14. HAMZAH AND UMAR ACCEPT ISLAM
The Muslims had been made to suffer by the Makkans. The prophet (phuh) had made the decision to let some of the Muslims make a Hijra to Abyssinia. These Muslims had suffered terribly and at least in Abyssinia they would be safe from harm and trouble. Some of the Muslims had kept their acceptance of Islam a secret so that they would not suffer any abuse from the Makkans.
The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself had been defamed and injured by the Makkans. They had even tried to kill him. They had tried to bribe him so that he would leave his mission. They offered to make him the king or the richest man in Arabia if he left his mission. Muhammad (pbuh) refused all their offers, continued his mission and remained dedicated to Islam. Throughout all this turmoil, the Muslims also remained patient and were steadfast on the path of truth.
Muhammad (pbuh) himself continued to preach the message of Islam to the people, whether openly or in secret. He kept inviting people to the worship of the one God and to worship nothing besides Allah. Muhammad (pbuh) would often pray openly at the Ka'bahand hence was a target for the Makkans. Even here they would attack the prophet (pbuh) or try to abuse and ridicule him.
They had even approached the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib and offered to do a trade with him. They had offered him a youth, who would look after him and whom he could adopt as his own son. They wanted to exchange him for Muhammad (pbuh) so that they could kill him. Abu Talib was furious with them. He said,” It is really an unfair bargain. You give me your son to bring him up and I give you my son to be murdered! By Allah, it is something incredible!" The Makkans explained to Abu Talib that they were doing him a favour by getting rid of Muhammad (pbuh) who was becoming a problem for the community. Abu Talib sent them away in disgust and told them to do what they want.
Once they tried to kill the prophet (pbuh) at the Ka'bah. Muhammad (pbuh) was at the Ka'bahwhen Uqbah bin Al-Mu‘ait came forward towards the prophet (pbuh). When Muhammad (pbuh) was engaged in prayer, Uqbah took his cloak and tried to strangle the prophet (pbuh). It was only when Abu Bakr intervened by pushing Uqbah away from the prophet that the strangling stopped. Abu Bakr then exclaimed, “Do you wish to kill someone because he is asking you to worship Allah!” Abu Bakr was immediately attacked and sustained terrible injuries in this incident.
Another incident, as mentioned in the last seerah, was when Abu Jahl attacked and abused the prophet (pbuh). The prophet (pbuh) was sitting on one of the hillocks of Safa when Abu Jahl approached him and started shouting and using bad language towards him. Muhammad (pbuh) remained quiet and did not retaliate. Abu Jahl took a rock and started attacking Muhammad (pbuh), causing him to bleed. Muhammad (pbuh) again did not retaliate and Abu Jahl proceeded to the Ka'bahto his waiting friends. Unknown to them the whole incident was witnessed by the slave girl of Abdullah bin Jada‘an.
As it so happened Hamzah, the prophet's uncle, was returning from a hunting trip and it was his habit that on return he would go straight to the Ka'bahand offer prayers. He was moving towards the Ka'bah, with his bow still strung on his shoulder, when the slave girl approached him and told him the whole incident. She told him how Abu Jahl had abused his nephew with vile language and then attacked him with a rock.
Hamzah had grown up near Muhammad (pbuh) and knew his kind and generous nature. He was angry that someone should speak and attack him is such an unjust and vicious manner. He strode to the Ka'bahwhere Abu Jahl was sitting with his friends. He went upto them and struck his bow across Abu Jahl’s head. The people around him were astonished that Hamzah would do such a thing. Hamzah then said “"You have been abusing Muhammad (pbuh); I too follow his religion and profess what he preaches."
Abu Jahl’s companions were ready to come to his rescue and fight with Hamzah but Abu Jahl stopped them. Abu Jahl said “I indeed did speak shamelessly to Muhammad (pbuh).” Even Abu Jahl knew that he was being unjust towards Muhammad (pbuh) and that this type of behaviour towards a fellow human being was unacceptable. He knew he was in the wrong and that Hamzah was justified in defending Muhammad (pbuh).
The Makkans were especially upset because Hamzah had become a Muslim. Hamzah had always been respected by the Makkans and was considered by everyone as a brave and honourable person. Although Hamzah did not know much about Islam, very soon he learned about Islam and wholeheartedly accepted Islam. He became a very pious and dedicated Muslim. He was a greatly loved companion of the prophet (pbuh).
It was also about this same time that Umar bin Khattab was in turmoil. He was one of the stern opposition to the Muslims, in fact he used to harm the Muslims and cause them much suffering. Umar was intelligent and wise as well as being considered very brave and strong amongst all the Arabs. People would tremble at the name of Umar. Umar hated the Muslims because they brought something different to what their forefathers worshipped. He thought that their forefathers could not be wrong and that the Muslims were creating annoyance as well as division within the Makkan community.
At the same time, Umar was impressed how the Muslims were steadfast and dedicated to their beliefs. He alone had metered out much punishment and pain to the Muslims but they would never leave their religion. They would always cling onto this belief in the one god as well as love and respect for their beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was torn between the two worlds but continued to be an open enemy of the Muslims and a very active enemy at that.
Umar one day was very upset. In fact he was angry, he saw what was happening to the community with the divisions caused by the new religion. He decided to end it here and the quickest way, he thought, was by killing the prophet (pbuh). He got his sword and started heading out to find the prophet (pbuh). When the people saw Umar with his sword out, they knew that someone was in for trouble and everyone avoided Umar.
On the way, Umar met a friend of his; by the name Nu‘aim bin Abdullah. Nu’aim asked him where he was going with this unsheathed sword. Umar said furiously, “I am going to kill that man Muhammad (pbuh).” Umar was furious at the divisions that the new religion had caused within his community and was in no mood to talk. Nu’aim reasoned with him that why are you going to kill Muhammad (pbuh), which will cause more problems within the community. Banu ‘Abd Munaf would attack you and this will lead to further bloodshed. Why don’t you sort your own family out first? Both your sister and brother in law have accepted Islam and left the religion of your forefathers!
When Umar heard this, he headed straight for his sister’s house. Nu’aim was actually defending Muhammad (pbuh) from this enraged Umar by sending him elsewhere. as it so happened, Umar's sister Fatima and her husband were studying the Qu'ran from Khabab.
When they heard someone approaching, Khabab hid and Fatima hid the pages of the Qu'ran they were reading from. Umar had over heard something being read and pounded on the door. Fatima answered the door and Umar immediately asked her what she was reading. He then continued to relay the information that Nu’aim had given them that they had both accepted Islam. Fatima denied everything and Umar became angry and started beating his sister and brother in law. Umar was maddened with rage at both of them and caused them both to be injured.
Both Fatima and her husband then said, "Yes, we are Muslims, we believe in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh) so do what you will." When Umar saw the state of his bleeding sister, he was touched with remorse and his anger went away. He said,” I was only wanting to know what you were reading.” His sister then explained to Umar that this was the Qu'ran, the message that Muhammad was sent with. Umar wanted to read these verses but his sister refused him saying that he could not touch them because he was not clean.
Umar went and had a bath then read the verses from the Qu'ran. He immediately was touched by the beauty, elegance and wisdom of these verses. He knew that these verses were far superior to anything he had heard and this could only be from Allah, no man could write this. At this point he knew that Islam was the truth and that his forefathers had indeed been misguided.
Khabab could not contain himself with the changed Umar and came out of hiding. He told them that he had heard the prophet do a dua that may Allah strengthen Islam either with Abu Jahl or Umar bin Khattab. It seemed that the prayer was going to be answered.
Umar then left his sister’s house and set off to find Muhammad (pbuh). The prophet (pbuh) was in a religious meeting in a house in Safa. Here the prophet (pbuh) was teaching the Muslims when they heard a knock on the door. The Muslims went over to the door and looked through the cracks. They noticed Umar with his sword unsheathed and dreaded what could happen. Hamzah was also there and he said: "Let him in, as a friend he is welcome. as an enemy, he will have his head cut off with his own sword."
Muhammad (pbuh) then commanded his companions to open the door and let him in. When Umar entered, Muhammad (pbuh) grabbed him by his garments and shook him, asking him why he had come. Umar explained: "O Messenger of Allah (pbuh), I come to you in order to believe in Allah and his Messenger and that which he has brought from his Lord." All the Muslims rejoiced at this good news and cried aloud: ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is Great), which could be heard at the Ka'bah.
One of the main effects of Umar accepting Islam was that the Muslims could now worship in the open. Umar insisted that since Islam is the right way then surely they should not hide and worship Allah. Instead, they should be allowed to worship in the open without any hindrance from the Makkans. From that day onwards the Muslims were able to pray in the open.
When the Makkans found out that Umar too had accepted Islam, just three days after Hamzah, they were very upset. When the Muslims began to worship Allah in the open there was an uneasy atmosphere and the Makkans knew that things were a bit more serious. The Makkans took things a lot more serious now and they were intending to get rid of the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers once and for all.
The Makkans got together for a meeting in which to decide how best they could irradiate Islam; they would not take things lightly anymore. They had tried everything and had very little success. They wanted to give one final, decisive blow that would finish off the Muslims. In this meeting they formulated a new plan that only the worst of humans could carry out, especially since it was against their own family and tribesmen. That’s for next week, Inshallah.