They had tried everything till that day and yet had had no success. It was clear that in this war, it was not enough to respond to the Word with words in order to defeat the Muslims. They had to resort to other means. Brute force was something that those who were defeated by way of argument would only resort to, and this was what the Meccans of that time had to resort to as well.
There had been separate incidents in which brute force had already been used by the Meccans; Uthman had been locked in a cellar wrapped in straws by his uncle, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas had been emotionally blackmailed by his mother to recant his faith, Mus’ab ibn Umayr had been locked up and beaten by his mother, left without food and water for days and then banished from his home and from his inheritance, and then there was of course the torture that Umayya ibn Khalaf and Abu Jahl had subjected Bilal al-Habashi to.
Now Mecca was coming unto the Muslims in a more planned way. They were firstly targeting the weak, people who could not resist them because they had no one to back them up. They had made their plan. The head of each tribe would locate such people in their own tribe, and would subject them to torture till they would recant their belief. Especially when Abu Jahl heard someone say ‘There is no deity but Allah’ he would run there and especially if this was a person with no family or friends, he would torture him or her in order to make him or her recant. As a result of Abu Jahl’s vigilance and tortures, Suhayb ibn Sinan had lost his memory and had started speaking nonsense.
They had tied iron shackles to Abu Fuqayha’s feet, they would bring him out to the desert during the hottest hours and would place rocks on him, and he would groan under this load till the evening. He too had lost his memory and reason due to these tortures.
There were burn marks on the body of Habbab ibn Arat, his master was torturing him so that she may recant, and whenever he approached him he was pressing hot metals unto Habbab’s body. One day they got hold of Habbab from his hair and then squeezing his throat, they placed him on the fire of the shop; they were thinking they were “teaching him a lesson.” It was an unbearable sight; they were holding him there for so long that the fluid from his body would quench some of the fire and so she found some respite.
A female slave named Zinnirah who faced the same tortures lost one eye, the female slave of the sons of Zuhra Umm Ubays would groan with pain under the lashes of Aswad ibn Abi Yaghus.
The female slave of Umar, who had not yet become Muslim, had her share of the torture, and she would be beaten till he master got tired. When he paused in his torment he would say: “Had I not got tired, I would have shown you!”
“Tomorrow, your Lord will do the same to you,” she would say to the son of Al-Khattab, but her words would be of no avail on that day.
Two slaves, mother and daughter, serving the sons of Abduddar had both been tortured; the mother had lost consciousness to the degree that she did not know what she was speaking. In this difficult time it was again Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who ran to the rescue of the weak; he would buy these slaves from their masters and give them their freedom. Father Abu Quhafa who witnessed his attitude said: “I see that you are buying the weak and the unfortunate and giving them their freedom. Why don’t you choose the stronger ones among the slaves, at least then they can help and support you.” But he would say: “My only aim is to win the pleasure of Allah.” Thus bolting the doors against a sense of worldly benefit to himself.
The verses, which came not long after, verified how right Abu Bakr was in his choice, and pointed to him as the example of the way in which one could reach the horizon of Allah’s contentment.
Ammar ibn Yasir who became Muslim with his mother and father was the slave of Bai Mahzum. The leading men of the tribe, headed by Abu Jahl, would take him out to the field on the hottest hours of the day and they would torture him till they themselves were tired out. One day the Messenger of Allah saw this scene and said: “A little more patience, O family of Yasir, undoubtedly Paradise will be your resting place.”
Indeed, the old father Yasir had walked to Paradise during these tortures. The old and weak mother Sumayya had desisted and not denied her Lord, and not said a word against the Messenger of Allah and had become the target of Abu Jahl’s spear and become a martyr, the first in Islam.
The worst thing of the matter was that all this was happening right in front of Ammar. The hot stones were being placed on and off from her body. Ammar had been subjected to such great physical and mental oppression that he too lost consciousness.
“Unless you blaspheme against Muhammad, and speak good graces about Lat and Uzza, we will not let you go,” he was warned.
He was let go when he pronounced the names of Lat and Uzza.
It was true that Ammar had been set free, but he was feeling the greatest remorse of his life, for he had pronounced the names of false gods instead of Allah and His Messenger whom he loved and held dear above everything else. He was exhausted. He came to the presence of the Prophet having been defeated. He was too ashamed to look at the Pride of Humanity in the face. Before long one could see the traces of the coming revelation on the Messenger of Allah. The Truthful Gabriel had come with the verse:
Whoever disbelieves in Allah after having believed—not him who is under duress, while his heart is firm in and content with faith, but the one who willingly opens up his heart to unbelief—upon them falls Allah’s anger (His condemnation of them), and for them is a mighty punishment. (an-Nahl 16:106)
This meant that those who were subjected to violence were not to be held responsible for the things their tongues had said but which that their hearts had not approved. Ammar breathed a sigh of relief; he had found peace in the presence of the Messenger and had almost forgotten all his pains and loss.
Kesmez, Umit. “The Luminous Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” Tughra Books Press. December 2014.
- February 21, 2014
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