Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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While thus absorbed in Divine worship in the Hira, the angel Gabriel appeared before him one night, in the month of Ramadan - it was the 609th year of the Christian era - and told him to read out. "I do not know how to read," was the Holy Prophet's reply. Then the angel hugged him close to his bosom and asked him again to read. Three times the angel repeated the request to read, as many times the Holy Prophet pleaded his inability to do so. Then the angel recited the verses quoted above. And so did the Holy Prophet. This was the first day when the heavy responsibility of prophethood was placed on his shoulders. The right path in the quest of which he had been so long engaged was at last revealed to him. The light for which he had been eagerly searching came to him. It was, however, made known to him at the same time that the stupendous charge of human reformation was to rest on his shoulders. Weak as man is by nature, he is apt to feel the weight even of an ordinary responsibility. Reformation of mankind is the heaviest task that can be placed on human shoulders. Moses was commissioned for the reformation of a single nation; yet he found it too much for him single-handed and cried for Divine help: "Give to me a helper!" The Holy Prophet Muhammad was charged with the regeneration of the whole of mankind, sunk into the lowest depths of degradation. Yet his strong heart did not give way for a single moment to the slightest wavering, notwithstanding the almost crushing weight of the responsibility. He shouldered it all by himself, relying solely upon the help of God. He asked for no assistant. But Divine inspiration is an extraordinary phenomenon and beyond average human experience. It necessitates absolute detachment from one's environment. At the time of this experience, the entire corporeal frame of the recipient is possessed with Divine Power. Even when the Holy Prophet grew used to the experience, his body would perspire profusely and become very weighty. One of his companions reports that on one such occasion, the Holy Prophet's thigh happened to be on his knee. It became so heavy that he feared that his knee would be crushed. The first experience of inspiration told all the more heavily on his body and caused him to tremble.
Shivering, he went home; his hands and feet grew cold and he asked Khadijah to wrap him up. After a short while when the shaking, with its inevitable accompaniment of a feeling of fear, disappeared, he related the whole experience to his wife. On hearing his account, she encouraged him with the inspiring words that God would never desert him and that he would succeed in his mission. She spoke of his many virtues, his treatment of his kith and kin, his helping the poor, the helpless, the orphan and the widow, his hospitality and his vindication of right under the most trying circumstances. "How - she assured him - was it possible that one possessed of so many virtues should ever come to grief?"
Waraqah ibn Naufal was Khadijah's cousin. Wearying of idolatry, he was on the look-out for a true religion and had at length embraced Christianity. Khadijah was well aware of her kinsman's mental anguish for lack of a religion that would carry conviction to a heart yearning after truth. Probably she had heard him talk of the appearance of the Promised Prophet, the Comforter whose advent had been foretold by Jesus. As soon as she found the Holy Prophet Muhammad called to that office, she took him to her cousin out of sympathy for the latter, who had lost his eyesight and was unable to move, aged as he was. No sooner did Waraqah hear what inspiration the Holy Prophet had received and how, than he spontaneously exclaimed: "This is the very angel God sent down to Moses!" - referring obviously to the prophecy by Moses. Then he said: "Would that I might be alive when thou art exiled by thy people!" The Holy Prophet asked him in surprise if he would be thus treated by his kith and kin. "Yes," replied Waraqah. "This is the treatment meted out to every prophet." Soon, thereafter, Waraqah passed away. For this very confirmation on his part, of the truth of the Holy Prophet's mission he is regarded as one of the companions of the Prophet.
Next to Khadijah comes Waraqah on the list of early believers. He passed away during the cessation period, before the Prophet was called upon to preach his religion, and was thus deprived of the opportunity formally to declare his faith. Nevertheless, he had borne testimony, at the interview already referred to, arranged by Khadijah between him and the Holy Prophet, to the fact that the latter was undoubtedly the Promised Prophet. This is enough to entitle him to a place in the list of believers.
Then follows Abu Bakr, a Makkan notable. He was held in high esteem for his soundness of judgment and commanded great respect among his compatriots. Long before the Holy Prophet received the Call, Abu Bakr had been on intimate terms with him. His faith in the righteousness of the Holy Prophet was as implicit as that of Khadijah. Like hers, his faith never wavered for a minute. No sooner did he hear of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's claim to prophethood, than he made an open profession that he was indeed a Prophet of God. He comes at the top of the list of male believers.
Ali, the son of the Holy Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, was also one of the earliest believers. He knew the Holy Prophet very intimately, for he had been brought up under his loving care. Knowing that the Holy Prophet's veracity was unquestionable, he did not hesitate for a moment to accept him.
Zaid ibn Harith was a liberated slave of the Holy Prophet. His deep attachment to his master has already been touched upon. He gave preference to the company of the Holy Prophet to that of his kith and kin, refusing to accompany his father back to his home. He was also one of the earliest believers.
These people were on most intimate terms with the Holy Prophet and had the greatest access to his private life, and they had also the most implicit belief in the sincerity of his claim to the prophetical office. Not one of them entertained the slightest doubt as to the genuineness of his mission. They had known him to be truthful, Al-Amin, throughout his life so far. Never during the long period of forty years, before the Call came to him had they heard the Holy Prophet tell a lie. Thus, it was inconceivable to them that he should have fabricated a lie in laying claim to prophethood. Surely they could not look upon him as an impostor. Being his associates from his early days, they had the opportunity for thorough insight into the innermost traits of his character. The more a person knew of the Holy Prophet, the more he was enamoured of him, and the more forward he was to accept his claim. This aspect of his character constrains even critics like Muir and Sprenger to admit that Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, was quite sincere in his claim. He had full confidence in the Divine character of his revelations. If there were even the shadow of hypocrisy in the claim, the first to suspect and reject him would have been those so intimately connected with him. Yet they were the foremost to accept him as a true Prophet.
The number of Muslims continued to grow, and the conversion of some prominent men from among the Quraish added to the strength of the small brotherhood. Of these, the most noteworthy was Hamzah, the Holy Prophet's uncle and foster brother. He was a man of martial spirit and fond of sport. On account of his high morals he enjoyed great esteem and regard among his compatriots. He cherished special love for the Holy Prophet. His conversion came about in the following manner. One day, Abu Jahl was as usual persecuting the Holy Prophet when Hamzah's handmaid appeared on the scene and was shocked to see the cruel treatment. Hamzah had been out on a hunting trip. On his return home, the maid related the incident to him. He was already impressed with the character of his nephew. Now that he heard how pitilessly he was being subjected to all manner of ill-treatment, he was deeply moved. He thought it unchivalrous in the extreme not to stand by a righteous man such as the Holy Prophet was. So he made up his mind to throw in his lot on the side of Truth and defend it with might and main. Straightaway he made for the Ka'bah where Abu Jahl and his partisans were holding a meeting to wage a campaign against Islam, and announced his acceptance of Islam.
The second great man to prove a tower of strength to Islam was 'Umar. A man of fiery temper, he was bitter in his opposition to Islam. He made up his mind one day to put the Holy Prophet, the root-cause of the new movement, to the sword and thus put an end to the whole trouble. With this intent he took up his sword and made for the Holy Prophet's house. As yet he did not know that his own sister, Fatimah, and her husband Said, had both joined the faith. On his way, a Muslim happened to meet him and, noticing that he was out for mischief, asked him where he was going. "To kill Muhammad," replied 'Umar. The Muslim told him he had better set his own house in order first and then think of killing the Holy Prophet, for his sister and cousin had both embraced Islam. On hearing of the conversion of his own relations, he was much enraged. He took his way towards their house first to settle accounts with them. It so happened that Khabbab was reciting a passage from the Quran to them when 'Umar entered their house. Out of fear they concealed the sheets on which the passage was written. But 'Umar had ample proof of their conversion. He had overheard them recite the Quran. No sooner did he step into the house than he shouted at them saying he had come to know of their apostasy and, taking hold of S a `id, began to belabour him. His sister, trying to save her husband from his wrath, interposed; but she too received injuries and was besmeared with blood. At length, she broke out in a defiant tone: "Do what you will. We have professed Islam." This bold front on the part of his sister in spite of maltreatment had an immensely pacifying effect on 'Umar. Forthwith he ceased beating them and asked for the sheets of the Quran to be shown to him. His sister, fearing lest he should offer any insult to the Holy Book, felt reluctant; but on his assurance that he would no more hurt their religious susceptibilities, she handed over the sheets, which contained the chapter entitled Ta-ha. This is how it opens: "O man! We have not revealed the Quran to thee that thou mayest be unsuccessful. Nay, it is a reminder to him who fears. A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the high heavens." As he listened, he could no longer resist the force of the truth of the Quran. It made him think of the foolishness of hostility and opposition to what was so beautiful and noble. Khabbab who had out of fear kept concealed all this time, was not slow to seize upon the psychological moment. Coming out, he began preaching to him. The mighty `Umar could not withstand the spiritual gravitation of Islam. Enquiring of Khabbab as to the whereabouts of the Holy Prophet, he went straight off to Arqam's house which, sheltered, at that moment, the Holy Prophet with forty of his companions, male as well as female. 'Umar knocked at the door, from which one of. the inmates peeped to see who it was. Seeing 'Umar with his sword hanging about his neck, he was filled with fear, suspecting he was there on a foul errand. The Holy Prophet, however, told him to open the door and let him in. On his appearance, the Holy Prophet had hardly addressed a word to him before he proclaimed: "O Messenger of Allah! I declare faith in Allah and His Prophet." This filled the whole of the Muslim congregation with intense joy, and all proclaimed aloud the glory of Allah till the surrounding hills resounded to their shouts of Allah-u-Akbar (Allah is Great).
It is a striking feature of the early spread of Islam that it was limited mostly to the common hewer of wood and drawer of water. The aristocracy for the most part turned a deaf ear to the message. An incident narrated in the Quran throws light on the Divine purpose why the upper classes were deprived of the blessings of Islam in the days of its infancy. The Holy Prophet was one day busy preaching to some of the Quraish nobility when a poor blind man, Ibn Umm Maktum by name, made his appearance. Not knowing that the Holy Prophet was busy, he put him a few questions, expecting thereby to attract attention. The Holy Prophet, occupied as he was with important talk, naturally did not like interruption. He did not scold him nor did he utter a word of displeasure, but a shadow of disapproval passed over his forehead. But the Almighty God Who wanted him to attain to the highest pinnacle of morals as well as manners did not let this incident pass unnoticed. Forthwith came the warning through Divine revelation: "He frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him. [The Quran, 80:1, 2.]" It went on to say that it was just possible that that very blind man might benefit by his preaching; for the Quran was a code of life whereby humble people could be raised to the greatest heights. The advancement of the cause of Islam was bound up with the poor and the weak who, in their struggle to uphold the cause of Islam, would themselves be glorified. And as a matter of fact this was the underlying Divine purpose why the light of Islam was hailed mostly by the weaker element of the inhabitants of Makkah. They were intended to serve as a concrete illustration of how ordinary people, supported by the Divine hand, can accomplish what is beyond the power of the most mighty. And we know it for certain, in the light of history, that not only did Islam enable the same class of the weak and the despised to wield the sceptre of royal authority, but at the same time raised them to the highest plane of morality and made them torch bearers of learning, art, science and philosophy at a time when the world was enshrouded in the darkness of ignorance. Can there be a greater testimony to the uplifting force of Islamic teachings?
Revelation was not
a Voice from within: