20. THE PLEDGES AT AQABAH
It was Hajj again in the twelfth year of Prophethood. The tribes were pouring in from all over Arabia to the Holy House that was built by Prophet Ibrahim (as) many centuries earlier. They came to worship the idols that were in and around the Ka'bah, even though it was originally built for the worship of Allah. The Makkans were idol worshippers who had strayed from the right path.
Last Hajj there were six young men from Yathrib who had accepted Islam and had made a pledge to live their lives according to the teachings of Islam. These men had returned to Yathrib where they would practice this religion as well as teach it to their close friends, relatives and tribe. These young men would also be returning to the Hajj and the Prophet (pbuh) was hopeful that they would bring some of their companions with them.
As the many tribes came into Makkah, the Prophet (pbuh) would preach to them the religion of truth and would convey the message of Allah to them. He would try and convey this message to as many of the people as possible. Many of the tribes chose to ignore the Prophet (pbuh) whilst a few would listen to his words. From them a few individuals would accept this message and would become Muslims.
The tribes from Yathrib were also here to worship these same idols with the exception of twelve people who had come to meet the Prophet (pbuh). They visited the holy places in Makkah and when they were at Aqabah, they met up with the Prophet (pbuh). They sat and talked with the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) explained to them the deen and the implications of them accepting Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) commanded them to refrain from all types of evil and instead implementing good and piety throughout their lives. They were required to leave all their old practices behind that went against the pure teachings of Islam. He taught them about Allah and about worshipping only Allah; the day of Judgement where they would recount all their deeds and the Hereafter where the righteous will be rewarded with eternal bliss and happiness.
The Prophet (pbuh) then took an oath (or pledge) from them that they would adhere to these guidelines throughout their lives and would dedicate their lives to Islam. This was known as the first pledge of Aqabah. After this, this small group departed company with the Prophet (pbuh).
They rejoined their tribes and completed the Hajj before returning to Yathrib. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) sent with them Mus’ab bin Umair who would stay with asad bin Zurarah. He was sent as a teacher and a guide for the new Muslim community. He would teach the Muslims about Islam and advise them in all matters of deen. He would also speak to the non-Muslim Arabs and teach them about Islam, inviting them to accept Islam and reject all evil.
In Yathrib, the situation was a lot different than Makkah and less hostile towards Islam. Mus’ab and asad would speak to the people, reason with them and read to them verses from the Qu'ran. The people were attracted to the truth and simplicity of these teaching and soon many people were accepting Islam. There were many incidents where people were hostile to Islam but when Mus’ab reasoned with them and taught them about the beauty and wisdom of Islam, many would turn and accept Islam.
Islam flourished in Yathrib and soon grew to a sizeable community of practicing and dedicated Muslims. They would learn from this noble teacher Mus’ab about Islam and took his advice in all matters. They would practice what they learned and would teach it to their family and friends. They were a model community who had dedicated their lives to Allah and to the worship of the one and only true lord of all mankind.
However, the situation in Makkah had not improved. The Makkans were very hostile towards the Muslims and reluctant to let them live in peace and security. Nevertheless, the Prophet (pbuh) would continue to pray to Allah and encourage the believers to have patience through there tough times. Occasionally, news would come to the Prophet (pbuh) about the progress in Yathrib which was a welcome sign of hope.
as the year passed quickly, the Hajj season was coming again and the Makkans made preparations to welcome the Arabs to Makkah. The Prophet (pbuh) was also making preparations to meet the tribes that were coming to Makkah. This time there would be a lot more Muslims coming from Yathrib to visit Makkah. They would also make arrangements to meet the Prophet (pbuh) during the Hajj. There was also excitement amongst the Muslims for the arrival of their guests - their new brothers and sisters from Yathrib.
Although the Yathrib Muslims were keen to meet the Prophet (pbuh), their spiritual guide. The Makkans were hostile to the Muslims and always kept a close eye on their movement. Whatever preparations were made would need to be kept secret and would need to take place under the darkness of the night. It would also need to be kept secret from the Yathrib Arabs who had not accepted Islam but had come to perform the Hajj.
Preparations were made to meet the Prophet (pbuh) at Aqabah in the middle of one of the last nights of Hajj. The Yathrib Muslims would sneak out in the middle of the night whilst all the rest of the Arabs were sleeping. They would swiftly travel to this location in the hillocks at Aqabah without making excess noises that may alert the Makkans or other Arabs. Here they waited for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to arrive. There was about seventy five Yathrib Muslims in total.
The Prophet (pbuh) and his uncle Abbas went to Aqabah and they met with the Yathrib Muslims. Abbas had not accepted Islam yet but like Abu Talib loved and protected his nephew. He spoke to the Yathrib Muslims and explained to them that the Prophet (pbuh) was relatively safe amongst his people here. He said that if they were going to take the Prophet (pbuh) and support him then they must do it wholeheartedly. They must support the Prophet (pbuh) through the difficult times as well as the times of ease!
Abbas continued to explain to them the full weight of responsibility they were undertaking and advised them that if they could not shoulder this burden then leave the prophet (pbuh) amongst his own people in Makkah. The Bani Hashim and Bani Mutallib may not have been as powerful as before but they would protect Muhammad (pbuh).
The Yathrib Muslims were determined as ever to follow Islam and dedicated their lives and loyalty to the Muhammad (pbuh). They emphasised that they were prepared to sacrifice everything for the prophet (pbuh) and would support him through every situation in the future. They had become Muslims for one reason than it was the truth and they would stand for the truth in all situations. They would support and obey the noble messenger Muhammad (pbuh).
Then Prophet (pbuh) explained to them what was required from the Muslims – dedication to Islam and its teaching – and then they all made the oath or pledge. This was known as ‘The Second Aqabah pledge’. After they had taken the oath, the Prophet (pbuh) asked the Yathrib Muslims to appoint twelve people from their tribes to represent them. They nominated twelve people who took a second oath for this new responsibility. After this they all parted company.
However, the word got out very quickly that a meeting had taken place and the Makkans were quite angry at these developments. The Makkans gathered their forces and visited the Yathrib tribes accusing them of supporting the Prophet (pbuh) and planning to fight against the Makkans. The Yathrib non-Muslims were also shocked at these accusations and denied that anything had happened between them and the Prophet (pbuh). The Muslims remained quiet as the two sides argued.
The Makkans seemed to reluctantly accept that nothing had happened and the Hajj continued with all the tribes leaving Makkah and returning to their own territories. The Yathrib tribes had also left Makkah as the Makkans began to piece together the events from their various sources. as soon as they figured out what had happened they got together and again went after the Yathrib tribes. They wanted to confront them but they were too late as the Yathrib tribes were too far away on their return journey.
The Makkans began to appreciate the tricky situation they were in. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had friends and supports many miles away in Yathrib who could be potential enemies in the future. They were angry that they were not able to intercede quicker and to sort things out before they had supported the Prophet (pbuh). They directed their hostilities and anger towards the Muslims but the vital events had already taken place.
The command was given to the Muslims to perform the Hijra from Makkah and soon the Muslims began to migrate to Yathrib in small groups, leaving behind their homes and belongings. They were making this migration with its great sacrifices for the sake of their deen. They sacrificed everything they had carrying a few essential belongings on the back of their camels. The Makkans tried their best to halt the Muslims from leaving but the majority of them left without incident.
Muslims that were caught were imprisoned in their homes. Often their own family members did this to prevent them from escaping. The Muslims that got away would often leave their home and wealth behind. Suhaib bin Sinan was one such individual who was a wealthy merchant. When the Makkans found out that he wanted to leave Makkah they confronted him saying that he came as a worthless beggar and Makkah had made him wealthy. They told him that he couldn’t leave Makkah. Suhaib gave them his wealth and property in Makkah, leaving empty handed for Yathrib.
The Prophet (pbuh) remained behind with a few of his followers that included Abu Bakr and Ali. The Makkans were keeping a close eye on the Prophet (pbuh) and watching his every move. They were determined not to let him leave Makkah. The prophet (pbuh) was also waiting for the command from Allah for him to leave Makkah. He had asked Abu Bakr to remain behind so that they could travel together when the command came.
However, as the Prophet (pbuh) was waiting for the command, the Makkans were in an emergency meeting with the heads of all the tribes attending. They were discussing the best way to deal with the new developments and at possible solution to their predicament. They discussed many possibilities but Abu Jahl had the most treacherous plan. He suggested that they should murder the Prophet (pbuh) in his own home before he had a chance to leave for Yathrib!
As the meeting progressed, they discussed the fighting that would result in Makkah as the Bani Hashim and Bani Mutallib sought vengeance for the death of Muhammad (pbuh). They would attack the tribe who had killed the Prophet (pbuh) resulting in the death of many people. The Makkans wanted to avoid this bloodshed.
It was suggested that one member of every tribe should get together and simultaneously kill the Prophet (pbuh) so that the Bani Hashim and Bani Mutallib couldn’t attack just anyone. The tribes would then offer them blood money for the death of the Prophet (pbuh). This would avoid any fighting in Makkah and also solve their problem. The Makkan agreed to this plan.
The plan was set and the main objective was to kill the Prophet (pbuh) before he performed the Hijra. They would murder him before he left their city in his own home. They assembled a group of people to perform this murder and they immediately decided to put their plan in progress.
What would happen to the Prophet (pbuh)? How could he escape from this evil plan? How would he get to Yathrib with the Makkans watching his every move? When would the command come from Allah to migrate? All will be revealed next week, inshallah.