13-The Cruelty of Quraysh
the leaders of quraysh became increasingly worried about the way the people of mecca were being divided by the prophet's teachings.
finally, 'umar ibn al-khattab, one of the nobles of mecca, decided that the only way to silence the prophet (pbuh) was to kill him. having made up his mind, he set out at once to look for him. on his way he met a man who saw at once what 'umar was going to do and said: 'why don't you look a little closer to home before going to kill muhammad? don't you know your own sister fatimah is a muslim?' 'umar was shocked. he could not believe this was true. he went at once to his sister's house. when he arrived outside the house he heard fatimah and her husband sa'id reading aloud surah ta ha, a chapter from the koran. hearing her brother's voice at the door, fatimah quickly hid the scroll with the surah written on it among the folds of her dress. 'umar stormed into the room and demanded, 'what is this nonsense i heard?' fatimah denied everything. 'umar then lost his temper and attacked fatimah's husband shouting, 'they tell me that you have joined muhammad in his religion!' fatimah tried to defend her husband and 'umar hit her too.
then she admitted, 'yes, we are muslims and we believe in allah and his messenger and you can do what you like!'
seeing her faith and courage, 'umar suddenly felt sorry for what he had done and said to his sister, 'let me see what i heard you reading just now so that i may understand just what it is that your prophet has brought. fatimah gave the scroll to him after he had washed to make himself clean and pure before touching it, and had promised to give it back to her afterwards.
in the name of allah, the beneficent, the merciful
"ta ha we have not revealed unto thee (muhammad) this koran for thee to be distressed, but only as a reminder unto him who fears a revelation from him who created the earth and the high heavens; the beneficent one who is established on the throne; to him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and all that is underneath the soil.
if thou speakest aloud be thou loud in thy speech,
yet surely he knows the secret (thought) and that yet more hidden. allah there is no god but he to him belong the most beautiful names". (koran xx: 1-8) . as he read, 'umar suddenly knew that these were the most beautiful words he had ever heard and that this religion must be the true one. with his sword still in hand, he went straight to the prophet's house and knocked loudly at the door. one of the prophet's closest followers looked out. there stood 'umar who was known for his courage and strength. when he saw 'umar so excited and with his sword in hand, he was afraid for the prophet's life. but the prophet (pbuh) asked him to allow 'umar to come in and to leave them alone together. the prophet (pbuh) asked 'umar why he had come, to which he replied: 'i have come to swear that there is no god but allah and that you, muhammad, are the messenger of allah.' as he spoke these words, his hand still held the sword with which he had intended to kill the prophet (pbuh). this same sword' would now be used to defend the prophet (pbuh) and the faith of islam.
at that time, whenever muslims wanted to perform the ritual encircling of the ka'bah, known as tawaf they had to do it secretly and in fear. 'umar, however, was very courageous. as soon as he had declared his faith, he went directly to the ka'bah and in broad daylight made the circling of the sacred house before the astonished people of mecca. no one dared to say anything. but now the leaders of quraysh became even more alarmed and began to see islam as a threat to the whole life of the city of mecca. they grew more and more furious as the numbers of muslims increased until finally they, too, decided as 'umar once had, that the prophet (pbuh) would have to be killed.
on hearing of these plans, abu talib, the prophet's uncle, immediately sent a message to all the sons of 'abd al-muttalib, asking them to protect their nephew, and this they agreed to do. when quraysh realized that they could not kill the prophet (pbuh) because of this protection,
they decided instead to avoid him and his followers completely. a declaration to this effect was hung at the ka'bah. it stated that no one in the city was allowed to have anything to do with the prophet (pbuh) and his people, or even to sell them any food or drink whatsoever.
at first the muslims found some support among the bani hashim, the branch of quraysh to which the prophet (pbuh) belonged. some of these people were not muslims but showed loyalty to their kinsmen by suffering along with them. however, life grew more and more difficult and food was scarce. the hatred of the rest of quraysh for the followers of the prophet (pbuh) grew so great that when his companions tried to buy supplies from a caravan passing near to mecca, abu lahab, one of the muslims' worst enemies, offered ten times the price of the goods to the merchant. by doing this he managed to stop the muslims, from buying what they desperately needed. during the years of this terrible treatment, a wonderful thing happened.
nstead of islam becoming weaker, it grew stronger. allah sent more and more revelations. it was as though the muslims were being strengthened and cleansed by the hardships they suffered and were being tested in their faith. each year at the time of the pilgrimage to mecca, people came from all over arabia. these pilgrims saw the terrible cruelty and injustice of quraysh towards the muslims, and many of them were sorry for the prophet's followers. quraysh began to feel ashamed of their harsh treatment, especially as many of the muslims were their cousins and close relatives. finally, at the end of three years, they were convinced that the time had come to put an end to the persecution of the muslims, and they decided to take down the notice hanging at the ka'bah. to their astonishment, the sheet of paper had been completely eaten up by worms, all except the words, 'in your name, o allah', which had been written at the top of the paper.