14-The Year of Sorrow
she became ill and soon afterwards she died. thus, the prophet (pbuh) lost his beloved wife and friend, the first person to accept islam and support him. she had been a refuge from all his troubles and, through her good-heartedness, the best company in his suffering. he had loved her very much. this happened in 619 a.d., the year which became known as the 'year of sorrow'. soon after this, the prophet muhammad's uncle and protector, abu talib, also died. abu talib had been one of the most respected men in mecca-one of the elders of quraysh. even though he had never been a follower of islam, he had protected the prophet (pbuh) against his enemies. not only was this a sad occasion for the prophet (pbuh) but also a dangerous one. according to arab custom anyone who is under the protection of another is safe so long as his protector lives. now, with the death of his uncle, the prophet's protection was gone.
the prophet's enemies rejoiced to see him so sad, without a wife to console and comfort him, and without his uncle to protect him. they began to treat him worse than ever before. even small children insulted him. one young man actually threw some filth on the prophet's head, but the prophet (pbuh) went home without making anything of it. when one of his daughters rushed, weeping, to wash it away, he comforted her saying, 'do not weep my little girl, for allah will protect your father.' abu talib had been the prophet's last tie with quraysh and the prophet (pbuh) now felt that islam could make no further progress in mecca because the hearts of quraysh were closed against him. he decided, therefore, to travel to ta'if where he hoped to find support. he walked all the way to the town, which was seventy kilometers away. there he spoke in all the places where people gathered, but no one listened to him. he met the leaders of the three most important tribes but they would not listen either. not only did they take no notice of what he said,
but they laughed at him and ordered their slaves to insult him and pelt him with stones.
sadly, the prophet (pbuh) left the city and found a quiet place near a wall on the edge of town where he could be alone. there he prayed to allah in these words: " o allah, to thee i complain of my weakness, helplessness and lowliness before men. 0 most merciful, thou art the lord of the weak, and thou art my lord. to whom wouldst thou leave my fate? to a stranger who insults me or to an enemy to whom thou hast given power over me? if thou art not angry with me, i care not what happens to me. thy favor alone is my objective. i take refuge in the light of thy countenance by which the darkness is illumined and on which this world and the other depend, lest thy anger descend upon me or thy wrath light upon me. it is for thee to be satisfied until thou art well pleased. there is no power and no might save through thee." the wall near which the prophet (pbuh) was sitting belonged to a garden owned by two brothers.
when they heard his prayer, they were very sorry for him and sent one of their slaves to him with a dish filled with grapes. before he began to eat, the prophet (pbuh) said 'bismillah'-'in the name of allah.' the servant, whose name was 'addas, was very surprised at these words, which he had never heard before. 'by allah', said 'addas, 'this is not the way the people of this country speak.' 'then from what country do you come, 'addas, and what is your religion?' asked the prophet (pbuh). 'i am a christian from the assyrian town of nineveh', he replied. 'from the town of that good man jonah, son of matta', added the prophet 'how do you know about him?' asked 'addas. 'he is my brother-he was a prophet and i am a prophet', answered the messenger of allah (pbuh). 'addas bent down and kissed the prophet's head, his hands and his feet, because now he saw that he was truly a prophet. the prophet (pbuh) then walked back to mecca. he was now able to put up with everything patiently for he knew that allah would never leave him.
his journey to ta'if had not been in vain for 'addas, the christian, had become a muslim, and this was to be the beginning of great changes.