Shakeel Abu Maria gives a graphic account of how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ dealt with the fiercest hate, contempt and derision he was subjected to.
Hate, in the words of Allison Abrams – a renowned psychologist and author of Psychology of Hate, is grounded in some sense of perceived threat. But perception, as defined by Linda Humphreys, a renowned psychologist and spirituality coach, is a mindset from which we view people, events and things. Dr. Linda further elaborates that although perception may feel very real, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily factual. It’s all how we view the glass as half-full or half-empty. But half-empty or negative attitude, says Karen Lawson, MD, in an article published by University of Minnesota, creates chronic stress, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness and damages the immune system. To exit from such negative attitude, she advises, on the basis of a research carried out by her, to exercise ‘Forgiveness’ as it helps experience better health – mental, emotional and physical. Allison also advises ‘compassion’ as antidote to hate.
QUR’ĀN’S RECIPE AGAINST HATE
What these present researches reveal has already been taught by the Holy Qur’ān and meticulously put into practice by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ more than fourteen centuries ago. “Exercise Forgiveness, enjoin what is right and avoid the ignorant” (7:199), was the comforting words revealed to the Prophet when He was surrounded by raging hate and reproaches. Against the vicious plots of the haters, what the Qur’ān advises is, “Forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds) for Allah loves those who are kind.” (5:13)
The response to hate with love and compassion is ingrained in the very nature of Islam. Islam came only to extricate humanity from the quagmire of falsehood through love and compassion and show them the path of righteousness for their success and well-being in this world and in the life hereafter. The holy Qur’ān, in quite unambiguous terms, teaches its followers, “Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel (evil) with good. And you will see (as a result) that he, between whom and you was hatred, turned like your bosom friend. But none attains to this except those who exercises forbearance and self-restraint.” (Al-Qur’an, 41:34,35).
How scrupulously these instructions of the Qur’ān were translated into practice by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is revealed by the following two examples – when He was the weakest and when the strongest one.
A DATE WITH HATE
It was a sultry day of early June of 619 C.E. On the sacred mission of delivering the message of Truth, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ ventured upon a journey to Taif, then a verdant settlement (now a beautiful city), situated at a distance of about 86 kilometres in the southeast of the holy city of Makkah. One of His companions named Zaid bin Haritha had accompanied him. He footslogged the distance braving the blistering gust of hot winds under the searing sun of intimidating Arabian desert. En route to Taif, whichever clans or villages He happened to pass through, He delivered the Message of Allah to them. After arduous trekking for about two days through the long rugged desert, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ set foot in Taif. He decided to first visit the three chieftains of an important clan called Banu Thaqif. The three chieftains named Abd Yalail, Masood and Habib were real brothers. He introduced Himself as a Prophet of Allah. After initial pleasantries, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ delivered the Message of Allah to them.
But the polite words and courteous manners of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ were greeted with disdain and scornful words. “I must perish if a man like you becomes a Prophet,” jeered one of them. Another one taunted derisively, “Could Allah not find anyone other than you to appoint His prophet?” The last one remarked with condescending sneer, “I cannot have a single word with you as it would be highly menacing for me to address you with reproach if you are really a prophet and if you are lying, you don’t deserve my attention.”
All these words of the chieftains, highly loaded with hate, contempt and derision, were composedly swallowed by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. “I have no complaint against you…” were the only words uttered by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ while leaving that place.
Thereafter, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ visited other chieftains of that area with the divine Message. But all of them derisively shrugged off the divine message. As mere derisive words could not quench the smouldering fire of their fiercest hate, they instigated the local ruffians and street urchins to go after Him, calling names in harshest of words coupled with physical assault. Within no time the crowd of local goons gathered and started abusing, ridiculing and stoning Him away. They stoned Him so much as His feet bled profusely even drenching His slippers. His only companion Zaid was making unsuccessful attempt to protect Him against the rain of stones thrown at the Prophet, using his body as shield. In this daunting attempt, Zaid suffered multiple injuries. They chased Him hurling abuses and stones until He took refuge in a nearby vineyard.
Injured, bleeding, exhausted and forlorn, the Prophet sagged down under a shade in that vineyard, resting His head against a wall. However, after regaining Himself from this trauma, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ took a return journey to Makkah dejected and heart-broken but never disappointed.
This was the most tormenting and traumatic day in the life of Prophet Mohammad ﷺ as He himself described it while replying to a query of His wife Aisha about the most distressing day in His life. He further informed that while returning from Taif to Makkah, Angel Gabriel came to Him and said, “Allah heard and saw how harshly your people behaved with you. Allah has sent the angel of mountains waiting for your nod to crush these people (of Taif) between the two mountains”. The reply of the Prophet under such inflammably provocative circumstances was cool and composed: “No, not at all. I hope Allah will certainly raise a generation from their progeny who shall worship one and only one God and shall not associate anything with Him.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet is also reported to have prayed for them saying, “My Lord, guide them to the right path as they do not know what they are doing.” Such was the most compassionate and magnanimous response of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ when He had a date with extremely violent hate.
TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO MAKKAH
Another example relates to the entry of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as a conqueror in Makkah, His native place, with all might in January 630 C.E. It was the people of Makkah who had heaped all sorts of persecutions on Him and His followers. Taunts, jeers, vituperative words, physical assault while in prayer, persecution of His followers forcing them to lie on the hot bed of desert and also on live smouldering charcoal, social ostracization of the Prophet and His clan, forcing them to take shelter in the Cave of Abu Talib for as long as three years, even stopping provisions to reach that cave compelling them to live on the leaves of trees, and finally heinous attempt to assassinate the Prophet, are a few glaring examples of persecution meted out by the people of Makkah to the Prophet and His followers for as long as thirteen years.
Compelled by the circumstances, the Prophet had to migrate to Madinah. While leaving Makkah, the Prophet’s words with tearful eyes are notable, “O’ Makkah, you are dearest to me but your people don’t allow me to live here.” Even in Madinah they did not allow Him to live in peace. They made attack after attack in Madinah, using all possible means what they could to raze the Prophet and His followers from the face of the earth. His only “crime” was calling the people of Makkah to righteousness for their well-being.
It was the same Prophet who, after eight years of migration, enters Makkah as a conqueror with more than ten thousands of armed army of His companions. History is replete with the ugly scenario of loot, plunder, massacre and rape when a conqueror arrogantly enters the land of the vanquished. But Muhammad ﷺ was a Prophet of God, not an ordinary conqueror. He enters Makkah in quite humble posture, giving total credit of this conquest to Allah alone.
“Do you know how I am going to behave with you today?” addressing the scared and frightened people of Makkah, He asks. “You are our brother kind and magnanimous and son of our merciful brother” was the only reply of the vanquished Makkans in a despairingly resigned tone. The magnanimity of the Prophet now announces general amnesty and forgiveness to all, saying, “Today no blame against any of you. You all are free of all charges.” Such was the Prophet’s reply to the fiercest hate.
Philip K. Hitti, an internationally renowned authority on Arab and Middle Eastern history, Islam and semitic languages, while describing the Conquest of Makkah by Prophet Mohammad ﷺ writes in his magnum opus History of the Arabs, “The people (of Makkah) themselves were treated with special magnanimity. Hardly a triumphal entry in ancient annals is comparable to this.”