From the very day Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) started his public propagation of Islam, the Quraish chiefs resorted to any means to silence him.
As usual, they first began with attempts to lure him and tried hard to get him interested in wealth, status, and other material benefits that they promised to give him if he submitted to their ungodly will, and, after realizing that this method was of no use in their dealing with him, they attempted to threaten and then to torment and torture him.
Thus a new stage – an exceedingly troublesome phase – started in the blessed life of Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT). The enemies of Islam, who had well understood that the triumph and rule of Islam would surely put an end to their law of the sword, tyrannies, and exploitation of the deprived people, launched their combat against Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) most brutally and ruthlessly, discarding all moral and humane principles – if they had any – and taking up the arms of rancour and cruelty so that they could hamper the spread of Islam and guard the interests of the Quraish chiefs and men of power.
Of course it cannot be denied that one of the reasons for the opposition of the people of that age to the perfect faith of Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) was their intellectual immaturity. But from the very day the Quraish tribe heard that Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) called the idols and wooden and stone statues they worshipped valueless and useless, they exhibited the utmost enmity and opposition toward Islam. Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) asked the people, ‘what do you want with these lifeless objects?’ They were even more enraged when Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) denounced the wooden and stone idols of the Quraish left to them by their ancestors, which they regarded among their ancient glories.
On the other hand, the divine teachings of Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) were inconsistent with the interests of the oppressive class of the chiefs of the Quraish who wanted to continue exploiting the poor people and possessing innumerable slaves, as well as with the interests and inhumane desires of the usurers who wished to amass wealth at the expense of the deprived class of their society.
It goes without saying that in an environment where no divine law is obeyed and no human right is respected, the strong will forcibly violate the honour, property, and chastity of the defenseless people, and so the new faith – Islam – which severely opposed and fought this wrong social system, enraged those whose interests and selfish considerations were endangered.
Such notorious people as Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Abu Lahab ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, Aswad ibn Abd Yaghwan, As ibn Wail, Utbah and Shaybah, Walid ibn Maghirah, and Aqibah ibn Abi Ma’ayyat were among the leaders of the opponents of Islam.
Cruel, false accusations, physical torment, foul language, economic and financial pressure and boycotts were among the inhumane methods used by the Quraish chiefs against Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) and his faithful companions.
Here some examples of the offences and torments which the enemies of Islam inflicted upon Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) are mentioned:
- One day a number of Quraish gave the uterus of a sheep to their servants to throw at the blessed face and head of Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT). They obeyed their brutal master, thus making Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) rather sad.
Another day they threw camel’s guts on him while he was prostrating in prayer. Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) remained in prostration, perhaps waiting for one of the Muslims to pass by and take the dirt off his back. His daughter Fatima al-Zahra (sa) was walking by when she saw him. With tears in her eyes, she removed the dirt from his back. He said to her, “Don’t cry my daughter, the Almighty Allah (SWT) will honour His religion and grant your father victory.”
- Tariq Maharibi has narrated, I saw Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) saying in a loud voice to the people, “O people! Say there is no god but God so you would find salvation.”
He urged the people to submit to Islam and become monotheists while Abu Lahab ibn Abd Al-Muttalib followed him step by step and threw stones at him injuring him so that his feet were covered with blood, but Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) continued to guide the people and show them the path of eternal salvation and prosperity. Abu Lahab ibn Abd Al-Muttalib cried out, “People! This man is a liar. Do not listen to him.”
- In addition, Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT), as well as his loyal friends and those who had newly adopted Islam were most severely tortured and tormented by the infidels.
One day, Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) observed Ammar Yasir and his family being tortured by the enemies of Islam. Addressing Ammar and his faithful family, he said, ‘I give you, Ammar’s family, the good tidings that Paradise will be your eternal abode.’
Ibn Athir has written, Ammar and his parents suffered severe tortures from the idol worshippers. The idol worshippers forced them out of their house in the hot burning weather and tortured them under the burning rays of the sun, inflicting the most unbearable tortures upon them so that they would leave the faith.
Sumayyah, Ammar’s mother, was the first woman martyr of Islam, killed by a blow from Abu Jahl’s weapon. Yasir, Ammar’s father, too, died under the torture of the infidels. Ammar himself was most cruelly tortured by the enemies of Islam but resorted to dissimulation and thus saved his own life.
Tortures Inflicted by the Quraish4. Bilal ibn Rabah, an Ethiopian slave, was among Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah’s (SWT) most faithful followers and, because of his faith in Islam, his ruthless master brutally tortured him. At midday when it is scorching hot, his master would make Bilal ibn Rabah lie down on the burning hot desert pebbles and sand and put a large and heavy stone on his chest to force him to stop obeying Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) and to worship their idols instead of worshipping the One God.
The torture of which is, needless to say, beyond endurance, but Bilal ibn Rabah resisted all his threats and tortures most bravely and admirably and responded just by repeating the word ‘Ahad’ (One), meaning ‘God is One and Peerless and I will never become an idol worshipper.’
In fact Bilal ibn Rabah, as well as many other faithful Muslims at the beginning of Islam, suffered a great deal from the enemies of Islam who had aimed most obstinately at the destruction of Islam. All of them tolerated all the pains and torture and did not leave their faith even for a single moment. We see therefore very clearly how the accusation that Islam prevailed by force and by the law of the sword is false and far from the truth.
Economic struggle: The Quraish had started a fierce economic struggle against Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) and his followers. One of the inhumane weapons they used against the Muslims was economic pressure and boycott of any sort of transactions with the Muslims. Bani Hashim and Bani Abd Al-Muttalib joined Abu Talib after the boycott was enforced and withdrew to a narrow glen or wadi known as Sheb Abi Talib. It was the seventh year of Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah’s (SWT) mission. Weeks and months had passed, and the people of Hashim lived in misery and hunger. The ban was so rigorously enforced that Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah’s (SWT) clan was reduced to eating acacia leaves and the cries of hungry children reverberated all over the valley.
When the period of confinement had lengthened to nearly three years (between 616-619CE), Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) said one day to Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib that Allah (SWT) had revealed to him that the agreement to which Quraish had subscribed against them, which is hanging on the inside wall of Kaaba, had been so severely damaged by ants that of the writing only the name of Allah had remained legible. Thereupon Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib went to Kaaba, where several Quraish were in conclave, and addressed them as follows: ‘How long will you continue to conform to the conditions of your brutal agreement? My nephew has told me that Allah (SWT) has wiped out the whole of the agreement except His own name. Let us examine the agreement to discover whether what my nephew has said is correct.’ Some of those present endorsed what he had said and the original of the agreement was fetched and on examination it was found that with the exception of the name of God with which it began, the rest of the writing had become undecipherable. In other words it was a miracle that Termites eats up the Accord. In consequence of this significant discovery, some of the chiefs of Quraish, felt that this cruel and unnatural agreement should be terminated.
Psychological warfare: Prohibiting of marriage with Muslims, cutting off all relations with them from the Quraish. Accused Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) of witchcraft, sorcery doing traits and tricks by not withstanding his Miracles. Accused Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) as being poet by not withstanding the eloquence of Qura’nic verses. Accused Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) as being crazy to avoid children going near him, and the like were psychological tactics meant to break down the resistance and perseverance of the first Muslims.
Physical torment and torture: Another anti-human method of fighting the new movement and its adherents used by the Quraish was physical torture of the Muslims, which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of faithful Muslims at the beginning of Islam.
In spite of all the brutal methods that the infidel Quraish utilized in their struggles against Islam, Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) and the Muslims, Islam advanced and Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) continued to urge the people to go the right way. Islam and the Muslims continued their efforts and struggles.
To maintain their faith in Islam, the Muslims underwent extremely severe torture, sufferings, and hardships and showed admirable resistance in following this honorable path.
A careful and just survey of the conditions of the Muslims at the beginning of Islam reveals the significant fact that, unlike the picture the enemies of Islam have always tried to present, Islam, this holiest of faith, has not been promoted at the point of the bayonet or by the sword, but for 13 years, Muhammad, The Messenger of Allah (SWT) and the faithful Muslims tolerated the tortures, torments, and swords of the infidels and the idol worshippers to promote this divine religion revealed by Allah (SWT) for their salvation.