Muhammad - Legacy Of A Prophet CD1 2002
Fourteen hundred years ago
a humble merchant who could not read or write
changed the face of Arabia.
His name was Muhammad.
Today, his influence has spread to every corner of the world
including the United States...
This is his story.
And the story of millions of Americans who revere him as God's final prophet.
Major Funding of Muhammad Legacy of a Prophet has been provided by
the CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING
and by THE DAVID AND LUCILE PACKARD FOUNDATION
ARABIAN BULK TRADE
SABADIA FAMILY FOUNDATION, THE EL-HIBRI FOUNDATION
the IRFAN KATHWARI FOUNDATION
and MIR IMRAN.
Additional funding has been provided by many other organizations and individuals.
He was neither tall and lanky
nor short and heavy set.
When he looked at someone he looked them in the eyes.
He was the most generous hearted of men
the most truthful of them in speech
the most mild tempered of them
and the noblest of them in lineage.
Anyone who would describe him would say
I never saw before or after him
"the like of him."
Muhammad, described by a contemporary.
Muhammad was a man who
faced an absolutely hopeless situation.
There was a whole continent virtually of people killing one another
in an endless hopeless vendetta, going down a chute of violence and warfare.
Feeling that society was coming to an end and had no hope.
He gave them hope single-handedly.
In a space of 23 years
he brought peace and new hope to Arabia and a new beacon for the world.
Islam, the religion Muhammad first brought to Arabia
now claims 1.2 billion followers around the world.
There are an estimated 7 million Muslims in America
where it is the country's fastest growing religion
and the most diverse.
Like America itself, the Muslims in this country come from all over the world.
They have a common bond
not only in their religious faith and in their mosques
but in this story of Muhammad, they all look to it.
This is the source of how to behave
of how to be a constructive citizen
of how to be a good parent, of how to be a good child
of how to seek knowledge and truth.
These are values that are expressed most clearly for Muslims
in the story of Muhammad.
In the Quran Allah says that Muhammad is the best example of behavior for you.
And that's what he is the guide for the way we deal with each other
and when we're in a position of authority
how we attempt to implement justice and law.
Prophet Muhammad, he asked the question to people around him
do you love your creator?
Serve your fellow man first.
What does that tell you?
It tells you, forget about all this intellectual
yeah, I love God and this and that.
If you're gonna, you know, forget about talking the talk, walk the walk.
You want to serve God, serve people.
What more noble way to serve people than to risk your own life to save them.
September 11th has changed the whole world
and it has also put the Muslim community in the spotlight.
Muslims have a lot of hostility being hurled at them.
But this is also a time of transformation.
Many people are very eager to understand Islam
and want to know who is the Prophet? What is the Quran?
Who are the Muslims? How do they live?
Through the stories about Prophet Muhammad
we were able to make connections
and all of a sudden you would feel you can relate
to things that happened back 1500 years ago
and that the issues weren't old fashioned
they were universal.
And that's what he's taught me.
This is the story Muslims have passed dow
from generation to generation for 1400 years.
A story about the merchant, husband, father
statesman and warrior whom they consider the final prophet.
The man whose legacy continues to shape their lives today.
The life of MUHAMMAD
is even in its details
probably better known than any other major religious figure before modern times.
His followers made careful efforts
to record memories that they had of things that he had said
and things that he had done.
Many of these traditions may have been made up later on
but at the core there seems to me to be little reason to doubt
that there is a picture and a portrait of a living man.
According to Muslim sources
Muhammad bin Abdullah-or son of Abdullah
was born in the year 570 in the city of Mecca
in what is today Saudi Arabia.
A poet of the times described Mecca
as a place where winter and summer were equally intolerable.
The world into which Muhammad arrived was a brutal one
defined by hunger, violence, and tribal warfare.
You could not exist without your tribe.
An individual in this dangerous world had absolutely no chance of survival.
And that meant that the tribe had become, perhaps, the most sacred value in Arabia.
It's a society that's based on the idea of vigilantism.
That, if somebody attacked my clan
then I have a right to go and attack anyone from his clan.
They saw justice as taking revenge.
The Arabs of the sixth century had no written code of law
no common religion, and no central government.
In this dangerous world
Muhammad had the good fortune to be born into Mecca's powerful tribe, the Quraysh.
But his father died before he was born, and, his mother died when he was only 6.
His uncle Abu Talib was left to raise the young orphan.
He surely had to have worried about his future, what will he be.
And so he he must have been a very introspective child.
Muhammad had the habit of going out in the desert and contemplating
the stars and thinking about why he was an orphan.
And how would life be to him in the future.
Orphans were marginal people and
he felt very, very strongly identified
with the poor and disadvantaged for the rest of his life.
The Mecca of Muhammad's youth was both a religious and a commercial center
Iocated at the crossroads of two major trading routes.
Pilgrims came from all over Arabia to worship
the hundreds of idols that surrounded the Ka'aba
an ancient shrine in the heart of the city.
The Ka'aba was surrounded by a sacred area where fighting was not allowed.
The commerce generated by the pilgrims made it possible
for a young man in Muhammad's circumstances to make a living in the markets of Mecca.
Soon Muhammad began acting as an agent for wealthy merchants
taking their goods on caravans throughout Arabia.
These journeys exposed him to a variety of other tribes and communities
and a range of new ideas.
He probably learned the differences that exist between different tribes.
People speaking different languages. He encountered Christians and Jews.
And learned from them what their faith
what their religion, what their cultures, are.
Muhammad would have become aware that for the Jews
and the Christians the holy scripture was very important.
Both got scriptures in which God had sent
a sacred message to prophets
and this was a way in which people could relate to the divine.
When MUHAMMAD was about 25 years old
he had a major change in his life.
A wealthy widow
older woman named KHADIJA
asked him to take her caravans into Syria for her.
Muhammad took all her goods and went with the caravan to Syria and did
an incredible job.
And her respect for him turned into admiration for him.
And she inquired about him through one of her friends.
Shortly thereafter Khadija asked Muhammad to marry her.
I like you because of our relationship, she said
"And your high reputation among your people;"
"Your trustworthiness, good character, and truthfulness."
And this is interesting.
She's is a very beautiful woman.
But she's, she's 40.
She is, she is moving into her maturity.
And he's a 25-year-old youth.
Um, he's an orphan.
And, and he accepts this, uh, proposal and it's arranged through the family.
And he does, indeed, marry her.
And people have often said rather sneeringly that
this was just a marriage of convenience on his part.
He'd just married the wealthy widow for his own ah gain and profit.
But there's no doubt in my mind that he deeply, deeply loved Khadija.
Over the course of their marriage, Khadija and Muhammad had four daughters
and two sons who died as infants.
He was a family man, and a successful and respected merchant.
But as Muhammad approached his own fortieth birthday
he was becoming increasingly restless and
troubled by the problems of Meccan society.
Within a few generations
they had gone from this kind of brutal existence in the Arabian Steppes
to becoming financiers, bankers
businessmen, merchants, with a lot of money.
And this was great, of course, and people were delighted.
But it was a very disturbing time
because the market economy demanded
as we know only too well in the West, a strong competitive streak.
People no longer felt that they had to take care of the poor and the needy.
And the weaker members of Quraysh any longer.
They had to make as much money at they possibly could.
They had a marvelous society.
They had a trading town, they were booming
they were doing business.
They were living like an affluent society.
And when you have an affluent society
the tendency is to become hedonistic.
To look at, you know, what are the pleasures of life?
Muhammad would often retreat to the mountains outside Mecca, to meditate.
It was on one such retreat in the year 610 that Muhammad had an experience
that would transform history.
The prophet used to retire from time to time
into a hill called Jabal al-Nur, the Mountain of Light.
When you climb up that mountain and many people still do it
on top of it is a cave called al-Hira in Arabic
Into which the Prophet would often times retire in order to contemplate
and to pray.
To be still with God.
The coming of the revelation was an immediate act.
The descent from heaven came suddenly.
Muhammad was woken from sleep and felt himself absolutely enveloped
by a terrifying divine presence.
He says it's an angel that seemed to squeeze him
ah, in a devastating embrace
and it felt as though all the breath was being squeezed out of his body.
"And a voice said to him, "recite."
"And Muhammad said, "no, I am not a reciter."
"The voice again said "recite"."
And then squeezed, as he said almost beyond his endurance
Muhammad felt the first inspired words
of a new scripture in Arabic pouring from his lips.
That is recite in the name of thy lord who created.
And Islam had come into being.
And the prophet of course having received the divine word
began to tremble and tremendous fear
because there's no common groundbetween the human reality and the divine reality
When he ran out of the cave
When he ran out of the cave he looked back
and the Archangel filled up the whole of the sky.
Everywhere you looked there was Gabriel.
Not just a single angelic image but a presence, a being, a power.
This is how the ineffable
incomprehensible, utterly transcendent, indescribable God
makes itself known to us.
This was something that really shook him to the very core of his being.
And he goes down from that mountain and he is shaking.
And I think it's, it's shock.
Here is somebody who, who's gone
Iooking for this transcendent reality
and this transcendent reality is now
Muhammad was so shaken by this experience, he feared he might be possessed.
He ran home directly to Khadija.
And there he flung himself into her lap and he said cover me
cover me, hold me, until the terror had passed.
Khadija was the person who reassured him.
"He said, "have I become a kahin, a soothsayer?"
And she said
No my dear this is not what God does.
This revelation comes from God.
The message Muhammad received on the Mountain of Light was simple:
He was to recite the words of the one true God.
But Muhammad still had doubts that his experience was genuine.
Khadija ah, thought it would be a good idea to go to consult her
her cousin Waraqa who was a Christian.
She is saying, we need to go to somebody that knows about these things.
Because if you're told you're being given a message from God
well, there have been previous messages.
So, let's go ask Waraqa. Who knows the scripture.
He knows, uh, the Torah and the, the Gospel.
And as soon as Waraqa heard about this, he immediately said
Muhammad is the prophet
ah who will bring the revelation of the one God to the Arabs
and he warned Muhammad
uh that he would have a really rough time.
He says, your people are going to reject you and they will chase you out of this city.
This has never come to any human being, except they were persecuted.
Because this is basically undermining the paradigm.
And after a while Muhammad began to realize that
the messages he had been receiving fit a pattern that he knew about
from Jewish and Christian tradition as well.
And that is that there are such things as prophets.
There are people who receive messages from the divine
and that he began to realize that indeed he was one of them as well.
When we think of prophecy
we come from a tradition in America where we think of Charlton Heston, you know
the great big beard and the winds always blowing.
And he's, wearing raggedy clothes and they're, and they're ranting people.
You know, they're ranting and raving.
In the Islamic view a prophet isn't this kind of person at all.
But it's the person who has been selected very reluctantly from his people.
God selected him and they couldn't
get out of the clutches in a sense, they had to do it.
You have to think in terms of a tribal Bedouin society.
What is the worst thing that could happen to somebody?
It is not death. It is shame.
And so I am sure that in his own mind
the idea of being shamed was probably very important.
I mean think of the double loss of face
you know he's gonna lose face, he's gonna be shamed in front of his people.
He's gonna be shamed in front of Allah who gave him that message.
One of the drawing features to me as a non-Muslim
who came from just a very diverse background
was his humility. And his humanness.
Kevin James is a Supervising Fire Marshal in Brooklyn, New York
who converted to Islam as a young man.
I felt a kinship to him also personally.
And there's probably about a billion Muslims who would say the same thing, personal
this personal kinship that they feel with him.
Ah he grew up an orphan, now I'm not an orphan, I have two parents. But...
my position in society, I've always felt, separate.
America is a racial nation. And...
either you're Black, you're White, you're Italian, you're Jewish, you're this and that.
So coming from a mixed background, I've felt like, kind of, in limbo.
My father is Native American and African-American and my mother is Jewish.
They were very a-religious I would say to the point of being atheist or agnostic.
I recall as a child we'd get a dreidel
on Hanukkah, we had a menorah in the house and we also had
a Christmas tree and exchanged presents.
So, I just never really identified with any religion
but what was always emphasized was discussion and dialogue and
seeking for the truth.
So I went through a period of trial and error searching.
And I stumbled, I guess, I almost literally stumbled on Islam.
What appealed to me was the universality of the message.
Any religion that gives a code of righteous ethical conduct and...
respect and gratitude and obedience to one being, is Islam.
So, here's a book, the Holy Quran, that validates other religions
the diversity of mankind
and it puts the onus of salvation on the believer.
The Quran teaches you that the saving of one life
is as if you've saved all of humanity.
And that's one of the reasons why I became a firefighter.
What more noble calling than that to save a person's life
to save people, to save their property.
There was another fire in the back.
Okay. Yeah. So show me what you have.
From being a fire fighter, I became a Fire Marshall, that's an arson investigator.
That's another form of prevention, of saving lives.
I guess there's no doubt what caused this.
The fire fighter, he'll risk his life to save you whether you're Black
brown, red, Jew, Muslim, Christian, Atheist.
He's not asking you what your philosophy is or looking at your color.
He's looking to get you out of the building.
That's why many people say that fire fighting is a calling, because of that
The willingness to just put others before yourself.
To be a good Muslim, you serve people.
And specifically, Prophet Muhammad
he asked the question to people around him:
Do you love your creator?
Serve your fellow man first.
The message Muhammad had received from God evealed that
his people would be held accountable in he next life
for their behavior in this one.
Although Muhammad was initially reluctant to tell others about his experience
a new revelation commanded him to make his message public.
So he calls all of his family members together and he says
what would you say if I told you that there was this army
waiting to attack us on the other side of that hill.
They said, we would believe you and he said what would you say if I told you
and he said what would you say if I told you
I'm a messenger from God.
They think it's absurd.
You, you called us together for this?
And he says, will no one support me in this.
And the only person is a, is a child Ali who is his cousin
uh, gets up and says, I will support you.
And they, they think this is hilarious.
That this is, this is who is going to follow this prophet is, is a child.
Think about it, there is a man, a middle-aged man
who doesn't know how to read or write, who has no wealth
who is an orphan, yes he is from a very important tribe
but he works for a woman, and he now says, I'm the Prophet.
God has spoken to me.
This is not going to fly.
The divine message that Muhammad brought to his fellow Meccans
carried with it a sharp warning
for their increasingly materialistic society.
He was coming to warn the people of Mecca and the surrounding countryside
and his own tribe of Quraysh
that unless they pulled themselves together and started
creating a more just and decent society
restoring the old tribal values of looking after the poor
the orphan, the widow, the oppressed
then there was going to be a terrible catastrophe.
The Arabs did not believe in after life.
They really thought that life ended with death and there was no resurrection
there was no coming back, there was no reincarnation.
So now Muhammad is saying, you know that one God we spoke of?
When you are going to die, you don't just disappear.
But you're going to be accountable to that God
for the good deeds and the bad deeds.
He was bringing a moral, ethical, social message to his people.
That we're all in the same boat before God and we must treat each other well
with compassion and justice, and equity.
The revelation that Muhammad received on the Mountain of Light
was only the first of many that he would continue to receive
for the rest of his life.
The revelation does not come in a lump sum.
It doesn't just come down from heaven, here is the book.
Now go out and teach it to the people. No.
It is coming down slowly.
It's coming down as events unfold.
And it's explaining the events
but it's also coming down in a way that he can absorb it.
Because the idea is that this thing is so tremendous.
This thing is so immense
that it's not something that we can give you all at once.
This is going to take time.
He used to say that I never once experienced a revelation
without feeling that my soul had been torn from my body.
The prophet could be sitting, he could be on horseback
he could be walking, he could be talking.
He was suddenly seized by the divine word.
He would feel a great weight descend upon him.
He would sweat profusely even on a cold day.
Sometimes he said it would be like the reverberations of a bell.
And that he said is hardest for me, it's not the words that were coming.
But he would have to listen very hard for the meaning
of what communication, divine communication was coming through.
After Muhammad received each revelation
he would recite it to the people who were with him
and they would pass it on to the community.
When the Prophet, who did not know how to read and write
started revealing the words of the Quran
they acquired credibility
because of the very nature of the words spoken.
People would, would look at it, this is, my goodness
this cannot be the words of a man. He could not have made this up.
The Quran is the most extraordinary beautiful discourse.
It doesn't come over in translation
but the Arabic is extraordinary.
When the first Muslims heard The Quran
many of them were converted to the prophet's message.
Not necessarily because of its content but because of its beauty.
That revelation was presented in a society
where there were people who were professional memorizers.
They could hear something recited once and they could repeat it.
The recitation then by Muhammad was carefully preserved
immediately in the minds of memorizers
and in the minds of people who were able to write down notes.
What we now call the Quran
represented the complete collection of those words
that Muhammad recited when he said this is the revelation of God
All we have of the prophet
and all we have of the word of God is actually words.
We don't have any pictures.
We don't have any statues.
All we have left is words.
We can take those words and through the art of calligraphy
we can make them more vivid, more accessible.
For Mohamed Zakariya, words are the basis of an art form.
To prevent idolatry
Muhammad discouraged the creation of any images of himself or other prophets.
Calligraphy eventually became Islam's highest art form.
Among the sacred texts Zakariya writes is the Hilye
a portrait of the Prophet in words.
Transmitted from Ali, who, when asked to describe the prophet, would say:
His face was not narrow, nor was it fully round
but there was a little bit of roundness to it.
When he looked at someone
he looked at them with his face turned perfectly towards them.
Whoever saw him unexpectedly was in awe of him
and whoever associated with him familiarly loved him.
Anyone who would describe him would say
'I never saw before him or after him the like of him.
"Peace be upon him.'"
That's the most famous of the Hilyes.
It gives you a description of the qualities of a person
so that you can almost see them in your, uh, eyes, in your mind's eye.
I like to think it's like having a little
memento of the prophet near you so that you can look
at it and think of it now and then.
And of course, he's not with us, but the Hilye brings him
uh, his presence a little closer.
MUHAMMAD was always very insistent that he was not a divine figure
and he always warned his followers not to do with him
what the Christians had done to Jesus and put him on a pedestal and say
that he was God or divine.
He was not, he was an ordinary human being and the Muslims have taken that seriously.
But what they do say is that MUHAMMAD is the perfect man.
That if you look at MUHAMMAD
you can see how a perfect act of surrender to the divine had been made.
"Muhammad's message slowly began to attract followers;"
especially among the downtrodden and the oppressed within Meccan society.
It's really the people that don't have anything, uh, to lose and everything to gain.
They are the ones that are responding to this message.
Many of the followers are poor people, slaves
women that don't have protectors.
It's spreading amongst the disenfranchised of Mecca.
Prophet Muhammad noticed that
he lives in a society that denigrate women.
They were viewed as second-hand citizens
an object or personal belongings that belong to the man.
And that disturbed the Prophet.
Early in his prophetic career, Muhammad condemned female infanticide.
Later revelations would give women legal rights in marriage
allow them to divorce, and protect their inheritance rights.
Of course, it's absurd and anachronistic to expect Muhammad
to be a feminist in the 21st Century sense.
Uh, but nevertheless, what he did for women in the context of his times was amazing.
Although most women were second-class citizens in pre-Islamic Arabia
Muhammad's own wife, Khadija, was wealthy and powerful.
There's been this idea that women prior to Islam were chattel
that they had no rights.
And I think that for many many levels of the women, that is true, but
for a certain level of woman, which Khadija would have been amongst
that is not true.
Khadija is an inspiration because in spite of
the male dominated society that she lived in, she was a working woman.
And so there are some parallels for modern women to to learn from her example.
I grew up in Kashmir
which is in the foothills of the Himalayas, northern India.
And I came to America when I was 15 years old.
As I started becoming part and parcel of this culture and society
I gravitated towards just wanting to be like everybody else.
And tended to stray away from my own faith.
And for awhile there I went through some very
dark stages in my life
where I wanted nothing to do with my faith
and almost just walked away from my faith.
As I got older
I recognized that there was this very empty hole inside of me.
So I started searching for God in all kinds of places.
You know Rumi has this beautiful story where he says
I looked for God, I went to a temple, and I didn't find him there.
Then I went to a church and I didn't find him there.
And then I went to a mosque and I didn't find him there.
"And then finally I looked in my heart and there he was."
The challenges that I faced in my life are the very same challenges
that a lot of young girls are facing.
And, when they come to me with their questions
I feel like a person who has already traveled the road.
I dispense advice to them
from real experience as to how I would have dealt with something.
I've noticed how when it comes to women
we are only supposed to marry Muslim men.
Uh, why is that now?
Especially because the Quran says that
believing men and women should marry
believing men and women, it doesn't
point out that men can marry such and women can't.
I've heard plenty of people say that in fact that's an interpretation.
Some of the issues are deeply personal
ah issues with gender relations
like dating and ah marriage.
And other issues have to do with
you know certain Islamic law and how to reconcile with some of those things.
I want to exchange with her. See? Her's is prettier
And these are all sticky wickets as we say.
The fact that I've walked the walk helps a little bit
for me to dispense advice to these people.
In Mecca, opposition to Muhammad was growing.
His message of monotheism and his campaign against idolatry
threatened the lucrative trade that fueled the Meccan economy.
The business of Mecca is to draw pilgrims to Mecca.
They want to make money.
And the way they draw pilgrims to Mecca is, people come visit their gods.
Well, here's somebody who is saying, these gods, they are not real.
They're stones, they're rocks.
You're wasting your time.
Now, that message has economic implications to the Quraysh.
They are worried.
This, this man is going to undermine our business.
In the tribal system Muhammad was protected by his uncle, Abu Talib
so the Meccans went to Abu Talib and asked him to turn Muhammad over to them.
Abu Talib was in a difficult position.
He was not a Muslim.
But it went against the grain
for him to simply hand over his beloved nephew
to these people who would kill him with impunity.
So he took Muhammad to one side and said look don't do this.
Don't do this to us. Can't you just keep quiet?
And at that point the Prophet says
if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand
I will not stop preaching what I am preaching
until this message is conveyed or I die conveying it.
And this is what he tells his uncle and at that point he begins to weep.
And his Uncle looks at him and realizes the depth of the conviction
of this man and he says say whatever you want, you have my protection.
One of the things that the prophet Muhammad S.A.W. taught us
was that it is our duty
to try to correct injustices in the world.
If you see something wrong, change it with your hands.
If you're not able to, then speak out against it.
If you're not able to do that, then feel bad about it in your heart.
But that is the weakest form of faith.
Wherever possible the Muslim should try to take action.
And not let an injustice go by
without calling it what it is, and asking for change.
What do we have?
The book's prepared for the week.
Dealing with change is part of Jameel Johnson's job.
As Chief-of-Staff for Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York
he manages the congressman's schedule, and briefs him on policy issues.
The biggest problem with the bill
is that there's the issue of discrimination using federal funds.
Because it's not like a private plan.
So you're telling me that you recommend a no vote.
I'm recommending a no vote.
As we had said in the beginning
I'm gonna give you the technical part and what I think the issue is
you take care of the politics.
- Good deal... - What else do we have?
My goal is not necessarily to simply seek votes or
campaign money or to be accepted as a part of the game.
As Muslims we must seek justice, so what I try to do is educate.
In many cases the best thing that you are able to do
with that kind of education is decrease prejudice
and increase understanding.
If I practice my Islam on the job
and do that without trying to interfere
with anyone else's practice, whether they be religious or otherwise
then I make it easier for the next Muslim that comes on board.
Especially also if I do a good job
because then some of the prejudice, some of the misunderstanding goes away.
Johnson coordinates the Friday prayer service, or Jumah, on Capitol Hill.
It's grown since we started it, it used to be sometimes 3, 5, 10 of us.
Now there can be up to 40, 50 people. We're...
busting out of the room that we're in.
It's kind of a re-energizing
kind of refilling our fuel tank with faith again for the rest of the week.
The image of the messenger
that gives us an example of somebody who is extremely successful
as a head of state nevertheless he never had to compromise his integrity.
One of the most important things for a Muslim
is remaining constantly in remembrance of Allah.
What we are commanded to do is that we make, formal prayer 5 times a day.
Because when you live in a society
that constantly gives you acceptance and praise
because of material things or achievement
we need that constant remembrance of Allah
in order to bring us back to the right path.
As some say, keeping our eyes on the prize.
And prayer is that remembrance.
Even though Islam isn't the biggest faith in America
even though it sometimes is ridiculed
the fact of the matter is that I can practice
I can make my five prayers a day.
It was much harder
for the Messenger of Allah S.A. W and his companions to do this.
The first Muslims faced a torrent of ridicule
and abuse when they practiced Islam in public.
Attacked by crowds throwing stones
they retreated to the surrounding mountains to pray in secret.
Many pagan families split apart when their children converted to Islam.
Finally, the leaders of Muhammad's tribe, the Quraysh
decided that Harassment alone would not be enough to stop him.
The Quraysh, they see it as our honor is being threatened
we need to deal with this.
This is the point where they begin to really increase their persecution
they start sanctions
on the house of Beni Hashim, which is the sub-clan of the
They begin to prevent them from trading, from transacting.
And that meant that basically they were being starved out.
They couldn't buy food, they couldn't do business.
Abu Talib ah was ruined by this.
The Hashim lived in one street and Muhammad
and Khadija and the children moved into this street.
And this became a little Muslim ghetto.
And this leads to real hardship.
There's a period of time where according to the tradition
they're actually eating from the leaves of trees.
Famine destroyed the fortunes of Muhammad's
protector, Abu Talib, and his follower Abu Bakr.
The survival of both the clan and Islam were in jeopardy.
But for Muhammad the damage hit even closer to home.
Khadija, Muhammad's beloved wife, uh
perhaps weakened by the privations, actually died.
And that was just a crippling blow for him.
Left him feeling alone and vulnerable and weak.
He would miss her all his life, I think.
Then the catastrophe happened that Abu Talib died.
Perhaps himself weakened by the deprivation in food.
Now without Abu Talib
Muhammad was fair game for assassination.
And there's a terrible moment where
he utters this heart breaking prayer
saying oh my god I have no other protector but you, Allah.
And how was he going to move forward?
He'd done what Allah had told him to do.
He had proclaimed this message and
all that he seemed to have done was stir up hostility and hatred.
Um and split his tribe down the middle
this wasn't improving matters.
He must have felt an almost, a sort of a dark night of the soul.
He is at the low point of his mission.
He's been almost 13 years now in Mecca and
the results are not, they are not impressive.
But at this point, at this low ebb
he is now being prepared
for the most extraordinary mystical experience
of his prophetic life
and that is what is known as the night ascension.
The story goes that one night he was sleeping near the Ka'aba
and he was woken from sleep by Gabriel
who mounted him on a Buraq
a magical stead
and they flew from Mecca to Jerusalem.
And then he began an ascent.
Up through the seven heavens to the divine throne
at every stage of the heavens he meets various prophets of the past.
He meets Abraham, he meets Jesus, and John the Baptist.
He meets Moses
and finally he enters into the divine presence and there
the sources are silent because when you enter
into the presence of God you have gone beyond words.
And he receives from God, the highest form of knowledge and truth
and many injunctions of the religion itself including the final form
of the daily prayers Now all of this took place
in a time beyond time.
That's why some sources say that as the door was
swinging when he left, it was still swinging when he came back.
For later Muslims this also meant that the departure point
that is Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock, became also important.
Many Muslims say that there are three holy cities in Islam:
Mecca, and Medina, the City of the Prophet, and Jerusalem.
When he comes back somebody asks him
what have you been doing, he says I went to Jerusalem last night
and this man says, you went to Jerusalem last night?
Are you willing to say that publicly?
So they assemble this group and they tell him, describe for us
Jerusalem and he begins to describe it in very exact detail.
And they're shocked.
They don't what to make of this now.
The story of the Night Journey not only incited Muhammad's enemies.
It caused doubt even among some of his followers.
This is something that they hadn't really expected.
A journey that takes them a month to be made
in an evening and to come back.
What Abu Bakr says is listen
I believe that he's getting messages from God.
That is certainly more extraordinary than making a Night Journey to Jerusalem.
As Muhammad's relationship with the Meccans continued to deteriorate
his enemies decided that the time had come to eliminate him.
And they decide to get a youth from each clan.
They all come together and they're going to strike him with one blow together.
So, the blood is distributed amongst all the clans.
Under cover of darkness the assassins surrounded Muhammad's home.
Inside a covered figure lay asleep.
As dawn broke, they prepared to strike.
But Muhammad had been forewarned of the plot.
He asked his cousin Ali
whom he knew the Quraysh would not harm, to take his place.
By the time the assassins burst into his home
Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr had escaped into the desert.
With the Meccans in hot pursuit
they set out on a circuitous route to the oasis
settlement of Yathrib, 250 miles to the north.
For several months, Muhammad had been sending
his followers there for refuge.
Now, he was about to join them.
Yathrib was quite different from Mecca.
It was an agricultural settlement.
People grew dates and they had farms and there were a number
of clans and tribes living together in the settlement.
The settlement was engulfed in tribal warfare of the worst kind.
It was an example of where the whole
system in Arabia was beginning to break down.
One killing led to another and nobody could seem to find a solution.
Nobody, that is, until the clans of Yathrib
heard about the trustworthy Muhammad.
Hoping he could unify its warring factions
which included two major pagan tribes and their Jewish allies
a delegation from Yathrib had taken the dramatic step
of inviting Muhammad to move to their settlement.
The deal is that he will serve as their binding arbitrator
that is both sides to the conflict have agreed
already that they will accept the arbitration of Muhammad
whatever it would be.
The people of Yathrib vowed that they would take
the Muslims on board as honorary tribesmen, they would be their protectors.
Anyone who hurt the Muslims, they would retaliate.
And the Muslims agreed to do the same.
This move from your tribe
to join up with people who were of no kin
to you at all was absolutely unheard of.
Muhammad was really going off into the wilderness here
he was breaking every tie.
Doing something utterly shocking and novel.
When Prophet Muhammad was leaving he stood up on a hill
and he was looking on Mecca
and his tears were coming down out of his eyes.
And he talked to Mecca and he said God knows that I love you Mecca
so much, but it is your people who are chasing me out.
In Yathrib, Muhammad's followers anxiously awaited the Prophet's arrival.
Had the man they hoped would save them been able to save himself?
Had the Meccans captured or even killed him?
When Muhammad finally reached the outskirts of the city
his relieved followers rushed to greet him
with a song Muslims around the world still sing 1400 years later.
Oh the wise moon rose over us
from the valley of Wadan.
And we always do show gratefulness
where the call is to Allah.
Muhammad's arrival marked the beginning of a dramatic
new chapter in the history of Islam.
For the first time
he would be the leader of a sovereign community
based on Islamic law.
Yathrib would henceforth become known as Medina.
Muhammad arrives in Medina as
somebody who was escaping danger.
He's been invited there but he doesn't know what to expect...
So at each stage of his life, there's a new challenge
and obviously, new fears and new doubts.
And so, he started thinking in terms of policy.
In terms of strategy.
In terms of tactics.
And that's what ultimately made him into a statesman.
Because that's what statesmen do.
Now unlike Jesus, or the Buddha
who seem to have been purely spiritual leaders
with no temporal responsibilities whatever
MUHAMMAD found himself now head of state.
Having transferred the Muslim families
from MECCA to Medina.
He now had to make sure they could survive there.
The survival of the fledgling community depended on
its ability to defend itself against attacks from Mecca.
To respond to this possibility
Muhammad developed a novel political solution.
He essentially establishes a pact, an agreement
sometimes it's called the Constitution Of Medina.
Whether you were a Pagan or a Muslim
or a member of the Jewish tribes or any other tribes in Medina
you had to sign on to this pact.
And the pact established that
if there were ever an attack on Medina from the outside
all the inhabitants of the town of would be responsible
to defend the city.
This way, Muhammad really developed a revolutionary idea
which was transcend your tribal responsibilities
your petty particularism
and begin to think in larger terms, as a entire community.
Now this was a very fearful terrifying
time for Muslims but nevertheless
it was seen as a creative time when faith was at its strongest.
It's a creative act for Muslims to look back at the
Muslim community in Medina and try to apply the
ideals to their own society so that they can
reproduce something of the Prophet's original spirit.
I came here to this country and I came with a feeling that
I left back in my original country in Iraq many memories
many painful memories
one of them that my grandfather as well as
13 members of all my family
were persecuted and imprisoned by the dictator Saddam Hussein.
That reminds me of the agony and pain
many early immigrants went through when they came to Medina.
Like many other Muslims who have fled persecution in their native countries
Imam Hassan Qazwini, was drawn to America
by the promise of religious freedom and economic opportunity.
He emigrated to Dearborn Michigan
a community that boasts the highest
per capita concentration of Muslims in the United States
where people are almost as likely to speak Arabic as English.
Hijra, migration, it has a shining aspect for me.
As well as for the Prophet and his
companions who came with him from Mecca to Medina.
And that shining aspect was the freedom
religious freedom that they faced in Medina.
Muslims here in America, they feel they are more free in practicing
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