THE SPAN OF HIS LIFE,
PEACE BE UPON HIM
Muhammad lived to be sixty-three years of age, two years and four months of which he lived with his father.* * He lived with his grandfather ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib for eight years. After the death of ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib, his uncle Abü Talib cared for the Prophet, greatly honoring and protecting hi. Abü Talib stood by the Prophet and supported him all his life. Ibn I~l?ăq (the famous biographer of the Prophet) also reported
* Meaning he who possesses all goodness, or the one who gives generously (ed.)
* * It is the view of some Sunni historians that he lived with his father
for two years and four months, but the correct view is that his father died in Medina at the age of twenty-five, while his mother was still pregnant with him. (ed.)
BEACONS OF LIGHT
that the Prophet’s father died before his birth. It is also re-related that he died when the Prophet was seven months old.
Ibn Ishăq reported that Aminah, the Prophet’s mother, took him to his maternal uncles, the sons of ‘Adiyy of an-Najjar tribe, in Medina. On her way back to Mecca, she died in a spot c~l1ed al-Abwä’. The Messenger of Allah was then six years old. It is related on the authority of Buraydah (al-Aslami, one of the Prophet’s Companions) that one day the Prophet came to a grave. He sat at it, and all those who were with him also sat down around him. He then began to ti.~rn his head, as though he was talking to someone. Then he wept. He was asked, “What causes you to weep 0 Mess-enger of Allah?” He answered, “This is the grave of Aminah daughter of Wahb. I asked permission of my Lord to visit her grave, and He permitted me. I felt compassion for her and wept.” (Buraydah continued) “I never saw anyone weep so bitterly as he did at that time.” In yet another tradition, it is reported by Muslim in his as-Sahih that the Prophet said: “I asked permission to visit the grave of my mother, and it was granted me. Visit the graves, therefore, because they remind you of death.”1’
The Prophet married Khadijah daughter of Khuwaylid at the age of twenty-five. His uncle Abü Tălib died when he was forty-six years, eight months and twenty-four days old. Khadijah also passed away three days after Abii Tălib. Therefore, the Apostle of Allah called that year ‘the year of sorrow’. ‘Urwah ibn az-Zubayr (his father az-Zubayr being a cousin and close Companion of the Prophet) related from his father that the Apostle of Allah said, “The people of Qu-raysh continued to stay away from me until Abü Tălib died.”
The Prophet remained in Mecca after his call to prophet-hood for thirteen years. Then he left it and migrated to Medina, after hiding in the cave for three days. It is also reported that he hid for six days. He entered Medina on
Monday the 11th of Rabi’u ‘l-Awwal, I AH., where he lived for ten years. He died on Monday, two nights before the end of Safar 11/632. His relatives and Companions differed on where he was to be buried. Then the Commander of the Faithful (‘All) said: “Allah, be He exalted, received the soul of His Prophet in the purest of spots; let him, therefore, be buried there.” They accepted his advice and buried the Prophet in the room where he died.
* * * * *
CONCERNING HIS RESPLENDANT
SIGNS AND MIRACLES
These signs fall into two categories: those which oc-curred before his apostleship and those which occurred after. Among those which took place prior to his prophetic mission, and which are reported in great detail in the hadith, is that when his mother gave birth to him she saw a great light which illuminated the palaces of Syria. She also reported that she was told when she conceived the Messenger of Allah:
“You have conceived the master of this community! When he shall fall on the ground, say: ‘I seek refuge for him in the One God from the evil of every envious person’. The sign of this is that a great light shall come out with him, which will fill the palaces of Busră in Syria. When he is born call him Muhammad His name in the Torah is Ahmad (most praised), for all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth shall praise him. In the Gospel his name is Hami7d (greatly praised); all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth shall praise him. His name in the Furqan (the Qur’ăn) is Muhammad.” She said:
“Thus I called him Muhammad.”
Abü Umămah related that the Prophet was asked: “0
EVENTS - ON HIS BIRTH
Messenger of Allah, what is your status?” He answered: “I am the answer to the prayer of my father Abraham, and the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus [see Qur. 2:129 and 61:6]. My mother also dreamt that a light would proceed from her which would illuminate the palaces of Syria.”
The great scholar AbU Sa’id ‘Abdu ‘l-Malik al-Kharküshi’2 related that, on the night in which the Messenger of Allah was born, the palace (Iwăn) of Kisră (Khusraw) was so shaken that twenty-four of its terraces fell. The sacred fires of Persia, which had not been extinguished for a thousand years before, died. Lake Săwah disappeared into the ground. The Mu’badhăn (chief Zoroastrian priest) dreamt that strong camels were leading Arab horses. They crossed the River Tigris and spread about in its lands. When Khusraw awoke next morning, he was frightened and despondent. Never-theless he decided not to hide the matter from his ministers and notables. He gathered them and recounted what had hap-pened. As they were all essembled, a letter came announcing the extinguishing of the sacred fire. The priest also related his dream of the night before. The King asked him: “What is the meaning of all this?” He answered: “A great event shall take place in the land of the Arabs.” The King wrote to his vassal an-Nu’măn ibn al-Mundhir, King of the Arabs, saying:
“Send me herewith a man of great learning whom I can question [concerning some important matters] .“ an-Nu’män sent ‘Abdu ‘l-Masi7h ibn ‘Amr [ibn Ijayyăn] ibn Buqaylah al-Ghassani7. The King related what he had seen, and the man answered: “Knowledge of the meaning of this is with my maternal uncle who lives in eastern Syria. His name is Satih.” The King thus ordered him to go and come back with the interpretation of these portents.
When ‘Abdu ‘l-Masih arrived, he found Satil.i on his death-bed. He greeted him, but received no answer. ‘Abdu ‘l-Masih told him what he had seen, in verse. Satll.i then
BEACONS OF LIGHT
opened his eyes and exclaimed in rhymed prose - “ ‘Abdu ‘1-Masih comes wandering on a camel to Sa~i. Yet Sa~i~ is near the grave. The Săsănid King has sent you because of the shaking of his palace, the extinguishing of the fires and the dream of the priest. He saw strong camels leading Arab horses which crossed the River Tigris and spread all around in its lands. 0 ‘Abdu ‘l-Masih, when recitation [of the Qur’anl shall increase, and the man of the staff appears; when the Samawah Valley (near KUfah) shall be flooded; when Lake Săwah shall disappear and the sacred fire be extinguished; then Syria, shall no longer be Syria for Satili. Among them (Muslims), kings and queens shall rule, who are as numerous as the terraces (of Khusraw’s palace). For all that is to be shall indeed come to pass.” Satih then breathed his last. ‘Abdu ‘l-Maslh returned to Khusraw and related to him what SatTh had said. The King said: “But this shall be only after the reign of fourteen of our kings!” Events followed one another, and ten kings ruled in four years; the reign of the rest lasted only till the time of ‘Uthrnăn.
‘All ibn Ibrähim [al-Qummi] (a well-known Shi’i tradi-tionist) related from his father that there was in Mecca a Jew called Yüsuf. One night he saw stars moving and meteors falling. On that night the Prophet was born. YUsuf exclaimed:
“A prophet was born this night! For we find written in our books that when the last of the prophets shall be born, devils will be stoned (with meteors) and prevented from approach-ing heaven.” In the morning, he went to the assembly of Quraysh and asked: “Was there a child born among you last night?” They answered: “A child was born to ‘Abdullăh ibn ‘Abdi ‘l-Muttalib last night.” “Show him to me”, he said. Thus, they all went to the door of Aminah’s house and demanded that she bring her son out to them, and he was brought out in his swaddling clothes. YUsuf looked into his eyes and uncovered his back. He saw a black mole between his shoulders, covered with a few soft hairs. When the Jew saw him, he fell down unconscious. The people of Quraysh laughed at him. But he said: “Do you laugh, 0 people of ? Shall he not soon come to destroy you? Prophet-hood shall, moreover, now depart from the Children of Israel to the end of time.” Everyone went his way still discussing what the Jew had told them.
The Prophet Moses referred to Muhammad in the Torah. A man whom I trust told me that Muhammad’s appear-ance from the progeny of Ishmael and his character are depicted in the Torah in these words: “I have heard the prayers of Ishmael and have blessed him. I shall increase him and multiply his numbers through a descendant of his called Muhammad. The numerical value of the letters of his name is ninety-two. I shall bring forth from his progeny Twelve Imăms, who shall be rulers. I shall grant him great multitudes of followers.” 13
Another of his signs is what the Trusted One [perhaps the sixth Imăm] said that he read in the Gospel: “I am God the Everlasting who shall never cease to be. Believe in the un-lettered prophet, the man of the camel, woolen garment and of the crown (which is the turban) and the two sandals and the staff (which is the rod). He is a man of large eyes and broad forehead, bright complexioned with narrow nose and parted teeth. His neck is like a silver pitcher, and it is as though gold runs down the two sides of his neck. A thin and fine line of hair runs from his chest to his navel, but he has no hairs on his stomach and chest. He is of a dark color. He shall have large hands and feet. When he turns to look, he turns altogether. When he walks, it is as though he is pulled out of a rock, or comes out of a hard stone (i.e., he walks with confidence) When he walks with people, he overtakes them The sweat on his face is like pearls, and the fragrance of musk shall emanate from him. No one like him was ever seen before, or will ever be seen after him. His breath is fragrant. He shall marry many women, yet he shall have few children. His descendants shall come from a blessed woman (that is, his daughter Fătimah), who has a mansion prepared for her in Paradise. In him there shall be neither clamor nor vanity. He shall be her guardian in the last days as Zechariah was the guardian of your (Jesus’s) mother.’4 She shall have two young ones (that is Hasan and ljusayn) who shall be martyred. His speech shall be the Qur’an, and his religion shall be Islam; for I am (the Lord of) Peace. Blessed (tübd) is he who shall see his time, witness his days and hear his words.” ~
Jesus asked: “My Lord, what is tübă?” He answered:
“It is a tree in Paradise which I planted with my own hand. Its shade covers the gardens (of Paradise). Its roots are of ridwdn (this term is generally used as the name of the guard-ian angel of Paradise, but here it is used to mean Divine Pleasure). Its water is of tasnim (a river running down from a mountain in Paradise nearest the Throne). Its coolness is like that of kdfur and its taste is like that of zanjabfl (para-disial aromatics frequently mentioned in the Qur’an). Any-one who drinks once of that spring shall never be thirsty.” Jesus said: “0 God, give me to drink of it.” He answered:
“It is forbidden the prophets to drink of it until that Prophet first drinks of it; it is forbidden the nations to drink until the community (ummah) of that Prophet first drinks of it. I shall take you up to me16, and send you down at the end of time to see wonders from the community of that Prophet, and that you might assist them against the accursed Dajjâl, (the Antichrist). I shall send you down at prayer time that you may pray with them, for they are indeed a community favored with mercy.”’7
Another tradition is the account of Salman al-Fărisi, who continued to r~ove from one savant to another and from one rist to another seeking ancient texts and reports. Thus, he waited for four hundred years for the appearance of Muhammad, the master of those who lived in former times and those who are yet to come. When at last he was told of his birth, and was filled with certainty that relief (faraj) was near at hand, he sat out for the Tihămah (Mecca), but was captured.
Still another tradition is that of King Tubba’ [a semi-legendary Jewish King of ancient Yemen], who said: “A prophet shall appear in Mecca; whose place of migration shall be Yathrib.” King Tubba’ then moved some people from Yemen to Yathrib and made them settle with the Jews in order that they might support Muhammad. These were the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj. The King then declared:
I bear witness concerning Ahmad that
he is a messenger from Allah, the Creator of souls.
Were my life to last until it joined, with his,
I would be a minister to him and a cousin. I would be a scourge against the Associators,
giving them the cup of fear and sorrow.
In yet another tradition, it is related that Ibn ‘Abbăs said: “A special cushion used to be placed for ‘Abdu ‘1-Muttalib in the shade of the Ka’bah, whereupon, in reverence for him, no one dared sit. His sons used to sit around that cushion until ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib came out. The Messenger of Allah, however, while still a child, used to come and sit on the cushion. His uncles would hasten to remove him, but ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib would say: ‘Leave my son alone, for by Allah, he shall have a great future. I see that a day shall come upon you when he will be your master. I see his fore-lock as one that will exercise authority over men.’ Then he would take Muhammad up and place him beside him, fondly
BEACONS OF LIGHT
pat his back and kiss him. As he did so, he would explain, ‘I have never seen anyone before him so sweet and pure as he.’ He then would turn to Abü Talib, who had the same mother as ‘Abdullăh, the Prophet’s father, and say: ‘0 AbU
Talib, this child will have great significance. Guard him well, therefore, and care for him, for he shall be unique. Be to him like a father who would never let anything that may dis-turb him come near.’ ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib would then carry Muhammad on his neck and circumambulate the Ka’bah seven times. Because ‘Abdu ‘1- Muttalib knew that Muhammad hated al-Lăt and al-’Uzză (the two goddesses of Mecca), he never brought him near them.”
At the end of his sixth year, his mother Aminah died in al-Abw~i’, a place between Mecca and Medina. She had brought him there to visit his maternal uncles of the tribe of ‘Adiyy. Thus the Messenger of Allah became an orphan, having neither father nor mother. This increased the love and care of ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib for him, and he continued in this manner until he was on his death-bed. He then sent for AbU Talib, who came and saw him embracing Muhammad close to his breast. As he lay in the grip of death, he wept and said: “0 AbU Tălib, take care that you be a protector for this child who is left alone, neither smelling the odor of his father, nor tasting the love of his mother. Be sure,
o Abü Talib, that he be as precious as your heart to your body. I have bypassed all my sons and put him in your trust because you are the son of his father’s mother. 0 Abü Talib, if you live to see his days (that is, the time of his call to prophethood), know that I was the most informed con-cerning him, and the most caring of men towards him. If you are able to follow him, do so. Support him with your tongue, hand and wealth. Soon he shall exercise authority and dominion, the like of which no one of his forefathers attained. 0 Abü Tălib, I know no one among the Arabs
whose father died in the state in which he was when his father died, or one whose mother died in the state in which he was when his mother died. Protect him, therefore, as he has no one. Do you accept my trust?” “Yes”, AbU Tălib answered: “I accept, and Allah shall be my witness.” ‘Abdu ‘i-Mu~t•alib then said: “Give me your hand!” He put out his hand, and ‘Abdu ‘l-Mu~alib struck it with his own (as a sign of binding agreement), saying: “Now death has become easy for me.” Finally, he embraced Muhammad and exclaimed: “I bear witness that I have never kissed anyone of my children who is of sweeter fragrance than you, or of more beautiful countenance.” He then fervently wished that he could live to witness his time.
Thus, ‘Abdu ‘l-Mut~alib died when the Prophet was eight years old. Afterwards Aba Tălib took him into his hom. He never left him, even for an hour, day and night. He went so far as to have him sleep in the same room with him until he reached adulthood, not trusting anyone with him.
The account of Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan concerning Muiiam-mad’s prophethood, reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbăs, is another well-known tradition. It was two years after the birth of the Prophet that a group of the Quraysh, among whom were: ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib ibn Hăshim, Umayyah ibn ‘Abd Shams, ‘Abdullăh ibn Jud’ăn, Asad ibn Khuwaylid and Wahb ibn ‘Abd Manăf, went to Ibn Dhi Yazan. When they arrived, he was in a palace called Ghumdăn, concerning which Umayyah ibn Abi ‘s- Salt recited:
Drink in good health, reclining with a crown upon your head;
while you sit at the top of Ghumdân in good fortune and prosperity.
They asked permission to enter, and went in. After talking at length, the King sent for ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib and said to him:
“0 ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib, I am about to disclose a secret to YOU which I know and would not disclose to anyone but you. This is because I see that you are one who is worthy of keeping it; so I shall relate it to you. Let it remain a secret until Allah permits that it come to pass. I find it in the hidden book and treasured knowledge which we have kept only for ourselves. For it is a great and momentous secret which others would not be able to bear. There is in it for all men - but especially for your kinfolk and you personally
- honor in this life and virtue in the hereafter.”
‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib enquired: “Only a man like you, 0 King, can impart glad news and words of amity - what is it that you wish to say? May all the people of the desert be a ransom for you, one group after another!” The King continued: “When a child shall be born in Tihămah (Mecca) between whose shoulders there is a mole (that is, the seal of prophethood), then to him shall belong the imămate, and through him you (the clan of Hăshim) shall enjoy leadership till the Day of Resurrection.” ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib answered:
“May you never be cursed! I shall return with news, the like of which no traveler has ever received. Had it not been for the great awe, majesty and high honor of the King, I would have asked him to tell me more of his secrets, that my happiness might increase.” Ibn Dhi Yazan then said: “This is the time in which he is to be born, or perhaps he has already been born. His name shall be Muhammad. Both his father and mother shall die, and his grandfather and uncle shall care for him. His birth shall be a secret, but Allah shall send him (with the apostleship) openly. He shall grant him helpers from our people. Through him Allah shall honor his friends and dishonour his enemies. With him and his people Allah shall smite many men, and with them He shall pillage the best portions of the earth. He shall break the idols, and extinguish the fires (that is, of Persia). Then will the All-merciful be truly worshipped, and Satan be expelled.
His word shall be decisive, and his judgement just. He shall command the good and himself perform it, and shall forbid ~deceflCy and destroy it.” ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib exclaimed:
“0 King, may your status be forever honored, may your power prosper, and may your reign last forever! Has the King any advice to give me? For he has stated the matter with some clarity.” Ibn Dhi Yazan said: “By the House with curtains (i.e., the Ka’bah), and the signs on stone idols, you ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib are his grandfather without a lie!” ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib then fell prostrate. But the King said to him: “Lift up your head! May your breast be cooled (that is, be happy and without weariness); may your status be up-lifted. Do you see anything in what I say?” He answered:
“I had a son with whom I was pleased, and towards whom I was compassionate. I therefore had him married to a noble woman from among the best of my people, whose name was Aminah daughter of Wahb. She gave birth to a male child whom I called Muhammad. His father and mother died and his uncle took charge of him.” Ibn Dhi Yazan answered:
“This is what I have told you. Guard well your son. Beware of the Jews, for they are his enemies - but Allah will not permit them to do him any harm. Keep what I have told you hidden from the men who are with you. This is because I am afraid that they may be filled with envy if he is to have leadership. They would then seek to conspire against him and set up obstacles in his way. They, or their sons, shall do that Without any doubt. Did I not know that death would strike me before his call, I would gather my men and horses and go to Yathrjb (Medina), the city of his dominion, for I find in the ‘speaking book’ and ancient knowledge that Yathrib shall be the house of his dominion. In it shall his affair be Confirmed; in it shall be his supporters, and the spot of his tomb. Had I feared that hardships would befall him, or that infirmities would afflict him, I would have even as a youth announced all concerning him. I would have made all the leaders of the Arabs follow him. But I shall leave that to you, for I shall not be inhospitable toward any guests who are with you.” Then the King ordered that each of the men be given ten slaves and ten slave girls, two silk garments, a hundred camels, five weights of gold and ten of silver, and a skinful of amber. He ordered that ‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib be given ten times what was given to his companions. He then said to him: “When a year will have passed, come back to me - but Ibn Dhi Yazan died before the year had elapsed.
‘Abdu ‘l-Muttalib used to repeat often: “0 people of Quraysh, no man among you should envy me, no matter how much wealth you might bestow upon me, for it shall be exhaused. Rather envy me for what remains for me and my descendants after me of its fame, pride and honor.” When it was said to him: “What shall this thing be?”, he would answer: “You will know the truth of what I say, even if it be after a time.”
Another proof of Muhammad’s prophethood is the account of the monk Bahiră’. Thus Ibn Is~~taq reported that Abü Tălib went with a caravan to Syria. As he was about to set out, the Messenger of Allah stood up apd, holding on to the halter of his she-camel, said: “0 uncle, in whose care would you leave me, since I have neither father nor mother!” AbU Tălib felt compassion towards him and said: “By Allah, I shall take him with me and we shall never be separated from one another.” He thus took him along with him. The caravan arrived at Busră in Syria, where a monk lived called Bahiră’. He was the most learned of the Christians. Often did they pass by his cell, but he had never spoken to them. This time, however, when they came to rest near his cell, he prepared food for them. It is claimed that this was because of something which he saw from his cell in that caravan. It was a white cloud shading the Prophet alone of all the people. The caravan alighted beneath a tree near the monk, where he again saw the white cloud moving until it shaded the tree, whose branches bent over the Messenger of Allah so that he sat in its shade.
When Bal2iră’ saw this, he came out of his cell and ordered that food be prepared. He then sent word to them, saying:
“I have prepared food for you, 0 people of Quraysh. I invite you all, young and old, slaves and freemen.” A man said to him: “0 Bahirăh’, it is something strange you do today! You never did’ that in the past. Often did we pass by you; why is it that yOu do this today?” Bahiră’ answered: “You tell the truth, it is as you say. Yet you are guests; I wish, therefore, to treat you with due hospitality. I have prepared food for you, and I ask that you all eat of it.”
Thus they all gathered around him, but the Messenger of Allah because of his youth stayed behind with the caravan under the tree. As Bahiră’ looked around, he did not find the characteristics he sought in anyone. He thus said: “Let no one of you stay away from my banquet.” They answered:
“No one who should have come is absent, except a youth, the youngest of us. He remained to guard the caravan.” But Bahiră’ declared: “You ought not to have done that, call for him.” A man of Quraysh exclaimed: “By al-Lăt and al-‘Uzză, it is shameful us that the son of ‘Abdu ‘l-Muflalib be absent from our ‘banquet.” He then went and brought Muhammad over and seated him among the people.
When Bahiră’ saw him, he examined him intently, looking for signs’ which he knew to be on his body. After they had all eaten and dispersed, Bahirä’ approached the Prophet and said: “0 youth, I adjure you by al-Lăt and al-’Uzzä that you inform me concerning the things I wish to ask you.” Ba~iiră’ swore by these two gods because he had heard the people of the caravan do so. The Messenger of Allah answered:
“Do not adjure me by al-Lăt and al-’Uzză, for I despise nothing more than I despise them.” Bahiră’ then said: “I adjure you by Allah that you inform me concerning the things I wish to ask you.” The Prophet answered: “Ask whatever you wish.” •The monk began to ask him some things about himself, his sleep, his appearance, and other matters. The Messenger of Allah answered his questions, all of which agreed with the description which B4iirä’ had read concerning him in his ancient books. He then looked at his back and saw the seal of prophethood between his shoulders, exactly in the spot where he knew it to be.
When at last Bahiră’ was done with him, he came to his uncle Abü Tălib and asked: “Who is this youth?” “He is my son”, he answered. “No”, the monk said, “he is not your son. The father of this youth must not be living.” Abü Tălib then said: “He is my brother~ s son.” “What happened to his father?” asked Baliiră’. A1,U Talib answered, “He died while his mother was pregnant with him.” The monk then counselled him, saying: “Return with your nephew to his home, and beware of the Jews, for by Allah if they see him and discover in him what I know, they wouid surely seek to do him harm. Your nephew will be a man of high status. Hasten, therefore, with him back to his country.” His uncle thus quickly finished his trade in Syria and hastened back with the Prophet to Mecca.
It is said that a few men of the People of the Book
noticed some signs in the Messenger of Allah when they saw him with his uncle on that journey. They wished to seize him, but Bahi7ră’ restrained them. He adjured them by Allah not to do so, reminding them of what they had
found in their scriptures concerning him and his character-istics. He also told them that even if they were to attempt all together to do whatever they had intended to do to him, they would not be able to do him any harm. He thus con-tinued to admonish them until they were convinced; they
THE ACCOUNT OFMONK BAHIRA’
finally believed him and went away. Concerning this event
Abü Tălib said in his poem which rhymes with the letter ddl (‘d’):- Surely the Prophet Mu~zammad, son of Aminah,
Is for me like my own child.
When he held on to the halter of my camel, I felt com-passion for him,
Even as the white camels were being loaded, Copious tears flowed from my eyes -Tears like scattered pearls.
I treated him kindly as befits a close relative,
And guarded well the trust of his forefathers con-cerning him.
I ordered him to ride among paternal uncles, With white faces, brave swordsmen.
They travelled to the furthest known station -Far indeed was the station where their camels lay
When at last the people of Busrd saw him, They met a learned monk who was keeping close
He related to them a true account concerning him, And thus turned back the people of envy.
A group of Jews also saw what he saw:
The shade of a white cloud and the glory of a close relative (Muhammad).
They went seeking to kill Muhammad, and he restrained
And thus engaged in the best of struggle.
There are in fact many more examples of what we have narrated here. Had we attempted to recount all of them, however, we would have deviated from the intended purpose of this book.
* * *
As for the signs and wonders which were wrought by Muhammad’s hands (peace be upon him and his progeny) after his call to prophethood, they were of two kinds. The first is the Qur’an which Allah sent down to him, and with which He strengthened him, and the second consists of his other miracles.
As for the proof from the Qur’an: any rational man who heard the hadfth reports and was acquainted with their transmitters would have undoubtedly recognized the manifestation of the prophethood of our Prophet, and the truth of his claim to be a messenger sent by Allah. Moreover, he challenged the Arabs with the Qur’än, and in spite of the lapse of a long period of time, they did not oppose him - for opposition was impossible for them. This impossibility is in itself a miracle, violating the norms of general custom. That he challenged people with the Qur’an can be proven by the fact that he claimed that Gabriel used to bring the Qur’ăn down to him, and that Allah had distinguished him by it. Knowledge of all this is certain, and it is the strongest sort of challenge, properly understood. Furthermore, some verses of the Qur’än present clear instances of challenge, such as Allah’s saying: Bring therefore ten fabricated süralis like it, and again: Bring forth even one sUrah like it [Qur. 11:13 and 10:38].
As for the argument that people were unable to present any opposition, it can be argued that if opposition had occurred, it would have been necessay. for it to be known and reported. The fact that it was never reported must imply that it never occurred. We say this because all the things necessitating the transmission of the Qur’an, such as the strong reasons and need for it as well as the close familiarity of the people with it, all strengthen the possibility of opposition. This possibility would be further strengthened because opposition would itself be the argument, and the
SIGNS OF HIS PROPHETHOOD
Qur’ăn would then be the specious argument. Reporting a true argument is more worthy than reporting a specious one. How could opposition not have been reported if it had occurred, while men reported the words of Musaylimah (the false prophet), meaningless and unworthy though they were.
If it is claimed that it was fear of the Muslims, who be-came so numerous as to be greatly feared, that prevented men from reporting such opposition, the answer is that fear alone does not necessitate the disruption of report in every way. It only prevents men from doing so openly. Do you not see that the exellences of the Commander of the Faithful (‘All) were widely transmitted, in spite of the great fear of those who disclosed them of the Umayyads? It would rather have been natural for the enemies of Islam to report such opposition, or at least do so in secret among themselves. Furthermore, the great increase of Muslims happened after the Migration (hijrah). It would, therefore, have been possible to report it before that time, and during the Prophet’s stay in Mecca. Had opposition then been widely reported, no Muslim power would have been capable of concealing it. It may be argued that opposition did not occur during that time. This, however, would itself be an argument in support of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. For even though Islam grew in power in Medina, the people of ‘rejection of faith’ (kufr) had their own strong and vast domains. The Persian Empire was strong still, and Byzantine and other domains were just as vast. Naturally then, opposition should have arisen.
As for the argument for the lack of opposition due to impossibility: we know that any action not executed by its doer, when all conditions for its execution are present, must by necessity be because of his inability to do so. If this be true - and we know that the Arabs talked much about the Qur’an, yet did not oppose it in spite of their great need to do so - we can conclude that they were unable to oppose it.