Life of Muhammad 20

This is another excerpt from Bill Warner’s book Mohammed and the Unbelievers, which is an abridged version of Ibn Ishaq’s Sira. It skips poetry, avoids too many foreign names, and uses a modern language.

MORE ARGUMENTS WITH THE MECCANS

Another group of Meccans sent for Mohammed to see if they could negotiate away this painful division of the tribes. They went over old ground and again Mohammed refused the money and power that were offered. He said they were the ones who needed to decide whether they wanted to suffer in the next world and he had the only solution. If they rejected him and his message, Allah would tend to them. One of the Quraysh said, “Well, if you speak for and represent the only true god, then perhaps this Allah could do something for us.”

“This land is dry. Let your Allah make us a river next to Mecca,” said another.

“We are cramped being next to the mountains. Let your Allah open up some space by moving the mountains back,” said another.

“Our best members are dead. Let your Allah restore them to life and, in particular, send back the best leader of our tribe, Qusayy. We will ask Qusayy whether or not you speak truly,” said another.

Mohammed said he was sent as a messenger, not to do such work. They could either accept his message or reject it and be subject to the loss. Then one of them said, “If you won’t use your Allah to help us, then let your Allah help you. Send an angel to confirm you and prove to us that we are wrong. As long as the angel is present, let him make a garden and fine home for you and present you all the gold and silver he could need. If you do this, we will know that you represent Allah and we are wrong.” The Quraysh wanted miracles as proof.

Mohammed replied that he would not do so because such things were not what Allah had appointed him to do.

Then one of the Quraysh said, “Then let the heavens be dropped on us in pieces as you say your Lord could do. If you do not, we will not believe.” Mohammed said Allah could do that if Allah wished or he might not if he wished not.

They then said, “Did not your Lord know that we would ask you these questions? Then your Lord could have prepared you with better answers. And your Lord could have told you what to tell us if we didn’t believe. We hear that you are getting this Koran from a man named Al Rahman from another town. We don’t believe in Al Rahman. Our con­science is clear. We must either destroy you or you must destroy us. Bring your angels and we will believe them.”

Mohammed turned and left. A cousin chased him and fell in beside him to talk. He said, “Mohammed, your tribe has made you propositions and you have rejected them. First, they asked you for things for them­selves that they might see if you are authentic. They would have followed you. You did nothing. Then they asked you for things for yourself so they could witness your superiority over them and prove your standing with Allah. You did nothing. Then they said to bring on the punishments that your Allah has threatened and with which you have frightened them. You did nothing. Personally, I will never believe until you get a ladder up to the sky and then climb it while I watch and four angels come and testify that you are truthful. But you know, even if you did all that, I still don’t know if I would believe you.”

Mohammed went home, sad and depressed. He had hoped they sent for him to announce their submission to Allah and his teachings. Instead, they had offered more resistance and questions.

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