Opposition from the Quraish - Part 2

What were the other ways the Quraish opposed Islam?

The second thing that they did was to try to prevent the recitation of Quran in public. Whenever the prophet began reciting, they would attempt to drown it out with their voices by shouting and cursing. Because of this, the prophet often tried to raise his own voice above theirs, until Allah revealed, ‘Do not recite it loudly, nor in a whisper, but say it in a moderate voice.’

Once, the companions all came together in the house of Al-Arqam (RA) and said, ‘No-one has recited the Quran in public except the prophet . Who here is going to volunteer?’ Now Abdullah ibn Masud (RA) – who as we remember was the first non-noblemen to convert to Islam – volunteered to recite, however the companions argued, ‘You don't have family members here to help and protect you. You don't have a tribe who will fight for you. We do not want you to do this.’ And indeed, Ibn Masud was Yemeni and so had no-one in Mecca who would help him, and yet despite this he said, ‘I want to do this – I put my trust in Allah.’

And so he went to the Kahbah the next morning to recite. A quick side note about Ibn Masud: he was the one who was said to have learnt 70 surahs directly from Muhammad himself, and the prophet even said, ‘If you want to recite the Quran properly, recite like Ibn Masud.’ In fact, his recitation was so beautiful that people began to gather around him to listen, until one of them asked, ‘What is this he is reading?’ When they found out that it was the Quran, they immediately pounced on him and begin beating him until he could not recite any longer. And so he went back to the companions, bloodied and bruised, and said, ‘Nothing has increased for me other than my contempt for the Quraish, and I am willing to again do this tomorrow.’  

However the sahaba stopped him by saying, ‘Enough, enough – you have already done much to cause them to be distressed,’ and so Ibn Masud did not go back to recite.

There is also the famous story where three major leaders of the Quraish went out in secret to listen to the prophet’s recitation. Abu Sufyan ibn Harb (RA), Al-Akhnas ibn Shurayq and Abu Jahal all went out one night to listen to the prophet when he was praying tahajut. Neither of them knew of the other’s presence, but on leaving they all bumped into one another at Fajr when the recitation stopped. They all realised why the others were there, however they did not admit it and made some excuses before going on their way. The next night the exact same thing happened, however when this took place again on the third night they realised that this could not go on and all made a vow by Allah to never return. People could not find out about what had happened here. The next morning, Al-Akhnas went to Abu Sufyan and asked his opinion on what they had heard. Abu Sufyan would not answer until Al-Akhnas gave his thoughts first, so Al-Akhnas said, ‘It seems like it is the truth.’ Now, Abu Sufyan gave a guarded answer, and responded, ‘Some of it I understood completely, but some of it was beyond my comprehension.’ Of course, Abu Sufyan also later converted to Islam, but here he kept his true feelings vague. Then Al-Akhnas went to the house of Abu Jahal and asked for his honest opinion, to which Abu Jahal answered, ‘The Banu Manaf and us have always been in competition with one another. When they began to feed the pilgrims, so did we. When they began to prepare for battle, so did we. And then finally we were like two horses neck and neck before the finish line – and now they tell us they have a prophet that Allah inspires from the heavens, how can we compete with that? And so by Allah, as long as I live I will never accept him.’

Now this incident shows us a few things. First it reinforces the competition and pride of lineage that was such an integral part of the Arab culture, as shown by Abu Jahal’s reason for opposing Islam. But it also hints at how beautiful the recitation of the prophet must have been, for three respected elders of the Quraish to get up in the dead of the night and stand outside in the dark and the cold, just to listen to one man recite. And especially when these three were all staunch enemies of Islam; Subhanallah, truly the recitation of the prophet must have been something of immense beauty.

Now another tactic to prevent the spread of Islam was to ridicule the prophet and his believers. Abu Jahal was notorious for this, and would often insult any new converts to Islam. Once the prophet did not receive new revelation for some time, and a woman – perhaps the wife of Abu Jahal – said, ‘I see that your Shaitan had abandoned you.’ At this, the prophet was very grieved, until Allah revealed Surah Ad-Duha where He told Muhammad that ‘He had not abandoned him,’ and ‘That what was to come would be better than what was now.’

A fourth tactic was downright slander and lies, where the Quraish stooped to a level they had never stooped to before. They accused the prophet of being crazy, a magician, a poet, a fortune teller, the victim of magic and even being in league with Jinns, as they had no conceivable explanation for the Quran or the sincerity of the prophet. Of course, Muhammad had never written a couplet of poetry in his entire life, and he had lived with the Quraish for all that time and so they knew he was not crazy, but nevertheless they threw these accusations at him. And the most notorious example of this was that of Al-Walid ibn Al-Mughira.

Now Al-Walid was like the Shakespeare of Mecca, and was famous for being the biggest master of poety and Arabic. However the Quran was like no other writing ever previously witnessed by the Arabs, completely unprecedented in tone, language and style; so when Al-Walid first managed to clearly listen to recitation of the prophet, he was completely mesmerised. Because of this, as he walked away he said, ‘By Allah, I have heard a speech from Muhammad that is neither from the speech of men or Jinn; the top of it is fertile and beautiful, it has a rhythm and it surpasses everything I've heard and nothing can surpass it.’ Now, when the Quraish found out that their greatest poet had admitted defeat they began panicking, so when the news reached Abu Jahal he went to go see Al-Walid and told him, ‘Your people have heard your praise of the Quran and they will not be satisfied with you until you say something against it.’

So Walid asked, ‘What do you want me to say?’ Abu Jahal first advised him to call Muhammad a madman, but Walid said, ‘He is not a mad man, we know mad men and Muhammad is not like this.’ Then Abu Jahal told him to call the prophet a fortune teller, magician or poet, but Walid declined all of these and said, ‘Leave me alone for a few days and I will come up with something.’ And so he began pacing around his house, frowning and thinking of a way to slander the name of Muhammad , and eventually he came upon an idea. But before he could even say it, Allah revealed the second part of Surah Muddathir in which he directly addressed Al-Walid, and spoke of exactly what had just taken place in the privacy of his home:


Leave me alone with the one that I created alone

11.  ذَرْنِى وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا

To whom I granted wealth in abundance

12.  مَالًا مَّمْدُودًا وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ

And sons by his side

13.  وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا

And made his life easy and comfortable

14.  تَمْهِيدًا وَمَهَّدتُّ لَهُ

And yet he desires that I add more

15.  ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ

No! Indeed he has been to our verses obstinate.

16.                 كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ لِآيَاتِنَا عَنِيدًا

Soon I will visit him with a mound of calamities!

17.  صَعُودًا سَأُرْهِقُهُ

Indeed he deliberated and plotted;

18.  فَكَّرَ وَقَدَّرَ إِنَّهُ

So may he be destroyed for how he plotted!

19.  فَقُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ

Then may he be destroyed for how he plotted!

20.  ثُمَّ قُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ

Then he looked around

21.  ثُمَّ نَظَرَ

Then he frowned and he scowled,

22.  ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَبَسَرَ

Then he turned back and was arrogant

23.  ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ وَٱسْتَكْبَرَ

So he said, ‘This is nothing but magic, imitated from old

24.  فَقَالَ إِنْ هَٰذَآ إِلَّا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ

This is nothing but the words of a mortal.

25.  إِنْ هَٰذَآ إِلَّا قَوْلُ ٱلْبَشَرِ

Soon I will drive him into hellfire!

26.  سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ

Now here, before Al-Walid even got the chance to speak his slander, Allah revealed in the Quran exactly what he would say and even described the expressions on his face, something which no-one else could have known. And this in itself was a miracle of the Quran.



Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 013