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Malicious attitudes and hateful looks angrily pursued the Prophet of Islam(pbuh), almost influencing his steps and causing him to slip and lose his balance and firmness on the earth. The Noble Qur’an depicts and portrays the wrath, enmity, and spite that protruded from the eyes of his opponents1:
(Verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes through hatred when they hear the Reminder (the Qur’an), and they say, “Verily, he (Muhammad (pbuh)) is a madman!”)2
Their poisonous, feverish looks were accompanied by abusive cursing, insulting, and mocking: “You are a madman! You are a sorcerer! You are a liar!”
They reacted with insolent pride and opposition; confused and wavering, they swayed in their denial of the Message from one pretext to another:
(Nay, they say, “(The revelation is but) a mixture of false dreams! Nay, he has invented it! Nay, he is a poet! Let him then bring us a sign like those who were sent to previous prophets!”)3
- They called the Prophet (pbuh), “A sorcerer, a liar!”
(They wonder that a warner has come to them from among themselves. And the disbelievers say, “This is a sorcerer, a liar. Has he made the gods (only) one God? Verily, this is a curious thing!”)4
- They called him (pbuh), “A poet!”
(“Are we going to abandon our gods for the sake of a mad poet?”)5
- They called him(pbuh), “A madman!”
(“O you upon whom the Reminder (the Qur’an) has been sent down, indeed you are mad.”)6
- They called him (pbuh), “A soothsayer!”
(“Remind and preach (mankind, O Muhammad). By the Grace of Allah, you are neither a soothsayer nor a madman.”)7
But not for a moment did the chiefs of Quraish believe themselves when they said that Muhammad bin Abdullah (pbuh), known among them as the Honest Truth-Speaker, was a sorcerer, a liar, or a madman. This was just a weapon of provocation and misguidance; a war of deception that was well mastered by people of power, wealth, and influence. They used it to protect themselves and their positions from the danger of the truth embodied in this creed, which would certainly shake the false values and corrupted status quo on which these high people built themselves.8
Details of an agreement between the chiefs of Quraish to wage a defamatory propaganda campaign against Muhammad (pbuh) and the truth revealed to him(pbuh) was reported by Ibn Ishaq. Their aim was to protect their positions and maintain their authority over the people of Makkah, and to keep the tribes that visited Makkah annually during Hajj season away from the new religion and its preacher. Ibn Ishaq said9:
At the time of the Hajj season, a group of Quraish convened with their senior chief, Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah.
He said to them, “O people of Quraish, the Hajj season has arrived. Delegations of Arabs will come to you. They must have heard about this companion of yours (meaning the Prophet (pbuh)), so agree on one opinion regarding him. Let there be no contradiction or denial of one another’s statements.”
They said, “O Abu ‘Abd Shams, suggest and give us an opinion which we will say.”
He said, “No, you make the suggestions and I will listen.”
They said, “We will say he is a soothsayer.”
He said, “No, by Allah, he is not a soothsayer. We have seen soothsayers; his words are not the murmuring and rhyme of a soothsayer.”
They said, “We will say he is a madman.”
He said, “He is not a madman. We have seen madness and can recognize it. There is not the choking, agitation, and anxiety of madness.”
They said, “We will say he is a poet.”
He said, “He is not a poet. We have known all forms of poetry, its chanting, hymning, lyrics – rhymed and unrhymed. It is not poetry.”
They said, “We will say he is a sorcerer.”
He said, “He is not a sorcerer. We have seen sorcerers and their sorcery. This is not their incantation and conjuration.”
They said, “What should we say, O Abd Shams?”
He said, “By Allah, his words have sweetness, with numerous roots strongly branching; their branches richly abounding in growth. Anything you say about them will be known to be falsehood. The closest thing you can say about him is that he is a magician, who came with words that are magic, which can separate a person from his father, from his brother, from his wife, and from his clan. This way you will shun people away from him.”
They began to sit in the path of people coming during the Hajj season. They warned anyone who passed by them against him (meaning the Prophet (pbuh)) and mentioned the (fabricated) story about him.
This was their way of resisting and preventing the truth from reaching people, so as to keep people living under a false inherited creed. The chiefs needed to make the masses believe that behind this new Call was a mystery whose secret they were most knowledgeable about and most capable of handling. They wanted people to leave such a matter to their gods and return to their inherited beliefs. They wanted people to silently rest while the chiefs protected their interests, beliefs, and gods!
The typical technique used by tyrants was to distract people from concern about public affairs and truth-seeking. People speaking amongst themselves and seeking to know the truth posed a danger to the chiefs of Quraish, for they could only maintain their power by steeping people in lies.10
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) reacted calmly and nobly to their war of words, as reflected in the story of Dimad t. Ibn ‘Abbas t said:
Dimad, who belonged to the tribe of Azd Shanu’ah, came to Makkah. He used to recite incantations to cure people of madness and bedevilment.
He heard some fools from among the people of Makkah saying that Muhammad(pbuh) was mad.
He said, “If only I can see that man, perhaps Allah will cure him through me.”
Then it happened that he met with him and said to him, “O Muhammad, I recite incantations as a cure for this madness. Allah cures whom He wills at my hand. Would you like to try it?”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “All praises and thanks belong to Allah. We praise Him and seek His Help. Truly, whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide; and whoever He leaves astray, no one can guide. And I testify that there is no god but Allah alone, with no partners, and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger. Ama Ba‘d (Then after)…”
Dimad said, “Repeat these words of yours to me.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) repeated them to him thrice.
Dimad said, “I have heard the words of soothsayers, magicians, and poets, but I have never heard such words as yours. They reach the depth of the sea. Give me your hand to pledge allegiance to you for Islam.” And he pledged allegiance to him.”11
The truthful words that the Prophet (pbuh) conveyed speak for themselves, laying bare any falsehood, and testifying to their divine origin. Words beyond the power of humans to say, unlike those of a soothsayer or a poet, but words of an honored Messenger, as the Qur’an describes them:
(I (Allah) swear by whatsoever you see, and by whatsoever you see not, that this (Qur’an) is verily the word of an honored Messenger. It is not the word of a poet; little is that you believe. Nor is it the word of a soothsayer; little is that you remember. This is the revelation sent down from the Lord of all that exists. And if he (Muhammad) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah), We (Allah) surely would have seized him by his right hand. Then We certainly would have cut off the aorta from him. And none of you could have prevented it for him. And verily, this is a Reminder for the pious. And verily, We know that among you are deniers. And indeed, it will be (a cause of) regret upon the disbelievers. And verily, it (the Qur’an) is an absolute truth with certainty. So, glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most Great.)12
- 1-Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, Surat Al-Qalam [68: 51].
- 2- Translated meanings of Al-Qalam 68: 51.
- 3- Translated meanings of Al-Anbiya’ 21: 5.
- 4- Translated meanings of Sad 38: 4-5.
- 5- Translated meanings of As-Saffat 37: 36.
- 6- Translated meanings of Al-Hijr 15: 6.
- 7- Translated meanings of At-Tur 52: 29.
- 8- Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Sad [38: 4-5], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
- 9- Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah: Conspiracy of the Quraish to Denounce the Messenger r as a Magician, vol. 1.
- 10- Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Sad [38: 4-5], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
- 11- Sahih Muslim, Book of Al-Jumu‘ah (Friday Prayer), Hadith no. 1436; a similar version of the Hadith is also reported by Ahmad (2613).
- 12- Translated meanings of Al-Haqqah 69: 38-52