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The Poets of Quraysh

4283 2008/06/01 2024/06/18

abu lahab and abu sufyan, noblemen of quraysh and lords of its commerce and entertainment, began to feel the threat which the call of muhammad presented. they therefore decided to begin by ridiculing him and belying his prophet hood. their first act was to tempt their poet friends to attack muhammad in their poetry. it was then that abu sufyan ibn al harith, `amr ibn al `as, and `abdullah ibn al zib'ari launched their vituperative attacks in verse. a number of muslim poets undertook to answer these attacks in kind, despite the fact that muhammad hardly needed their efforts. besides the poets, others advanced and asked muhammad to perform some miracles with which to prove his prophethood. they challenged him to do as much as moses or jesus had done. they asked, "why don't you change mount safa and mount marwah into gold? why don't you cause the book of which you speak so much to fall down from heaven already written? why don't you cause gabriel to appear to all of us and speak to us as he spoke to you? why don't you resurrect the dead and remove these mountains which bound and enclose the city of makkah? why don't you cause a water fountain to spring whose water is sweeter than that of zamzam, knowing how badly your town needs the additional water supply?" the unbelievers did not stop at these demands for miracles. in ridicule, they asked, "why doesn't your god inform you of the market prices of the future in order to help you and us in the trade of the morrow?" whether serious or in ridicule, all these questions and demands were answered once and for alt by revelation. god commanded muhammad, "say: `i have no power whatever to bring advantage or avoid disadvantage. what god wills, that will happen. if it were given me to tell the future i would have used such knowledge to my own advantage. but i am only a man sent to warn you, and a messenger to convey a divine message that you may believe." [qur'an, 7:188]

indeed: muhammad was only a warner and a messenger. how could they demand of him that which reason denies while he demanded of them only that which reason commends-nay, dictates and imposes? how could they demand of him that which no morality can tolerate, whereas he called them to goodness and genuine virtue? how could they ask him to perform miracles when the book that was being revealed to him, which was his guide to the truth, was the end of all miracles? how could they ask him to prove his prophethood with miracles that they might then see whether or not they would follow him, while their so-called gods were dead and cold, utterly devoid of power to do anything, whether miracle or nonmiracle? how could they ask him to prove himself with miracles when they worshipped their stone and wooden gods without ever asking them to prove their divinity? if they had only once asked their gods to prove their divinity, they would have seen through their wood and stone and convinced themselves that they were no gods at all but dead, immobile, and unable to defend themselves against anyone.


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