Life of Muhammad 16

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.

THE FAIR

Mecca was a town with two sources of money. The first was trading. Mohammed had made his money in the caravan trade. The other was fees from pilgrims to the shrine of the Kabah, and fairs combined a little of both. All the tribes came for a fair where people would see old acquain­tances and buy, sell, and trade goods. Since Mecca was one of several sacred or pilgrim sites, rituals for the different tribal gods were performed around the Kabah and Mecca.

I171 It was time for the fair and the Quraysh were in turmoil. They did not want the divisions and rancor that had come with Mohammed’s preaching not spread to the other clans outside Mecca. A group of con­cerned Quraysh talked and decided to meet with Al Walid, a man of respect and influence. He told them that all the visitors would come to them and ask about this man Mohammed and what he was preaching. It was a foregone conclusion that Mohammed would preach.

I171 But what could they agree on to tell the visitors so that there could be one voice. What would they call him? Was he possessed? Crazy? An ecstatic poet? A sorcerer? Who was he? What was he? Finally they agreed that Mohammed was a sorcerer since he separated a son from his father or brother or wife or other family.

I171 They split up and went out on the roadsides of town to speak with the travelers before they even got to Mecca.

I171 Mohammed delivered a message from Allah about Al Walid, the leader of the Kafirs:

74:11 Let me deal with my creations, whom I have given great riches and sons to sit by their side, and whose lives I have made smooth and comfort­able. And still he wants me to give him more. No, I say. He is an enemy of Our revelations. I will impose a dreadful punishment on him because he plotted and planned.

74:19 Damn him! How he planned. Again, Damn him! How he planned.

74:21 Then he looked around and frowned and scowled and turned his back with vain pride and said, “This is nothing but old magic; it is the work of a mere mortal.”

74:26 We will certainly throw him into Hell.

I172 The plan of hurting Mohammed by warning the visitors just made everyone more curious. When they heard Mohammed’s soaring words from the Koran, many visitors were impressed. When they left they took all the stories from Mecca, the Quraysh, the new Muslims, and, of course, Mohammed. Soon all of that part of Arabia was talking.

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Life of Muhammad 15

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.

Chapter 4 Public Preaching (Continued)

I167 When Mohammed spoke about his new religion, it did not cause any problems among the Meccans. After all, there were hundreds of reli­gions in Mecca; it was a polytheistic culture and very religiously tolerant. Then Mohammed began to condemn their religion and rituals and wor­ship. This was a new phenomenon. New religions could be added, and had been, but not to the detriment of others. The Meccans took offense and resolved to treat him as an enemy. Luckily, he had the protection of his influential uncle, Abu Talib.

I168 Some of the Quraysh went to Abu Talib and said to him, “Your nephew has cursed our gods, insulted our religion, mocked our way of life, criticized our civilization, attacked our virtues, and said our forefathers were ignorant and in error. You must stop him, or you must let us stop him. We will rid you of him.” Abu Talib gave them a soft reply and sent them away.

I168 Mohammed continued to preach his religion and condemn the other religions. His relationship with the Meccans continued to deterio­rate and men withdrew from him in dislike. He became the talk of Mecca and upset his tribe by saying the Quraysh’s ancestors were burning in Hell and that the Meccans were wrong. It was not just that he was right or had a different way or even a better way, but that they were wrong.

I168 Mohammed continued to preach Islam and his relations with his tribal kin grew worse and men drew away from him and his condemna­tion of who they were.

I168 Abu Talib called Mohammed to him and told him to spare him the burden of the pain of the Quraysh resentment. Mohammed told him that if they gave him the sun and the moon he would not change until Allah had made him victorious. Even if he died he would not quit. Abu Talib could not stand to censor his nephew and let him go with his consent.

I169 The Quraysh saw that Abu Talib would not help. Mohammed con­tinued to preach Islam and attack them and their lives. Mecca was a small town; everybody knew everybody else. Islam had split the town of Mecca and divided the ruling and priestly tribe. The Quraysh were attacked at the very ground of their social being.

I169 The Quraysh were desperate and approached Mohammed’s pro­tector with a desperate plane. “Here is our strongest and most handsome man. Adopt him for his intelligence and support. Give us Mohammed. He has opposed both your religion and ours, divided us as a people, and mocked us for who we are. Let us trade our best man for your Mohammed so we can kill him. Then it would be man for man. Fair and just.” Abu Talib would not give Mohammed up.

I170 Things got much worse. Now there was open hostility in the town. Quarrels increased; arguments got very heated. Complete disharmony dominated the town. The tribe started to abuse newly converted Muslims, but Mohammed’s uncle was a respected elder and was able to protect them from serious harm.

Life of Muhammad 14

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.

CHAPTER 4 PUBLIC PREACHING

4:14 But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and go beyond His limits will be led into the Fire to live forever, and it will be a humiliating torment!

I166 Since the word was out, Mohammed began to openly preach his new doctrine. He had kept private for three years before going public.

15: 92 By your Lord, We will certainly call them to account for all their deeds, so openly proclaim what you are commanded, and turn away from the polytheists.

15:95 Surely, We will defend you against those who scoff, who set up other gods with Allah.

26:213 Do not call upon any god but Allah, or you will be doomed. Rather, warn your close relatives, and be kind to the believers who follow you. If they disobey you, say, “I will not be responsible for your actions

15:8 We do not send the angels without good reason. If We did, the Kafirs would still not understand. Surely, We have sent down the message, and surely, We will guard it.

Those who listened to Mohammed’s message and joined him were called Muslims, which meant “those who have submitted.”

I166 Mohammed called together about forty of his kinsmen. He ad­dressed them, “I know of no Arab who has come to his people with a nobler message than mine. I have brought you the best in this world and the next. Allah has ordered me to call you to him. So which of you will cooperate with me in this matter?” Mohammed’s nephew, Ali, fat in the belly and thin in the legs, with watery eyes, said, “Prophet of Allah, I will be your helper in this matter.” Mohammed laid his hand on Ali’s back and said, “This is my brother, my successor, and my executor among you. Hearken to him and obey him.” The Quraysh laughed, got up, and said to Abu Talib, Mohammed’s uncle, “He has ordered you to listen to your son and obey him.” The Quraysh left.

I166 The Muslims went to the edge of Mecca in order to be alone to pray. One day a bunch of the Quraysh came upon them and began to mock them, and a fight started. One of the Muslims by the name of Sa’d picked up the jaw bone of a camel and struck one of the Quraysh with it and bloodied him. This violence was the first blood to be shed in Islam.

Life of Muhammad 13

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.

THE FIRST MALES TO ACCEPT ISLAM

I159 A famine had overtaken the Quraysh and Mohammed’s uncle, Abu Talib, had a large family. He was a well respected tribal leader but had fallen on hard times. Mohammed went to another uncle, Al Abbas, and they both went to Abu Talib and offered to help raise two of his children. One, Ali, went into Mohammed’s house to be raised by him and Khadija. When Ali turned ten he joined Mohammed in his new religion, Islam, which means submission.

T1162 Mohammed, his wife, and his nephew, Ali, started praying at the Kabah with their new rituals of ablutions and prayer with prostrations. A visitor asked about this new ritual and was told it was a new religion and that Mohammed had said he would receive the treasures of Rome and Persia.

I160 Mohammed and Ali used to go to the edge of town to practice their new ritual prayers. One day Abu Talib came upon them and asked what were they doing. Mohammed replied, “Uncle, this is the religion of Allah, his angels, and his prophets and the religion of Abraham. Allah has sent me as an apostle to all mankind. You, my uncle, deserve that I should teach you the truth and call you to Islam.” His uncle said he could not give up the religion of his ancestors but that he would support Mohammed. He also advised Ali, his son, to keep up his relation with Mohammed.

I161 Next, a freed slave joined Mohammed. After him, Abu Bakr joined the new religion. Abu Bakr was a very influential man among the Quraysh. He was well liked and had an easy manner. He knew more of the lineage of the Quraysh than any other man. Such knowledge was of extreme value in a tribe that worshiped its ancestors. In addition, Abu Bakr was a prosper­ous merchant. He counseled many of the tribe about business and tribal matters. He was the first Meccan to preach the new religion in public and was influential in bringing many Quraysh to Islam. Until this time, Mo­hammed had been as private as possible about his new religion.

I161 A new element was added to the religion. It was not enough to say that Allah was god, but it was also necessary to renounce the tribal gods as well. Islam was not just an affirmation but a denial and opposi­tion as well.

Life of Muhammad 12

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.

 

PRAYER

I157 Mohammed began to pray with his new understanding. At first he did two prostrations with each prayer. Later he understood that he should use four prostrations per prayer and use two prostrations when he was traveling.

I158 Then, when he was on a mountain, he saw a vision in which Gabriel showed him how to perform ablutions (ritual cleansing with water) as a purification ritual before prayer. He went home and showed Khadija the way he now understood the prayer rituals should be performed and she copied him.

I158 Further inner visions made Mohammed pray at different times of the day.

Life of Muhammad 11

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.

THE FIRST CONVERT

I156 Mohammed’s wife, Khadija, was the first convert. From the first she encouraged him, believed him. She knew him to be of good character and did not think him to be deceived or crazy.

Soon he stopped hearing voices or seeing visions and became depressed and felt abandoned. Then his visions started again and said:

93:1 By the brightness of the noonday sun and by the night at its darkest, your Lord has not forgotten you, and He does not hate you.

93:4 Certainly the future will be better than the past, and in the end your Lord will be generous to you, and you will be satisfied.

Then Mohammed began to tell others who were close to him of his visions.

Life of Muhammad 10

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, aviods too many foreign names, and uses a modern language.

THE FIRST DAYS OF BEING A PROPHET

CHAPTER 3

4:13 These are the limits set up by Allah. Those who obey Allah and His Messenger will be led into the Gardens watered by flowing rivers to live forever. This is the ultimate reward! But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and go beyond His limits will be led into the Fire to live forever, and it will be a humiliating torment!

I150 Mohammed would take month-long retreats to be alone to perform the Quraysh religious practices. After the retreat, he would circumambu­late (circle the Kabah) and pray.

I152 At the age of forty, Mohammed began to have visions and hear voices. His visions were first shown to him as bright as daybreak dur­ing his sleep in the month of Ramadan. Mohammed said that the angel Gabriel came to him with brocade embroidered with writing and com­manded him to read. “What shall I read?” The angel pressed him and said, “Read.” Mohammed said again, “What shall I read?” The angel pressed him again tightly and again commanded, “Read!” Again the reply, “What shall I read?”

The angel said:

96:1 Recite: In the name of your Lord, Who created man from clots of blood.
96:3 Recite: Your Lord is the most generous, Who taught the use of the pen, and taught man what he did not know.

T11501 Mohammed awoke from his sleep. Now, Mohammed hated ec­static poets and the insane. His thoughts were that he was now either a poet or insane, that which he hated. He thought to kill himself by jump­ing off a cliff. So off he went to do just that. Half-way up the hill, he saw a being. “Mohammed,” it said, “thou art the Apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel.” He gazed at the angel and no matter which way he turned his head the vision was before his eyes. Mohammed stood and watched for a long time.

I153 He went back home to his wife, Khadija, and told her he was either crazy or a poet. She replied that he was neither, that perhaps the vision was true; he was a good man, and Allah would not play tricks on him. She was elated and said she thought him to be a prophet and set off to tell her Christian cousin about the visions.

T1150 When she told her cousin what Mohammed had said, he replied that this was wonderful news. He was sure the angel was Gabriel of the Torah (Old Testament) and that Mohammed was a prophet. She returned and told Mohammed what he had said. Mohammed felt better and went to the Kabah to pray. Khadija’s Christian cousin, Waraqa, found him there and had him repeat his story. Waraqa agreed that surely Mohammed was a prophet.

Mohammed’s visions, dreams, and voices were called revelations. A great many of these revelations were expressed in poetry that was eas­ily memorized and recited. The recitations (Koran means recitation) were recorded and slowly grew into the complete Koran over the next twenty-three years.