The Ka‘ba had been partly ruined by rain and resultant floods. The Quraysh restored it; the moment came when the Black Stone had to be put back in its place. It would be an honor for the individual or clan who did that since the Black Stone was revered for its sanctity. A conflict was about to ensue between the clans, anxious to acquire that honor, when one of the disputants suggested that they should refer the matter to the arbitration of whoever first would appear at the Ka‘ba. To everyone’s relief, the first to appear was Muhammad. They shouted in unison:
– The Trustworthy One is coming!
They explained the problem to Muhammad, who was not yet a Prophet, but surely being prepared by God for his future mission. He asked them to fetch a piece of cloth, which he spread on the ground. Putting the Black Stone on it, he told the chiefs of the clans to each take a corner of the cloth. In this way they raised the Stone to the required height. Then, the future Messenger of God, upon him be peace and blessings, took it himself and put it in its place. Thanks to his wisdom, the danger of a war between the clans was averted.2
God’s Messenger was unique in his ability to assess the spiritual and mental capacities of those he was to address. He also understood very well how best to speak to a particular individual at a particular time and under particular circumstances, without having recourse to immoral devices like flattery or falsehoods. On an occasion, a man named Husayn, renowned for his persuasive rhetoric, came to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, hoping to dissuade him from his mission. God’s Messenger listened carefully to his argument and after Husayn had finished his speech, the following dialogue ensued between them:
– O Husayn, how many deities do you worship?
– Eight, one in the heavens and the others on earth.
– Which one of them do you call upon when a misfortune befalls you?
– Upon the one in the heavens.
– Which do you call when your goods are gone?
– Upon the one in the heavens.
God’s Messenger asked several more questions of the same fashion and, on receiving the same answer each time, concluded:
The One – according to you – in the heavens alone answers your calls but you still associate partners with Him. Is this not what I have been preaching? There is no deity but God. So, become a Muslim and be saved!3
This apparently simple argument was enough to defeat Husayn, who was left, according to his own reasoning, no alternative but to accept Islam or stubbornly persist in unbelief on no better grounds than to please the caprices of his own selfhood or yield to the pressures of his environment.
A Bedouin is often called ‘a man of the desert’, a way of life to which certain experiences are peculiar. For example, it happens many times that he will lose a camel, or forget where he has placed things, or be caught in a storm. However many deities he worships in his daily life, he will do nothing other than pray to God, the One, the Unique Creator of the universe, and Powerful over all things, for help and rescue. Or his inner sense and sound conscience will speak the truth to him under the enchanting sky of the desert or in the darkness, and he will then acknowledge the Oneness of God, as Hamza, the uncle of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace, did with the words:
O Muhammad! I have perceived in the darkness of the desert night, that God is so great that He cannot be restricted within four walls!4
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, had the extraordinary ability of knowing the mood of every individual and accordingly taking him ‘by the soul’. For example, it is reported from Abu Tamima by Ahmad ibn Hanbal that a Bedouin came to God’s Messenger one day and asked:
– Are you Muhammad?
– Yes, I am Muhammad, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, answered gently.
The Bedouin asked again: ‘What do you invite people to?’
The Messenger replied as follows:
I invite people to God, the All-Majestic. I invite them to Him alone, without associating any partners with Him. He is God whom you call upon when a misfortune befalls you and He who removes it from you. It is to Him alone that you pray in the time of drought and famine and He sends rain and causes the grass to grow. It is also Him you entreat when you lose something in the vast desert and He causes you to find it.
These simple words, accurate and straight to the point, were enough for the Bedouin to awake to the truth, and he made the oath of allegiance to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace.5
Who, other than the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, has ever been able to form a community of the virtuous out of people with hardened hearts. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, employed the dynamics granted to him by God, the All-Mighty, in so effective a way that historians and sociologists have since been unable to fully grasp the revolution he achieved in all its many dimensions. That revolution was such that the waves it made have swept through the ages and continue to attract people from all over the world, in increasing numbers, into the peaceful ‘ocean’ of Islam.
The Master of the Prophets solved problems, as Bernard Shaw pointed out, as easily as one drinks coffee. Even in the face of the most unexpected emergencies which would drive into panic even men of the greatest wit and sagacity, he never lost his calmness and solved the problem in the best way possible. His every deed, his every decision, his every word, proved him a man of exact balance, who never blundered.
With the conquest of Makka, many former enemies of Islam accepted belief. After years of enmity and battle, it was naturally difficult for them to acquire sincerity of belief at the very outset of their conversion. So, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in order to ‘reconcile their hearts’ and enable them to become committed more fully and sincerely to Islam, preferred them over the others in the distribution of the spoils of war following the Battle of Hunayn, which took place shortly after the conquest of Makka.
The spoils consisted of 24,000 camels, 40,000 sheep and goats and 10,000 pounds of gold and silver. God’s Messenger gave Abu Sufyan and his family 300 camels and 250 pounds of gold and silver, 200 camels to Hakim ibn Hizam, and 100 camels each to Nusayr ibn al-Harith, Qays ibn Asiyy, Safwan ibn Umayya, Malik ibn Awf, Akra ibn Habis and ‘Uyayna ibn Hisn. By doing this, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, also repaired the wounded pride of the Makkan chiefs.
Some of the younger Muslims among the Helpers (the Ansar of Madina), however devoted to God’s Messenger and the cause of Islam they were, were upset at the distribution, not because of attachment to worldly things but because those Makkan chiefs had once been the most bitter enemies of Islam and had inflicted severe blows upon them in the previous battles. This upset might have caused the beginning of a movement of dissent among the Muslims. When informed of the situation by Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubada, who was one of the two leaders of the Helpers, God’s Messenger ordered that the Helpers should come together in a certain place where he would address them. When they were assembled, he began his address to them in a dramatic way to attract and hold their attention and to impress their souls. He said:
O Community of the Helpers! I have heard that you are displeased with me.
Following this striking opening, he continued in that powerful impressive style, reminding the Helpers of God’s blessings upon them through him. He said:
Were you not in misguidance when I came to you? And has God not guided you to the truth through me?
Were you not in poverty when I came to you? And has God not enriched you through me?
Were you not in internal conflicts when I came to you? And has God not reconciled you through me?
The Helpers gave the same unanimous answer to each question of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings:
– True, O God’s Messenger! We are indebted to God and His Messenger!
After reminding them of God’s infinite blessings upon them through him, God’s Messenger recounted the services of the Helpers to Islam, saying:
O Community of the Helpers! If you had desired, you could have answered me differently and said:
Your people denied you but we believed in you; you came to us left alone to yourself, but we admitted you and protected you. Your people exiled you but we embraced you. You came to us with nothing to subsist on, and we met all your needs. If you had responded to me so, you would have told the truth and no one would have stood up to contradict you.
O Community of the Helpers! If you were upset when I gave some worldly goods to those whom I desired to become Muslims, do you not wish to return home with God’s Messenger while the others are returning with camels and sheep? I swear by God, in Whose Hand of Power is my soul, that if all other people took a different direction from that of the Helpers, I would go, without hesitation, along with the Helpers. Had it not been for the Emigration, I wished so much I had been one from the Helpers! O God, protect the Helpers and their descendants!
These words were enough for the Helpers to burst into tears, and all of them responded with one voice, saying:
– We are content with God and His Messenger. We desire nothing else.6
Although uttered extempore, this speech, besides nipping in the bud a possible dissenting movement, re-conquered the hearts of the Helpers, may God be pleased with them all. It will be worthwhile briefly to analyze this in order to understand its sagacity.
- First of all, this speech was made to the Helpers separately from the Emigrants. Since the ones who felt offended by the Prophet’s distribution of the war spoils were from the Helpers. God’s Messenger excluded the Emigrants to enable him to deliver a more precise and direct speech and to get the addressees to concentrate more on what he would say. By excluding the Emigrants, God’s Messenger honoured the Helpers specifically and exerted a psychological influence upon them from the outset.
- A further merit of this decision is that some of his statements, such as ‘while the others are returning with sheep and camels’, might have hurt the feelings of Makkans. Similarly, his praise of the Helpers and prayer for them exclusively might have hurt the feelings of the Emigrants, who had left their families and native land for the sake of God’s Messenger.
- Second, the speech, when considered in its Arabic original, is extraordinary for the eloquence of its rhetoric.
- Third, it is worth repeating that God’s Messenger had won the attention of his listeners after the dramatic opening and then, by continuing to speak to them and for them, he succeeded in keeping them in rapt attention.
- Fourth, God’s Messenger did not resort to flattery or a diplomatic mode of statement. Rather, he spoke in plain sincerity, which was vital in securing the desired influence upon the listeners.
- Fifth, the extempore nature of the speech was also significant in obtaining the desired result. The freshness and force of such an unprepared address, on such occasions, is often more affecting than prepared words.
Those few examples I have cited to illustrate the intellect of God’s Messenger demonstrate that he did not speak or act of himself; rather, what he said and did carried the charge or force of one fulfilling a Divine mission.
2. Ibn Hanbal, 3.425; Ibn Hisham, Sira, 1.209.
3. I. Hajar, al-Isaba, 1.337.
4. Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’, 1.147.
5. I. Hanbal, 4.65; 5.64.
6. Bukhari, “Manaqib al-Ansar,” 1,2; Muslim, “Zakat,” 132–41.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.