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The Harsh Testing of Muslims in the Meccan Period

The Harsh Testing of Muslims in the Meccan Period

The revelation to our Prophet (pbuh) took a full 23 years. During the first 13 years of this, Muslims lived as a minority in the pagan society of Mecca and were subjected to tremendous pressures. Many Muslims were subjected to physical torture, some were martyred, the homes and possessions of most were looted and they were constantly exposed to threats and insults. Yet Muslims continued living without resorting to violence, merely keeping their distance from the pagans and always calling them to the path of peace.

Yet the aggression of the pagan communities in question was unrelenting.

The Quraysh initially seemed to regard the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) as unimportan, in their own minds. At first, while continuing not to believe, they made no protest against the Prophet’s (pbuh) call so long as he said nothing against their idols. Then, gradually when they saw the Prophet (pbuh), they attacked him verbally. They unwisely mocked and belittled Muslims. The Quraysh’s “verbal assault” period began in that way.

The Qur’an describes the position in these words:

Those who did evil used to laugh at those who had faith. When they passed by them, they would wink at one another. When they returned to their families, they would make a joke of them. When they saw them, they would say, “Those people are misguided.” (Qur’an, 83:29-32)

Mecca was the centre of idolatry. Mecca would fill to overflowing every day with people coming to visit the Ka’aba and the idols around it, thus earning the Quraysh a good deal of money and prestige. The Quraysh regarded the spread of Islam in Mecca as a threat, because they thought that this would act against their own interests and also attract the hostility of other tribes. They also knew that Islam regarded everyone as equal and made no discrimination on grounds of lineage or wealth. Leading members of the Quraysh therefore believed they needed to take precautions to stop the spread of Islam. These “precautions” frequently included the torture and even the killing of Muslims. (Ibn Hisham, 1/287)

The pagans of the time could not do much harm to members of strong and eminent families, such as Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Uthman but they viciously mistreated poor and unprotected Muslims. Worthy Muslims exposed to such severe mistreatment included Abu Fakih, Khabbab ibn al-Aratt, Bilal ibn Rabah, Suhaib ar-Rumi, Ammar ibn Yasir, Yasir ibn Amir and Sumayyah bint Khayyat.

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This mistreatment of Muslims took place simply because they had faith and preached Islam to others. Despite all that oppression, torture and violence, Muslims never harmed those who were harming them, which is one of the requirements of Islam, and never tried to defend themselves, which is their most basic human right. Seeing that the Muslims were not fighting back, the Quraysh stepped up their aggression and tortures. The Quraysh in question were now martyring Muslims the moment they saw them.

As the persecution worsened, the Muslims, who did not respond to it in any way and did not even defend themselves since the Qur’an prohibits the shedding of blood, found themselves unable to remain in Mecca any longer. That meant they had to migrate to Medina.

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