Second Journey to Damascus

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He had reached the age of twenty five. One day his uncle Abu Talib took him to one side and said: “O dear son of my brother, my nephew! You know that I am a man with no possessions or money. Day by day our difficulties increase along with problems that are most distressing. We have nothing left, we have no trade.”

It was clear that a suggestion would follow these words since they had been chosen very carefully.

When speaking, Abu Talib had the countenance of a man who was fearful of taking a wrong step. It seemed he was on the verge of a very important decision.

“I have heard that the tribe has organized a caravan bound for Damascus. The daughter of Khuwaylid, Khadija, is looking for a trustworthy man with whom she can be partners in trade and whom she can send on this caravan. Although I do not like the idea of sending you to Damascus due to the jealous religious scholars whom we have already been warned about, and whom I fear may harm you, I am desperate. Go to her, I think she will choose you to head her business due to her trust for you and your pure and clean nature.”

It was easy said than done. This wasn’t to be left to chance. This is where our noble Prophet’s aunt Atiqa intervened and said that someone who was the embodiment of morals and good manners should not be put in a situation where he was offering himself. Allah’s Messenger’s aunt Atiqa was married to Awwam ibn Khuwaylid, who was the brother of Khadija bint Khuwaylid, and father of Zubayr ibn Awwam. She was speaking as someone who knew both sides and she wanted to facilitate the business.

The reality was that the bulk of the work fell upon the shoulders of Abu Talib. But first they had to get the consent of Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him. This proved not to be too difficult, to the faces that awaited an answer, the Messenger of Allah said: “Let it be as you wish,” with a very positive attitude.

When he got his nephews consent, Abu Talib went straight to Khadija. He felt he needed to speak about his nephew to Khadija himself, for Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was the most trustworthy and most qualified man in Mecca. Thus, when doing business with him this had to be taken into account and his wages had to be arranged accordingly. He knew how much money Khadija gave for such a job and he was going to ask for twice the amount.

Soon, Abu Talib had a meeting with Khadija. After the usual introductions and preambles of conversation, he started talking about the caravan and spoke of the virtues of his nephew Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him. “Muhammad the Trustworthy,” this name was not unfamiliar to Khadija. This was a name that was always on the lips of her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal. Since her childhood, his news had been whispered in her ear; when interpreting the dreams that she had, they had always looked for his trace.

What a great blessing this was, she had been looking for him and waiting for him and there he was, within reach. Khadija was really excited.

She felt that she had gained the best prize already, even before her caravan set off for Damascus. She was about to engage in the most beneficial and auspicious business deal she would ever make in her whole life. While she was lost in contemplation, she was brought back to reality with the voice of Abu Talib: “O Khadija! I heard that you will pay the price of two camels for this job; my nephew Muhammad is the most trustworthy of men, so I will ask for twice as much for him.”

For a while she considered this offer. How could she bargain for such an auspicious business, especially at a moment when worldly happiness had opened their gates? What importance did camels hold? Right after Abu Talib finished his words, she said the following: “O Abu Talib! In truth you ask for a price that is easy and to my liking. Had you asked for many times more than this, I would still have accepted and would have given it to him without hesitation. I would have been ready to do this for someone whom I did not love, who was distant to me; but you ask it for someone whom I love very much and to whom I feel very close!”

Now that they had come to an agreement about the price, there were no obstacles left for the caravan to start its journey. Abu Talib, in his position as uncle, was reminding her of the words of priest Bahira whom they had met on their last trip to Damascus, expressing his worry that he did not want to lose his nephew in an attempt to maintain worldly needs.

Then the day came, the Messenger of Allah and the caravan set off from Mecca. One aspect of the journey was attracting attention. A man called Maysara was watching every step of Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him, never letting him out of his sight. This was a journey that would take three months. The travelers got to know each other throughout the process and people had had the chance to get to know the Messenger of Allah.

 

Kesmez, Umit. “The Luminous Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” Tughra Books Press. December 2014.