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Knowing Allah
  
  

   

god taught his prophet how to worship. in turn muhammad taught khadijah, and both worshipped together. besides their own daughters, 'ali ibn abu talib, who was still a boy, lived with them in the same house. ali's residence with muhammad dated from the time that makkah suffered from economic depression. since abu talib had a very large family, muhammad approached his uncle al `abbas, who was the richest member of the banu hashim clan, saying, "your brother abu talib has a very large family, and he is in a state of want as a result of this depression. let us together lighten his burden and take into our homes some of his children." al `abbas agreed and took into his care ja'far, and muhammad took 'ali. one day while muhammad and khadijah were worshipping together, 'ali entered their room suddenly and found them kneeling and prostrating themselves and reciting together some of the qur'anic revelations. surprised at this behavior, the youth stood still at the door until the pair finished their prayer. to his question, "to whom did you prostrate yourselves?" muhammad answered, "we have prostrated ourselves to god who has sent me a prophet and who has commanded me to call men unto him." muhammad then invited his nephew to worship god alone without associates, and to enter into the religion that he had revealed to his prophet. he asked him to repudiate the idols, like al lat and al `uzza, and recited to him something from the qur'an. `ali was overwhelmed. the beauty and sublimity of the verses he heard gripped him. he pleaded for time to consult his father. after a tempestuous night, `ali rushed to muhammad and khadijah and declared to them his conversion without consulting his father. the youth said, "god created me without consulting abu talib, my father. why should i now consult him in order to worship god?" 'ali was then the first youth to enter islam. he was followed by zayd ibn harithah, muhammad's client. [arabic "mawla," the person standing under protection. this was the position of the manumitted slave. -tr.] islam remained limited to one house. besides muhammad himself, the converts of the new faith were his wife, his cousin, and his client. the problem of how to call quraysh to the new faith continued to press for a solution. considering how attached the makkans were to the religion of their ancestors and to their idols, and how fiercely they resisted any innovation, there was no easy solution in sight.




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