After Abu Talib's death, the Messenger of Allah suffered more than ever before. The Quraysh had been restrained during the lifetime of Abu Talib but now they stepped up their victimization campaign. One even accosted him and showered dust on his head.
When the insults from the Quraysh became unbear- able and they refused to have anything to do with Islam, the Messenger of Allah went to Ta'if to ask help of the Thaqif people and to call them to Islam. He hoped they would be sympathetic to his call.
On arriving in Ta'if, he went to the leaders and nobles of Thaqif, talked with them and called them to Allah. They, however, were rude to him and ridiculed him. They incited the town's riff-raff to shout insults at him and stone him. He retired, distressed, to the shade of a palm-tree where he sat down. Nowhere had he encountered worse treatment than that which he received at the hands of the idolworshippers in Ta'if.
The townspeople formed a line on either side of his path. When he passed they stoned him until he was bleeding. His feet were streaming with blood. He was so dejected that he complained to Allah of his helplessness and pitiable state. He sought refuge with Allah, plead- ing:
O Allah, I complain to you of my weakness, lack of resources and humiliation before men. You are the Most Merciful, You are the Lord of the oppressed and You are my Lord. To whom will You entrust me? To someone far away who will frown on me or to an enemy to whom You have given power over me? If You are not angry with me, I do not care, but Your favour is better for me. I seek refuge with the light of Your face which illuminates the darkness, and by which the affairs of this world and the Next are put in order, from having Your anger descend on me or Your wrath fall upon me. I repent to You, seeking Your forgiveness and Your favour until You are well-pleased. There is no power nor strength except by Allah.
Allah sent the angel of the mountains to ask if he wanted him to bring together the two mountains between which Ta'if lay. The Messenger of Allah replied, 'No, for I hope that Allah will bring forth from them those who will worship Allah alone and not associate anything with Him.'
When 'Utbah ibn Rabi'ah and Shaybah ibn Rabi'ah saw his distress, they were moved with compassion. They called a Christian slave of theirs named 'Addas and told him to take a bunch of grapes to him. As 'Addas carried out his orders he noticed the kindness of the Messenger of Allah. He was so impressed that he became a Muslim.
The Messenger of Allah returned from Ta'if to Makkah where his people were even more opposed to him than they had been previously.
The ascent to the heavens
At this time the Messenger of Allah travelled by night from the Masjid al-Haram to the Masjid al-Aqsa. From there he was transported into the proximity to Allah that He wished him to experience. He travelled through the heavens, witnessed the signs of Allah and met the earlier Prophets.
'His eye swerved not nor swept aside. He saw one of the greatest signs of his Lord.' (53: 17-18)
He received generous hospitality from Allah and solace and compensation for the distress he had endured in Ta'if.
Next morning, he told the Quraysh what had happened to him. They rejected it, thinking him mad, calling him a liar and mocking him. Abu Bakr said, 'By Allah, if he said it, he has spoken the truth. What makes you wonder at it? By Allah, he tells me that news comes to him from heaven to the earth in any hour of the night or day and I believe him, and that is more unlikely than what you are astounded by.'
During the Ascent, Allah made fifty prayers each day obligatory for his Ummah. The Messenger continued to ask Allah to reduce the number of prayers until He reduced them to five prayers each day. Allah decreed that all who perform their prayers with sincerity and in expectation of a reward will receive the reward of fifty prayers.
The Messenger of Allah offers himself to the tribes
The Messenger of Allah contacted members of various Arab tribes when they came to Makkah during their festivals. He explained the beliefs of Islam to them and asked them to protect him from his enemies, saying,
'O people! I am your Messenger of Allah. He commands you to worship Him and not associate anything with Him and to abandon the worship of those you consider equal with Him. He commands you to believe in Him and confirm Him and to protect me so that I may make clear what Allah has sent to me.'
When the Messenger of Allah finished speaking, Abu Lahab usually got up to say, 'O people! This man calls on you to abandon al-Lat and al-'Uzza and your allies among the jinn for this innovation and misguidance he has brought! Do not obey him and do not listen to him!'
The Ansar accept Islam
While the Messenger of Allah was at 'Aqabah during the festival he met a group of the Khazraj of Yathrib and called them to Allah, the Mighty and Exalted. He offered them Islam and recited the Qur'an to them.
They were neighbours of the Jews in Madinah and had heard mention of a Prophet who was about to come. They said to each other, 'People! By Allah, you know that he must be the Prophet whom the Jews have promised you. Don't let them get to him before us.'
They accepted his teachings and became Muslims, saying, 'We have left our people and no people are more rent by enmity and evil as they are! Perhaps Allah will join us together by means of you. We will go to them and call them to this religion which we have accepted from you. If Allah gathers them to you, then no man will be mightier than you."
They went back to their land having confirmed their faith. When they came to Madinah, they mentioned the Messenger of Allah to their brothers and called them to Islam. News soon spread among them until there was no house of the Ansar in which the Messenger of Allah was not discussed.
The First Pledge of 'Aqabah
The following year, twelve Ansar attended the festival in Makkah. They met the Messenger of Allah and gave him their pledge, the First Pledge of 'Aqabah, that they would believe in one God, abstain from theft, fornication and killing children, and obey him in what was right and proper.
When they left, the Messenger of Allah sent Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr with them. He commanded him to read the Qur'an to them, to preach Islam and to instruct them in the religion. He also led them in prayers. He was called 'The Reader in Madinah where he stayed with As'ad ibn Zurarah.
Islam spreads throughout Madinah
Islam began among the people of the Aws and the Khazraj in Madinah. Sa'd ibn Mu'adh and Usayd ibn Hudayr became Muslims. They were the leaders of their people, the Banu 'Abdu'l-Ashhal of Aws. They were convinced of the truth because of the wisdom and kindness of those who had become Muslims before them, particular- ly by the excellent presentation of Islam by Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr. All the people of the Banu 'Abdu'l-Ashhal became Muslims, and not a household of the Ansar remained in which some men and women had not accepted the faith.
The Second Pledge of 'Aqabah
Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr returned to Makkah the follow- ing year and a number of the Muslim Ansar accompanied those of their people making hajj who were still idolwor- shippers. The Muslims arranged to meet the Messenger of Allah at 'Aqabah. When they had finished the hajj, they met in the valley near 'Aqabah late at night. There were seventy-three men and two women. The Messenger of Allah came with his uncle, al-'Abbas ibn 'Abdu'l-Muttalib who was still an idolworshipper at that time.
The Messenger of Allah talked to them, recited the Qur'an and prayed to Allah and encouraged people to become Muslims. Then he said, 'I ask for your allegiance on the basis that you protect me as you would protect your wives and children.'
They pledged their allegiance to him. They asked him to promise that he would not leave them and return to his people. The Messenger of Allah gave his promise, 'I am from you and you are from me. I will fight those you fight and will be at peace with those with whom you are at peace.'
He chose twelve leaders from among them: nine from the Khazraj and three from the Aws.
The Hijrah to Madinah begins
Once the Messenger of Allah had taken this pledge, the Muslims had more security and some from Makkah took refuge with the Ansar. The Messenger of Allah ordered his Companions and those Muslims who were with him in Makkah to leave for Madinah, and to join their brothers among the Ansar. He said, 'Allah has given you brothers and an abode where you will be safe.' They soon began to leave Makkah.
The Messenger of Allah, however, remained in Makkah waiting for Allah's permission to emigrate to Madinah.
The emigration of the Muslims from Makkah was not easy. The Quraysh put many obstacles in their way and subjected the emigrants to considerable stress. However, the emigrants were determined to go. They did not want to remain in Makkah. Some, including Abu Salamah, were forced to leave their wives and children behind and to travel alone. Some had to relinquish all they had earned in their lifetime. Suhayb was among those who lost all their wealth.
'Umar ibn al-Khattab, Talhah, Hamzah, Zayd ibn Harithah, 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn 'Awf, Zubayr ibn al- 'Awwam, Abu Hudhayfah, 'Uthman ibn 'Affan and others emigrated (may Allah be pleased with them) and the emigration continued apace. None were left in Makkah with the Messenger of Allah except for those who were imprisoned or awaiting trial, apart from 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhafah.
The Quraysh's final plot fails
When the Quraysh saw that the Messenger of Allah had Companions and helpers in Madinah over whom they had no power, they were alarmed about his departure. They knew that if that happened, they would have no means to stop him. So they assembled in the Dar an-Nadwah, the house of Qusayy ibn Kilab which the Quraysh used when decision-making. The Quraysh nobles consulted one another on what to do about the Messenger of Allah.
They finally agreed that each tribe would provide a young warrior and together they would attack the Messeng- er of Allah, each man striking a blow. That way responsibil- ity for his death would be divided among the tribes and the Banu 'Abd Manaf would not be able to fight them all.
Allah informed His Messenger of this plot, so he could tell 'Ali ibn Abi Talib to sleep in his bed wrapped up in his cloak, adding, 'Nothing unpleasant will happen to you.'
When the murderous gang gathered at the door intending to attack, the Messenger of Allah came out and took up a handful of dust. Allah then instantly removed their sight and the Messenger of Allah scattered the dust over their heads while reciting verses from Surah YaSin, 'We have covered them so that they do not see.' (36:9)
Someone came to them and said, 'What are you waiting here for?'
'Muhammad,' they replied.
'May Allah disappoint you!' he said. 'By Allah, he came out earlier and went about his business.'
When they looked and saw someone sleeping on the bed they did not doubt that it was the Messenger of Allah. But in the morning when 'Ali got up from the bed, they were so embarrassed that they slunk away quietly.
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