Conversion to Islam in The Prophet's Early Followers

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12 Questions

Who was the first convert to Islam?

Khadijah

Who was the freed slave who declared faith in Islam along with his cousin Ali?

Zayd

How did people initially react to the news of Muhammad's prophethood?

Questioned his sanity

Why did Abu Bakr immediately believe in the Prophet's message without needing convincing arguments?

His friend's complete trust in the Prophet

In the first stage, why was the Prophet asked to spread the message of Islam quietly?

To avoid arousing hostility

Who played a significant role in bringing rich merchants into the fold of Islam?

Abu Bakr

What did the Prophet do before addressing the people according to Arab custom?

He climbed up a hill called Safa

Why did the Quraysh oppose the Prophet spreading his message?

Fear of losing their leadership position

What was the main reason behind Makkah being a centre of pilgrimage?

The presence of 360 idols in the Kabah

How did the Quraysh tribes benefit economically from the pilgrimage to Makkah?

Through offerings made to the idols

Why did Abu Lahab react angrily to the Prophet's message?

He felt insulted by the Prophet's announcement

What was one aspect feared by the Quraysh if Islam gained popularity?

Islam posing a threat to their leadership

(I) THE EARLY LIFE OF THE PROPHET The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, was born in Makkah in 570 A.D. in the tribe of the Quraysh and died at the age of 63 in 632 A.D. in Madinah. The year of his birth is known among the Arabs as the Year of the Elephant (Aam al-Fil) referring to the campaign of Abrahah, an Abyssinian ruler, who had come to Makkah to destroy the Kabah. Makkah was then inhabited mainly by the tribe of the Quraysh. In those times, this tribe enjoyed great prestige all over Arabia and the neighbouring countries, for Makkah was a flourishing trade and religious centre. Muhammad was still in his mother's womb when his father, Abdullah, died. After his birth, Aminah, his mother, sent the baby to Abdul Muttalib, his grandfather, who was in the Kabah at that time. The grandfather was overjoyed at the news, for he had loved Abdullah, Muhammad's father, very much. He gave him the name "Muhammad", meaning "the praised one." As was the practice of the Makkan nobility, he was handed over to a wet nurse, Halimah al-Sadiyya, who belonged to the Banu Sad tribe. This custom is still practiced among the Makkan aristocracy. Halimah nursed Muhammad for two years and a few months. She said that while he stayed with them, her family received all kinds of unaccustomed blessings. Having nursed so many children before, she noticed something'different' or' extraordinary' about the infant Muhammad. Two years later, after the child had been weaned, Halimah brought him back to his mother. But Makkah at that time was stricken with an epidemic, so Aminah asked her to take him back to live in the pure air of the desert. Thus Muhammad remained in the charge of Halimah until the age of five. He learned Arabic in its purest form from this tribe. Muhammad returned to his mother after five years of desert life. Then Aminah took him to Madinah (at that time known as Yathrib) to meet her uncles, the Banu al­ Najjar. She was accompanied by Umm Ayman, her servant, on that trip. After a stay of one month in Madinah, Aminah was on her way back to Makkah, when passing through a village called Abwah, she fell ill and died there. She was buried in Abwah. It fell to Umm Ayman to bring Muhammad back to Makkah. Therefore, the orphan Muhammad was taken care of by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, chief of the clan of the Banu Hashim. He looked after him with great affection. As leader of the Quraysh, he used to sit on a cushion in the Kabah, and whenever Muhammad joined him, he was allowed to sit on that cushion. If anyone tried to stop him, his grandfather would say, "Leave him alone. By God, he is very important." (lbn Hisham) Abdul Muttalib died when Muhammad was eight years old. Now the guardianship of Muhammad passed to Abu Talib, his uncle, who was a merchant. Trade Once when Abu Talib was preparing to go to Syria on a trading journey, Muhammad expressed a keen desire to accompany him. Though he was too young to undertake such a difficult journey, Abu Talib was so full of affection for him that he could not refuse, and agreed to take him along. Their trade caravan halted in the city of Busra in Syria. There was a Christian monk by the name of Bahirah living there in a monastery. He had read in the ancient books about the emergence of an Arab prophet. He recognised in Muhammad the signs of prophethood. He knew at once that he was the boy who had been destined to become the last of the prophets. lbn Ishaq writes, "Muhammad entered his adulthood as if God Himself was protecting him from the widespread evils of the period of ignorance." By this time he was well-known in Makkah for his good morals, gentle disposition and sincerity. In fact, he was called Al-Amin (trustworthy) and As-Sadiq (truthful) by his compatriots. Before attaining prophethood, while Muhammad was still engaged in trading,. Abdullah bin Abi al-Hamsa said: "I had transacted some business with Muhammad in those days and owed him money. I asked him to wait till I brought the required sum. When I reached home, I completely forgot about it. I remembered three days later and rushed to the spot where I had left Muhammad. He was there waiting for me." "He did not upbraid me. All he said was, 'You caused me a great deal of inconvenience. I have been waiting for you here for the last three days."'(lbn Ishaq) Marriage with Khadija When Muhammad was twenty-five, a rich 40-year old widow, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid of the Quraysh tribe, entrusted him with the management of her business. She used to employ men to engage in trading on her behalf, and rewarded them with a share of the profits. Muhammad was so honest in all his dealings that she was deeply impressed by his virtues and expressed her desire to marry him. After consultations with his uncle, Muhammad accepted the proposal of marriage. Khadijah became his first wife and during her lifetime he had no other wife. With the exception of Ibrahim, who died in infancy, all his children were born to Khadijah. All his sons died in infancy. Of the daughters, Ruqaiyyah, Zaynab, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah lived long enough to accept Islam and migrate to Madinah with the Prophet. The Reconstruction of Kabah When Muhammad was twenty-five, the Quraysh decided to rebuild the Kabah after a sudden flood had shaken its foundations and cracked its walls. The old structure was demolished and the new construction began. When the walls rose from the ground and the time came to place the famous Black Stone (Hajr al-Aswad) in its place on the east wall, a dispute arose among the clans as to who would have the honour of laying it in place. Each clan wanted to have the honour of placing the stone for itself. This dispute almost led to a civil war. No peaceful solution seemed possible. A covenant known as the Alliance of Fudul (Hilf al-Fudul) had been entered into by three men, Fadal bin Fadalah, Fadal bin Vida and Fadal bin Harith. This was to ensure that no oppressor ever lived in Makkah. In view of the widespread disturbances, there was a move to revive the Alliance of Fudul, to restore tribal harmony and ensure peaceful co-existence. At this critical juncture Abu Umayyah, the son of Mughirah al­ Makhzumi, said to the Makkans, "Put it off till tomorrow. The man who enters the Kabah first of all in the morning will be our arbitrator in this dispute." Everybody liked the idea. Men from different tribes ran to the Kabah before dawn next morning. Each one tried to be the first to enter the House of God. But the first one to pass through the gate was Muhammad. On seeing him they all said, "There goes al-Amin. We shall agree with his verdict." Then he was asked to give his decision on the matter. He took a sheet of cloth and spread it on the ground, and placed the Black Stone in the middle of it and then he asked the chiefs of all tribes to hold different ends of the sheet and lift it up. They carried the stone to the site of construction. Then Muhammad picked up the stone from the sheet and set it in place. Thus a bloody clash was averted and the dispute resolved to everybody's satisfaction. (II) NUBUWWAH (PROPHETHOOD) Visits to the Cave of Hira With his marriage to the wealthy Khadijah, Muhammad had access to all her wealth and property, and could expand his business as much as he desired. He had every opportunity to lead a successful and comfortable life. But with the passing of the years he became less and less :interested in business and devoted more and more of his time to the search for truth by means of reflection and meditation. Instead of trying to establish himself in his society, he took to the desert. Over a period of six months, he would often go to mount Hira, three miles from Makkah. He would stay there in the cave, lost in thought for hours on end. When his supply of food and water was exhausted, he would return home for provisions and go back to the solitude of nature to pray and meditate. He sought answers to the mysteries of life. What is man's true role in life? What does the Lord require of us, as His servants? From where does man come and where will he go after death? It was to find answers to these perplexing questions that he betook himself to the stillness of the desert. Finally, during the month of Ramadan, God turned in mercy to His Prophet, to guide him to the path of truth. At the age of 40, on February 12, 610 A.D., the Prophet was sitting all alone in his cave, when Gabriel, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in human form, bringing the first message from God. The Prophet's quest had finally been rewarded: God granted him guidance and chose him as His Prophet. The angel said to him "Read." The Prophet replied, "I do not know how to read." Muhammad now felt that his body was being squeezed hard. Then the angel released him and repeated the same command. Again Muhammad replied that he did not know how to recite. The angel again squeezed him and then released him for the third time and said: Read!" Then a change came over him and he was able to repeat the divine words. Then Gabriel revealed to him the chapter called Al-Alaq. "Recite in the name of your Lord, who created; who created man from a clot of blood; Recite, and your Lord is the most Gracious. It is He who has taught man by the pen that which he did not know." (96:1-5) Muhammad recited these verses, repeating them after the angel. Then he found that these words were written on his heart (Ibn Ishaq). The Prophet trembled in fear at what he had seen and heard in the cave. The revelation was a totally new experience for him. He set off for his house immediately after the disappearance of the angel. On reaching home, the Prophet asked Khadijah to wrap him in blankets. He was shivering with high fever. When he calmed down, he related the whole incident to her. - Khadijah, being very kind and understanding, tried her best to reassure him. She said: "By Him who dominates Khadijah's soul, I pray and I hope that you will be the Prophet of this nation. By God, He will not let you down. You are kind to your relations. You speak the truth, you help the poor and bear their burden, you honour guests and help those in distress.. Surely God will never let you fail." Khadijah then suggested that they should go and consult her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal, who had become a Christian hermit. Waraqa heard the whole account from Muhammad and said: "I am sure the angel that descended on Moses has descended on you. You will be abused, and you will be pursued. I wish I could be alive to give you my support when your people will turn you out." "Will they turn me out?" The Prophet found this difficult to believe. Waraqa replied that people have always turned against those who are recipients of God's messages. (I) THE EARLY LIFE OF THE PROPHET The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, was born in Makkah in 570 A.D. in the tribe of the Quraysh and died at the age of 63 in 632 A.D. in Madinah. The year of his birth is known among the Arabs as the Year of the Elephant (Aam al-Fil) referring to the campaign of Abrahah, an Abyssinian ruler, who had come to Makkah to destroy the Kabah. Makkah was then inhabited mainly by the tribe of the Quraysh. In those times, this tribe enjoyed great prestige all over Arabia and the neighbouring countries, for Makkah was a flourishing trade and religious centre. Muhammad was still in his mother's womb when his father, Abdullah, died. After his birth, Aminah, his mother, sent the baby to Abdul Muttalib, his grandfather, who was in the Kabah at that time. The grandfather was overjoyed at the news, for he had loved Abdullah, Muhammad's father, very much. He gave him the name "Muhammad", meaning "the praised one." As was the practice of the Makkan nobility, he was handed over to a wet nurse, Halimah al-Sadiyya, who belonged to the Banu Sad tribe. This custom is still practiced among the Makkan aristocracy. Halimah nursed Muhammad for two years and a few months. She said that while he stayed with them, her family received all kinds of unaccustomed blessings. Having nursed so many children before, she noticed something'different' or' extraordinary' about the infant Muhammad. Two years later, after the child had been weaned, Halimah brought him back to his mother. But Makkah at that time was stricken with an epidemic, Goodword Islamic Studies 1103 so Aminah asked her to take him back to live in the pure air of the desert. Thus Muhammad remained in the charge of Halimah until the age of five. He learned Arabic in its purest form from this tribe. Muhammad returned to his mother after five years of desert life. Then Aminah took him to Madinah (at that time known as Yathrib) to meet her uncles, the Banu al­ Najjar. She was accompanied by Umm Ayman, her servant, on that trip. After a stay of one month in Madinah, Aminah was on her way back to Makkah, when passing through a village called Abwah, she fell ill and died there. She was buried in Abwah. It fell to Umm Ayman to bring Muhammad back to Makkah. Therefore, the orphan Muhammad was taken care of by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, chief of the clan of the Banu Hashim. He looked after him with great affection. As leader of the Quraysh, he used to sit on a cushion in the Kabah, and whenever Muhammad joined him, he was allowed to sit on that cushion. If anyone tried to stop him, his grandfather would say, "Leave him alone. By God, he is very important." (lbn Hisham) Abdul Muttalib died when Muhammad was eight years old. Now the guardianship of Muhammad passed to Abu Talib, his uncle, who was a merchant. Trade Once when Abu Talib was preparing to go to Syria on a trading journey, Muhammad expressed a keen desire to accompany him. Though he was too young to undertake such a difficult journey, Abu Talib was so full of affection for him that he could not refuse, and agreed to take him along. Their trade caravan halted in the city of Busra in Syria. There was a Christian monk by the name of Bahirah living there in a monastery. He had read in the ancient books about the emergence of an Arab prophet. He recognised in Muhammad the signs of prophethood. He knew at once that he was the boy who had been destined to become the last of the prophets. lbn Ishaq writes, "Muhammad entered his adulthood as if God Himself was protecting him from the widespread evils of the period of ignorance." By this time he was well-known in Makkah for his good morals, gentle disposition and sincerity. In fact, he was called Al-Amin (trustworthy) and As-Sadiq (truthful) by his compatriots. Before attaining prophethood, while Muhammad was still engaged in trading,. Abdullah bin Abi al-Hamsa said: "I had transacted some business with Muhammad in those days and owed him money. I asked him to wait till I brought the required sum. When I reached home, I completely forgot about it. I remembered three days later and rushed to the spot where I had left Muhammad. He was there waiting for me." 104 I Goodword Islamic Studies "He did not upbraid me. All he said was, 'You caused me a great deal of inconvenience. I have been waiting for you here for the last three days."'(lbn Ishaq) Marriage with Khadija When Muhammad was twenty-five, a rich 40-year old widow, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid of the Quraysh tribe, entrusted him with the management of her business. She used to employ men to engage in trading on her behalf, and rewarded them with a share of the profits. Muhammad was so honest in all his dealings that she was deeply impressed by his virtues and expressed her desire to marry him. After consultations with his uncle, Muhammad accepted the proposal of marriage. Khadijah became his first wife and during her lifetime he had no other wife. With the exception of Ibrahim, who died in infancy, all his children were born to Khadijah. All his sons died in infancy. Of the daughters, Ruqaiyyah, Zaynab, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah lived long enough to accept Islam and migrate to Madinah with the Prophet. The Reconstruction of Kabah When Muhammad was twenty-five, the Quraysh decided to rebuild the Kabah after a sudden flood had shaken its foundations and cracked its walls. The old structure was demolished and the new construction began. When the walls rose from the ground and the time came to place the famous Black Stone (Hajr al-Aswad) in its place on the east wall, a dispute arose among the clans as to who would have the honour of laying it in place. Each clan wanted to have the honour of placing the stone for itself. This dispute almost led to a civil war. No peaceful solution seemed possible. A covenant known as the Alliance of Fudul (Hilf al-Fudul) had been entered into by three men, Fadal bin Fadalah, Fadal bin Vida and Fadal bin Harith. This was to ensure that no oppressor ever lived in Makkah. In view of the widespread disturbances, there was a move to revive the Alliance of Fudul, to restore tribal harmony and ensure peaceful co-existence. At this critical juncture Abu Umayyah, the son of Mughirah al­ Makhzumi, said to the Makkans, "Put it off till tomorrow. The man who enters the Kabah first of all in the morning will be our arbitrator in this dispute." Everybody liked the idea. Men from different tribes ran to the Kabah before dawn next morning. Each one tried to be the first to enter the House of God. But the first one to pass through the gate was Muhammad. On seeing him they all said, "There goes al-Amin. We shall agree with his verdict." Then he was asked to give his decision on the matter. He took a sheet of cloth and spread it on the ground, and placed the Black Stone in the Goodword Islamic Studies 1105 middle of it and then he asked the chiefs of all tribes to hold different ends of the sheet and lift it up. They carried the stone to the site of construction. Then Muhammad picked up the stone from the sheet and set it in place. Thus a bloody clash was averted and the dispute resolved to everybody's satisfaction. (II) NABUWAH (PROPHETHOOD) Visits to the Cave of Hira With his marriage to the wealthy Khadijah, Muhammad had access to all her wealth and property, and could expand his business as much as he desired. He had every opportunity to lead a successful and comfortable life. But with the passing of the years he became less and less :interested in business and devoted more and more of his time to the search for truth by means of reflection and meditation. Instead of trying to establish himself in his society, he took to the desert. Over a period of six months, he would often go to mount Hira, three miles from Makkah. He would stay there in the cave, lost in thought for hours on end. When his supply of food and water was exhausted, he would return home for provisions and go back to the solitude of nature to pray and meditate. He sought answers to the mysteries of life. What is man's true role in life? What does the Lord require of us, as His servants? From where does man come and where will he go after death? It was to find answers to these perplexing questions that he betook himself to the stillness of the desert. Finally, during the month of Ramadan, God turned in mercy to His Prophet, to guide him to the path of truth. At the age of 40, on February 12, 610 A.D., the Prophet was sitting all alone in his cave, when Gabriel, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in human form, bringing the first message from God. The Prophet's quest had finally been rewarded: God granted him guidance and chose him as His Prophet. The angel said to him "Read." The Prophet replied, "I do not know how to read." Muhammad now felt that his body was being squeezed hard. Then the angel released him and repeated the same command. Again Muhammad 106 I Goodword Islamic Studies replied that he did not know how to recite. The angel again squeezed him and then released him for the third time and said: Read!" Then a change came over him and he was able to repeat the divine words. Then Gabriel revealed to him the chapter called Al-Alaq. "Recite in the name of your Lord, who created; who created man from a clot of blood; Recite, and your Lord is the most Gracious. It is He who has taught man by the pen that which he did not know." (96:1-5) Muhammad recited these verses, repeating them after the angel. Then he found that these words were written on his heart (Ibn Ishaq). The Prophet trembled in fear at what he had seen and heard in the cave. The revelation was a totally new experience for him. He set off for his house immediately after the disappearance of the angel. On reaching home, the Prophet asked Khadijah to wrap him in blankets. He was shivering with high fever. When he calmed down, he related the whole incident to her. - Khadijah, being very kind and understanding, tried her best to reassure him. She said: "By Him who dominates Khadijah's soul, I pray and I hope that you will be the Prophet of this nation. By God, He will not let you down. You are kind to your relations. You speak the truth, you help the poor and bear their burden, you honour guests and help those in distress.. Surely God will never let you fail." Khadijah then suggested that they should go and consult her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal, who had become a Christian hermit. Waraqa heard the whole account from Muhammad and said: "I am sure the angel that descended on Moses has descended on you. You will be abused, and you will be pursued. I wish I could be alive to give you my support when your people will turn you out." "Will they turn me out?" The Prophet found this difficult to believe. Waraqa replied that people have always turned against those who are recipients of God's messages. Test your knowledge on the early converts to Islam, including Khadijah, Zayd, Ali, and Abu Bakr, in the life of the Prophet Muhammad. With the passage of time, the Makkan chiefs became more and more bitter. They felt that it was Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim, headed by Abu Talib that was responsible for all this misery and that if they had given up Muhammad, all his activities could have been stopped without delay. They made it known to the Banu Hashim that if they did not surrender Muhammad to them, they would have to suffer the consequences. The tribes of Makkah entered into an agreement. They agreed to cut off all dealings with the Banu Hashim. No one was to sell anything to them. The agreement was signed and hung up in the sacred Kabah. This was the seventh year of prophethood. This period of boycott was one of great hardship for the Banu Hashim and the Muslims. While this ban was in force, Abu Talib, the chief of the Ba.nu Hashim, had to take refuge in a narrow valley, which came to be known as Abu Talib's Pass. For three years, the Prophet and all his relatives lived in this valley. Many of the Muslims joined them. All supplies to the valley were cut off. The Banu Hashim had to live on the leaves and roots of trees. Finally, certain kind-hearted Makkan leaders took pity on the Ba.nu Hashim. They tore to pieces the agreement hanging in the Kabah so that the Ba.nu Hashim could come back to their homes. But soon after this, Abu Talib the Prophet's uncle, died. His health had deteriorated during the three years of hardship. Although Abu Talib had not accepted Islam, as head of his clan he had protected the Prophet from his opponents. The Year of Sorrow After his death, Abu Lahab, another uncle of the Prophet, became head of the Banu Hashim. He was the bitterest enemy of Islam and the Muslims. He made it clear to the Quraysh that Muhammad no longer enjoyed his clan's protection. In those days, it was impossible for an individual to survive without the protection of his clan. Khadijah, the faithful wife of the Prophet, also died soon after the ban was lifted. Both these deaths took place in the 10th year of prophethood. The loss of Abu Talib and Khadijah saddened the Prophet, for they had been great sources of strength to him. It was their deaths that made the enemy bold enough to persecute him. One day when the Prophet was praying in the Kabah, Abu Jahl put a piece of cloth round his neck and twisted it hard. He would have strangled the Prophet had not Abu Bakr rushed to his help in time. The Journey to Taif Day by day, the situation worsened. So the Prophet decided to go to Tai£, a neighbouring town, 40 miles from Makkah to spread the teachings of Islam. He was accompanied only by his servant Addas. He spoke to the leaders of the town and invited them to accept Islam. They paid no heed to his message. They were such evil people that they did not stop at that. When the Prophet was leaving the town in a dejected state, he was chased by street urchins instigated by these chiefs. They abused him and threw stones at him as he walked out of town. They continued to pelt him with stones at until nightfall Relieved of their presence, he stopped on the way in an orchard to rest. He was badly hurt, bleeding profusely. Yet he Sonly prayed for their guidance. He did not curse them. In all humility he addressed God in these words. "Lord! Forgive these people, for they know not what they do." Miraj In the tenth year of Prophethood the angel Gabriel came to take the Prophet on the miraculous journey to the heavens known as Miraj. They first went from Makkah to Jerusalem, the Prophet riding on a winged horse. At Jerusalem, the Prophet said his prayers in the Temple of David, where all other prophets joined him in prayer. Then he ascended to the heavens, still accompanied by the angel Gabriel. God granted an audience to His messenger. It was on this blessed occasion that the Prophet received God's commandments, including the prayer to be said five times daily. The Prophet then came back home. All this took place overnight. There are two views about this heavenly journey. Some hold that this ascension was made by the Prophet's soul, while others hold that it was made by his body. According to Umm Han.i, the body of the Prophet was never missed from his bed. Rather God caused only his soul to travel. Aishah, the Prophet's wife, was also of the same view. A third opin.ion is that the Miraj fromMakkah to Jerusalem took place in the flesh, while from Jerusalem to the heavens it took place only in the spirit. Islam spreads to Yathrib (Madinah) The Prophet used to convey the message of Islam to all those who came from outside Makkah. In the eleventh year of prophethood, six men from the tribe of Khazraj of Yathrib (later known as Madinatun-Nabi, the Prophet's city) accepted Islam during their pilgrimage to Makkah in 620. The following year twelve more men from Yathrib accepted Islam. This time they took an oath pledging allegiance to the Prophet. This oath is known as the First Pledge of Aqabah, named after the Aqabah pass, at Mina, near Makkah, where they had made their pledge. They requested the Prophet to send Musab bin Umayr, a companion of the Prophet, to Yathrib to convey the message of Islam to the inhabitants. There the divine message was immediately well received, and within a year, a number of people converted to Islam as a result of the preaching of Musab ibn Umayr. • In the thirteenth year of Prophethood, seventy two Muslims from Yathrib came for the Hajj. On behalf of their people, they invited the Prophet to make Yathrib his home. During the pilgrimage they also took the oath, known as the second pledge of Aqabah. These men from Yathrib, of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, pledged to protect the Prophet from his enemies. For all this sacrifice on their part they wanted only one assurance from the Prophet: that when the Prophet had gained power, he should not leave them and return to Makkah. The Prophet replied: "You have that assurance. I am yours and you are mine." Now the Muslims began to emigrate to Yathrib in large numbers to escape persecution at the hands of the Quraysh. Only the Prophet, Abu Bakr and a few Muslims were left in Makkah. This infuriated the Quraysh, for Islam was now strengthening its roots in Yathrib. They were greatly alarmed that their enemies. were gaining a firm foothold. There was nothing more dangerous than that. So they resolved to remove the danger once and for all. They said: "Kill Muhammad and Islam will die with him." (IV) HIJRAH The Emigration As the Makkans were plotting against life, God sent His command to him to leave for Yathrib. Before making his preparations, he first called Ali and gave him the people's deposits and asked him to return them to the depositors. Already, the young men with whom the Quraysh had conspired to carry out the assassination were collecting on that fateful night to put their plan to action. But God had another plan. And who can overrule the will of God? Accordingly, the Prophet made Ali lie in his bed while he himself left the house at midnight. The Prophet had already informed Abu Bakr, his closest friend, of the plan to emigrate, to be conducted in total secrecy. They left Makkah before dawn, riding on two camels which Abu Bakr had kept ready to carry them across the desert. About five miles from the city they took shelter in a cave called Thawr. When the Makkans learnt of the Prophet's escape, they were mad with rage. They offered a prize of one hundred camels to anyone who captured Muhammad. A number of horsemen raced out into the desert. A few of them even managed to reach the very mouth of the cave of Thawr. Abu Bakr was stricken with fear lest they harm the Prophet. But the Prophet reassured him, saying: "Don't be afraid. We are not just two in this cave. There is a third­ God." (Bukhari) The Prophet and Abu Bakr lay hidden in this cave for three days and three nights. On the fourth day they came out and continued the journey along with Abdullah ibn Urayqit, their guide, and Amir bin Fuhaira, Abu Bakr's servant. After a continuous ride of a day and a night the Prophet and Abu Bakr stopped to rest. It was then that Suraqah bin Malik, who had sighted them on the road to Madinah, managed to come close to them. He had been one of those horsemen who, eager to earn the reward of a hundred camels, had gone in hot pursuit of the Prophet. But when he spurred on his horse, it stumbled and fell, bringing Suraqa down also. He made two more attempts to approach the Prophet, but the same thing happened each time. Now Suraqa was frightened. He realised that no one could harm the Prophet, for he was under divine protection. He begged for mercy. The Prophet forgave him.

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