‘Otba’s Conversation with the Prophet (PBUH)
When the disbelievers of Makkah noticed that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was not ready to give up propagating Islam, they decided to buy him with a lucrative offer, or frighten him with a threat, hoping that one such tactic would make him yield. ‘Otba, a famous chief of Makkah, offered to meet him for this purpose. He visited him and thus spoke: “My nephew Muhammad! If you intend to collect wealth this way, we will ourselves amass for you so much wealth that you will become very rich. If you wish to achieve respect and prestige, we will take you as our chief. If you, however, want to be a ruler, we will appoint you the king of Arabia. We are ready to fulfill any of your demands, but do give up this practice of yours. Or, if you feel that you have developed a mental ailment, tell us so that we arrange for your treatment.”
The Prophet (PBUH) patiently replied, “Whatever you said about me is untrue. I don’t want to achieve wealth, honor, or sovereignty, nor do I suffer from any mental ailment. You will understand my position better with the help of the following verses from the Qur`an:
“Ha-Mim [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur`an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings].
A revelation from (Allah), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. A Book whereof the verses are explained in detail – a Qur`an in Arabic for people who know.
- Giving glad tidings [of Paradise to one who believes in the Oneness of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) and fears Allah much (abstains from all kinds of sins and evil deeds) and loves Allah much (performing all kinds of good deeds which he has ordained)], and warning (of punishment in hell-fire to the one who disbelieves in the Oneness of Allah), but most of them turn away, so they hear not. And they say: ‘Our hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite us; and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a screen: so work you (on your way); verily, we are working (on our way).’” [Ha-Mim Sajda: 1-5]
‘Otba was enraptured by listening to the verses of the Qur`an. Reclining on his hands while his head was tilted backward, he listened to the verses and at the end rose silently and left the place. When he returned to his people, he was a different person. The chiefs of the Quraysh noticed the change from his facial expression and told one another, “Look, ‘Otba looks different.” They, nevertheless, inquired him as to what he saw, said, and heard. ‘Otba replied, “O people of Quraysh! I heard from Muhammad such words that are neither soothsaying, nor poetic composition, nor words of charm. If you like, take my advice. Leave Muhammad (pbuh) alone.” By hearing ‘Otba’s suggestion, they commented in disappointment that the words of Muhammad (PBUH) had influenced even ‘Otba. Conversation Between the Chiefs of the Quraysh and the Prophet (PBUH)
When ‘Otba’s mission failed, the chiefs of the Quraysh decided that they should call the Prophet (PBUH) and try to make him see what problems his preaching had caused to them. They, thus, sent word to him that they wanted to talk to him about an important issue and were gathered in the K’aba for that purpose. As the Prophet (PBUH) was very eager to see that his tribesmen accepted Islam, he happily went there. When he took a seat, they began the talk this way:
“O Muhammad! We have called you here to talk to you. By God, we don’t know if anyone else has created so much difficulties for his community as you have done. There is no trouble imaginable that you have not brought upon us. Now we wish to know that if you want to earn wealth through this new religion of yours, we will accumulate wealth for you, so much of it that none among us has that much. Or if you want to attain honor and prestige, we will take you as our leader. Or if you wish to become the ruler of a state, we will crown you as our king. In case you feel that you see a Jinn which has possessed you, we will spend money to get the help of professionals so that you are cured, or we will understand that you are helpless in this matter.”
As-Seerul Halabiya, 1, 486-487, Musannif Ibn Abi Shayba 14: 295, As-Seeratun Nabawiya lil Zahabi, 91-92.
The Prophet (PBUH) replied:
“Whatever you said has nothing to do with me. I do not wish to attain wealth, or honor, or kingdom through the message that I have brought to you. The fact is that Allah has sent me to you as His messenger. He has revealed the Book to me and has appointed me as a bearer of glad tidings as well as of warning. I have conveyed my Lord’s message to you and have explained it to you clearly. If you accept my teachings, they will be a treasure for you for the world as well as the hereafter. But if you refuse, I will wait for His command and see what He ordains for you.” The Quraysh commented:
“Well, Muhammad, if you do not accept our proposal, do one thing then. You know it well how much hardships we are facing in life: water is scarce and resources of sustenance are limited. You pray to your God that He removes the mountains away so that we have a wide space around our city. Also, He should make such canals flow for us that flow in Iraq and Shaam (Syria). He should also bring to life our ancestors, including Qusay bin Kilaab, as he was our leader and used to tell the truth. We will ask him about you. If he testifies for you, and also you fulfill our other demands, we will know that you have a position before God and that your claim of prophethood is true.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied:
“I have not been sent for these things. I have been entrusted with messengership to convey God’s message, which I have done. If you accept it, it will be a treasure for you in the world and the hereafter. But if you turn it down, I will wait for His command. Whatever He likes to decide about you and me, He will decide.” The Quraysh then added:
“If you do not do anything for us, you should ask your God for yourself that He sends down an angel to accompany you who testifies to your truthfulness and forbids us from opposing you. You could also ask your God that gardens grow and large castles are built for you, and that wealth in the form of gold and silver is provided to you, which you are actually in need of. At present you go to the market to earn for your living. If these things happen, we will acknowledge them as signs of your honorable status in front of Allah.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied to them:
“I will not do so. I will not ask God to grant me such things. I have not been sent for such things. Allah has appointed me a bearer of glad tidings and warner of punishment. If you accept the message, it will be a treasure for you in both worlds. Otherwise, I will observe patience and wait for God’s decree.”
The Quraysh said: “Well, then bring down upon us a part of the sky because you claim that God could do so. Until you do so, we will not believe in you.”
The Prophet (PBUH) commented: “It is in the power of God. He could do so if He wishes.” The Quraysh inquired:
“Muhammad! Did your God not inform you in advance that we would call you and ask these questions and put these demands? He did not teach you the answers to our questions either, nor did he tell you what He plans to do in the future. As He did not do these things, we think that it is true that a person from Yamama bearing the name Rahman teaches you such things. We will never bear faith in Rahman. See, today we have clearly told you all about our reservations. Now we are also telling you on oath that we will in no condition permit you to preach your faith until we all perish or you meet your death.”
The talk had come up to this point when one of them blurted: “We worship angels who are the daughters of God.” The other joined him by saying, “We will not believe in your words until God and angels appear in front of us.”
Hearing these words, the Prophet (pbuh) stood up. With him also stood up ‘Abdullah bin Mugheera, son of his paternal aunt ‘Aatika bint ‘Abdul Muttalib, and thus spoke: “See Muhammad, your people asked you for certain things, but you did not oblige them. Then they asked you to demonstrate such signs that might attest to your honorable [divine] status, which you did not do either. At the end they asked you to bring on them some divine punishment with which you used to threaten them, but you did not acquiesce even in that. Now I will never believe in you even if you climb the sky by a ladder and come down in front of me. Even if four angels accompany you from the sky and attest to your truthfulness, I will not bear faith in you.” (As-Seeratul Halabiya, 1: 496 )
In spite of such a strong refutation, the Prophet (PBUH) continued to preach Islam to the Quraysh and tell them that his teachings included all good for them. The wise persons who accepted Islam and followed the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) realized by witnessing later developments that in fact the Quraysh were virtually given all the facilities they had asked for only a few years later.
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