Previously, we discussed Muhammed’s (pbuh) escape from Qureish(leading Arab tribe in Mecca), accompanied by his close friend, Abu Bakr and their guide, Abdullah bin Uraiqit.
We also discussed how the leaders of Qureish had offered a massive reward of 100 camels to anyone capturing Muhammed (pbuh) and whoever was with him, dead or alive, and how this had attracted fortune seekers and bounty hunters from all over the Arabian peninsula.
We spoke about Suraqah bin Malik, a warrior, and an absolute killer with a bow and arrow—someone who had relentlessly tracked down the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions, at a place somewhere near the Red Sea. We related what happened to Suraqa every time he had the Prophet (pbuh) in his sights and, prepared to strike. We discussed how Suraqah confessed to the Prophet (pbuh)—afterwards—about his evil intentions, and how on his return to Mecca he spread the rumor that the Prophet (pbuh) was nowhere to be found.
But the question that remains is, what was the impact of Islam on the people of Medina? How did they receive Muhammed (pbuh) and his ‘Message of Islam’?
We find that after the episode with Suraqah bin Malik, Abdullah bin Uraiqit was taking no chances. No one could be trusted!
He led the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr away from the mainland, following a route that led them along the coast of the Red Sea as well as the treacherous Tihamat mountain ranges.
And what normally was a 200-mile journey that could be covered in a few days (by travelling inland, of course) now became an absolute nightmare!
For days they traveled through hot and inhospitable territory, resting only when they were certain that chances of discovery were minimal. At night when there was a full moon they made good ground, otherwise they lay under shimmering stars and distant galaxies.
Their rations were getting low; water was at a premium and Abdullah bin Uraiqit feared for the safety of the Prophet (pbuh).
But it was at times like these that Muhammed (pbuh) found his solace in his Almighty Allah. At times like these he would find his inner strength by looking at the mountains and the skies and everything around him—and praise the Almighty continuously, much to the wonderment of Abdullah bin Uraiqit who had only come to know the Prophet (pbuh) as of late. He found himself continuously staring at Muhammed (pbuh) whenever he thought the Prophet (pbuh) was not looking. And he also had the strangest feeling that everything else, like the trees and the animals, even the birds, seemed to be focused on the presence of Muhammed (pbuh)!
After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the quarters of the Banu Sabin, a friendly tribe, situated not far from Medina.
Buraydah, the elder chieftain of the tribe, came to welcome them and the party of the Prophet (pbuh) had great difficulty in controlling their emotions. Their traumatic sojourn was nearly at an end.
They learnt from all the other tribesman that Qureish, albeit having given up the chase themselves, still kept dangling the reward of the 100 camels in front of anyone interested in capturing Muhammed (pbuh)—dead or alive. They (Qureish) were not giving up on their aims of destroying Islam.
However, to come back to our point of discussion—the impact that Islam had on Medina—one has to understand the ties the Prophet (pbuh) had to that city and its people.
First, his father, Abdullah, was buried in Medina, and, from his paternal side, Abdul Mutallib, his grandfather had close relatives there.
His mother, Amina, used to come for yearly visits to Medina, and Muhammed (pbuh) as a child used to accompany her. She died when the Prophet (pbuh) was six years old, at a place called Al Abwa, midway between Medina and Mecca.
Strangely enough, though, the people of Medina—the Arabs, that is—were a different breed to those of Mecca.
History records that when Qureish were at their most fervent in their persecution of the Muslims, Medina was the only city in the Arabian peninsula to give them a safe haven and succor.
One thinks back to the time when the Prophet (pbuh) advised the early Muslims to emigrate to Abyssinia, to escape the torture of Qureish, and, how the clansmen sent a delegation to the Negus(Christian king of that country) to extradite the Muslims and to punish them.
We learnt what happened there: how the Negus refused to turn the
Muslims over to Qureish, even though he was told that the Muslims did not accept any other religion except Islam, and that they did not recognize Jesus as the son of God.
But Medina was different. Many Muslims had emigrated to that city as well. Besides, Medina, compared to Abyssinia, was but a stone’s throw from Mecca. So why didn’t Qureish try to extradite the Muslims there?
Be that as it may, we find that even before the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions set foot in Medina, there was such a hive of excitement in that city that those who were not Muslim—like the Jews, Christians, Coptic, and whoever—couldn’t understand the fever that was gripping Medina.
There seemed to be merriment everywhere. Young and old came to meet the Prophet (pbuh)—Muslims and non-Muslims; Arabs and non-Arabs. Everyone wanted to see what Muhammed (pbuh) looked like. Everyone wanted to meet Muhammed (pbuh), the man whom they had heard so much about, the man who had turned Mecca upside down with his preachings of the ‘New Religion’. The only man who had managed to shake the mighty Qureish and their belief system to its very core.
They jostled with each other, pushing and shoving—almost trampling one another—as they tried to catch a glimpse of Muhammed (pbuh) when he entered the city gates.
Young girls, their faces lighting up as they watched him alighting from his camel, sang his praises: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Blessings upon you! O Beloved of Allah! Blessings upon you!’
History records that so great was the impact of Islam on Medina at that moment, that all who witnessed the entry of Muhammed (pbuh) instinctively knew that a great revolution in the history of the world was coming.