Reem Shraiky, UK
Have you been orphaned? Did your mother die before you in the desert while you were just a child? Have you lost your loved ones one after another? Have you experienced starvation with your family and friends, with some meeting their death? Have you constantly been persecuted, both physically and verbally? Have you had stones thrown at you? Have you experienced loved ones being killed before your eyes? Have your children died in your arms? Have endless plots been hatched to kill you?
And if, God forbid, any of these have happened to you, did you display patience? Did you stand crying at the threshold of God and push yourself to the brink of death because you wished that He would forgive and reform those who had tortured you and killed your loved ones? Do you know someone who has gone through all this and even more? As for me, I do.
According to some historians, when this individual’s mother was pregnant with him, her husband travelled for business for a short while. However, on the way back, he fell ill. So he went to stay with his maternal uncles in Medina. There, he died before he could even cherish the moment he first saw his son; the latter would never be a recipient of his father’s kindness.
When the child reached the age of six, his mother visited the city of Medina. She took him with her to visit his father’s uncles as well as his father’s grave for the first time. They were accompanied by her maid, Umm-e-Ayman, to take care of the child.
After staying in Medina for about a month, they returned to Mecca, but when they were halfway, she fell ill and dropped to the ground. The maid tried to lift her up; the mother extended her arms towards her son wishing to embrace him, but she died. The maid caressed the head of the orphan and told him to help her dig his mother’s grave. He helped her, while crying.
When they finished the burial, the maid took him gently by the hand to leave. He walked with her while looking back towards the grave saying, “My mother, my mother”.
Thus, the orphan returned to Mecca motherless where he lived under the care of his paternal grandfather. His grandfather, however, passed away when he was just eight years old. He stood by his bed crying uncontrollably. The boy moved in with his uncle who was very poor and had many children. Consequently, the orphan was even embarrassed to eat; if his uncle’s wife did not give him something to eat, he would never reach out for food.
He remained with his uncle for 17 years where he developed the highest levels of morals and honesty. One day, this young man travelled in a trade convoy to a prominent businesswoman in Mecca and returned with abundant profit. The businesswoman enquired about the servant who had accompanied him on the trip. The servant started citing the ethics and honesty he saw this young man display.
This virtuous lady admired such morals and wished for him to be her husband. She revealed this to her friend, who subsequently went to him and told him, “Why don’t you marry Khadija?” The young man replied, “She indeed has no match in honour and level of morality, but I am too poor”. Her friend said, “I will convince her”.
Thus, this blessed marriage took place; Khadija was the best wife and a loving companion to him, and he was the best husband and a loving companion to her. Khadija first gave birth to a son, Qasim, who died at the age of two. Then she gave birth to four daughters, as well as a second son, Abdullah, who died in the cradle.
After about 15 years of this blessed marriage, this great man was bestowed prophethood. His people instantly turned against him and wanted to kill him. They besieged him and his followers in a valley where they cut off food and drink from them for three years.
During this time, they were exposed to extreme privation and distress. Shortly after lifting the siege, he suffered two grievous bereavements – the deaths of his beloved wife Khadija and that of his dear uncle.
There is no doubt that these were hastened by their suffering during their prolonged confinement in the valley. The persecution of the opponents worsened; the believers were tortured, some were killed and even the Prophet did not escape.
Once, when he was praying in the courtyard of the Ka‘bah, one of his opponents came and piled the entrails of a newly slaughtered camel onto his shoulders while he was in prostration. On learning of the incident, his daughter Fatima ran up to him and removed the odious burden from his shoulders so that he could get up.
On another occasion, while the Prophet was praying in the courtyard of the Ka‘bah, someone came up behind him, put his garment around his neck and violently strangled him. It is also said that the attacker spat on his blessed face. The Prophet’s friend, Abu Bakr, pushed the aggressor away and said, “Do you want to kill a man just because he says, ‘My Lord is Allah?’” His people obstructed his effort in conveying the message of Allah.
Even one of his uncles was tracing his steps everywhere, asking people not to pay heed to what he was saying as “he is just a lying renegade” who was seeking to mislead them. When people heard his close relative describing him as a liar, they turned away from him, and sometimes they mocked him.
Likewise, the disbelievers would throw dirt at him and warned people not to be deceived by him. He had no power except for supplication to Allah and urged his followers to exhibit patience and steadfastness.
Then he decided to spread his message to a city called Ta‘if in the hope of establishing monotheism. This was because there was an important idol there, al-Lat. On arrival at Ta‘if, he visited its chiefs one after another, but they rejected him and jested.
Moreover, they incited the rabble and children of the city to chase him out of the town. They started pelting him with stones and went on reviling him for three miles beyond the city. Blood flowed from his legs and blessed feet. Wearied and in pain, he took refuge in an orchard. With heartache and pain, he supplicated:
“Lord, I make my complaint unto Thee of my helplessness and frailty, and my insignificance before mankind. Thou art Lord of the poor and feeble, and Thou art my Lord. Into whose hands wilt Thou abandon me? Into the hands of strangers that beset me round about, or of the enemy Thou hast given the mastery over me at home? If Thy wrath be not upon me, I have no concern; but rather Thy favour is the more wide unto me. I seek refuge in the light of Thy countenance. It is Thine to chase away the darkness, and to bestow peace, both in this world and the next; let not Thy wrath alight upon me, nor Thy indignation. It is Thine to show anger until Thou art pleased; and there is no other power nor any resource but in Thee.”
Thereafter the Archangel Gabriel called on him, saying, “Allah has heard what your people have replied back to you. Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.”
The Angel of the Mountains called on and greeted him, and then said, “Order what you wish. If you like, I will let the two mountains (surrounding Ta‘if) fall on its people.”
The Prophet replied, “No but I hope that Allah will let them have children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship None besides Him.”
Then the divine commandment came that he and his followers should emigrate to Medina. He emigrated there and was chosen as the head of state; he established a state in which peace and harmony could prevail and where everyone was free to practice their own religion.
Nonetheless, his enemies did not leave him alone. They followed him to the new homeland, wanting to eliminate him and his followers once and for all. Moreover, they incited people inside and outside the city against him!
His second daughter, Ruqayya, married Usmanra bin Affan. First, they migrated to Abyssinia, where she gave birth to their son Abdullah, who died after they migrated to Medina aged six. I wonder, was this the first and last grandson of his to die?
Wars started being waged against him one after another; a number of his friends and loved ones were martyred. In one war he was wounded, his blessed teeth were broken and the helmet on his head was smashed.
Once, his enemies plotted to throw a rock at him to kill him. Despite all of this, he turned to God Almighty, supplicating day and night for his enemy to be saved by guiding and reforming them. Just like a mother who prays tirelessly for her children to be reformed, he prayed passionately for them with all his heart, till Allah told him, “Haply thou wilt grieve thyself to death because they believe not.”
At the first battle fought against him, his son-in-law, Abul Aas, was among the prisoners that his party had taken. When his tribe sent the ransom to liberate its prisoners, his wife, Zaynab, who was still in Mecca, sent a necklace for his ransom, but this necklace was given to her upon her marriage by her mother Khadija.
On seeing it, her father was deeply moved and requested if it could be returned to his daughter. All his companions agreed, so the Prophet released Abul Aas, but fixed his ransom that on his return to Mecca, he should arrange to send Zaynab to Medina.
Accordingly, upon his return, Abul Aas boarded her on a camel’s saddle and sent her to Medina under the care of his brother, Kenana. But the opponents of her father intercepted her path. One of them struck her camel with his bayonet. She fell onto a rock and started bleeding as she was pregnant; consequently, she had a miscarriage.
After a few days, Kenana brought her out at night and she arrived in Medina safely, but her health continued to deteriorate until she died a few years later. Shortly thereafter, Abul Aas himself embraced the religion his father-in-law brought and migrated to Medina and thus, the husband and wife were reunited.
Zaynab gave birth to a boy and a girl, the little boy, Ali, fell ill and when he was dying, Zaynab sent for her father to come. The child died in the arms of his grandfather who wept on his departure. Soon after, his daughter Zaynab died too, leaving her young daughter Umamah under the care of her affectionate grandfather.
As for his second daughter, Ruqayya, she was sick when her father was about to go out for his first battle, so her compassionate husband, Usman, stayed to look after her. She died and was buried while her father was in battle defending his religion and laying the foundations of religious freedom. Usman mourned the loss of his wife and was incredibly sad that the affinity and relationship between him and his beloved guide and master had ended.
However, after a short while, the Prophet gave him glad tidings, “O Usman! Gabriel has told me that Allah will marry you to my other daughter Umm-e-Kulthum for a dowry like that of Ruqayya, provided that you treat her as you treated Ruqayya.”
He indeed treated her very well and was an exceptionally good husband, but one year later, she died. Thus, her father now had no living children except Fatima, who had given birth to two sons, Hassan and Hussain.
What grief for Hussain! His grandfather was once in the house of his wife Umm-e-Salamah and Hussain was in his lap. The grandfather was crying and caressing the forehead of the child. Upon asking what was wrong, the Prophet told his wife that Gabriel had come to him and said, “Your nation will kill him in a land called Karbala.”
Likewise, it was revealed to him in his life that his Ummah would split into 73 sects. All except one would be destined for the Fire, and that people would soon summon one another to attack his Ummah just as people invite others to share a dish when eating.
The Prophet was also informed that afflictions would befall them in abundance. Shortly after he got married to his wife Maria, she gave birth to his third son, Ibrahim. He brought joy to his father’s heart, as he had lost all his children except Fatima.
Everyday, the Prophet used to pass by Maria to see Ibrahim, to play with him and to look after him. Sadly, Ibrahim fell ill before he completed his second year.
One day, his illness intensified, his father lifted him up as he struggled and he died in his father’s arms. With teary eyes, he said, “The eyes shed their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.”
Indeed, our eyes shed tears whenever we read how much this great man, the Best of Creation, had suffered in order to set the best example for us and to pave for us the way of salvation and success. Do you know who he is? Then, invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace!