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Waraqah and Muhammad

3283 2008/06/01 2024/05/22

one day muhammad went to the ka'bah for circumambulation. he was met by waraqah ibn nawfal, who asked him about himself. muhammad related the events as they had happened. when he finished, waraqah said, "by him who dominates my soul i swear that you are the prophet of this nation. the great spirit that has come to moses has now come to you. you will be denied and you will be hurt. you will be abused and you will be pursued. if i should ever live to see that day i shall surely help the cause of god. god knows that i will." waraqah then approached muhammad, kissed his forehead and went away. muhammad realized the faithfulness of waraqah, and at the same time felt the burden weighing on his shoulder. waraqah's warning that the struggle ahead would be hard only confirmed muhammad's fears that the quraysh were so attached to their false beliefs that they would fight to death for them. how could he fight. them when they were his very people, his nearest relatives?

surely the makkans were mistaken. just as surely, it was to the truth that muhammad was now calling them. he was calling them to transcend themselves, to commune with the god who created them as well as their parents, and to worship him alone in purity and faith. he called them to bring themselves near to god with good works, to give the neighbor and the wayfarer his due, and to reject the worship of those idols which they had taken as gods who overlooked their vices and immorality, their usury and robbery of orphans. but in doing all this, muhammad was calling men whose minds and hearts were petrified and hardened beyond the stones to which their idol worship oriented them. muhammad called men to consider the sky and the earth and all therein which god created, to perceive all this in its sublimity and gravity and grasp the laws by which heaven and earth exist. muhammad called men to rise, through their worship of the sole creator of all existence, beyond all that is mean and unworthy, to treat the misguided lovingly and to help him achieve proper guidance, to bring charity and goodness to every orphan, to the weak, the oppressed, and the poor. yes, to all this did god command muhammad to call men. but these obstinate souls, these coarse hearts, had committed themselves to remain forever loyal to the religion of the ancestors. around this religion they had built trade relations which gave makkah its eminence and centrality as a center of pilgrimage. would the makkans abjure the religion of their ancestors and expose their city to loss of prestige, a loss which would surely follow if all idol worship were to stop? even if such a renunciation were possible, how could their hearts be purified of their chronic passion for every pleasure? how could they be lifted above the animal satisfaction of these passions? muhammad called men to rise above their passions and above their idols. but what if they didn't respond to his call and refused to believe in him? what would he do?


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