Proclamation & Consequent Persecution

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Mecca was a metropolis for trading and Muhammad and his wife, Khadija, were large investors in the business. It is stated by various historians that Muhammad was known to utilise the trading scene both for business and to discuss and debate religion and tradition with the visitors of Mecca. Whether they were atheist, monotheist, or polytheist, Muhammad engaged them in many debates.

Towards his forties, he would spend days and weeks in a cave in Mount Hira where he meditated and prayed. No one was allowed into his solace except his wife, Khadija, and cousin, Ali. Whoever you believe was the first muslim – Ali, Zayd ibn Harith, or Abu Bakr – Khadija was among them. When he reached 40, he was visited by the angel Gabriel whilst he was in the cave of Mount Hira.

The first message from God was;

“Recite in the name of your Lord who created”

Excerpt From: Sahih International Quran.com

Afterwards, there was a three year period of silence where no more messages from God came. In this period, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gathered a small following of thirty or so people. It was a small and poor group that was of no concern for the governors of Mecca and were therefore not payed any mind during this time.

It is strongly corroborative of Mohammed’s sincerity that the earliest converts to Islam were his bosom friends and the people of his household, who, all intimately acquainted with his private life, could not fail to have detected those discrepancies which more or less invariably exist between the pretensions of the hypocritical deceiver and his actions at home.

Excerpt From: John Davenport. “Apology for Mohammed and the Koran.”

Three years passed before God decided it was time for the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) proclamation of his Prophethood. Here, there is a sharp degree of variation between different interpretations and I advise people to look into it themselves. Some sources are 1. Heroes and Hero Worship by Thomas Carlyle, 2. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, 3. Apology for Muhammad and The Koran by John Davenport, 4. Muhammad At Mecca by William Montgomery Watt.

“And warn thy tribe, thy nearest kin”

It is reported that when this verse was revealed, the Prophet addressed his kin directly by name, including his daughter Fāṭimah, his uncle ʿAbbās, and his aunt Ṣafiyyah, and his tribe, the Quraysh, in more general terms, saying, “Purchase your souls from God! I can avail thee naught against God”. In a version of the story favored by Shiite sources, the Prophet asked a gathering of his nearest relatives who among them would be his supporter, helper, and trustee; only his young cousin ʿAlī, who was still a boy, rose to respond. In some accounts, the Prophet’s words to his family and relatives come over the course of three consecutive nights during which he invited them to partake of a meal. In other accounts, the Prophet ascends the hill Ṣafā to deliver his warning, asking his kin (usually the number given is approximately forty) if they would believe him if he told them that an army was just about to come from around the mountain; when they reply in the affirmative, he then warns them of the coming of the Hereafter.

Excerpt From: Seyyed Hossein Nasr. “The Study Quran.” iBooks.

During this time as well, the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) occurred. Whether it was a physical or spiritual journey is disputed but it is accepted that one night the Prophet was transported on a heavenly creature called Al-Buraq to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. There he led all the prophets that had been before him in prayer before he ascended to heaven where he saw the seven heavens and spoke to God.

Within this period both Abu Talib and Khadija died, afterwards the Prophet (PBUH) married his friend’s daughter Aisha. She is said to have been a strong woman that held speeches in public and participated in wars.

Not long after, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) proclaimed his prophethood and the new religion of the true one God. Now the Qurayshi started to take notice of him and thus began the persecution. Although they dared not harm his body because he was the nephew of the great Abu Talib and Hamza The Valiant, they tormented him in other ways. They would disrupt his prayers at the Ka’ba and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) followers were severely physically abused to denounce their new God. Worst was the abuse of slaves, the poor, and people without ties to great and known families in the city. But even Abu Bakr was reported to have suffered humiliation and torture. A limit was reached and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised his followers to migrate to Abyssinia.

Fifteen or so of his followers migrated to Abyssinia where a kind Christian king ruled, this was to be the first Hijra (flight). The second Hijra was five years later and with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who fled the city of Mecca on the same night his assassination had been planned.

This marks the first day of our calendar, Rabi’ Al Awal (The First Spring), and on the 26th day it is believed that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reached Yathrib (modern day Medina).


Sources:

Prophet Muhammad – A Brief Biography by Al-Balagh Foundation

Pre-Islamic History: Part III

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Centuries before, it is believed that Abraham himself built The Ka’ba with a black stone that had fallen from the sky. Between the Abrahamic reign and the Islamic era, there existed a void in which Mecca was a safe haven where even the most savage groups would be in peace with their enemies. Therefore it was the perfect spot for trade; here you could find spices and cultures traded and sold with each other.

In his late youth, Muhammad frequently followed with his uncle on their caravan trips across the Arabian Peninsula. Amongst the businessmen and buyers he was nicknamed “the truthful, the trustworthy” due to his moral character. Khadija, a prominent businesswoman, took a liking to him and subsequently proposed to marry him.

Khadija was born to a father who was a successful merchant in their Quraysh tribe of Mecca. She inherited her father’s skills in a time in history where society was male-dominated and dangerous. Upon her father’s death, she took over the business and traded goods through the primary commerce centers at that time, from Mecca to Syria and to Yemen, hiring the most trustworthy men of character to brave the dangerous trade routes.

Huffington Post

Khadija was 40 when she married the 25 year old Muhammad, therefore most Shia muslims believe that she only bore him one daughter which was Fatima. The common Sunni view is that Khadija bore him six children including Fatima, Ruqaie, and Um Kalthum. Shia muslims claim that Ruqaie and Um Kulthum were Khadija’s sister’s children that were taken in and adopted by their aunt Khadija and her husband, Muhammad.

Ten years later Mecca was flooded and massive chunk of The Cube/Ka’ba of Mecca was damaged. The Quraysh tribe didn’t know who to bestow the honour to return the holy black stone back to its place. Therefore, it was decided that the next person to enter the Meccan region would be the person to do it. Coincidentally, Muhammad was the next person to enter the region and was thereby chosen to place it in it’s current place in the corner on the massive structure.

Then came the age of ignorance where chaos reigned and reason took a backseat; many historians claim pagans performed their pilgrimage rites naked in Mecca. It was a dark time and even Muhammad and his influential family suffered some economical decline. People did not have the knowledge that we do about sex and fertilisation, these topics were not explored or explained as they are today. Poverty loomed and for fear, many people resorted to female infanticide. Other historians attribute this emergence of rite as a misogynistic phenomenon. Whether it was a way of contraception or a statement to elevate male dominance, it swept the Arabian Peninsula.


Sources:

The Life of Muhammad The Prophet by Allamah Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi

The Story Of A Picture

Islam-Guide

Muhammad: Religion Of The Pre-Islamic Arabs

Islam and Female Infanticide

Some Observations on Infanticide in Medieval Muslim Society by Avner Giladi

Pre-Islamic History: Part II

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Now that we know about what battles preceded the Prophet’s time let’s delve into the years leading up to the emergence of Islam. A little recap; Muhammad was born and quickly orphaned and passed to his uncle. His grandfather had prophesied a Prophet to emerge from his grandchildren but they were all still young.

Muhammad was cared for by his uncle Abu Talib and his wife Fatima bint Assad. The couple had many children including the successor to Muhammed, Ali ibn Abi Talib. Before Muhammad was orphaned, it is important to note, that he was sent away from Mecca to be fostered by a Bedouin woman named Halima. Some claim that this was the common custom of Arabs in the area, other say that his mother sent him away because she didn’t want him to grow up in a polytheist atmosphere which was the case in Mecca.

When Muhammad was passed on to Abu Talib he was around 12 years old and clung passionately to his uncle. But Abu Talib had other concerns and his work demanded he travel to Syria with his family’s trade caravans. Ultimately, Abu Talib conceded to allow his nephew to accompany him on his trip.

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This is the most famous story that was always told to me at bedtime:

At Bosra, near one of the halts where the Meccan caravan always stopped, there was a cell which had been lived in by a Christian monk for generation after generation. When one died, another took his place and inherited all that was in the cell including some old manuscripts. Amongst these was one which contained the prediction of the coming of a Prophet to the Arabs; and Buhaira, the monk who now lived in the cell, was well versed in the contents of this book, which interested him greatly.

He had often seen the Meccan caravan approach and halt not far from his cell, but as this one came in sight his attention was struck by something the like of which he had never seen before: a small low-hanging cloud moved slowly above their heads so that it was always between the sun and one or two of the travellers. With intense interest he watched them draw near.

But suddenly his interest changed to amazement, for as soon as they halted the cloud ceased to move, remaining stationary over the tree beneath which they took shelter, while the tree itself lowered its branches over them, so that they were doubly in the shade. Buhaira knew that such a portent, though unobtrusive, was of high significance. Only some great spiritual presence could explain it, and immediately he thought of the expected Prophet. Could it be that he had at last come, and was amongst these travellers?

The cell had recently been stocked with provisions, and putting together all he had, he sent word to the caravan: “Men of Quraysh, I have prepared food for you, and I would that ye should come to me, everyone of you, young and old, bondman and freeman.” So they came to his cell, but despite what he had said they left Muhammad to look after their camels and their baggage. As they approached, Buhaira scanned their faces one by one.

But he could see nothing which corresponded to the description in his book, nor did there seem to be any man amongst them who was adequate to the greatness of the two miracles. Perhaps they had not all come. “Men of Quraysh,” he said, “let none of you stay behind.” “There is not one that hath been left behind,” they answered, “save only a boy, the youngest of us all.” “Treat him not so” said Buhaira, “but call him to come, and let him be present with us at this meal.” Abu-Talib and the others reproached themselves for their thoughtlessness. “We are indeed to blame,” said one of them, “that the son of Abdullah should have been left behind and not brought to share this feast with us,” whereupon he went to him and embraced him and brought him to sit with the people.

One glance at the boy’s face was enough to explain the miracles to Bahira; and looking at him attentively throughout the meal he noticed many features of both face and body which corresponded to what was in his book. So when they had finished eating, the monk went to his youngest guest and asked him questions about his way of life and about his sleep, and about his affairs in general.

Muhammad readily informed him of these things for the man was venerable and the questions were courteous and benevolent; nor did he hesitate to draw off his cloak when finally the monk asked if he might see his back. Buhaira had already felt certain, but now he was doubly so, for there, between his shoulders, was the very mark he expected to see, the seal of prophethood even as it was described in his book, in the selfsame place. He turned to Abu-Talib:

“Of what relation is this boy to you?” he said.

“He is my brother’s son,” said Abu-Talib.

“Then what of his father?” said the monk. “He died,” said the other.

Buhaira then replied, “Take your brother’s son back to his country, and guard him against the Jews, for by God, if they see him and know of him that which I know, they will contrive evil against him. Great things are in store for this brother’s son of yours.”

A bit revised by me but mainly taken from HERE!


Sources:

Islam-Guide

Biography of Prophet Muhammad (saww) – Sayed Ammar Nakshawani

Prophet Muhammad – A Brief Biography by Al-Balagh Foundation

Pre-Islamic History: Part I

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Islam is one of the top world religions with millions and more followers with origin in the Middle East that is currently unstable due to clash of belief systems or something else. Who knows? But, let’s strip back all of what we know about muslims and Islam and go back to its origin. Forget racism and islamophobia, let’s put that to the side and take a quick look into one of the least explored parts of Islam. Whether you’re an atheist or a strict believer, history is fascinating! History is the base for sociology and philosophy, it’s what has shaped us and, if we read into it closely, how we will go on to be.

In the southern Arabian Peninsula years were commonly named after great battles or major deaths in the area. It is widely accepted that the Prophet Muhammad was born in the ‘Year of the Elephant’ that loaned its name from the Ethiopian Abraha’s attempt at attacking and destroying The Ka’ba/Cube of Mecca with war elephants in his army. The reasons for his attempts are disputed but it is commonly agreed it was an act to oppose the pagans in Mecca and to avert more people to his church.

Abraha sent forward an army to invade the area right before their stop to Mecca in their advance. They seized hundreds of camels, including those of Abdul Muttalib’s (Muhammad’s grandfather), who was called to Abraha’s tent. In their meeting, Abraha explained that he wanted to demolish The Ka’ba/Cube of Mecca and would spare the inhabitants if they did not interfere. Abdul Muttalib did not contest this and solely asked for his camels back, which in turn took Abraha aback. He was expecting resistance but Abdul Muttalib explained that they do not fight in the name of God and just like his purpose is to save his own belongings, God would surely protect his own house.

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According to the Quran, Abraha led his army with elephants against Mecca which were met with swallows stoning them from above and defeating them. In their beaks and claws they were carrying clay that many believe to have been glowing hot and taken directly from hell. It is also said that one of the eight elephants, Mahmud (any connection to the word mammoth?), halted at the entrance to Mecca and refused to enter. Some historians and scientists attribute this to an erruption of smallpox in the elephants.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
1. Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the masters of the elephant? 2. Did He not make their scheming go astray, 3. and send against them birds in swarms, 4. pelting them with stones of baked clay, 5. such that He made them like devoured husks? – The Holy Quran, Chapter 105, ‘The Elephant’

Excerpt From: Seyyed Hossein Nasr. “The Study Quran.”

Later the same year(some say a decade later), a boy is born, quickly orphaned, and taken in by his grandfather Abdul Muttalib. On his deathbed, Abdul Muttalib is said to have told his son Abu Talib to take extra care of Muhammed and prophesied that one of his grandchildren would be a Prophet of God.


Sources:

Islam-Guide

Islam and Literature

I actually haven’t read that many books about Islam or that have Muslim characters in them. I’ve read a few but it has always been coincidences… I mean, how many of you guys look for books centred around your religious belief? And in most cases, YA fantasy novels are void of real life religions.

But there are some books I’ve ordered that I’m really interested in getting into.

God In Pink by Hasan Namir:

Set in a war torn Iraq, it chronicles the story of Ramy who has come to the realisation that he’s gay and the sheikh Ammar. It will be interesting to read this Own Voice novel set in my parent’s home country. 

The Study Quran by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E.B. Lumbard, Mohammed Rustom:

The Harper Collins blurb reads as follow: “Drawn from a wide range of traditional Islamic commentaries, including Sunni and Shia sources, and from legal, theological, and mystical texts, The Study Quran conveys the enduring spiritual power of the Quran and offers a thorough scholarly understanding of this holy text.”

Cannot wait to read this because it offers a variability of analyses of Quranic verses!

“Believing Women” in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an by Asma Barlas:

The Goodreads synopsis: “Does Islam call for the oppression of women? Non-Muslims point to the subjugation of women that occurs in many Muslim countries, especially those that claim to be “Islamic,” while many Muslims read the Qur’an in ways that seem to justify sexual oppression, inequality, and patriarchy. Taking a wholly different view, Asma Barlas develops a believer’s reading of the Qur’an that demonstrates the radically egalitarian and antipatriarchal nature of its teachings.”

Can’t wait to get my hands on this, so happy to find texts by Muslim women!

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie:

I mean who hasn’t heard about this 80’s controversial book. Although the author claims it’s not about Islam, many find clear parallels between the main character and the Prophet Muhammad. Although this goes against everything I believe in, it’s important to read from “the other side”. If you do not debate your beliefs, how can you be sure of them?

Alright, so these are the books on my current theological TBR. Soon I’ll also share a non-fiction TBR which will be considerably longer!

Ramadan: 26th of May – 24th of June

Hi guys!

I don’t know how many of you know that I am a practicing muslim. During the month of Ramadan I’m going to do a miniseries on my snapchat and here, where I answer questions about Islam and Ramadan every day. It’s going to start very factual, turn a bit philosophical, and finish with more in-depth discussions.

Ramadan is a holy month on the Islamic calendar and marks our 9th month of our year. We have 12 months (Muharram, Safar, Rabi’ Al-Awal, Rabi’ Al-Thani, Jumada Al-Awal, Jumada Al-Thani, Rajab, Sha’ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul Qi’dah, Dhul Hijjah) that follow the lunar (moon) cycle rather than the earths orbit around the sun (Gregorian calendar).

I was born on 3rd of Rabi’ Al-Awal year 1416, the name of the month means The First Spring. Whilst the Gregorian calendar counts up from the birth of Jesus, we count up from the year the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina.

Interestingly, in Iraq we follow a few calendars. Although most adhere to the Gregorian calendar(Janurary to December), the names used for the months are derived from the Babylonian calendar commonly used in Judaism. The months are; Canon Al-Thani, Shebat, Athar, Nisa, Ayar, Haziran, Tammuz, Ab, Aylul, Tishrin Al-Awal, Thishrin Al-Thani, Canon Al-Awal. Meanwhile, religious cities adhere to the lunar Hijra calendar.

You’re welcome to comment anything you’ve always wondered and I’ll try to answer it as best I can.

I will try to consult and disclose as many sources as I can!