul Fadhl (al-Abbas), we did not know this religion among you. Has anything happened?’

Al-Abbas said, ‘This is my nephew Muhammad, the boy is Ali bin Abi Talib, and the woman is Khadijah.’

Ibn Mas’ud added, ‘By Allah, there is no one on the face of the earth that we know worshipping Allah by this religion except these three persons.’”[14] This was a virtue to Khadijah and Imam Ali (a.s.) that no one other than them had won.

Secret invitation

The Prophet (a.s.) covered his invitation to Islam with much secrecy and concealment. There was no place for the mission to be openly in that fanatic, ignorant society that worshipped idols. At the beginning of the mission, the Prophet (a.s.) would face severity and harms that he could not be able to stand against if he invited for his mission openly.

The Prophet (a.s.), then, just invited to monotheism. He began his mission with this golden word, “Say: ‘there is no god but Allah’ and you will be successful.”

The invitation to the faith in Allah required the Prophet (a.s.) to destroy the idols that the people of Quraysh believed in absolutely, worshipped, and offered sacrifices to them. From their deep faith in those idols, the people of Quraysh asked the Prophet (a.s.) to worship their idols for a year and they would worship Allah another year; therefore, this Sura was revealed to the Prophet (a.s.), (Say: O unbelievers! I do not worship that which you worship, nor do you worship Him Whom I worship, nor am I going to worship that which you worship, nor are you going to worship Him Whom I worship. You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.)[15]

Some other people asked the Prophet (a.s.) to describe Allah to them whether He was of gold, silver, or wood. Yes, it was this mean mentality that they had. However, the Prophet (a.s.) offered to them irrefutable proofs on the existence of Allah the Almighty, but they did not understand.

The weak, the disabled, and slaves believed in that new mission besides some persons of understanding and reason, but the mission remained secret covered with much concealment. It is worth mentioning that some famous companions believed in the mission in that period, such as Abu Tharr al-Ghifari, Salaman al-Farisi, Abu Bakr, az-Zubayr, Talha, and Umar bin al-Khattab.

The Prophet (a.s.) was certain with no any bit of doubt that Islam definitely would spread and prevail the earth. He said, “This matter (Islam) will reach what night reaches, and Allah will leave no house of adobe or hair except that this religion will enter it. A noble one is honored by it and a low one becomes low by it. Allah degrades disbelief by it.”[16]

[1] Hara’ is a mountain near Mecca.
[2] Qur’an, 26:3.
[3] Iqra’ means ‘read’ in imperative form.
[4] Qur’an, 96:1-5.
[5] As-Seera an-Nabawiyyah by ibn Hisham, vol. 1 p. 154.
[6] The Prophet’s surname.
[7] As-Seera an-Nabawiyyah by ibn Hisham, vol. 1 p. 254.
[8] Qur’an, 74:1-7.
[9] Sahih of at-Termithi, vol. 2 p. 301, at-Tabaqat al-Kubra by ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 p. 12, Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 4 p. 17, Kanzol Ummal, vol. 6 p. 400, Tareekh at-Tabari, vol. 2 p. 55, Tareekh Baghdad, vol. 2 p. 18, and others.
[10] Encyclopedia of Imam Ameerul Mo’minin Ali bin Abi Talib by Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi, vol. 1 p. 54.
[11] Sahih of at-Termithi, vol. 2 p. 301, Kanzol Ummal, vol. 6 p. 400, Tareekh at-Tabari, vol. 2 p. 55.
[12] Tahthib al-Kamal, vol. 20 p. 185. It is mentioned that “the Prophet became a prophet on Monday and offered the prayer in the Kaaba on Tuesday”.
[13] Khasa’is an-Nassa’iy, p. 3, Musnad of Ahmed bin Hanbal, vol. 1 p. 309, at-Tabaqat al-Kubra by ibn Sa’d, vol. 8 p. 10.
[14] Majma’ az-Zawa’id, vol. 9 p. 222, Kanzol Ummal, vol. 7 p. 56.
[15] Qur’an, 109:1-6 (the Sura of al-Kafirun).
[16] Rabee’ul Abrar, vol. 2 p. 192.

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