Are we ready to invite the Prophet to our midst?
At the beginning of the 7th century CE the people of different tribes in Arabia who came to perform pilgrimage around Kaba heard a strange message from a man called Muhammad the trusted. They heard for the first time about the unity of God, the equality of mankind, the rights of women, equality of black and white, and many other strange messages which bewildered them.
However, the message bearer was not to be taken lightly. He was Muhammad (pbuh) known among all for his merits, trustfulness and integrity. Orphaned at birth, since the very young age he was always concerned about the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. He was always demanding with himself and thoroughly soft with others.
But centuries of Polytheism, bloodshed and exploitation of the weak made his mission to look impossible. The idea of one God and equality of man looked so strange to ordinary people and so dangerous for the elite that Muhammad's task turned out to be a struggle against the strong currents of the time.
But Muhammad (pbuh) had not come to give up. He was serious in his mission, relentless in his endeavor and soft in his character. As quoted by Alphonse de La Martaine, "If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad?"
It was obvious from the beginning that the elite of Mecca including some of his closest relatives would turn against him and due to their machinations over the period of 13 years in Mecca he could only attract 300 followers.
But this was just on the surface. Deep underneath, he moved the majority in their hearts. His words, his face, and his character attracted somewhere unknown in human soul.
However, the more the people were attracted to him the more defiant the elite of Mecca seeing their position endangered became. His followers were exposed to isolation, torture and even death to the extent that the Prophet advised them to seek refuge in Ethiopia where a just Christian king would protect them. It seemed his mission had failed, but in the centre of the gloom came hope.
The help came from a faraway city on the North, Yathrib, an ancient city built in one of the few fertile oases of Arabia. By the 2nd century CE, that is five centuries before Islam, several Jewish tribes had already settled in Yathrib in expectation of a Prophet they thought they had been promised in their books. One of these tribes, Banu Qurayzah, rose to such a prominence that served as the tax collector for the king of Persia during the Persian Empire's domination in Hejaz.
Later, two powerful tribes, Aus and Khazraj arrived in the city from Yemen and settled themselves as the leading tribes. However, when Muhammad peace be on him, announced his mission in Mecca, the Aus and the Khazraj were the sworn enemies of each other having fought already for 120 years with Jewish tribes allied with either of the two.
It was during these hard times of animosity and bloodshed that some of them heard the message of the new Prophet round Kaba during the hajj season. The message spread in Yathrib quickly. Despite the elite of Mecca his teachings resonated with the flesh and the soul of the people in Yathrib, later called Madinaut al-Nabi or simply Medina. It was a cure for their century long wounds.
They heard in his revelations: Do not kill a soul for God has made life inviolable, except with due cause. 17:33. His revelation told them: the best people in the eyes of God were those who lived humbly and did not retaliate against the ignorant 25:63. He asked them to be kind and forgiving toward others. 7:199. He, more than that, taught them to repel evil with goodness, in that way your enemies would become your friends. 41:34. He told them the most important acts in the eyes of God were to free slaves, feed the hungry, and exhort one another to pity and mercy. 90:13-17. The message hit them hard and filled their hearts with the love of the message bearer and they invited him to migrate to their city where many people had already accepted his message.
The Prophet accepted on certain conditions which looked like the Ten Commandments of the Bible. He stipulated that they had to live a moral life, had to abandon bloodshed and live in peace, had to listen and obey all the teachings of the Qur'an in all sets of circumstances and had to enjoin good and forbid evil.
With all these conditions of the Prophet would we think that we are ready to invite him to our midst as well?
Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour