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New Muslims Pilgrimage

A Brief Guide to Hajj (EDC Video)

Islam organizes the spiritual and moral life of man as well as the practical in order to live a normal balanced life. Every act of worship in Islam has a meaning, a purpose and a significance, and of great spiritual, moral, and physical benefits.

Hajj, one of the five main pillars of Islam, gives a specific and practical example of acts of worship in Islam. A rich spiritual experience, Hajj has a great message and lessons for the benefit and wellbeing of man and all humanity, resulting in spiritual and behavioral development in the life of a Muslim.

Hajj is a life-time journey; if conducted properly, it will erase all sins of the pilgrim. So, every Muslim intending to undertake this journey should first learn well its rituals and how to perform them correctly.

The E-Da`wah Committee (EDC) is pleased to present this brief guide to Hajj for those intending to make this life-time journey.

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New Muslims Pilgrimage

Guideposts on the Hajj Route

By Dr. Atiyah Al-Weeshy

Guideposts on the Hajj Route

Hajj is one of the most pious acts which a person does in order to gain the pleasure of God.

For the intention of making hajj (pilgrimage) to germinate among the ribs of a believer, one is required to do much more than what is commonly done by tourists, including viewing plain ancient monuments or visiting places with origins and memories steeped in history, which may fill them with astonishment and admiration.

Rather, the experience outstrips those phenomena, going to the heart of the values of worship and the spiritual and sentimental impressions mingled with the blessing of God, the Almighty, which provide a Muslim with the spiritual provisions one needs for an immaculate, free, noble life.

Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and an act of worship which God legislated for His servants. Also, it is one of the most pious acts which a person does in order to gain the pleasure of God.

However, most of those who can afford hajj often fail to meditate on, understand and comprehend the brilliant indications and denotations of that great rite. They may even overlook the purposes and the objectives for which this rite is legislated.

How many people wasted their money and endured travel hardship without getting sufficient reward for their hajj journey!

Therefore, we will spotlight some guideposts on the blessed hajj journey whereby the pilgrims may hopefully beware of slips and deviations and accomplish their chief purpose of this honorable rite.

First: Physical Ability

We mean by “physical ability” having lawful, legitimate money free from suspicion and ill-gotten gain. God is good and accepts only good things. In the Qur’an, God says:

And (due) to God from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. (Aal `Imran 3:97)

The income of usury, invalid transactions, gambling, and trafficking is not good gain which one may intend for God. ‘Ability’ cannot be based on a burden resulting from a debt, pledge or the like.

To conclude, self-restraint should be exercised to seek lawful gain for everything one is going to set out in one’s day-to-day life, considering that this worldly life is a farm for the Hereafter. In the Qur’an, God says:

But seek, through that which God has given you, the home of the Hereafter (Al-Qasas 28:77)

This worldly life may be likened to a journey man starts with a diaper and ends with an unsewn shroud, which resembles the hajj clothes in denotation and indication and amazes and reminds minds and hearts of death and the Hereafter. This requires a Muslim to exercise self-discipline and reconcile all of one’s conditions in such a way which pleases God.

Second: Sincere Repentance

Sincere repentance reflects the extent to which a Muslim understands the nature of the hajj rites and feels their deep values and considerable magnitude. However, there are some people who go on hajj while their hearts have yet to give up evil habits, negative qualities or bad characteristics. They make hajj while overburdened with people’s due rights and shouldered with such grievances which hinder them from having such accepted hajj that people hope for.

While repentance is obligatory at all times, it is more obligatory when making hajj. The Muslim going to be entertained as a guest of God is more required to lay down burdens so that one’s heart will not cherish anything which may affect one’s self-purity, pleasant connection or dignified meeting with God.

Repentance can be sincere only if fulfills its three conditions: giving up, regretting, and resolving not to return to sin. If any such sin is related to a right due to a human being, the acceptance of this repentance is conditional upon, along with the above three conditions, returning any such right to its recipient or asking the latter to absolve one from this right.

Third: Sincere Intention

A pilgrim must have a sincere intention when setting out on the journey to the holy sanctuary of God. The most graceful thing to be imparted by such a blessed outset is giving precedence for God by curbing the appetite for money whose collection often engrosses a good deal of man’s effort, health and lifetime.

Intention is the criterion for accepting or not accepting good deeds. Prophet Muhammad said: “Deeds are considered by intentions, and a person will get reward according to one’s intention behind.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Accordingly, the one who makes hajj for showoff, reputation, fame and honorary titles will not have one’s hajj accepted and for which one will not get reward from God.

In the Qur’an, God says:

Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments – We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they therein will not be deprived. Those are the ones for whom there is not in the Hereafter but the Fire. And lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do. (Hud 11:15-16)

Sincere intention in hajj, and thereby seeking the pleasure of God, is one of the determinants of the correct destination of the pilgrims’ organs, especially heart, apart from fancy, hypocrisy and polytheism. It rather necessarily motivates a pilgrim to turn from such distractions towards the side of God when going through the hajj rites.

Fourth: Detachment from Worldly Life

There is moral likeness and pedagogical similarity between the preliminaries and circumstances of hajj and those of death, which inspires imitation in terms of some arrangements and practices in both phenomena.

Therefore, a person detaches himself from this worldly life when one puts off one’s usual worldly clothes for getting into the state of ritual consecration (Ihram). By so doing, a pilgrim consecrates himself both physically and morally.

Consequently, a pilgrim should not be attached to, occupied with, pity or bemoan this worldly life in such a way which diverts one from the hajj blessings and benedictions. In the Qur’an, God says:

That (is so). And whoever honors the symbols of God – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts. (Al-Hajj 22:31)

Thus, discarding this worldly life in such honorable settings is legally desirable and commendable, so that man can hover in the divine space with all tranquility and peace of mind.

There are some measures which a Muslim should adopt upon detachment from this worldly life as follows:

  • Discharge from the moral rights of the others; grievances should be redressed, disputes and wrangles should be settled, and people’s pardon and forgiveness, especially parents, should be sought by obeying them, seeking their pleasure and satisfaction, and asking them to pray for the acceptance and facilitation of one’s hajj.
  • Paying debts, returning deposits, writing down and attesting the legal will; a pilgrim is recommended to advise one’s family and children to have fear of and abide by the guidance of God.

Fifth: Journey Provisions and Companionship

The mere material provisions are not intended. I rather mean such devotional tributary which provides the traveler to God with safety inspirations, good intentions and pious acts so that one will satisfy one’s burning desire and reach one’s destination. In the Qur’an, God says:

And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of God. And fear Me, O you of understanding. (Al-Baqarah 2:197)

Needless to say, the fear of God in this context is worthy of being taken into consideration given the fact that a number of pilgrims neglects one’s copy of the Qur’an, forgets the remembrance of God, supplication and meditation on the blessings of God all around, and does not occupy himself with receiving exhortation or seeking the forgiveness of God.

They rather turn to illegal sources of amusement and entertainment which, they think, may alleviate the hardship of travel. That is why they bring bawdy song tapes, not to mention ringing tambourines and the other means of amusement, including tobacco smoking, khat (Catha edulis) chewing and other practices deemed disgraceful, and improper on such a blessed, divine journey.

A pilgrim should get close to God by having such good travel companionship which helps one obey God and keeps one far away from clamor, backbiting, contention, disobedience, dispute etc.

“Choose the companion before the road to take” is a saying which should be taken into consideration in the context of a journey whose goodness and blessings may not be available twice in a Muslim’s lifetime.

Good company strengthens the determination to do good, alleviates loneliness and urges the traveler to increase one’s otherworldly provisions.

An old Arab poet once said:

Do you agree to accompany some people who have (otherworldly) provisions, while you have not?

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The article is translated from Arabic by Editorial Staff.

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Divine Unity New Muslims

A God, A Place, and A Prophet

A God, A Place, and A Prophet

Abraham is the insistent, continuous expression of pure monotheism, of human consciousness’s adherence to the divine project through self-giving.

Islamic monotheism has always stood in continuity with the sacred history of prophethood. From the beginning, the One God sent humankind prophets and messengers entrusted with the message, the reminder of His presence, His commands, His love, and His hope.

From Adam, the first prophet, to Muhammad, the Last Messenger, Muslim tradition recognizes and identifies with the whole cycle of prophethood, ranging from the most famous messengers (Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus, etc.) to the lesser known, as well as others who remain unknown to us. The One has forever been accompanying us, His creation, from our beginnings to our end.

This is the very meaning of tawheed (the Oneness of God) and of the Qur’anic formula that refers to humankind’s destiny as well as to that of each individual: “To God we belong and to Him we return.”

A Lineage, a Place

Of all messengers, the most important figure in the Last Prophet’s lineage is undoubtedly Abraham (peace be upon him). There are many reasons for this, but from the outset, the Qur’an points to this particular link with Abraham through the insistent and continuous expression of pure monotheism, of human consciousness’s adherence to the divine project, of the heart’s access to His recognition and to His peace through self-giving.

This is the meaning of the word Islam, which is too often translated quickly by the mere idea of submission but which also contains the twofold meaning of “peace” and “wholehearted self-giving”.

Thus a Muslim is a human being who, throughout history-and even before the last Revelation-has wished attain God’s peace through the wholehearted gift of him- or herself to the Being. In this sense, Abraham was the deep and exemplary expression of the Muslim:

He (God) has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! (Al-Hajj 22:78)

In God’s Scriptures

Along with this recognition of the One, the figure of Abraham stands out most particularly among the line of prophets leading up to the Messenger of Islam for several other reasons.

The book of Genesis, like the Qur’an, relates the Story of Abraham’s servant Hagar, who gave birth to his first child, Ishmael, in his old age. (Genesis, 15:5 (Revised Standard Version)

Sarah, Abraham’s first wife, who in turn gave birth to Isaac, asked her husband to send away his servant and her child.

Abraham took Hagar and Ishmael away to a valley in the Arabian Peninsula called Bakkah, which Islamic tradition identifies as present-day Mecca.

The Islamic account, like Genesis, relates the questionings, suffering, and prayers of Abraham and Hagar, who were compelled to experience exile and separation. In both the Muslim and Judeo-Christian traditions, this trial is recounted with the certainty and intimate comfort that the parents and child were carrying out a command from God, who will protect and bless Abraham’s descendants born of Hagar. To Abraham’s invocations about his son, God answers in Genesis:

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him … and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis, 17:20)

Then further on, when Hagar is helpless and without food and water:

“And God heard the voice of the child, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the child where he is. Arise, lift up the child, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis, 21:17-19)

As for the Qur’an, it relates Abraham’s prayer:

“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: so that they may give thanks. O our Lord! truly do know what we conceal and what we reveal: for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven. Praise be to Allah, Who has granted unto me in old age Isma`il and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer! (Ibrahim 14:37-39)

Great Nation

On a purely factual level, the Prophet Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael’s children and is therefore part of that “great nation” announced by the Scriptures.

Abraham is hence his “father” in the primary sense, and Islamic tradition understands that the blessings of this father’s prayers extend to his descendant the Last Prophet as well as to the place where he left Hagar and Ishmael, where, a few years later, he was to undergo the terrible trial of his son’s sacrifice, and where he was finally to raise with him God’s sacred House (the Ka`bah). Qur’anic Revelation recounts:

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.” He pleaded: “And also (Imams) from my offspring!” He answered: “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.” 

Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Isma`il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).

And when Abraham prayed: My Lord! Make this a region of security and bestow upon its people fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day. (Al-Baqarah 2:124-126)

This is the millenary teaching of Islamic tradition: there is a God and a line of prophets whose central figure is Abraham, the archetype of the Muslim, the blood father of this lineage of Ishmael leading up to Muhammad.

Abraham and Ishmael sanctified this place in Bakkah (Mecca) by building God’s House (bayt Allah) with their own hands. And this is precisely where the last of God’s messengers to humankind was born: Muhammad ibn `Abdullah, who bore the message reminding people of the One, of the prophets, and of the sacred House. A God, a place, a prophet.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Divine Unity New Muslims

The Most Powerful Declaration Ever Devised

“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” This simple statement is the most powerful declaration ever devised. For beyond the words themselves lies a powerful concept and a compelling ideology. Whole societies, cultures and empires have been elevated with its application, or ruined by its rejection.

cause of islam

This Declaration of Faith captures the essence of what Islam is all about: peaceful surrender to the will of the Divine.

And yet, away from grandiose movements and campaigns, the lone spiritual wanderer can attain to the highest levels of wisdom and insight, in the contemplation of its mysteries.

This Declaration of Faith, the Shahadah, captures the essence of what Islam is all about: peaceful surrender to the will of the Divine.

Same Message…Same Declaration

But Islam is not a new religion that began in the seventh century with a great Prophet. Islam is, rather, the latest declaration and installment of a Message brought by all the previous Prophets. The specific circumstances of the age and culture determined the structure of those teachings, but the basic declaration; the basic directive was always the same: surrender to the Universal Will and do what is morally right.

If, over the course of time, a people came to forget, ignore or change the teachings bequeathed by their Messenger, Allah, in His mercy, would renew His Message by sending fresh guidance. In this way, every age had access to divine precepts. Allah says:

Certainly, We have raised among every nation a Messenger who declared, ‘Serve Allah and shun false objects of worship.’ Thus were some guided by Allah, while ruin was justified on others. Travel over the earth and see what befell those who rejected their Messengers. (An-Nahl 16:36)

This process of revelation and correction went on unabated through human history. Some of the Messengers brought major revelations and scriptures, while most were teachers of wisdom and morality to their community or tribe.

Last Guidance

But at long last, after many thousands of years, humanity finally reached a point in its development when one final Messenger would be sufficient: when a last Prophet from Allah could deliver a way of life applicable to all. This last Prophet was Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Allah says concerning His last Messenger:

O followers of earlier revelation! Our Messenger has come to you bringing clarity after a break (in the chain) of Messengers. This, lest you might claim, ‘We never received any announcer of good news nor any Warner.’ Now you have received an announcer of good news and a Warner. And Allah has power over everything.  (Al-Ma’idah 5:19)

Muhammad (peace be upon Him) lived in the full blaze of history’s lamp. His life, deeds and teachings are well known and authenticated. He neither claimed to be a demigod nor did he put himself among the ranks of the angels. Instead, he insisted he was only a man among men chosen by the Creator for His service. Allah specifically instructed him on this point:

We sent Messengers before you, (Muhammad) and appointed for them spouses and children. It was never the place of a Messenger to bring a sign save when Allah allowed. For every age there is a scripture. (Ar-Ra`d 13:38)

From these verses it is evident that Islam was taught from the beginning of history, though it may have gone under different names and guises. It is also clear that Islam is not merely a set of rules and rituals, but a way of life (deen). The final, perfect form of this way is enshrined in God’s last Revelation. The rise and fall of previous nations is a testament to this truth.

declaration of faith

Islam is the latest Message brought by all the previous Prophets; surrender to the Universal Will, do what is morally right.

How many peoples have We destroyed which gave themselves to wrongdoing? They fell from their roofs! And how many wells lie idle and neglected, and castles high and strong also? Don’t they travel through the land so that their hearts may learn the wisdom (in all this) and that their ears may learn to hear? Truly it’s not their eyes that are blind, but the hearts within their chests! (Al-Hajj 22:45-46)

The scripture revealed to Muhammad, the Qur’an, contains directions for every important aspect of life. It also includes instruction in wisdom, ethics, philosophy, economics, politics as well as science.

Furthermore, the recorded deeds and sayings of the blessed Prophet provide us with additional, detailed information about the specifics of living life properly and peacefully. The requirements of our faith, however, are wider than our merely practicing it ourselves. Allah says in this regard:

There should be a number of you who actively call people to righteousness; who encourage goodness and forbid evil. These are the ones who shall prosper. (Aal `Imran 3:104)

Thus, we see that promoting good in society and forbidding wrong are also requirements of the faith. Allah makes it clear in other verses that only by following His Laws can true justice and order be established.

We must therefore give the call to those around us that they might desire to lead lives of goodness and faith. With this understanding in mind, how do we go about our task?

Allah, the Exalted, gives us direction saying:

Call people to the path of your Lord with wisdom and inspiring speech. Reason with them in a superior and respectful manner. Certainly, your Lord knows best who strays from His path and who is guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)

In Cause of Islam

The purpose of this manual is to equip the eager Muslim with the necessary information for calling others to Islam (an activity henceforth to be called Da`wah,) in North America. No Muslim is required to leave his or her job and family and shout on street comers.

All of us are capable of making our own small contributions in the cause of Islam. A small percentage of the work of one hundred is more effective than one hundred percent from one. So do not feel that Islamic da`wah is a daunting task best left to the “professionals”.

There are no priests in Islam, only a society of men and women united by the bonds of a potent ideology.

An important saying of the Prophet is that, if there are at least three Muslims in an area away from the Muslim community, then they must make one of them their leader. Many Islamic groups in North America seek to assist Muslims in this task by helping them to organize locally, while at the same time making them a part of the national and international Islamic movement. Branches and units of many of these activist organizations exist in nearly every major city of the U.S. and Canada and they work eagerly in the cause of Islam.

Upon completion of this manual, you may begin to become more interested in the Islamic movement and in inviting others to the path. You can look into getting involved with ISNA, MYNA, ICNA. MAS, CAIR or a local masjid, or you may promote an organization of your own creation. Any of these avenues may provide you with a channel to carry out this essential requirement of the faith.

Whether or not you become involved with an Islamic group, however, we hope that this manual influences you in the right direction and provides a solid foundation for all those involved in da’wah everywhere.

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Source: Da`wahskills.com

The article is an excerpt from the book  How to Tell Others About Islam, 1994- by Yahiya Emerick, a former President of the Islamic Foundation of North America, vice-principal at an Islamic school, and a Muslim author.

 

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His Character New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: A Message of Love & Tolerance

The essence of true love and tolerance is exemplified in every aspect of Prophet Muhammad’s life. Learn what lessons of kindness, love, and human brotherhood can we learn from him?

Deep Spirituality

Throughout the twenty-three years of his mission, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought the way to spiritual freedom and liberation. He received revelation, step by step, in the midst of the circumstances of life, as if the Most High was conversing with him in history, for eternity.

Prophet muhammad love

Prophet Muhammad was able to express love and spread it around him.

The Prophet listened to Him, spoke to Him, and contemplated His signs day and night, in the warm company of his Companions or in the solitude of the Arabian desert. He prayed while the world of humans was asleep, he invoked God while his brothers and sisters despaired, and he remained patient and steadfast in the face of adversity and insult while so many beings turned away.

His deep spirituality had freed him from the prison of the self, and he kept seeing and recalling the signs of the Most Near, whether in a flying bird, a standing tree, falling darkness, or a shining star.

Love & Unity

Muhammad was able to express love and spread it around him. His wives were gratified by his presence, tenderness, and affection, and his Companions loved him with an intense, profound, and extraordinarily generous love. He gave and offered his presence, his smiles, his being, and if a slave happened to address him or wanted to take him to the other end of the city)’, he went, he listened, he loved.

Belonging to God, he was nobody’s possession; he simply offered his love to all. When he gave someone his hand, he was never the first to draw it back, and he knew what light and peace can surge in the heart of a being who is offered a tender word, an affection ate name, comfort. Freed from his own self, he neglected nobody’s self. His presence was a refuge; he was the Messenger.

He loved, he forgave. Every day he begged God to forgive his own failings and oversights, and when a woman or a man came to him burdened with a mistake, however serious, he received that soul and showed her or him the way to forgiveness, solace, dialogue with God, and the Most Gentle’s protection. He covered other people’s mistakes from the sight of others, while teaching everyone the need for personal rigor and discipline.

Positiveness

When laziness moved anyone to ask him for minimal practice, he always answered positively and invited them to use their intelligence and their qualities to understand, improve, and free themselves from their own contradictions while accepting their own fragility. He taught responsibility without guilt and adherence to ethics as the conditions for freedom.

Justice is a condition for peace, and the Prophet kept insisting that one cannot experience the taste of equity if one is unable to respect the dignity of individuals. He set slaves free and recommended that Muslims pledge to do so constantly: the faith community of believers had to be a community of free beings.

nature-love

Belonging to God, he was nobody’s possession; he simply offered his love to all.

Revelation showed him the way’, and, as we have often seen, he never ceased to give particular attention to slaves, the poor, and the lowly in society. He invited them to assert their dignity, to demand their rights. and to get rid of any feeling of inferiority; the message was a call for religious, social, and political liberation.

At the close of his mission, in the plain lying at the foot of the Mount of Mercy (Jabal Ar-Rahmah), men and women of all races, cultures, and colors, rich and poor, were present and listened to this message, which stressed that the best among people are so through their hearts, which are determined neither by class nor by color or culture.

“The best among you is the best toward people,” he had once said. (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

In the name of human brotherhood- addressing not just Muslims but all people (an-nas), as he did during me farewell sermon, he taught each conscience to transcend the appearances that might hinder its progress toward the Just (Al-`Adl). In the presence of God, nothing could justify discrimination, social injustice, or racism.

In the Muslim community, a black man called the believers to prayer, and a slave’s son commanded the army; faith had freed the believers from judgments based on deceptive appearances (linked to origin and social status) that stimulate unwise passions and dehumanize them.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

First Muslim Community in Madinah & the Groundwork for Hijrah

It was 620, a year after the deaths of Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, and his uncle Abu Talib, and the time of the yearly pilgrimage to the Ka`bah and Makkah’s annual market period was drawing near. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still dispensing his teachings in a climate of rejection, exclusion, and persecution.

Toward Exile

About a hundred Muslims now lived under protection in Abyssinia, but no solution seemed to present itself for the faithful who lived in Makkah.

The pilgrims, coming from all areas of the peninsula, started to settle in the Mina area, to remain there throughout the festival period. Muhammad often went there and conveyed his message to women and men who, in their distant dwelling places, had heard about it but did not know its actual contents. He was far from always receiving a favorable response.

At Al-`Aqabah, not far from Mina, the Prophet met a group of people from Yathrib. They were from the Khazraj tribe, one of the two great rival tribes in Yathrib (the other being the Aws), and he began to deliver his message to them. They had already heard of the message from the Jewish tribes who lived in their city, and they wished to know more about it. They listened to the Prophet and eventually accepted the message of Islam: they promised to inform the members of their tribe of the substance of the message and to keep in permanent contact with the Prophet. They went back home and started preaching in Yathrib.

In Makkah, conversions kept increasing, and Muhammad carried on with his public call. As far as his private life was concerned, many advised him to think of remarrying. Proposals had been made, but the Prophet had never pursued the matter. He had, however, had two dreams in which the very young `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter, who was then six years old, was offered to him in marriage.

When Khawlah, who had taken care of the Prophet’s needs since Khadijah’s death, advised him to remarry and suggested two names-Sawdah, a widow in her thirties who had very recently come back from Abyssinia, and `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter- Muhammad saw in this strange coincidence a sign of the truthfulness of his dreams, and he asked Khawlah to do what was necessary to find out whether the two unions were possible.

Polygamy was the norm in Arabia then, and the Prophet’s situation was the exception, since he had remained monogamous for twenty-five rears. The union with Sawdah was particularly easy to concretize: Sawdah immediately, and most favorably, answered the proposal made to her, and they married a few months later.

`Aa’ishah had already, in keeping with Arabian customs, been promised by Abu Bakr to Mutim’s son, and her father had to negotiate with Mutim in order to break the engagement. `Aa’shah then officially became Muhammad’s second wife, though the union would not be consummated for several years.

A year later, pilgrims and traders were again flocking to Makkah for the celebrations of 621. A second meeting was organized at Al-`Aqabah between the Prophet and the Yathrib delegation that had come to report on the evolution of the situation in their city. Twelve people from Yathrib, two of whom belonged to the Aws clan, took part in the meeting. They pledged allegiance to the Prophet, stipulating that they would worship only the One God, no others, and that they would honor the duties and interdictions of Islam.

They were therefore to constitute the first Muslim community in Yathrib. Muhammad sent back with them a Companion, Mus`ab ibn `Umayr, who had just returned from Abyssinia and who was known for his calm, his wisdom, and tile beauty of his recitation of the Qur’an.

Message of Brotherhood

Back in Yathrib, the delegation kept spreading the message and Mus`ab taught Islam, recited the Qur’an, and answered questions. In spite of age-old and still very sharp divisions between the Aws and Khazraj, members of both tribes converted to the new religion and realized that their former rivalries had become pointless: ’Islam’s message of brotherhood united them.

Clan chiefs nevertheless remained very reluctant to embrace Islam. Mus`ab never reacted to their attacks nor to their aggressive attitude; rather, he invariably answered: “Sit down and listen to the message: if you like it, accept it, if you do not, leave it.” As a result, the number of conversions was high, even among leaders.

During the following year’s pilgrimage, the Prophet met an important delegation of Yathrib. Muslims, composed of seventy-three people, two of them women. They belonged to both me Aws and the Khazraj, and they had come to bring the Prophet the good news of their commitment to Islam. After a few discussions about the nature of their future relationship, they concluded a second covenant stipulating that the Yathrib.

Muslims pledged to protect the Prophet, as well as Makkah’s Muslim women and children, against any aggression. This second covenant, granting refuge and protection and a commitment of Yathrib Muslims to support their Makkan brothers, opened before the Prophet the prospect of a promising future.

From then on, Muhammad encouraged Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib discreetly, while his closest Companions still remained by his side.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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His Life New Muslims

A Blessed Birth of a Noble Prophet

In his seminal authoritative book on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Ibn Hisham – the author of the first account of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, which has come down to us as As-Seerah An-Nabawiyah (The Prophet’s Life) – informs us that Ibn Ishaq has clearly and precisely established the Prophet’s birth date:

peace be upon him

He was orphaned and poor, and for that reason he is reminded and ordered never to forsake the underprivileged and the needy.

“The Messenger (God’s peace and blessings be upon him) was born on a Monday, on the twelfth night of Rabi` Awwal, in the year of the elephant.”

Other accounts mention other months of the year, but throughout history there has been broad acceptance of that date among scholars and within Muslim communities. The Muslim calendar being a lunar one, it is difficult to determine exactly the solar month of his birth, but the “year of the elephant” to which Ibn Ishag refers corresponds to 570 CE.

Noble Birth… Noble Origin

The Last Prophet was born in one of Makkah’s noble families, Banu Hashim, which enjoyed great respect among all the clans in and around Makkah. This noble descent combined with a particularly painful and debilitating personal history. His mother, Aminah, was only two months pregnant when his father, `Abdullah, died during a trip to Yathrib, north of Makkah.

Fatherless at birth, young Muhammad was to live with the tension of the dual status implied in Makkah by a respectable descent, on one hand, and the precariousness of having no father, on the other.

Ibn Ishaq reports that the name Muhammad, quite unknown at the time in the Arabian Peninsula, came to his mother in a vision while she was still pregnant. (Ibn Hsham, As-Seerah An-Nabawiyah)

This same vision is also said to have announced to her the birth of the “master of this people” (sayyid hadhihi al-ummah); according to the vision, when he was born she was to say the words “I place him under the protection of the One (Al-Wahid) against the treachery of the envious.

Torn between her grief at her husband’s death and the joy of welcoming her child, Aminah said repeatedly that strange signs had accompanied the gestation, then the extraordinarily easy birth of her child.

The Desert

Aminah soon became aware that she was the mother of an exceptional child. This feeling was shared by Muhammad’s grandfather, `Abdul-Muttalib, who took responsibility for him after his birth. In Makkah, it was customary to entrust infants to wet nurses belonging to the nomadic Bedouin tribes living in the nearby desert.

Because he was fatherless, one nurse after another refused to take the child into her care, fearing that his ambiguous status would bring them no profit. Halimah, who had arrived last because her mount was tired, decided with her husband that it was better for them to take the child, although he was an orphan, than to risk being mocked by their tribe when they went home. They therefore went back with the infant Muhammad, and Halimah, just like Aminah, tells of many signs that led her and her husband to think that this child seemed blessed.

For four years, the orphan was looked after by Halimah and lived with the Banu Sa`d Bedouins in the Arabian desert. He shared the nomads’ life in the most barren and difficult natural environment, surrounded, as far as the eye could see, with horizons bringing to mind the fragility of the human being and spurring contemplation and solitude.

Although he did not yet know it, Muhammad was going through the first trials ordained for him by the One, Who had chosen him as a messenger and was, for the time being, his Educator, his Rabb (Lord).

Why Orphan?

The Qur’an would later recall his particular situation as an orphan as well as the spiritual teachings associated with the experience of life in the desert:

Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? And He found you wandering, and He gave you guidance. And He found you in need, and made you independent. Therefore (for that reason), do not treat the orphan with harshness, nor chide him who asks. But the bounty of your Lord, proclaim! (Ad-Duha 93:6-11)

lighthouse

For each human being: never to forget one’s past, one’s trials, one’s environment and origin, and to turn one’s experience into a positive teaching.

Those verses of the Qur’an carry several teachings: being both an orphan and poor was actually an initiatory state for the future Messenger of God, for at least two reasons. The first teaching is obviously the vulnerability and humility he must naturally have felt from his earliest childhood.

This state was intensified when his mother, Aminah, died when Muhammad was six. This left him utterly dependent on God, but also dose to the most destitute among people. The Qur’an reminds him that he must never forget this throughout his life and particularly during his prophetic mission. He was orphaned and poor, and for that reason he is reminded and ordered never to forsake the underprivileged and the needy.

Considering the exemplary nature of the prophetic experience, the second spiritual teaching emanating from these verses is valid for each human being: never to forget one’s past, one’s trials, one’s environment and origin, and to turn one’s experience into a positive teaching for oneself and for others.

Muhammad’s past, the One reminds him, is a school from which he must draw useful, practical, and concrete knowledge to benefit those whose lives and hardships he has shared, since he knows from his own experience, better than anyone else, what they feel and endure.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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