The ordeals and hardships faced by the Prophet (peace be upon him) were due to the various types of obstacles the polytheists of Quraish erected in the way of his Da’wah (call to Islam). When the Quraish saw that the influence of his call was not limited in scope – like the call of those who had previously called for the abolishment of idolatry e.g. Zaid Bin ‘Amr Bin Nufail and Waraqh – they stood up against the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers and started implementing various means of enticement and intimidation to stop this from this way which was threatening their interests which they were privileged to by virtue of having the Ka’bah on their soil and the pride they had due to this over other people. It also stood directly in the way of their craving for hegemony, and committing sins and crimes. The most noteworthy types of these obstacles were:

Type 1: Pressuring his uncle:

The first thing the Quraish resorted to was to influence the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) uncle Abu Talib to stop his nephew from calling to Islam or at least to stop him from taking his nephew’s side, i.e. protecting him. A delegation of their nobles visited Abu Talib and told him, “Your brother’s son has abused our gods and criticized our religion…either you should stop him from (confronting) us or let us deal with him.” Abu Talib talked to them gently and answered them gracefully. Hence, they left him. [Narrated by Ibn Hisham (1/328) on the authority of Ibn Ishaq].

Type 2: Threatening him and his uncle with armed conflict

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) kept openly practicing and calling towards Allah’s religion, Islam. This angered the Quraish and made them hostile and aggressive. They went to his uncle once more and said to him, “Abu Talib! You are considered senior, noble and honorable among us. We forbade you from (supporting or protecting) your nephew, but you did not stop them from (opposing) us.” They swore that they will not tolerate his nephew’s actions until either the Prophet (peace be upon him) was restrained by his uncle or else the Quraish would fight against both of them till death. This incident made his tribe’s abandoning him and their enmity very painful for Abu Talib . He also did want to desert the Prophet (peace be upon him) and hand him over to them. Hence, he conveyed to his nephew what they had said ans asked him to save both of their lives and not to put an unbearable burden on him. [Sirah Ibn Ishaq, page 145].

Type 3: False Accusations to turn the masses away from him

These accusations included:

  1. Accusing him of being mad: This is mentioned in the verse of the Qur’an: “And they say: “O you (Muhammad) to whom the Dhikr (the Quran) has been sent down! Verily, you are a mad man.” [Surah Al-Hijr 15:6]
  2. Accusing him of being a sorcerer: “And they (Arab pagans) wonder that a warner (Prophet Muhammad) has come to them from among themselves! And the disbelievers say: “This (Prophet Muhammad) is a sorcerer, a liar.” [Surah Saad 38:4]
  3. Accusing him of being a liar. “Those who disbelieve say: “This (the Qur’an) is nothing but a lie that he has invented, and others have helped him at it, so that they have produced an unjust wrong (thing) and a lie.” [Surah Al-Furqan 25:4]
  4. Accusing him of coming up with ancient tales. “And they say: “Tales of the ancients, which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.” ” [Surah Al-Furqan 25:4]
  5. Accusing that the Qur’an is not Divine, but a man’s words: “And indeed We know that they (polytheists and pagans) say: “It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad).” The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur’an) is a clear Arabic tongue.” [Surah Al-Nahl 16:103]
  6. Accusing the Muslims of being misguided. “And when they saw them, they said: “Verily! These have indeed gone astray!”” [Surah Al-Mutaffifin 83:32]

Type 4: Mocking, laughing at and making fun of the believers and slandering them:

Allah says: “Thus We have tried some of them with others, that they might say: “Is it these (poor believers) that Allah has favoured from amongst us?” Does not Allah know best those who are grateful?” [Surah Al-An’am 6:53]

Imam Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih that Abu Jahl said (sarcastically), “O Allah! If this (Qur’an) is indeed the Truth from You, then rain down on us a shower of stones from the sky or bring on us a painful torment.” [Surah Al-Anfaal 8:32] So Allah revealed:– “But Allah would not punish them while you were amongst them, nor He will punish them while they seek (Allah’s) forgiveness…” (8.33) And why Allah should not punish them while they turn away (men) from Al-Masjid-al-Haraam (the Sacred Mosque of Mecca)…” [Surah Al-Anfaal 8:33-34]

Type 5: Disturbing and Causing Confusion:

The polytheists used to plan among themselves to create a loud commotion and outrageous noises when the Qur’an was recited, in order to prevent anyone from hearing it and thus becoming influenced by it. Allah said about this: “And those who disbelieve say: “Listen not to this Quran, and make noise in the midst of its (recitation) that you may overcome.”” [Surah Fussilat :26]

Type 6: Demanding the Prophet (peace be upon him) to produce miracles and have superhuman attributes:

For example:

And they say: “Why does this Messenger (Muhammad SAW) eat food, and walk about in the markets (like ourselves). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him? Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat? And the Zalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) say: “You follow none but a man bewitched.” See how they coin similitudes for you, so they have gone astray, and they cannot find a (Right) Path.” [Surah al-Furqan 25:7-9]

And they say: “We shall not believe in you (O Muhammad SAW), until you cause a spring to gush forth from the earth for us; Or you have a garden of date-palms and grapes, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst abundantly; Or you cause the heaven to fall upon us in pieces, as you have pretended, or you bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face; Or you have a house of adorn-able materials (like silver and pure gold, etc.), or you ascend up into the sky, and even then we will put no faith in your ascension until you bring down for us a Book that we would read.” Say (O Muhammad): “Glorified (and Exalted) be my Lord (Allah) above all that evil they (polytheists) associate with Him! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger?”” [Surah Al-Isra 17:90-93]

Type 7: Bargaining for a Compromise:

Here, the polytheists of Mecca tried to find a middle-of-the-road compromise between Islam and their ignorance, i.e. both parties should step back from some of their stances. Allah said, “They wish that you should compromise (in religion out of courtesy) with them, so they (too) would compromise with you.” [Surah Al-Qalam 68:9]

When the Quraish offered to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he should worship their gods one day, and they would worship his God the other day, Allah revealed Surah Al-Kafiroon:

Say (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)to these Mushrikoon and Kafiroon): “O Al-Kafiroon (disbelievers in Allah, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in Al-Qadar, etc.)! “I worship not that which you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshiping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. “To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism).”” [Surah Al-Kafiroon 109: 1-6]

Type 8: Abusing the Qur’an, Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him):

Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said regarding the verse of the Qur’an: ‘Neither say your, prayer aloud, nor say it in a low tone.’ (Surah Al-Isra 17:110) This Verse was revealed while Allah’s Apostle was hiding himself in Mecca. When he prayed with his companions, he used to raise his voice with the recitation of Qur’an, and if the pagans happened to hear him, they would abuse the Qur’an, the One who revealed it and the one who brought it. Therefore Allah said to His Prophet : ‘Neither say your prayer aloud.’ (Surah Al-Isra 17:110) i.e. do not recite aloud lest the pagans should hear you and abuse the Qur’an, ‘nor say it in a a low tone,’ i.e. from your companions so that they (the companions) cannot hear it, ‘but follow a way between’. [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Type 9: Contacting the Jews to obtain difficult questions for the Prophet (peace be upon him):

The Quraish sent a delegation to Medina headed by Al-Nadhr Bin Al-Harith and ‘Uqbah Bin Abi Mu’ait to bring from the Jews very difficult questions for the Prophet (peace be upon him). They Jews told them to ask him about the People of the Cave, Dhul Qarnain, and the Spirit. However, Allah destroyed their plot by revealing Qur’anic verses about these questions.

Type 10: Enticement:

The Quraish also tried to tempt the Prophet (peace be upon him) by sending ‘Utbah Bin Rabi’ah to him. ‘Utbah said, “My brother’s son, you know the status you have among us due to your (noble) lineage. You have come to your people with a great thing (Islam) which has divided their community. Listen to me; I will present you with some things, perhaps you will accept some of them:

If by this matter (Islam), you want to mint money, we will gather our wealth (and turn them over to you) until you have become the richest of us all. If you want dignity and honor, we will make you our leader and your decisions will be final. If you want a kingdom, we will make you our king. If you think that you cannot rid yourself of this being – genie – which inspires you, we will seek a cure for you and we will foot its bill until you are cured.”

When he had finished, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) recited the beginning verses of Surah Al-Fussilat until the verse: “But if they turn away, then say (O Muhammad SAW): “I have warned you of a Saiqah (a destructive awful cry, torment, hit, a thunderbolt) like the Saiqah which overtook ‘Aad and Thamood (people).”” [Surah Al-Fussilat 41:13]

Type 11: Intimidation:

Whenever Abu Jahl used to hear that a person had become a Muslim, he used to intimidate him in order to dissuade him from the new religion. If the new Muslim was someone honorable and powerful, Abu Jahl used to scold and shame him, saying: “You abandoned your the religion of your father, who was better than you! We will destroy your dreams, weaken your opinions (in people’s eyes so that they will not accept them) and undermine your status and honor!”. If the new Muslim was a businessman, Abu Jahl would say to him, “We will make your goods unsalable and kill your wealth!” And if it were a person deemed weak in the society, Abu Jahl used to beat him and incite others to follow suit.

[Sirah Ibn Hisham 1/395]

Type 12: Physical Torture:

When all the previous tactics did not bear fruit, Quraish resorted to physical torture and elimination.

Imam Muslim narrated from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Abu Jahl asked (people) whether Muhammad placed his face (on the ground while prostrating to Allah) in their presence. It was said to him: Yes. He said: “By Lat and ‘Uzza (their false gods), if I were to see him do that, I would trample his neck, or I would besmear his face with dust.” He came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as he was engaged in prayer and thought of trampling his neck (and the people say) that he came near him but turned upon his heels and tried to repulse something with his hands. It was said to him: What is the matter with you? He said: “There is between me and him a ditch of fire and terror and wings.” Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace he upon him) said: “If he were to come near me the angels would have torn him to pieces.” Then Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed this verse- (the narrator) said: We do not whether it is the hadith transmitted the Abu Hurairah or something conveyed to him from another source- “Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.). Because he considers himself self-sufficient. Surely! Unto your Lord is the return. Have you (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) seen him (i.e. Abu Jahl) who prevents, a slave (Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) when he prays? Tell me, if he (Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) is on the guidance (of Allah)? Or enjoins piety? Tell me if he (the disbeliever, Abu Jahl) denies (the truth, i.e. this Quran), and turns away? Knows he not that Allah does see (what he does)? Nay! If he (Abu Jahl) ceases not, We will catch him by the forelock, a lying, sinful forelock! Then, let him call upon his council (of helpers). We will call the guards of Hell (to deal with him)!Nay! (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him))! Do not obey him (Abu Jahl). Fall prostrate and draw near to Allah!”

Imam Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih from ‘Urwa bin Az-Zubair: I asked ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him), “What was the worst thing the pagans did to Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him)?” He said, “I saw ‘Uqba bin Abi Mu’ait coming to the Prophet (peace be upon him) while he was praying.’ Uqba put his sheet round the Prophet’s neck and squeezed it very severely. Abu Bakr came and pulled ‘Uqba away from the Prophet and said, “Would you kill a man because he says: My Lord is Allah, and he has come to you with clear signs (proofs) from your Lord?[Surah Al-Ghafir 40:28]

Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from ‘Abdullah Bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud who said: While the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) was saying his prayer near the Ka’ba and Abu Jahl with his companions was sitting (near by), Abu Jahl said, referring to the she-camel that had been slaughtered the previous day: Who will rise to fetch the foetus of the she-camel of so and so, and place it between the shoulders of Muhammad when he goes down in prostration (a posture in prayer). The one most accursed among the people got up, brought the foetus and, when the Prophet (may peace be upon him) went down in prostration, placed it between his shoulders. Then they laughed at him and some of them leaned upon the others with laughter … The Prophet (may peace be upon him) had bent down his head in prostration and did not raise it, until a man went (to his house) and informed (his daughter) Fatima, who was a young girl (at that time) (about this ugly incident). She came and removed (the filthy thing) from him. Then she turned towards them rebuking them (the mischief-mongers). When the Prophet (may peace be upon him) had finished his prayer…he said thrice: “O Allah, it is for Thee to deal with the Quraish.” When they heard his voice, laughter vanished from them and they feared his malediction. Then he said: O God, it is for Thee to deal with Abu Jahl b. Hisham, ‘Utba b. Rabi’a, Shaiba b. Rabi’a. Walid b. Uqba, Umayya b. Khalaf, Uqba b. Abu Mu’ait (and he mentioned the name of the seventh person. which I did not remember). By One Who sent Muhammad with truth, I saw (all) those he had named lying slain on the Day of Badr. Their dead bodies were dragged to be thrown into a pit near the battlefield.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) too received his share of torture, like other Companions, so much so that he even thought about migrating to Abyssinia to save his religion.

The first person to recite the Qur’an loudly (after the Prophet) in Mecca was ‘Abdullah Bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him). He did so despite the threat posed by the Quraish’s enmity to the Muslims. When he did recite the Qur’an aloud, they started beating him until he fainted.

Type 13: Hunting down the Muslims who were outside Mecca and inciting their hosts against them:

When some Muslims emigrated to Abyssinia, the Quraish sent a party in their pursuit to prevent them from entering Abyssinia. However, they managed to reach there and the king there, Negus helped them settle in his kingdom. When they had become settled there and their numbers had increased, the Quraish sent a delegation to demand their extradition to Mecca. For this purpose, they used bribery and tricks to drive a wedge between the Muslims and Negus, but failed to do so.

Type 14: General Boycott:

This happened in the incident of Shi’b Abi Talib.

Type 15: Attempt to murder the Prophet (peace be upon him) and waging war against him:

The enemies of Islam, in every time and place, have never failed to utilize any resources at their disposal to put out the light of Islam and fight those who call to it, by any means, and they will continue to do so. However, all the tactics they employ would still fall within the scope of those employed by the Quraish of Mecca against the weak Muslims.

Summarized from the book: “Al-Sirah Al-Nabawiyah fi Dhaw Al-Masadir Al-Asaliyah” by Dr. Mahdi Rizqullah (page 165-194)

Allah knows best.

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[Translated for http://www.islamqa.com]

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