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The persecution of Prophet Muhammad in 4 BH

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent when Quraysh used to worship idols, boast about their ancestry, lineage and wealth, enslave the common folk, and give full rein to their lusts and desires. As a result, they naturally tried to stop the Prophet’s call in any way they could.

The disbelievers were not satisfied with just denying the Islamic call; they employed many methods to confront and repel it. These ways included ridiculing and mocking Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him), and those who followed him. One time they claimed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was bewitched, another time that he was a lying sorcerer, and a third time that he was a crazy poet…and they spread other different charges and contradictory claims, all of which only proved that they were lying and making up false claims.

Whenever they saw the Prophet (peace be upon him), they used to look at him with anger and infuriation, as Allah (Glorified is He) relates, {And the disbelievers would almost trip you up with their eyes when they hear the Message; and they say, ‘Surely, he is possessed!’} [Surah Al-Qalam: 51].

They used to also laugh at the Prophet (peace be upon him) when they saw him, sarcastically saying, as Allah (Glorified is He) relates, {Is this the one who talks about your gods?} [Surah Al-Anbiya: 36]. And whenever they saw any weak Companions, they used to sarcastically and mockingly say, {Is it these who Allah has favoured from among us?} [Surah Al-Anam: 53].

When their ridicule and mockery which they employed to stop this religion failed, they resorted to trying to stop people listening to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the noble Quran, as whenever the truth from Allah (Glorified is He) reaches people, they quickly believe in it. Therefore, they used to raise their voices whenever they heard the Quran, and make loud noises whenever they saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) trying to call someone to Allah (Glorified is He) or trying to recite Quran to him. The disbelievers used to encourage each other to do this. Allah (Glorified is He) says, {The disbelievers say, ‘Listen not to this Quran, but talk at random in the middle of its [recitation], that you may gain the upper hand!’} [Surah Fussilat: 26].

But the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued to call people to Allah (Glorified is He), confronting his enemies, Quraysh and its leaders, and their efforts to stop the call. They purposefully raised arguments and spread doubts about the religion, especially about the resurrection after death. They were skeptical about it, use to put forward arguments against it, and claim it was only an ancient myth. Allah (Glorified is He) relates what they used to say, {What! When we die and become dust and bones, could we really be raised up again!} [Surah Al-Mominoon: 82].

Allah (Glorified is He) relates that they used to also say, {Shall we show you a man who tells you that when you are all scattered to pieces after total disintegration, you shall [then be raised] in a new creation?} [Surah Saba: 7].

However, the Quran used to refute their wrong ideas and views, giving rational replies in more than one ayah, all of which they could not contest in the least. One such example of these ayahs is Allah’s saying, {And he makes comparisons for Us and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who can give life to [dry] bones and decomposed ones [at that]?’ Say, ‘He will give them Life Who created them the first time! For He fully knows all creation’} [Surah Yasin: 78, 79].

When this method of trying to stop Islam and the call failed, Quraysh began to try to physically harm the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), believing that by harming the Prophet (peace be upon him) and torturing his Companions the believers would weaken and therefore submit to them and obey them. But all of this was of no avail, as it is impossible to remove faith that had mixed with the inner structure of the heart from a heart and mind which has tasted the sweetness of faith!

Below are examples of how the polytheists harmed the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them):

-One day, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) stood up to give a sermon in the mosque in Mecca, so the disbelievers hit him severely. One of those who hit him was Atabah ibn Rabi’ah, who hit Abu Bakr on his face with two open sandals until one could not distinguish his nose from his face. Bani Tameem came to help Abu Bakr, pushing the disbelievers away from him. They then carried him, wrapped in a cloak, to his house. They feared that Abu Bakr might die, and took an oath that if he did die they would kill Atabah ibn Rabi’ah.

-Uthman ibn Affan’s uncle used to wrap Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) up in a mat made of palm leaves, and then put a fire under it. It has been reported that when he entered Islam, his uncle Al-Hakim ibn Abu Al-Aas ibn Omayyah tied him up strongly and swore that he would not free him until he left Islam. Therefore, Uthman swore that he would not leave Islam. When his uncle saw how determined Uthman was in remaining a Muslim, he let him free.

-When Musaib ibn Umair’s mother learnt that Musaib (may Allah be pleased with him) had embraced Islam, she starved him and then pushed him out of her house. He used to have very many luxuries in his life before Islam, but after the torture his skin became as rough as the skin of a snake. The Companions used to even carry him because he had become so weak.

- When Abu Dharr Al-Ghafari (may Allah be pleased with him) heard about the Prophet (peace be upon him), he travelled to Mecca to ask about the Prophet. The people of Mecca hit him until he fell unconscious. He nearly died from the beating. Abbas saved him from his attackers.

-As for Bilal ibn Rabah (may Allah be pleased with him), he was Umayyah ibn Khalaf Al-Jumahi’s slave. Bilal’s master used to torture Bilal by throwing him on the sand on his face or back and then placing a huge stone on his chest. That was when the sun was at its hottest at the time of mid-day. He would then say to Bilal, "You will not be released from this until you die or disbelieve in Muhammed and worship Al-Lat and Al-Uzza." But Bilal remained patient and just kept repeating, "One; one." Eventually, Abu Bakr bought him, giving Umayyah a polytheistic slave he had. After that, Abu Bakr freed Bilal.

Moreover, Ammar and his mother and father Yasser (may Allah be pleased with them) used to be taken to the wilderness when the sand there had become very hot, and torture them with the hot sand. The Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by them when they were being tortured and said to them, Yasser (may Allah be pleased with him) died from the torture. As for Somaya (may Allah be pleased with her), she had talked roughly to Abu Jahl, so he stabbed her with his weapon in her private parts and she died as a martyr. She was the first martyr in Islam.

The enemies of Islam intensified their torture of Ammar (may Allah be pleased with him), torturing him in many different ways—one time dragging him on the ground, another time with a stone on his chest, and a third time immersing him in water until he nearly drowned, saying to him that they would not leave him until he reviled the Prophet (peace be upon him) and spoke well about Al-Uzza and Al-Lat. He said what they asked him to say, and so they stopped torturing him. But he went at once to the Prophet (peace be upon him), crying. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, <‘What has happened?’ Ammar replied, ‘Something very bad, Oh Prophet. Such-and-such happened.’

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘What do you feel in your heart?’ Ammar said, ‘I am convinced of the faith.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Oh Ammar, if they put you to the same torture again, you may utter the same words.’ Then Allah (Glorified is He) revealed the following from Surah Al-Nahl, {Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters disbelief–except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith–but such as open their breast to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allah} [Surah Al-Nahl: 106].

-As for Khubbab ibn Al-Arat (may Allah be pleased with him), a sixth example of those early Muslims that were tortured, the polytheists tortured him severely; they used to burn his back with burning coal and stones that had been heated by fire, and twist his neck.

Amer ibn Faheera (may Allah be pleased with him) embraced Islam early in the call, before the Prophet (peace be upon him) established Dar Al-Arqam. He was not of high position in Mecca, so they tortured him severely, but this did not make him leave Islam. He used to look after Abu Bakr’s sheep.

Abu Fakeehah (may Allah be pleased with him), whose name was Abu Yasar, was Safwan ibn Umaiyah ibn Khalaf Al-Jumahi’s slave. He embraced Islam with Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him). Umaiyah ibn Khalaf took him and tied a rope around his legs, and then ordered someone to pull him. Next, he threw him into some burning coals and let some insects pass by him. Umaiyah then said to him, "Is this not your Lord?" Abu Yasar then said, "Allah is my Lord and your Lord, and the Lord of this, too." Therefore, Umaiyah strangled him strongly. Umaiyah’s brother, Abu ibn Khalaf, was with Umaiyah at the time. He said, "Torture him more until Muhammed comes to save him with his magic." They continued to torture him until he fell unconscious and they thought he had died. He later regained his consciousness and Abu Bakr, the truthful one, bought him and freed him.

With regards to the believing women, Zeinab, Um Ubais, Labeeba and An-Nahadiya, they were similarly tortured very severely by their masters, but they did not leave their religion, may Allah be pleased with them [adapted from the Blessed Garden].