Siblings Of Ilm
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A believer and the plight of Gaza, through the lens of the Noble Sīrah

Written by Mawlana Umar Abdullatif, edited and checked by Mawlana Ahmedali Shaikh

The Qur’ān serves as a guiding book, while the sīrah embodies the Qur’ān’s message through practical examples from the life of Our Beloved ﷺ giving us a framework through which we structure our lives. Within their profound teachings, we find invaluable insights that aid us in navigating life’s great challenges and complexities.

Embedded in the divine order is the principle that success is seldom attained without a measure of struggle. No nation can truly prosper without undergoing a series of trials and tribulations. In the divine scheme of things, Allah tests the believers in their faith (ʾĪmān). Reflecting on the stories of the earlier Prophets, we witness their endurance through profound trials, exhibiting unwavering patience, and earning Allah’s favour in the successful realisation of their missions.

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم   ” عَجَبًا لأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لأَحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ

Allah’s Messenger () said:

Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.

It is essential to recognise that the tests faced by believers are not punitive in nature; rather, they serve as opportunities for growth. This understanding shapes a perspective wherein challenges become stepping stones rather than obstacles. For every trial endured with patience and perseverance, believers are not only rewarded but also draw closer to the divine.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza casts a long shadow over this holy month of Ramaḍān. News of rising civilian casualties every day brings unimaginable hardship for Muslims there. They face not just the challenges of fasting and prayer, but widespread famine. While Ramaḍān is traditionally a time of inner reflection and detachment from worldly concerns, this year’s observance is steeped in overwhelming sadness. Can we even rejoice?

Yet, even in these darkest times, history offers solace. Each generation of Muslims has faced hardship and emerged stronger, as evidenced by the stories of resilience within the Qur’ān and the sīrah. When despair grips us, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ serves as the perfect role model. Reflecting on his life offers a powerful message of hope. These accounts emerge as the ultimate reminder: when all seems lost, Allah promises ease with every hardship, giving us the strength to hold on and remain steadfast. 

The Book of Allah and the teachings of His Messenger ﷺ shape Islam as the only refuge, a sanctuary for all seeking solace, redemption and direction. The life of the Prophet ﷺ illustrates this in its entirety as shown in the examples below:

1. Pre-Islam: Custom of Burying Little Girls

As Muslims, we revere Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as a ‘Mercy to Mankind’, a title bestowed upon him for his profound compassion and unwavering commitment to promoting human values.

Even before establishing religious practices and rituals, he emphasised the importance of kindness, understanding and ethical conduct. His message was simple yet powerful: to be a good human being, living in harmony with one’s conscience. 

One of the detestable practices eradicated by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the pre-Islamic custom of burying young girls alive. In the pre-Islamic era, the birth of a girl was often met with despair and shame, leading to the tragic practice of burying newborn daughters alive.

In Sūrah an-Naḥl, Allah addresses this:

وَإِذَا بُشِّرَ أَحَدُهُم بِٱلْأُنثَىٰ ظَلَّ وَجْهُهُۥ مُسْوَدًّۭا وَهُوَ كَظِيمٌۭيَتَوَٰرَىٰ مِنَ ٱلْقَوْمِ مِن سُوٓءِ مَا بُشِّرَ بِهِۦٓ ۚ أَيُمْسِكُهُۥ عَلَىٰ هُونٍ أَمْ يَدُسُّهُۥ فِى ٱلتُّرَابِ ۗ أَلَا سَآءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ

“And when one of them is informed of the birth of a female child, his face becomes dark and he is filled with gloom and sorrow. He hides from the people because of the shame of the news he has received. Should he keep her with contempt or bury her alive in the dust?”

Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ teachings not only condemned this practice but also emphasised the inherent value and dignity of every human life. He taught that killing, regardless of gender or age, is a grave transgression against humanity.

Sadly, in 2024, we witness societies that have drifted from these fundamental principles, condoning the killing of innocent children, women, and men. It is a stark reminder of the importance of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ message, a beacon of mercy and humanity that guides us towards a more just and compassionate world.

As Muslims, we express our gratitude for Islam, a religion that upholds the sanctity of every human life. We must strive to embody the Prophet’s ﷺ teachings in our daily lives, promoting kindness, understanding, and the inherent worth of every individual. This is our duty as Muslims, to honour the legacy of a Prophet who epitomised mercy and compassion.

Imām Qurṭubī relates an incident, narrated regarding a Companion of the Prophet, who approached the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, carrying the heavy burden of perpetual sadness. Inquisitive, the Prophet ﷺ asked, “Why do you carry this weight?” The Companion (Allah be pleased with him) confided, “O Messenger of Allah! I committed a grave sin in the days of ignorance, and I fear Allah’s forgiveness may elude me, even after embracing Islam.” Prompted by the Prophet ﷺ, he recounted a haunting tale of his past. In the pre-Islamic era, cultural norms dictated burying newborn daughters to prevent perceived future disgrace. Despite societal expectations, the Companion’s heart resisted, fostering a bond with his daughter as she grew. The internal struggle intensified with each passing day. Haunted by the dread of shame, he devised a plan to end his turmoil and asked his wife to prepare her for an outing. Despite his daughter’s joyful anticipation, the wife sensed a worrying undertone. Tearfully, she whispered, “Don’t lose your trust,” as she prepared the unsuspecting daughter.

Conflicted and tormented, the Companion set out with his daughter, grappling with the decision to end her life. Amidst the mental turmoil, a deserted well filled with sharp stones caught his eye. The internal conflict raged as he contemplated the unthinkable. His daughter, unaware of the impending tragedy, revelled in innocent joy. Unable to endure the internal strife, the Companion succumbed to the darkness, pushing his daughter into the well. In her final moments, she uttered a plea, “Don’t lose your trust,” words which would continue to echo in his ears and ring in his heart.

As the Companion concluded his heart-wrenching narrative, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the Ṣaḥābah wept. The Prophet ﷺ, acknowledging the gravity of the story, expressed, “If I were to set a punishment because of an action committed before the advent of Islam, I would do so here.”

Reflect upon the gravity of this situation, the response of the Prophet ﷺ and the stark reality faced by those who conceive such actions as normal in the present day.

2. Summayah: A Symbol of Resilience and Unwavering Faith

In the accounts of Islamic history, the name Summayah bint Khabbat (Allah be pleased with her) stands as the pinnacle of unwavering faith and resilience. She was not a male warrior or a prominent figure of society, but an ordinary woman, marginalised and overlooked by the norms of her time. Yet, it was this seemingly insignificant woman who became the first martyr of Islam, etching her name forever in the hearts of believers.

Summayah’s (Allah be pleased with her) life was marked by hardship and struggle. She was born into slavery, experiencing the harsh realities of servitude from a young age. Despite the trials she faced, Summayah possessed a spirit that remained unbroken, a spirit that would soon be tested in the most extreme of circumstances. She possessed an inner strength that belied her frail old physique. When the light of Islam illuminated her path, she embraced it wholeheartedly, becoming one of the first to openly declare her allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, along with her husband Yāsir and their son, ʿAmmār. This was met with fierce opposition from the ruling elite, who sought to suppress the growing Islamic movement.

Abū Jahl, a powerful and influential figure in Meccan society, emerged as the spearhead of this persecution. He was particularly incensed by Sumayyah’s conversion and sought to crush her spirit, subjecting her to relentless torture and humiliation. Abū Jahl, in his desperation to break Summayah’s spirit and unyielding resolve, repeatedly tried to coerce her into renouncing Islam and cursing the Prophet ﷺ, by employing different methods of torture, including forcing her to wear heavy mail-coats in the scorching heat of the Arabian sun.

But Sumayyah (Allah be pleased with her) was not one to be easily swayed. She endured the physical pain with remarkable resilience. Her faith was her anchor, her source of strength. Her unwavering devotion to Islam enraged Abu Jahl, who, in a fit of fury, pierced her private parts with a spear, taking her life in a horrific act of cruelty.

Sumayyah’s sacrifice, though tragic, ignited a blaze of determination within the Muslim community. Even in the face of overwhelming adversity, her legacy serves as a reminder that true strength lies not in physical prowess or worldly power, but in the steadfast belief in one’s convictions, with Islam providing strength and resilience.  Her legacy lives on, inspiring generations of Muslims to stand firm in their beliefs, no matter the cost.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stood as a witness to the public display of Summayah’s torture, a heart-wrenching spectacle that left him powerless to intervene. All he could offer was solace and reassurance, promising the family of Yasir, 

صبرًا يا آل ياسر فإن موعدكم الجنة

“O family of Yasir! Remain patient, your place shall be in paradise.” 

In another instance, when Ammar was placed on burning coals, the Prophet ﷺ supplicated, 

يا نار كوني بردًا وسلامًا على عمار كما كنت بردًا وسلامًا على إبراهيم

“O fire be cool and safe for ʿAmmār, as it was for Ibrahim.”

Similarly, we find ourselves in a position of apparent helplessness, witnessing the atrocities perpetrated by heartless tyrants. Yet, amidst this despair, we can emulate the Prophet’s ﷺ example, praying for the victims and offering them the promise of paradise.

Just as the resolve of Summayah (Allah be pleased with her) would only strengthen under the weight of torture, so too does the faith of those facing persecution today, growing stronger with each act of oppression. The more mercilessly they are martyred, the more profound their belief becomes- as evident in the unwavering affirmation of:

حَسْبُنَا اللهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ

Allah is sufficient for us, and an excellent trustee.

3. Not a single drop of tear or blood is squandered in vain

Before embracing Islam, ʿUmar (Allah be pleased with him) was en-route to assassinate the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. His motivation stemmed from two primary reasons. Firstly, he had a deep love for his people and their traditions, and he sought to resolve the matters that were causing them distress. Secondly, Abū Jahl had offered a reward of 100 camels for the assassination of Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ, further fuelling ʿUmar’s determination. He set out with his sword unsheathed, an open proclamation of his ill intent.

Khabbāb Ibn al-ʾArat (Allah be pleased with him) was engrossed in teaching the verses of Sūrah Ṭaha from a parchment to Fāṭimah (the sister of ʿUmar)  and Saʿīd (the husband of Fāṭimah) – Allah be pleased with them all. Meanwhile, ʿUmar had paused in his march toward the Prophet ﷺ and was eavesdropping from outside the door. He knocked on the door unexpectedly, prompting a surge of fear that led Khabbāb to hastily retreat into a closet, while Fāṭimah concealed the sacred parchment beneath her thigh.

Upon entering, ʿUmar inquired about the audible commotion he had heard. In response, they feigned ignorance, asserting that there was no such noise. Undeterred, ʿUmar insisted, asserting, “By Allah, I know what I heard! I have been informed that both of you follow Muhammad in his religion!” Enraged, ʿUmar lunged to strike Saʿīd, but Fāṭimah shielded him, bearing the blow herself and sustaining a wound. In the aftermath of this intense encounter, both Fāṭimah and Saʿīd boldly affirmed their acceptance of Islam, challenging ʿUmar to act as he pleased.

Seeing the blood flow from his sister’s body after his blow, remorse flooded ʿUmar’s heart, and his anger subsided. Given ʿUmar’s education and ability to read and write—a rarity in Makkan society— he expressed a desire to examine the parchment that had been recited, wanting to ascertain firsthand the content of Muhammad ﷺ’s message. Fāṭimah, concerned for the sanctity of the Qur’ān, hesitated. ʿUmar, however, solemnly swore not to desecrate it and promised to return it after reading.

Still cautious, Fāṭimah insisted that ʿUmar, as a pagan, needed purification before handling the Qur’ān. Agreeing, ʿUmar performed the ritual ablution (ghusl) and then began to recite Sūrah Ṭaha. Struck by the excellence and honour of the words, he exclaimed, “How excellent is this speech! How honourable!”

The impact of this revelation was profound. Khabbāb, who had overheard the conversation, emerged from his hiding place to share a revelation he had heard from the Prophet ﷺ the previous day: “O Allah! Strengthen Islam with Abū al-Ḥakam Ibn Hishām or with ʿUmar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb.” The moment marked a transformative chapter in ʿUmar’s life, as he embraced Islam and eventually became a stalwart defender and advocate of the faith.

The reason I share this story is to emphasise that no drop of blood or tear goes unnoticed by Allah. Sometimes, we witness the immediate results of those tears and bloodshed with our own eyes, and at other times, Allah’s divine plan unfolds in ways beyond our comprehension. Reflecting on the incident where a drop of blood transformed a man with the intent to assassinate Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in broad daylight into one who wholeheartedly embraced the Prophet’s message, we recognise the profound impact of divine intervention.

Consider the thousands of unjustly spilt blood around the world; there must be a reaction. Some reactions are evident—the softening of people’s perception towards Islam, a shift in attitudes towards Muslims, and a positive view of the faith held by Muslims. People have become curious about this unshakable faith, delving into the Qurʾān and, in some instances, embracing Islam. It’s crucial to acknowledge that there are countless manifestations of Allah’s workings that remain hidden from human sight.

The underlying message is one of optimism. Despite the challenges and injustices, Allah’s wisdom is at play, steering perceptions, attitudes, and hearts in ways we may not immediately perceive. The transformative power of even a single drop of blood serves as a reminder that Allah’s plans are vast, encompassing outcomes that extend beyond our immediate understanding. Remaining positive in the face of adversity is an expression of faith, trusting that Allah’s divine wisdom is at work.

4. The boycott

As the number of those embracing Islam grew, the intensity of persecution against the Muslims escalated. The leaders of Makkah found themselves increasingly incensed for two primary reasons:

  1. A significant portion of the Muslim community had established a secure and settled presence in Abyssinia, amplifying their resilience.
  2. Two of the Quraysh’s most prominent figures, Ḥamzah and ʿUmar, had embraced Islam, marking a momentous shift in the dynamic of the city.

Fearing the escalating spread of Islam as the Muslim community grew in numbers, the leaders of the Quraysh convened to strategise on halting its progress. Open discussions among them often revolved around the drastic measure of eliminating the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Eventually, they conceived a plan – a comprehensive boycott. Under the guidance of Abū Ṭālib, the two tribes; Banū Hāshim and Banū ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, sought refuge in a valley, ensuring the safety of the Prophet ﷺ whose life was under imminent threat.

To normalise relations, the Quraysh demanded the surrender of the Prophet ﷺ for execution, an ultimatum that led to a written contract against the two tribes. The terms of this pact, sworn and affirmed by oath, imposed severe restrictions on dealings with these tribes, irrespective of their religious affiliations – whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

The prohibited dealings encompassed crucial aspects of societal interactions, prominently marriage and trade. This restrictive pact, sealed and displayed inside the Kaʿbah, symbolised the severe isolation imposed on the Banū Hāshim and Banū ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib. This pivotal event unfolded during the seventh year of the Prophet’s prophethood, marking a challenging chapter in the early history of Islam.

Key points from the boycott:

  • Marriage Prohibition: The prohibition of marriage between the tribes served a strategic purpose. Allowing marital ties would foster harmony, potentially leading to the termination of the pact. This restriction aimed to prevent any internal unity among the besieged tribes.
  • Business Restrictions: The prohibition of trade inflicted economic hardship on the tribes, resulting in a state of siege-induced hunger. The intent was to exert pressure on the tribes, hoping that their distress would compel them to surrender the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
  • Meticulous Planning: The leaders meticulously planned the boycott, ensuring clarity in its stance.
  • Complete Isolation: The planners left no room for mercy or compassion. Interactions were strictly limited; people were forbidden from visiting each other’s houses. This stringent control aimed to prevent the exchange of stories and the potential growth of sympathy for the Muslims among the larger community.
  • Sacred Affirmation: To underscore the gravity of the pact, it was hung on the Kaʿbah, imparting a sacred and solemn dimension to the agreement. This symbolic act aimed to emphasise the severity of the isolation imposed on the besieged tribes and the sanctity of the boycott.

The siege endured for approximately three gruelling years, marked by extreme hardships. The Quraysh imposed severe restrictions, preventing the besieged tribes from accessing marketplaces. Upon the arrival of foreign merchandise, the Quraysh would purchase the entire stock, deliberately depriving the two tribes of essential goods. Abū Lahab, in a malicious scheme, coerced trade caravans to refuse normal-priced supplies to the companions of Muhammad ﷺ, offering instead only exorbitantly inflated prices. This economic strangulation left the companions unable to procure necessities.

Amidst this adversity, Abū Ṭālib’s profound love for the Prophet ﷺ became evident as he instructed his sons to sleep in the Prophet’s bedding, safeguarding him from potential assassination attempts. The besieged community resorted to eating leaves from trees, and the cries of hungry infants resonated beyond the mountain passes. Despite the dire circumstances, the Quraysh persisted in tormenting their adversaries.

Ḥakīm Ibn Ḥizām and other compassionate individuals could not bear to witness their own family members enduring hardship. Moved by empathy, they secretly sent food and provisions to alleviate the struggles faced by their kin. Notably, Ḥakīm extended his support by sending sustenance to his aunt, Khadījah, who was undergoing difficulties.

In one instance, Abū Jahl, upon noticing these acts of kindness, became exceedingly incensed. Witnessing this altercation, Abū al-Bakhtarī intervened, questioning, “The man is merely sending food to his aunt; why does it concern you?” However, Abū Jahl persisted in his argument, prompting Abū al-Bakhtarī to take decisive action—striking him and inflicting a severe injury in defence of the compassionate act.

Hishām Ibn ʿAmr maintained a positive relationship with Banū Hāshim, expressing sympathy towards them. At night, he would dispatch a camel laden with food to the valley, ensuring sustenance for its residents. Concurrently, Hishām sparked internal dissent in Makkah. Approaching Zuhayr Ibn ʾUmayyah, he questioned the morality of enjoying life while aware of his uncles’ plight by saying, “O Zuhayr, how can you be happy that you eat food, wear cloth, and marry women while your family members are in a situation you are aware of. They can not trade and they can not marry. By Allah! If they were my family members and I was asked to be part of this pact, I would have never agreed to it.” Urging action, Hishām proposed solidarity against the oppressive pact. Zuhayr, overwhelmed, admitted needing an ally. “You have one in me,” declared Hisham. 

With the two now united, they sought a third, approaching Al-Muṭʿim ibn ʿAdī with similar words. Al-Muṭʿim, initially reluctant but swayed, requested a fourth. Their list grew as they recruited Abu al-Bakhtarī ibn Hishām, then Zamʿah ibn al-ʾAswad. Finally, united by empathy and defiance, they vowed to challenge the pact. Zuhayr said, “I shall be the first to speak up!”

Dawn broke, and the conspirators found themselves amidst their usual gatherings, cleverly avoiding suspicion by mingling separately within the council meetings around the Kaʿbah. Zuhayr, his resolve hardened, initiated their plan. Completing the sacred seven circumambulations of the Kaʿbah, he faced the assembled Quraysh with a booming voice. “O people of Makkah!” he cried, “Can you feast and clothe yourselves while the Banū Hāshim starve and suffer? By Allah, I swear I will not rest until this unjust pact is shattered!”

From a corner of the mosque, Abū Jahl’s voice roared, “He lies! By Allah, the pact will not be broken!”

A chorus of dissent followed Abū Jahl’s outburst. Zamʿah Ibn Al-ʾAswad, his voice firm, declared, “By Allah, he speaks a lie! We did not welcome this pact when it was formed.” Abū al-Baktarī chimed in, adding strength to Zamʿah’s words, “He speaks the truth! We neither endorsed nor accepted it.” Muṭʿim Ibn ʿAdī, his presence lending further weight to the growing resistance, proclaimed, “They both speak the truth. Whoever claims otherwise is a liar! We declare ourselves free from this pact and its oppressive terms.” Hisham, his voice echoing their shared convictions, joined the chorus with similar pronouncements.

Abū Jahl’s voice dripped with defiance as he retorted, “This pact was forged in the hushed hours, far from the revered ground of the Kaʿbah.”

A silent witness in the corner of the mosque, Abū Ṭālib watched the drama unfold. Fuelled by the growing dissent, Muṭʿim rose to tear the pact apart. A remarkable discovery halted him: the scroll lay riddled with holes, devoured by insects, all except the opening words, ‘باسمك اللهم’ – “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

These five people who partook in attempting to nullify this pact have been given the title ‘Ashrāf’ (nobles).

Some accounts narrate a remarkable addition to this story. Through divine revelation, Allah is said to have informed the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that the pact against him and his clan had been miraculously eaten by insects. Upon confirmation, Muhammad ﷺ shared this news with his uncle, Abū Ṭālib, who used it to his advantage. He confidently addressed the Quraysh, offering Prophet ﷺ to the Quraysh if Muhammad ﷺ was lying. But if true, he demanded the siege be lifted and relations restored. With newfound curiosity, the Quraysh leaders retrieved the scroll, finding it precisely as described, riddled with holes except for the opening verse. This remarkable event swayed many influential Quraysh members, leading them to denounce the pact and paving the way for its eventual nullification.

Lessons from the Boycott:

  • Interfaith Cooperation: Despite facing hardship, Muslims can collaborate with others based on common values. 
  • Standing apart from the boycott, Khadijah, untouched by its restrictions, remained a pillar of unwavering support for the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Drawing resources from her family, she tirelessly procured and distributed aid, ensuring sustenance for the ostracised people in the valley. This act of selfless generosity amidst adversity exemplifies the power of compassion and its ability to transcend societal divisions.
  • Good Samaritans Emerge: Even in difficult times, good people can be found. The dissenters like Hishām Ibn ʿAmr and Muṭʿim Ibn ʿAdī remind us that compassion and courage can exist even amid societal pressure.
  • Importance of Obedience: The Muslims’ unwavering obedience to the Prophet’s instructions, despite their ability to retaliate, highlights the discipline and unity of the Companions, which is crucial for any movement’s eventual success.
  • Divine Signs and Free Will: While divine intervention can occur, it doesn’t guarantee acceptance. The Quraysh’s continued rejection despite the miraculous event surrounding the pact underscores the role of free will in religious faith.
  • Struggle as a Mark of Authenticity: The willingness of the Muslims to endure immense hardship for their beliefs underscores their conviction and the potential appeal of a genuine message to people of Arabia.

These lessons serve as valuable takeaways not only for Muslims but for anyone navigating times of conflict, seeking positive change, or confronting challenges rooted in differences of faith or belief. 

The plight of Gaza mirrors the Banū Hāshim boycott. Both communities faced isolation and hardship, ostracised under cruel pacts. Like the Prophet ﷺ and his followers, Gazans endure immense societal pressure.

Initially, acceptance of these unjust agreements raises the vital question: where does empathy reside? Yet, history shows that even leaders eventually face consequences. In both situations, the key for the ostracised was patience and resourcefulness.

However, this doesn’t imply passivity. As the movement for Gaza grows, silence is not an option. We must amplify our voices, ensuring this issue resonates at all levels, reaching those who hold the power to change. Public opinion, after all, remains a powerful force worldwide. Dictators may hold sway temporarily, but their reign has an expiry date.

Our role is to do our part, according to our means. Both situations highlight the importance of immediate relief efforts. While assassination threats loomed over the Prophet ﷺ, his eventual return to Makkah signifies the potential for improvement, even in seemingly hopeless situations.

We may not control the outcome, but every attempt at relief is a Muslim’s duty. While everlasting peace remains the ultimate aspiration, achieving it lies beyond our immediate grasp. The path forward demands collective action, a united voice and unwavering compassion. Let us stand with the marginalised and strive for a world where empathy prevails over cruelty.

5. The Divine Triumph: Summary & Lessons from the Battle of Aḥzāb

Allah’s methodology tests humanity at the threshold of resilience. In moments of potential faltering, divine care descends from the heavens, bringing comfort and victory to humankind. In the sīrah, a notable instance is the Battle of Aḥzāb, where Muslims found themselves encircled by an unprecedented army. After enduring intense pain and struggle, Allah’s divine assistance arrived.

The battle of ʾAḥzāb was a war between Islam and the immediate outside world. The Jews who were expelled from Madinah previously, conspired with the Quraysh of Makkah to annihilate Islam once and for all. The Jews also offered substantial amount of wealth to the tribe of Ghaṭafān who were renowned to be merciless mercenaries during their endeavours. A total group of 10,000 gathered to wipe out the Muslims and Islam once and for all. The Arabs in that region had never amassed an army this great. 

The Prophet ﷺ, on receiving intelligence of this, held consultation with his Companions – the outcome being that the opinion of Salmān al-Farisī was taken, wherein the Muslims would dig trenches around the city of Madinah. Whilst preparing for the enemy, the Muslims underwent immense difficulties. The winter season had approached. There was shortage of food. The Prophet ﷺ attempted to make the defence of Madinah to a good standard. He ﷺ commanded all the women and children to be gathered in one of the forts of the ʾAnṣār, to save them from any possible onslaught from the enemy.

During the construction of the trench, Prophet ﷺ predicted the conquest of far away lands, when a rock obstructed the digging efforts of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions. In response, the Prophet ﷺ struck the rock three times, reciting verses emphasising the unchangeable decree of Allah. Each strike was accompanied by a flash of light witnessed by Salmān Al-Farisī. After the third strike, the rock was completely broken, and the Prophet ﷺ revealed that he saw the cities of Kisra, Caesar, and Ethiopia with a divine vision.

Although the Muslims did not perceive it, there was a small victory when the Quraysh reached the outskirts of Madinah, and witnessed the trenches. The opposition came in with a view, this would be an easy victory due to the sheer number, and they had not prepared to lay siege to the Muslims. This immediately lowered the morale of the opposition. 

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the Muslim community meticulously took all necessary precautions, recognising the importance of proactive measures. Nevertheless, these efforts did not alter the divine decree set by Allah. The worldly existence serves as a testing ground, where individuals encounter trials. It is within the context of these challenges that the believers find resilience, knowing that victory follows hardship.

The dynamics for the Muslim community shifted when the Jewish tribe, Banū Qurayẓah, chose to disregard the pact they had established with the Muslims. This decision was influenced by the persuasion of the Banū Naḍīr tribe, altering the course of events and posing a new set of challenges for the Muslims, with the Muslims now vulnerable from an attack within the safety of Madinah as well as from the assembled army outside.

Attempted attacks on the defenceless women and children created a heightened environment of panic and fear. 

Allah describes the fear the Muslims felt in Sūrah al-ʾAḥzāb: 

إِذْ جَآءُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ ٱلْأَبْصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلْقُلُوبُ ٱلْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۠هُنَالِكَ ٱبْتُلِىَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا۟ زِلْزَالًا شَدِيدًا

[Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you, and when eyes shifted [in fear], and hearts reached the throats, and you assumed about Allah [various] assumptions. There the believers were tested and shaken with a severe shaking.

The enemy sought vulnerabilities in the trenches, and the Qurʾān vividly captures the intense fear experienced by the Muslims during this period. The hypocrites at this critical juncture chose to evade their duty, leaving the battle field and making disparaging statements attempting to diminish the morale of the Muslim. Their utterances were steeped in bitterness, asserting, “Muhammad promises us victory over the Romans and Persians, yet we cannot even go to the toilet without fear.”

Allah’s help inevitably comes after every hardship, and so it came during this battle. The hearts of the opposition were not united and people’s true intentions began to be exposed. Some had entered the conflict due to monetary benefit whilst others had entered on the basis of promises that were made to them. Seeds of major doubt were sown when the fulfilment of these became uncertain, leaving the confederate army in a state of confusion. This was the first major divine help that the Muslims received from Allah, during this battle.

The Prophet ﷺ fervently prayed during this siege, and Allah responded by unleashing a relentless wind upon the enemy camp. This formidable wind, with its mighty force, uprooted their tents and overturned their utensils. The night, already frigid, became even more challenging as the unyielding wind carried stinging sand into their tents and faces, creating profound discomfort for the non-Muslim forces. This remarkable divine intervention is vividly narrated in Sūrah Al-Aḥzāb:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱذْكُرُوا۟ نِعْمَةَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَآءَتْكُمْ جُنُودٌ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا وَجُنُودًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا ۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا

O you who have believed, remember the favour of Allah upon you when armies came to [attack] you and We sent upon them a wind and armies [of angels] you did not see. And ever is Allah, of what you do, Seeing.

The Prophet ﷺ would constantly invoke Allah, seeking His aid. The following supplications are documented from this pivotal battle:

اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُرْ عَوْرَاتِنَا وَآمِنْ رَوْعَاتِنَا

O Allah, shield us from vulnerabilities and grant us protection from all sources of fear.

دَعَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى الأَحْزَابِ فَقَالَ :اللَّهُمَّ مُنْزِلَ الْكِتَابِ، سَرِيعَ الْحِسَابِ، اهْزِمِ الأَحْزَابَ، اهْزِمْهُمْ وَزَلْزِلْهُمْ

Allah’s Messenger () invoked Allah’s displeasure upon the Aḥzāb (confederates), saying, “O Allah, the Revealer of the Holy Book and the One swift in reckoning! Overpower the confederates; Overpower them and shake them.”

Some of the key lessons we can take:

  • This event showcased the assembling of the largest army in Arabia, yet the minimal casualties highlighted the ultimate power lying in Allah’s hands. Previous battles with fewer numbers resulted in more casualties, emphasising that numbers alone hold no significance if Allah wills otherwise.
  • Although this battle involved minimal physical combat, it proved to be decisive, marking a shift in power favouring the Muslims. While Muslims in Makkah and Madinah were previously defensive, this marked a turning point towards offensive battles, establishing Islam as a formidable force.
  • A miraculous aspect was the Muslims remaining unaffected by winds despite their proximity, a manifestation of Allah’s favour mentioned in the Qur’ān. Despite meticulous precautions, defeating such a massive army seemed impossible, necessitating divine intervention. Muslims relied on Allah while also putting in their effort, underscoring the importance of striking a balance.
  • The test was arduous, shaking the core of the Muslim community, but with perseverance, they received Allah’s help.
  • Events like these unveiled the true colours of various groups: the exposed traits of the Jews, the genuine feelings of the Hypocrites, and the uncertainty within the hearts of certain believers. Each aspect provides valuable lessons and insights for Prophet ﷺ and the entire Muslim community.

Concluding thoughts

This world is a place of trials and tribulations, where our faith is tested. The Qur’ān’s words: 

أَحَسِبَ ٱلنَّاسُ أَن یُتۡرَكُوۤا۟ أَن یَقُولُوۤا۟ ءَامَنَّا وَهُمۡ لَا یُفۡتَنُونَ 

وَلَقَدۡ فَتَنَّا ٱلَّذِینَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡۖ فَلَیَعۡلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِینَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَلَیَعۡلَمَنَّ ٱلۡكَـٰذِبِینَ 

Do people think they will be left alone after saying, ‘We believe,’ without being put to the test?

Indeed, we have put to the test those before you. Allah will surely distinguish those who are true from those who are false. [Al-ʿAnkabūt, Ayah 2 & 3]

We’re not promised comfort, but challenges that build our resilience. People endure incredible hardships, yet their faith keeps them going. This shows the inner strength Allah has given us all.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ called us to action.  He wouldn’t stand idly by in the face of injustice. He ﷺ offered a path – to intervene physically if we can, to raise our voices if we must, and even in the quiet corners of our hearts, to never accept wrongdoing.  But what if the injustice is a raging storm, tearing through innocent lives? What then?

Just as the Prophet ﷺ wept for his nation, his very soles swelling from heartfelt prayers, we too are called to feel the weight of suffering. His empathy, boundless as an ocean, mirrored the connection we should forge with others’ pain. Imagine the terror in a child’s eyes, the despair of a shattered family. How can such darkness exist? Arrogance of unchecked power, a heart like Pharaoh’s demanding the slaughter of innocents boys, paves this path. Even today, the world watches in horrified silence as atrocities unfold in Gaza.

But believers should never become despondent. The very idea of a higher power, a just and merciful Allah, acts as a comfort against such barbarity. Knowing our actions have consequences, that we are accountable, steers us towards compassion. Though we may not understand hardship’s reasons, we can find solace in a divine plan, a purpose beyond our sight.

This is our calling: To stand firm in our beliefs and refuse to accept injustice as the norm. To raise our voices, take action, and build a world filled with compassion. The Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ life exemplifies the power of supplication in difficult times. When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, he turned to Allah with unwavering faith. Remember the Battle of Badr, which took place during Ramaḍān, the first year fasting was made mandatory. Despite being outnumbered, the Prophet ﷺ prayed fervently, pouring out his heart to Allah. His companions offered reassurance, reminding him of Allah’s promise. The Qur’ān itself recounts this moment: 

إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُم بِأَلْفٍ مِّنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ

“[Remember] when you were asking help of your Lord, and He answered you, ‘Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.’” [Al-Anfāl, Ayah 9]

The power of faith combined with heartfelt supplication, creates an unbreakable bond with Allah. Throughout history, small and humble groups have triumphed over powerful adversaries when they possessed such faith. The path may be difficult, but remember, with every hardship comes ease. In the Battle of Badr, Allah’s support, symbolised by the angels, ultimately led to victory for the believers.

Though Ramaḍān presented some of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ greatest challenges, it was also a time of remarkable victories. It’s a month dedicated to spiritual growth, where patience unlocks immense rewards. 

This Ramaḍān, let us follow the Prophet’s ﷺ example.  With a repentant heart, let our prayers be sincere and our supplications true. Let us plead for a world transformed by justice and compassion. Ramaḍān is the perfect time to become true servants of Allah, putting aside desires and focusing on devotion. Break your fast with heartfelt supplications, knowing that during this time, your pleas are readily accepted. Seek solace in the night prayers, pouring out your worries in tahajjud. For in the depths of the night prayer, Allah descends to the lower heavens, offering comfort and tranquility to the hearts of believers.

With such dedication, perhaps this Ramaḍān will bring the victory we all yearn for: an end to conflict, allowing the people of Gaza and all Muslims to live in peace with their neighbours.

O Allah, to You do we complain of the weakness of our state, O the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful,

You are the Lord of the weak,

and you are Our Lord.

As long as You are not displeased with us,

Nothing we face can truly trouble us,

Our ease is only in Your security,

We seek refuge in the Magnificence of Your Presence,

Through which the entirety of the heavens and the earth is illuminated,

And by which darkness is dispelled,

And because of which the matters of this life and the Hereafter are resolved,

We seek refuge with You against being deserving of Your anger and Reproach

To You we submit,

Everything is powerless without your support

O Allah we place You (your power and might), before the wrongdoers, and we seek Your Protection from their evil.

O Allah, the Revealer of the Holy Book, the Swift in reckoning, the Mover of the clouds, and the Defeater of the clans; defeat them, and shake them, and aid our brothers and sisters against them.

O Allah, rectify, correct and improve the state of the Ummah of our Master Muhammad

O Allah, grant ease to the Ummah of our Master Muhammad

O Allah, grant your special mercy to the Ummah of our Master Muhammad

O Allah, sufficient for us are You, alone. We place our trust in You, alone, and how excellent a Guardian You ar

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SiblingsOfIlm Guest Contribution

We are thankful to our guest contributors for their efforts. If you benefitted from this article, make a duʾā for its author. May Allah reward them abundantly. Āmīn Yā Rabb.

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