The Prophet as a Man: Promises Certain to Be Fulfilled

By: Adil Salahi, Arab News

Emailed by Mohammad Usman, Jeddah, SAUDI ARABIA

Inspirational Story of Trust, Promise Fulfillment and Forgiveness: Islamic History

In the sixth year after the Prophet (peace be upon him) had settled in Madinah he went with 1,400 of his companions to perform Umrah at the Kaaba in Makkah. A year before that, the Muslims scored a great victory against the allied forces of the Arab idolaters and the Jews who declared their aim to exterminate Islam and Muslims. Although the Prophet and his companions were on a peaceful mission, having no intention to do anything other than to visit the Sacred Mosque and perform their worship there, the Quraysh, the major Arab tribe living in Makkah and opposing Islam, were determined to prevent them from doing so. The Prophet and his companions encamped at Al-Hudaybiyah, around 25 kilometres from Makkah, where prolonged negotiations took place. Finally, the Prophet agreed to all the conditions the Quraysh stated, which meant that the Muslims went back without completing their journey. They were to be allowed to visit Makkah the following year for three days only.

As they started on their return journey, the Muslims were dejected, feeling that the terms imposed by the Quraysh were humiliating to them. Indeed, they appeared so. However, the Prophet was acting on instructions from God Almighty. It was not long before those terms proved to be counterproductive for the Quraysh that they requested amendments. Yet, at the time when the Muslims started on their way back, they were sad and dejected. At that time Surah 48, Victory, was revealed to the Prophet. He was very pleased with it. The gradual revelation of the surah makes very interesting reading.

Anas reports: "The opening of Surah 48, Victory, was revealed to the Prophet as he started on his way back from Al-Hudaybiyah. His companions were feeling very sad and depressed. The Prophet said to them: "I have received verses revealed to me which are to me dearer than the whole world." He then recited these verses to his companions: "We have granted you a glorious victory, so that God may forgive you all your faults, past and future, bestow upon you the full measure of His blessings and guide you on a straight way. God will certainly grant you His mighty support." (48: 1-3) As he finished reading them, a man said to him: "Delighted may you be with this. God has told you what He will do for you. What will He do with us?" The next verses were then revealed: "He will admit the believers, both men and women, into gardens through which running waters flow, there to abide, and He will forgive them their bad deeds. That is, in God′s sight, a great triumph."" (48: 5) (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

The great victory achieved at Al-Hudaybiyah was the fact that a peace agreement was made and the Muslims could attend to their task of propagating Islam, explaining its message to others, in safety and security. Other tribes realized that the Quraysh dealt with the Muslims on equal terms. Until that point, most Arabian tribes had adopted a policy of wait and see toward Islam. They felt that they should stay away from the conflict between the Muslim community and the Quraysh. Now that the Al-Hudybiyah peace agreement was signed, they were ready to listen to God′s messenger and his companions as they explained the Islamic faith to them. Countless numbers accepted Islam as a result of this free advocacy of the divine message. When the Prophet and his companions marched to Makkah two years later, his troops numbered 10,000.

What is important from the Islamic point of view is to have a comprehensive view of things. If they appear to be contrary to the interests of the Muslim community, a deeper look may reveal otherwise. Moreover, perseverance is of maximum importance in advocating God′s message. Its advocates must never allow boredom or fatigue to creep into their mentality, leading them to abandon their task. Consider the following Hadith reported by Abu Musa Al-Ashari, quoting the Prophet as saying: "Here is an example of the status of the Muslims, the Jews and the Christians. They are like a man who hired some people to do some work for him throughout the day, until nightfall, in return for specified wages. However, they worked until midday, then said to him: "We do not need the wages you promised us, and whatever we did is void." He said to them: "Do not abandon your work. Complete it and take your wages in full." They refused and left. He hired others to replace them, saying: "Complete the work for the rest of the day and I will give you the full wages I promised the others." They began to work, until the Asr time (i.e. mid-afternoon), but they then said to him: "Whatever we did for you is void, and you keep the wages you promised us." He said to them: "You will be better advised to complete the work. Only a short time is left to the end of the day." They refused. He hired a third group to work for the rest of the day. They continued the work until the sun has set. They received the wages of both groups that worked earlier. This is their example and what they accepted of the light of the divine message." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

In this Hadith, the Prophet makes clear that commitment to the divine faith must never weaken. People who are entrusted with advocating it must carry out their mission throughout life. If they abandon it, their earlier actions, good as they may be, will come to nothing. They will be in the same position as those workers who did half the work then abandoned it, forsaking their wages. Followers of earlier divine religions altered their faiths and introduced into them concepts that are at variance with what God has revealed to His messengers. By doing so, they abandoned their position as believers committed to the divine faith. Hence, they ended up with nothing. The Prophet makes clear that the Muslims will never abandon the divine faith in their total numbers. As mentioned in a Hadith quoted earlier, there will always remain among them people who are dedicated and committed to it. That Hadith reads: "There will always be a group of my community dedicated to God′s message and fulfilling it. They will not care who may let them down or oppose them, until God′s judgment has come and sees them in this way." (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and Muslim).