The First People from Yathrib accept Islam | Year 11

Narrative

In the year that followed the Year of Sadness, the pilgrimage fell at the beginning of summer; it had been the Prophet’s practice now for several years to visit the various groups and to declare his message to any who would listen, reciting for them verses of the revelations.

The nearest point from Mina to Mecca is ‘Aqabah, where the road rises up steeply from the valley towards the hills in the direction of the Holy city; and it was this year at ‘Aqabah that the Prophet came upon six men of the tribe of Khazraj, from Yathrib. He told them about Islam and called on them to submit to Islamic monotheism. Their faces lit up with interest; and they listened to him intently saying to one another, “By God, this is the same thing that the Jews informed us; Indeed, nobody should now get ahead of us.” They accepted his teachings and embraced Islam. They also said to the Prophet, “We have left our people, for there are no people so torn asunder by enmity and evil as they; and it may be that God will unite them through you. We will now go to them and summon them to accept the religion as we have accepted it; and if God unites them together through you, then no man will be more honoured than you”.

The six men of Khazraj delivered the message of Islam to as many of their people as would listen to them; and the next summer, five of them repeated their pilgrimage, bringing with them seven others, two of whom were from the tribe of Aws. At ‘Aqabah, these twelve men pledged themselves to the Prophet, and this pledge is known as the First ‘Aqabah:

“We pledged our allegiance to the Messenger of God on the night of the First ‘Aqabah, that we would associate nothing with God as partner, that we would neither commit theft nor fornication, nor to kill their own children, and we would obey him in what was right.”

When these people left for Madinah, the Prophet sent Musab Ibn Umayr with them to teach the Qur’an to the people there to expound Islam and instruct them about the religion.

The timing of the call was perfect since it took place at a critical juncture when God afforded the opportunity of helping and defending Islam to both the Aws and the Khazraj, and in effect, crushed their own petty squabbling. It was by various causes and circumstances such as this that Almighty God opened the door of acceptance by those who were inherently kind-hearted and sweet-tempered, immune from the Quraishite traits of immoderation, stubbornness and vanity, and hence the people of Yathrib were responsive and open to reason.

Lessons & Wisdoms

At this stage the Prophet and his disciples’ mission had progressed profoundly and were now trying to gain military protection from formidable tribes outside of Makkah. This shows us that:

1) The Prophet sought aid from others not just to find a safe haven for the Muslim community but to remove the obstacles that were preventing the Muslims from establishing Islam in their day to day lives. It is for this reason that the Prophet rejected the offer of support and protection from the tribe of Banu Aamir as this would compromise his ability to further the Prophetic Call.

2)  Muhammad was now beginning to witness the fruits of his labour. He had been through the most arduous times of his life but now things were starting to take a positive turn and his steadfastness and endurance was beginning to pay off. There is a great example of patience and endurance in the life of the Prophet for all. After almost ten years of calling his people to Islam with much opposition and little success, he decided to focus his call to other than the Quraysh by visiting tribal leaders of afar when they would come to Makkah for the annual pilgrimage.  Eleven years of struggle without worldly gain, all for the sake of God, was the price he paid in order to prepare the way for an Islamic upsurge which would spread to all ends of the world, vanquishing the power of the Byzantium and the Persians. God decreed that the foundations of Islam would be built with much struggle and hardship in order to show mankind the Straight Path is one of difficulty and not ease.

3) A possible wisdom behind God Decreeing help arrive from a source outside of Muhammad’s family and tribe was to eliminate speculation and suspicion that perhaps Muhammad’s call was a nationalistic call to bring his people to prominence.

4) The first pledge of Aqaba is an excellent illustration of how the Prophetic Call was as much about social reform as it was about theological reform to pure monotheism. The Prophet asked the converts from Yathrib to pledge themselves not to worship any save God, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to slay their children, and not to slander their neighbour.

5) The Prophet showed great leadership and management skills in selecting certain Companions to assist him in holding these negotiations. He wouldn’t select any person for a job but rather the most qualified. For instance, the Prophet would have Abu Bakr accompany him as he was the most learned in the field of genealogy and Arab history.

Edicts & Rulings

The Quranic chapter as-Saba, named after the people of Saba, was revealed in the second half of the Meccan period, a short time before the Night Journey. It contained pivotal concepts that can be summed up in the question addressed to all human beings in verse 9: “Are they, then, not aware of how little of the sky and the earth lies open before them and how much is hidden from them?” and in the call to moral responsibility sounded in verse 46: “Say: ‘I counsel you one thing only: Be ever conscious of standing before God whether you are in the company of others or alone.'” With such revelation, God inspired Muhammad to remain focused on the task at hand: to call mankind to the exclusive worship of God alone and warn them of submitting to any other deity.

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