We have thus far discussed many of the trials and tribulations the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) endured in his quest of spreading the ‘Message of Islam’ to the world, and, we have looked at the various aspects of animosity and hatred Qureish (leading Arab Tribe in Mecca at the time) displayed towards Muhammed (pbuh) as his mission progressed. We have seen how the clansmen finally decided on a plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh)—and at the same time ridding the (Arab) world of Islam—especially since his beloved wife, Khadija, his pillar of strength, and his uncle Abu Talib, his protector against Qureish, had both passed away.
But where did this all lead to, we ask? Why did the Prophet (pbuh) persist in ministering to a people who were so steeped in their ignominy and degradation, and who saw him not only as a detriment to their lifestyle and beliefs but as a serious threat to their actual existence?
What happened when Muhammed (pbuh) entered Medina?
However, before we can discuss the actual ‘Turning Point’ in the Prophet’s (pbuh) mission, it becomes necessary to look at that tenth year of prophet-hood, the year he lost both his beloved Khadija and his uncle Abu Talib, and also the year that Allah Almighty summoned ‘The Messenger’ to his ‘Domain’ (as is recorded in the Holy Quran) to hand down the Injunction of the Five Daily Prayers (which is to this day prescribed for every sane Muslim anywhere in the world). It is necessary for us to try and access the Prophet’s (pbuh) progress in his mission at that particular juncture—necessary, in a sense, to understand what it was that drove him so relentlessly.
We find that now that his confidante (Khadija) and Abu Talib, the Prophet’s (pbuh) last line of defense against the wiles of Qureish, were gone, the clansmen had a free hand in persecuting and even killing the Muslims.
We find that because of the aggression and absolute malice of Qureish against Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers, not many people could be persuaded to enter the fold of Islam after that. Not many people had the conviction of standing against Qureish-—at peril of their lives! and see where their new-found beliefs were going to take them. Even some of those who had joined previously were having serious doubts about their commitment to the religion and one by one they turned on their heels. But as we have discussed before, people like Abu Bakr Al Sediq, the Prophet’s (pbuh) true friend, Umar ibn Al Hattab, Hamza, the Prophet’s uncle, Ali, his cousin, and quite a few others were not allowing Qureish to intimidate them; they continued performing their Five Daily Prayers in open defiance of Qureish’s persecution, hence Qureish’s murderous plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh).
To try and fathom the Prophet’s (pbuh) passion and commitment in spreading the Message of Islam one can but only marvel at his resolve in withstanding all the obstacles that dogged him ceaselessly and continuing his ministries against all odds. One cannot do otherwise but to wonder how it was possible that he could pick himself up after every blow and setback and continue on regardless—like the time when he went to a place called Ta’if, some 50 miles east0south-east of Mecca, to talk to the people there.
As we have said previously, in Mecca it was becoming increasingly difficult—if not impossible—for the Prophet (pbuh) to get people to accept Islam; here, in Ta’if, he felt, the populace might give him a fair hearing, since the Banu Thakif, a powerful tribe, held sway in Ta’if, and more importantly, Qureish had no say over them. After a month’s stay in that place, though, Muhammed (pbuh) found himself exactly where he was before he came to Ta’if. He could get no one to listen to him at all! In fact, not only did they refuse to give him a hearing, they rounded up all the street urchins, placed them on both sides of the streets, and as Muhammed (pbuh) exited the city they pelted him with stones.
It has been recorded that so severe was their pelting that blood flowed freely from the Prophet’s (pbuh) wounds and into his sandals, causing them to stick stubbornly to his feet!
It has also been recorded that Allah Almighty sent the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammed (pbuh) to inform him that Allah was a Witness to all that was happening to him, and, if he (Muhammed) (pbuh) so wished, Allah would command the Angel of the mountains to topple the mountains of Ta’if onto those who did this to him and destroy them like Allah had destroyed Pharaoh and his army when they went after the Prophet Moses and his people. Allah would annihilate them like He annihilated the wrongdoers during the time of Lot and the time of Noah.
But Muhammed (pbuh) refused, saying that even if those of his generation rejected Allah and Islam, their children and those that came after them might accept what he brought them and his mission would not have been in vain. Today, Ta’if is one of the foremost Islamic cities in the Arabian Peninsula.
Nonetheless, Qureish soon got word of Muhammed’s (pbuh) mission to Ta’if and their joy knew no bounds when they heard what had happened to him there. But as if that were not enough, they refused to let him re-enter Mecca on his own; he could only do so in the custody of a Qureishite who was not a Muslim. Like a parole officer!
Muhammed (pbuh) endured all this humiliation and embarrassment, and not once did he give in to Qureish and their evil. He believed that Allah Almighty was his Protector and that no matter how his enemies conspired against him, nothing could happen to him that was not supposed to happen to him.
History tells us that during his ‘Flight to Medina’ (Hijra), the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr, his companion, who was with him at the time, took refuge inside a cave just outside of Mecca.
And, as we have discussed before, Qureish had mounted a manhunt that was unequaled at that time or any other time, for that matter.
They (Qureish), together with an army of men that included all the tribes of Mecca, young and old, plus a bevy of trackers who left no ‘stone unturned’ as they hunted for him, pursued the Prophet (pbuh) and his companion, Abu Bakr all through the night. No one was allowed to sleep; no one could turn back. A huge reward was offered for the capture of the two, dead or alive. Qureish wanted them!
And so the next day, just after the break of dawn, the trackers came to a halt outside the cave Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr were in. The trail had led them here and there was nowhere else the two could have gone to. They had them!
Meanwhile, inside the cave, Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr could hear the commotion outside. The trackers were talking animatedly as they waited for the leaders of the tribes to arrive.
Abu Bakr felt his heart pounding so fiercely that his breathing started to rasp. ‘O Prophet of Allah (pbuh)…’ he began, wiping sweat from his bow. ‘I am afraid this is the end..!’
But the Prophet (pbuh) held up his hand and looked at his friend. ‘No, Abu Bakr…’ he whispered reassuringly. ‘It is not the end! Allah will not forsake us. Do not fear!’
And as history records, the leaders all came to gather outside the cave, staring agitatedly at the trackers, who themselves couldn’t understand what was going on.
The trail had led them here—there was no question about that—but a spider’s web barred the entrance to the cave, and a bird’s egg was entangled in it.
‘How could anyone enter here without breaking this web?’ one of the leaders demanded gruffly. The trackers had no answer.
‘Come! We are wasting time!’ another ordered. ‘We cannot let them get away!’
This event and the consequent passage into the City of Medina heralded the turning-point in Islam.