By Humaira Khan
Just outside the city, he stopped and looked back. The place he was being forced to leave had been his home for over fifty years! It was here that he had been born, raised, married, had his children… The people here were his people, some he had known since he was a child. Now they were not willing to tolerate his presence just because his belief was different from theirs; they would have killed him had he not managed to escape.
What was it in some people that made them so intolerant?
Yet this was not the only pain and suffering he had endured in his life. His father died even before he had been born and his mother passed away when he was six years old. His grandfather, who loved him very much, took care of him until he too breathed his last when the little boy was only 8-years-old. Then, his uncle raised him and loved him like a son, but his business had waned and the young orphan had to tend sheep for his own upkeep.
His marriage had brought much happiness into his life but in the city were two little graves – those of his sons who had died in infancy.
By the age of 40, due to his honest and fair dealings as a businessman, his reputation had become established: he was known as Muhammad, the Truthful, the Trustworthy.
However, when he chose to believe in one God and tried to convey God’s message, he was persecuted. His case was similar to previous prophets, such as Noah, Jesus, Jonah and others: those who refused to believe in him were the ones who stood to gain from a corrupt system.
He stood on MountSafa and said to the people, “If I were to tell you that there was an army behind this mountain ready to attack you, would you believe me?” They voiced their complete faith in him. They said he was the Truthful and they had never heard him lie. But when he said, “I am a Warner sent to you …,” they disbelieved.
They persecuted him and his followers, murdering some, significantly injuring others, all in an attempt to protect the status quo that gave them unlimited powers, authority and privileges and kept the common man enslaved and over-burdened.
Despite all this, the universal message of Islam spread as more and more people realized that it made more sense to declare their dependence on a Supreme Being than on another human being. A person who professed absolute power and authority didn’t really have any. He was as helpless as any other when death claimed him; he did not have the power to avert it.
The Message of Justice and Hope
Those closest to the Prophet were the first to come to Islam. The people closest to us are the ones who know us best, who are aware of our weaknesses and failings. Yet, the Prophet’s wife, his servant, his cousin who lived with him and his best friend were the first to accept Islam and his prophethood, a testament to his remarkable character.
His followers were those who were poor, destitute, the weak. They saw the truth and accepted it even though they knew that their belief exposed them to the wrath of the aristocracy.
Those who were oppressed and had suffered injustices found hope in Islam’s promise of a Day of Accountability when every human being would have to answer for his misdeeds and receive from God an exact recompense for them.
Those who had murdered, plundered, looted, cheated, bribed, raped and lied and had managed to escape the law of the world, would be brought to justice before a Supreme Authority on that Day. No escape would be possible until all accounts had been examined and dealt with. There was truth, justice and fairness in this message.
For those who had done wrong in ignorance or who had made mistakes, even grave ones, the message was of hope: hope for repentance, hope in God’s mercy. If they truly repented, no sin was too great for God’s Mercy and they had hope for His Forgiveness.
Persecution and Exile
Fearing accountability and equality under the just system that Islam would bring, the rich and powerful leaders in the city of Makkah plotted to assassinate the man they previously called The Trustworthy, The Truthful.
The response of the disbelievers saddened the Prophet because they had failed to see the Reality and were destined to suffer on account of it on the Day of Judgment. They tried to bribe him with wealth, power, women, authority but acquiring these things were not his objective; instead, he wanted to save the people he had been sent to as a Messenger from the torment of the hereafter.
The disbelievers mounted their attack against him and his followers, forcing them to leave their homes to escape persecution.
As they were thus driven out of their city, they had no hope of ever returning. Yet, in just eight short years, God would bring them back into this very city as the victorious ones! And unlike the arrogant leadership that was driving them out of their homes now, they would enter their city, not in pride over their victory, but with humility. For they knew that man does not have the power to achieve anything except by the will of God.
But all that was eight years in the future.
Faith in God
Now, as assassins lay waiting for him, God protected His prophet as he left his house and made his way outside Makkah. Looking back at the valley below, he said, “Of all God’s earth, you are the place dearest to me and had not my people driven me out, I would never have left you.”
What a difficult time for a person to leave his home like this! Yet Allah’s promise to the believers is true:
“Verily, with every difficulty there is ease, with every difficulty there is ease.” (Quran, 94:5-6)
When one feels like he alone is responsible and blameworthy when his life is difficult, he becomes hopeless and suicidal. But if he seeks shelter with God, and trusts Him to come to his aid, he will find peace and acceptance within himself. For what seems an impossibility to man, a miracle, is only a small matter for God Who is capable of all things.