Islamic History: 605 - 620

605

Exposure of the Persian Border to Arabia

Numan III, the Lakhmid ruler, quarrelled with the Persian Chosroes, who abolished the privileges which had been enjoyed by his family in return for defending the desert frontier. As a result, the Arab tribes along the Euphrates rebelled agaisnt the Persians and left the border with Arabia unguarded. The same had happened previously in 581 along the Syrian border of the Byzantines.


610

Muhammad(saws)'s Call to Prophethood

In the seclusion of a little cave on Mount Hira outside Makkah, Muhammad had his first Revelation through the angel Gabriel that he was the Prophet of God. This was the beginning of the new faith, Islam, which means "surrender"(to the Will of God). The first group of people who were converted toa belief in his preaching were his wife Khadija, his ten-year old cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib(ra), the ex-slave but now adopted son Zayd ibn Haritha(ra), and his freind Abu Bak()ra). This new faith attracted intense hostility from the local pagan community, especially from those with wealth and position, because its teaching, although basically religious, criticized implicitly the conduct and attitude of the rich merchants who had a complete monopoly in Makkah. They equated the success of the new faith with their own downfall. Consequently, the converts were subjected to contempt and ostacism by their fellow citizens.


615

Emigration of First Muslims to Abyssinia

As a result of persecution, some eighty Makkan Muslims emigrated to Abyssinia(Ethopia) to take refuge with the Christains there, who disliked the pagans of Makkah.* The party included Uthman ibn Affanand his wife Ruqayya, the Prophet Muhammad(saws) himself stayed behind in Makkah to continue preaching inthe face of fierce opposition.

The Negus of Abyssinia treated them with consideration, allowed them to practice their religion and refused to hand them over to their oppressors, who demanded their return. This had an influence on the Prophet Muhammad(saws)'s future attitude towards the Christains, who were termed the "People of the Book" and were accorded special treatment. The tradition was to be followed in subsequent times by the Prophet(saws)'s sucessors in their treatment of a subject population of different faiths in the conquered territories.**

*According to some records, the emigration took place in two groups, one after the other, with an interval of about two months. The first group consisted of fifteen people and the second, one hundred.

**The Prophet distinguised between mere pagans and possessors of a revealed(or holy) scripture. The latter included Christains and Jews, who were promised protection and allowed to practice their religion if they submitted without fighting and paid a poll-tax at a prescribed rate.


616

Umar(ra)'s Acceptance of Islam

The conversion to Islam of Umar Ibn al-Khattab(ra), Muhammad(saws)'s bitter opponent and a forceful personality in Makkah, took place. he later became the second Caliph(634-44)


619

The Death of Khadija(ra); Muhammad(saws)'s Visit to Taif

The Prophet(saws) suffered two personal misfortunes; Khadija(ra) and Abu talib, the Prophet(saws)'s uncle and protector, both died. Although Abu Talib never accepted Islam, he always stood in the defense of Muhammad(saws), whom he brought up in his own home. Now, another uncle, Abu Lahab, succeeded as head of Muhammad(saws)'s clan, but he withdrew the clan's protection from him. As a result, Muhammad(saws), accompanied only by his adopted son Zayd Ibn Haritha, left for Taif, a town forty miles southeast of Makkah, but did not find the support he had hoped for. He returned to Makkah and carried on with his mission.

The Night Journey

Muhammad(saws)'s reputed Nocturnal Journey(The Miraj) took place from Makkah to Jerusalem and thence to the Seventh Heaven. He was charged with the command that all Muslims were offer prayer five times a day.


620

Muhammad(saws)'s Marriage to Aisha(ra)

The Prophet married Aisha(ra)*, daughter of a close freind and a rich merchant, Abu Bakr(ra).** Because of her close association with the Prophet(saws), she later became a renowned source of Traditions and is held in deep reverence by the Muslims. Aisha(ra) is said to have narrated 2,210 Traditions.

*Apart from Aisha(ra), all the Prophet(saws)'s other wives were widows and seem to have been chosen for political reasons. For twenty-five years he was married to his only first wife, Khadija(ra), who was considerably older than himself. All his remaining marriages took place in his fifties and after Khadija's death.

**According to some historical sources, the marriage was not consummated until after the Hijra in 622


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