We have previously discussed the mysterious way in which Islam started and the Prophet Muhammed's (pbuh) role in its manifestation. We have also very briefly touched on the Prophet's (pbuh) personal life,i.e. his marriage to Khadija and the type of person he was. But to continue the story one needs to understand the conditions of Arabia, particularly Mecca, at that time. We need to delve into the living conditions as well as the mindset of the Arabs, those living in and around the precincts of the Kaabah and look at the way they conducted their lives. (The Kaabah is the famous black-clothed building, standing in the middle of the Harram – Prayer area in Mecca – purported to have been built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael).
These Arabs, we find, have very strange beliefs indeed! Beliefs that could only have been perpetrated in a land where there was no law! They thought nothing of chasing their wives away if these ones disobeyed them, or refused to share her favours with a friend who came to visit and stayed over at the husband's request. A son whose father-in-law passed away would inherit his mother-in-law to use as he deemed fit. Female babies were buried alive for fear of bringing bad luck to the household!
There were 360 idols in and around the Kaabah — one for each day. The Arabs believed these were the sons and daughters of Allah and had to be deified as such, especially Al-Lat and Al-Uzza, whom they paid special reverence to.
So one can imagine the dilemma Muhammed (pbuh) must have found himself in as his purpose on earth intensified. One can but only marvel at Allah's Mysterious Plan in introducing Islam to the world, through the medium of the Prophet (pbuh) who, we learn through history, had no schooling at all! No education whatsoever! Allah Almighty, Himself, alludes to this fact in the Holy Quran.
Muhammed (pbuh) had no knowledge of politics, or law, or governance for that matter. He couldn't even spell his own name. So why was he so successful then? What made him succeed where others miserably failed? Was this also part of the mystery?
But let us take up the story where we have left off in the previous chapter. Let us follow Muhammed (pbuh) as he makes his way down the mountain of Tuhr, sobbing involuntarily as the full impact of what he had just experienced overpowers him.
He stumbles over a loose rock and nearly loses his balance. He grips his chest as the sobs issue forth uncontrollably and he sits down in the pathway staring through his tears at the ground. How he wished Khadija could have been here with him now. She would have known what to do.
The moon had by now nearly completed its sojourn through the heavens and Muhammed (pbuh) knew it was nearing daybreak. He struggles up from the ground and staggers on, his chest burning.
He reached his house just as the first rays of dawn painted the eastern sky. There was a donkey cart moving down the street and he starts to hammer on the door. He hears Khadija calling out from inside and he breathes a sigh of relief.
"Who is it?"
Muhammed (pbuh) didn't answer immediately and he hears her calling out again. "Who is there?"
"It's me, Muhammed."
"Muhammed?" (pbuh) She seemed puzzled but opened the door. "Muhammed!" (pbuh) Her mouth opened wide, and all sleep disappeared from her eyes. "Muhammed! (pbuh) Muhammed! (pbuh)"
Muhammed (pbuh) nearly fell into her arms.
"Oh my word! Muhammed! (pbuh) What happened to you?"
Muhammed (pbuh) didn't answer. He started to shiver intensely. Khadija took him to their bedroom. "Come! Come lie down! You must rest!" And she helped him onto the bed.
"Dear! Dear! Dear! Who did this to you?"
Muhammed (pbuh) kept on shivering as Khadija placed a blanket over him. He still couldn't speak. Khadija wondered if he wasn't coming down with a fever perhaps. His face looked so red and he was sweating profusely!
"Let me get you another blanket." She stared at him anxiously. "You are burning up, Muhammed! (pbuh) Dear, oh Dear! Did someone rob you?" She placed the blanket on top of the other one. "I've told you so many to be careful at night, but you don't listen! Did you see his face?"
"No!" said Muhammed in a croaking voice and placed his hand on her arm. "I'm not sick, Khadija. It's just that I've seen something very mysterious and very frightening, indeed!"
"What?" She sat down on the bed next to him. "What did you see?"
He told her and he cried as he relived once again the unbelievable events of the night, especially the immensely powerful grip of the Archangel Gabriel when he had commanded him to read. He was sure the 'figure' had said his name was Gabriel!
"And he knew your name?" Khadija listened open-mouthed, stroking his hand. "Did you see his face?"
"No!" Muhammed (pbuh) said almost abruptly. "I couldn't see his face. But he called me by my name as if he knew me a long time!"
Khadija didn't comment. She was thinking of her cousin Waraqah bin Nawfal and she knew what she was going to do. Waraqah was well-versed in the scriptures and he had always told her, on numerous occasions, that there was something strange about Muhammed (pbuh). Muhammed (pbuh), to him, seemed to be of another world.
The sun was coming out by now and Khadija left the house, leaving their daughter, Fatima, by the Prophet's (pbuh) side. She hastened towards the other side of town where she knew Waraqah never left his house before noon. Waraqah spent most of his life studying the Scriptures.
Muhammed (pbuh) loved Fatima a lot. She was the only surviving child he had with Khadija (the other two had died in infancy) and she resembled him in many ways. Fatima was very fair with raven-black hair. And now as he smiled at her, he was glad that he had her as his daughter.
The Prophet (pbuh) tried to sleep, but he kept on hearing the booming voice of the Archangel Gabriel and he began to read to himself the verses that the Angel had forced him to read. He repeated these verses over and over till he eventually fell asleep. There was a troubled look on his face.
Khadija returned later that day with the news that Muhammed (pbuh) was the Prophet of Islam. Waraqah had been adamant that according to the Scriptures there would come a Prophet, after the Prophet Jesus and his name shall be Achmat.
Achmat, Muhammed, Mustapha (pbuh)!