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  • Raya Shokatfard


Updated: Jul 13, 2020

By: Raya Shokatfard

It is a well-known fact that all Prophets faced much suffering and persecution, mostly at the hands of their own people and even their own families. Many times their followers were not exempt from such cruelties. They suffered with their lives, their families and properties.

God chose His last Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah, in the year 610 (C.E.) to carry the message of the former Prophets to declare the unity of God—and this time, to Arabs among whom no Prophet was sent since the time of Prophets Abraham and Ishmael.

According to God’s wisdom, this message was secretly preached by the Prophet to his immediate family and friends and a small number of his tribe for the first 3 years.

Later, he called upon a large number of people to embrace Islam and believe in only one God and in him as the messenger of God. He also pleaded with them to heed to his message and believe in reward and punishment in this world and the Hereafter.

Those whose hearts were open to guidance heeded to his message and those who were set in following the religion of their forefathers of idol worshiping disbelieved in him. Further, they did their outmost to persecute him and his companions in worse possible manners. This included killing, torture, constant annoyance and even deprivation of food and basic needs.

With God’s grace, the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib never bowed to the pressures of his tribe to withdraw his protection from the Prophet, but unfortunately he was unable to avert all the harm facing the Prophet and his companions and as a result some of the companions had to escape to Habashah (Ethiopia), to be under the protection of a just king.

The Prophet eventually lost his uncle Abu Talib who had adamantly protected him, and shortly after, his beloved wife, Khadijah, passed away as well. In spite of stern opposition and persecution no suffering deterred him and his companions with pushing forward with the message.

The initial question is a worthy one: since these were the true believers, why would God allow their persecutions for nearly 13 years in Makkah? Couldn’t He have given them victory at the onset and defeated their enemies?

The following reasons could be among some of the major elements which God may have allowed for the sufferings:

The followers of Islam had no ulterior motive but sincerely accepted Islam—even in face of all the persecutions. They knew all the sacrifice they would have to make on behalf of their faith, even at the price of losing much or all that they possessed, including losing their families and their own lives. This was one way to weed out the true believers from the disbelievers.

God, with His infinite wisdom, clearly showed the different mentalities:

{And when our clear revelations are recited unto them, those who disbelieve say to those who believe: which of the two parties [yours or ours] is better in position, and more imposing than any army?} (Maryam 19: 73)

God further exposes the darkness in their heart:

{And when our clear revelations are recited to them, they who do not look for the meeting with Us say: Bring a lecture [Quran] other than this or change it.}(Yunus 10: 15)

Although all the companions of the Prophet were grieved at the harsh treatments, the one most tormented was the Prophet himself. God consoles him in numerous versus such as:

{We know well how their talk grieves you, though in truth they do not deny you [Muhammad], but evil-doers flout the Revelations of Allah.} (Al-An’Am 6: 33)

It was important for Muhammad and all those who followed him to stay steadfast, not just for their own sake, but for the sake of future generations and the future of the final message.

Their perseverance was a lesson for future generations who could face similar resistance.

The Prophet and his companions understood through revelations that every Prophet, messenger and their companions had to face difficult tests. This is simply the way God would mark the true believers. Prophets and messengers were always sent with messages that were alien to the custom and religion of their tribes. It was natural that they would face stern resistance and hostility. Prophet Muhammad and his companions were no exception in what they faced from their own community. Through it all they were aware that they were paving their own road to paradise as God says:

{Do you expect to enter Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were tested with hardship and adversity, and were shaken up, until the messenger and those who believed with him said, “Where is God”s victory?” God”s victory is near.} (Al Baqarah 2:214)

God further warned:

{Do you expect to enter Paradise without God distinguishing those among you who strive, and without distinguishing those who are steadfast?} (Al Imran 3:142)

One other important factor that put the Prophet and his companions into great hardship was to combat the plots of their enemies, not only in physical form, but in their verbal plots, deceptions and fabrications. Numerous cases proved that such plots were also averted by the Prophet and his companions. God says:

{We have permitted the enemies of every Prophet – human and jinn devils – to inspire in each other fancy words, in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications.}(Al An’am 6:112)

He further continues:

{This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such fabrications, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions.}(Al An’am 6:113)

History proved that all the sufferings the Prophet and his companions endured ended up producing great victory for them only a few years after their migration to Madinah as well as for the later Muslim nations and the religion of Islam to this day.

Today, we notice many Muslims around the world bend to even small pressures of the adversaries of Islam. Combinations of fear, weakness of faith and lack of desire to seek God’s pleasure would change some stronger Muslims to become weaker adherents to the religion.

Some even distance themselves to the point of changing their names, identities, and secularizing their families. Indeed, the only thing is left of Islam with them may be some names, complexions, a few Islamic words and attendance of some festivities.

While the true believers take the sufferings of the Prophet and the early Muslims to increase their faith, they push forward to bring a better understanding of Islam to others in the best possible manner. They do not let fear of anyone or anything deter them from their mission.

The desire for God’s mercy and ultimately paradise is the driving force for them to keep working for His cause.

They know that any burden that is put upon them is not only a test, but also is not greater than they can bear. They remember the promise of their lord saying:

{..and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.} (Yusuf 12: 87)

{But those who believe and work righteousness,- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear,- they will be Companions of the Garden, therein to dwell (for ever).} (Al-Araf 7: 42)

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4, Part 5


Published on Thursday, 25 November 2010

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