The Declaration of Prophethood
He was forty and the best of Allah’s creation. The doors of heavens were opened and angels were sent to earth to celebrate his Prophethood. Gabriel and Mika’il, along with 30,000 angels prepared the throne of Prophethood for his Ascension. The throne that was exclusively for the Noble Prophet of Islam - Muhammad - (SAW).
Muhammad (SAW) was deeply lost in divine love, in the Cave of Hira when Gabriel approached him with the words:
‘Read’. Muhammad (SAW) asked, ‘What to read?’ And Gabriel announced:
‘Read in the name of your Lord who created.
He created man from a clot.
Read and Your Lord is most Honorable.
Who taught (to write) with the pen.
Taught man what he knew not.’
(The Glorious Qur’an, 96:1-5)
And Muhammad (SAW) was thus appointed as the Prophet of Allah. He was the last Prophet and the best of them, the seal of Prophethood after whom there would come no other Prophet. Entrusted with this great divine responsibility and with a luminous face, he calmly descended from Hira to witness that all the trees, plants and rocks were bent in prostration before him, announcing with great eloquence:
‘Greetings to you, O’ Apostle of God.
Greetings to you, O’ Prophet of God.’
What is certain is that Muhammad (SAW) was the true messenger of the Wise and All-Knowing Allah. The earlier Prophets (PBUT) had already announced the news of his awaited Prophethood to their communities. The Glorious Qur’an says that Allah had taken a promise from his Apostles to inform their peoples about Hazrat Muhammad’s (SAW) Prophethood and advised them to obey him:
‘And when Allah made a covenant through the Prophets: Certainly what I have given you of Book and Wisdom - then an Apostle comes to you verifying that which is with you, you must believe in him, and you must help him. He said, ‘Do you affirm and accept My compact in this (matter)? They said: We do affirm. He said: Then bear witness, and I (too) am of the bearers of witness with you.’ (The Qur’an, 3:81)
This holy verse on the one hand refers to Allah’s Wisdom and how He very subtly prepared people for accepting the Holy Prophet of Islam (SAW) as the last Prophet and the seal of Prophethood and on the other hand, it refers to the status and greatness of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). In other words, one can infer that since his divine responsibility was greater than that of his predecessors, Allah takes a promise from his Apostles to believe in him. It was as a result of this news by earlier Prophets (PBUT) that a number of Arabs were mentally and spiritually prepared to accept the new religion even before Prophet Muhammad (SAW) declared his Prophethood.
Sireh Ibn-e Hesham, Vol. 1, writes about four persons from the Quraish tribe whose names were Waraqat ibn-e Nofail, Obaidollah ibn-e Jahsh, Othman ibn-e Al-Howaireth and Zaid ibn-e Amr ibn-e Nofail, who had refrained from idolatry and considered worshipping lifeless idols as an ignorant and doomed act and had set out to discover the true religion and who had in turn faced a lot of difficulties until they were able to quench their mental and spiritual thirst.
This incident and other similar incidents are clear proofs of the fact that many Arabs were mentally and spiritually prepared for accepting the divine religion that would deliver them from the chains of ignorance, polytheism and fanaticism. But, why did some Arabs oppose Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Islam from the moment he declared his Prophethood? Why did they afflict so much trouble and torture on the Muslims leaving the Noble Prophet of Islam (SAW) with no option but to ask them to migrate to Habasha (Ethiopia)? Why did Prophet Muhammad (SAW) have to conduct secretly his divine mission of inviting people to Islam for the first three years? Why did the Muslims have to face three long years of economic and social sanctions and be mercilessly besieged in the ‘Valley of Abu Talib’ (Sha’b-e-Abu Talib), by the unbelievers of Mecca.
An analytical study of the history of the early days of Islam suggests that the unbelievers were fighting Islam in two ways. Firstly, they were engaged in an internal war against the calls of their own innate natural inclination towards submitting to the divine Religion and towards accepting Islam. Secondly, they were outwardly engaged in war against the Muslims. Moreover, two main reasons have been identified as the actual causes of their opposition. The first reason was that the Arabs were traditionally very fanatical about loyalty to their tribal customs and pacts and this false loyalty was challenged to the fullest by Islam which called on to them to abandon their ignorant and deviated ancient tribal customs of worshipping idols (polytheism), instead, inviting them to monotheism and the belief in the One, True God - Allah.
The second reason why the traditional Arabs initially fought against Islam and the Prophet (SAW) was more economical in nature. The Ka’ba was the most important source of income besides being a status symbol for the Arabs and especially the nobles of Quraish who were considered to be the guardians of the Ka’ba and hence benefited largely from the gifts and offerings that the other Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula made, to the idols that were housed in the Ka’ba, during their religious ceremonies and festivals. Besides, they also earned from the trading business that took place during these festivals and ceremonies.
Thus, as long as the Prophet of Islam (SAW) did not oppose their idols they did not bother him so much. However, as soon as Prophet Muhammad (SAW) talked about monotheism and abandoning idol-worshipping, they declared their animosity towards him and his followers, since they found their material interests under threat. The nobles of Quraish had guessed very well that if the Arabs accepted this new religion of monotheism they would lose their great source of income and wealth. Thus, they tried to dissuade Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through offering him wealth, position, status, wives, palaces, etc., on the condition that he refrained from propagating the new religion. And when they lost all their hopes, they decided to assassinate him in order to get rid of him.
However, it was Allah’s will to protect His Messenger and spread His religion through him. And thus, day after day, more and more Arabs embraced Islam and the number of Muslims and the supporters of the new faith increased and strengthened the roots of Islam. The Glorious Qur’an explains this in the following verse:
‘Those who follow the Apostle - Prophet, the Ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Tawrat and Injil, (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were put upon them; ...’ (7:157)
Montaha Al-Amal, Sheikh Abbas Qomi.
Tarikh-e Ya`qubi, Ahmad Ibn-e Abi Ya`qub, Vol. 1.
Tarkh-e Tabari, Muhammad Ibn-e Jarir Tabari, Vol. 2.
Sireh-e Ibn-e Hesham, Ibn-e Hesham, Vol. 1.
Tarikh-e Tahlili Islam, Sayyid Ja’far Shahidi.
Tarikh-e Islam, Ali Akbar Fayyaz.
Forugh-e Abadiat, Ja’far Sobhani, Vol. 1.