Torture to the Prophet

We have mentioned some the tortures that were inflicted upon the sahabi that were of the slave class in Mecca, but what physically happened to the prophet himself?

As the prophet was of Quraish he was relatively protected, however despite this there were still incidents where the prophet himself physically suffered. Allah in his divine wisdom sometimes protected him and sometimes did not. One incident where Allah stopped the prophet from coming to harm was when Abu Jahal swore to his congregation in the Daar An-Nadwah that the next time he saw Muhammad praying he would put his foot on his neck. Now the prophet was one of the few Muslims who prayed publically, and so later that day he came and began praying in front of the Kahbah and went into sajood. Abu Jahal stepped forward to try to do as he said, however before he even reached the prophet he stopped and began to walk backwards, pushing his hands forwards as if to defend himself. When he returned the people asked him what had happened, and he replied, ‘I saw between me and him a pit of fire, and there were wings hovering above that fire.’

When the prophet finished he told the Muslims that this fire was brought by the angels, and that the wings were those of the angels. And he also said that had Abu Jahal taken one step closer the angels would have shredded him to bits. And it was here when Allah revealed the second part of Surah Alaq:

Have you seen the one who prevents

9.      أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يَنْهَى

A slave when he prays?

10.  عَبْدًا إِذَا صَلَّى

Have you seen if he is upon guidance?

11.  أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ كَانَ عَلَى الْهُدَى

Or enjoins righteousness?

12.  أَوْ أَمَرَ بِالتَّقْوَى

Have you seen if he denies and turns away?

13.  أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّى

Does not he know that Allah sees?

14.  أَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَرَى

Na y! If he does not cease then we will drag him by the forelock!

15.  كَلَّا لَئِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهِ لَنَسْفَعَنْ بِالنَّاصِيَةِ

The sinning, lying forelock!

16.  نَاصِيَةٍ كَاذِبَةٍ خَاطِئَةٍ

So let him call his helpers

17. فَلْيَدْعُ نَادِيَهُ

We will call the angels of Hell

18. سَنَدْعُ الزَّبَانِيَةَ

Nay! Do not obey him, and draw nearer to Allah

19. كَلَّا لَا تُطِعْهُ وَاسْجُدْ وَاقْتَرِبْ

As we can see, this part of the Surah is a direct response of Allah to this incident. The one who prevents is a reference to Abu Jahal, and the Surah follows upon the incident and declares what the punishment would have been had he continued towards the prophet. The mention of ‘his helpers’ is also a reference to the congregation the Abu Jahal had made his promise to, before going and attempting to commit the act.

An incident where Allah in his wisdom allowed the prophet to be physically assaulted was that of Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt. Uqbah was one of the most ignoble and evil adversaries of Islam, on the same level of that of Abu Jahl and Al-Waleed ibn Al-Mughira. So one day when Muhammad was praying he came up behind him and began to strangle him with his garment. No one helped the prophet, until Abu Bakr was made aware and ran to stop this.

This was not the only time that Uqbah committed atrocities against the prophet. Ibn Masud narrated of another incident, and this time the torture was not physical but emotional. And he narrates, ‘One day Abu Jahal and his like were sitting around, and the day before a camel had been slaughtered. And Abu Jahal challenged, “Who will go to the carcass of that camel and throw its entrails upon Muhammad when he is praying to his lord?” And the worst of them, Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt, stood up and said, “I will do it.”’ And so Uqbah went to the camel and brought its remains to the prophet, and when he went into sujood he dumped them all upon his neck and head. Imagine: a nobleman of the Quraish, distinguished, going to a dead carcass and gathering all of the blood and organs and disgusting fluids, carrying them in his own two hands all the way back into the Harem just to dump upon the prophet. This shows the hatred of his heart, which was even filthier that which he carried to throw upon Muhammad . And so Ibn Masud says, ‘The weight of the entrails was so heavy that the prophet could not get up from sujood, and the people began to laugh so hard that they fell on their sides. And he remained that way until someone went to tell Fatimah (RA). She was a little girl at the time, and she began running and crying towards her father and helped him to get the dead animal off of his back. The prophet stood up, and he turned and faced them and raised his finger to Allah. And when they saw him like this they became quiet. And he began making du’a against them by name, and he mentioned every single one of them three times until all of them had a deadly pale in their faces. So I swear by the one who sent Muhammad with the truth, that I myself saw every one of these 7 dead in the battle of Badr.’

As well as this there were many other incidents, and nearing the end of the Meccan period they even began assassination attempts on the prophet’s life. Once Fatimah (RA) heard of the attempt and ran to the prophet to tell him, but he simply did wudu and made du’a to Allah. And he walked into the masjid where they were all waiting there to kill him, but none of them could move as Allah had paralysed them. And the prophet picked up a handful of sand and threw it at them and said, ‘May these faces be cursed,’ and indeed every one of these were of those killed in the battle of Badr.

The question arises: why did Allah test the prophet and his companions in such a manner, and allow them to be so physically and emotionally assaulted? There are many wisdoms to this, the first of which is that we realise that through these struggles Allah shows the us that this life is not one of ease, but indeed tests and difficulties will come to those who believe because that is the nature of life in this world. As well as this, when we see how intense and difficult their hardships were compared to ours we already realise that they must have been better than us, and that they were not just handed their victories on a silver platter but in fact they had to earn them just as we do. And so for this the prophet himself suffered, with much strife and challenge so that we may see and take inspiration from the example that was the Messenger of Allah.


Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 015