How the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Rose above Enmity and Insult
Published: January 13, 2017 • Updated: November 2, 2020
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.
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“His Character Was the Quran”
A Blessing in Disguise
A Difficult Decade in Mecca
Warn your nearest kinfolk and lower your wing tenderly over the believers who follow you. If they disobey you, say, ‘I bear no responsibility for your actions.’ Put your trust in the Almighty, the Merciful, who sees you when you stand up [for prayer] and sees your movements among the worshippers: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing [ash-Shu‘arâ’ (26): 214-220].
The disbelievers almost strike you down with their looks when they hear the Quran. They say, ‘He must be mad!’ [al-Qalam (68): 51]
The disbelievers think it strange that a prophet of their own people has come to warn them: they say, ‘He is just a lying sorcerer.’ [Sâd (38):4]
1. Let the Angels Respond
2. They are Misguided in their Insults
3. Praying for their Guidance and Recognizing Potential
4. Sparing Them Divine Punishment
5. Showing Mercy On the Worst Day of His Life
Your tribe has abused me much, and the worst was the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to ‘Abd Yalâyl b. ‘Abd Kulâl, and he did not respond to what I sought. I departed, overwhelmed with grief, and I could not relax until I found myself at a tree where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called out to me, saying, ‘Allah has heard your people’s saying to you and how they have replied, and Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The Angel of the Mountains greeted me and said, ‘O Muhammad, order what you wish, and if you like, I will let the two mountains fall upon them.’ I said, ‘No; rather, I hope that Allah will bring from their descendants people who will worship Allah alone without associating partners with Him.’
6. More Hope in a Tribe than its own Chief
7. Maintaining the Trusts of his Persecutors
8. Integrity in Desperation
The Legacy Continues in Madinah
We complained to Allah’s Messenger of the persecution inflicted on us while he was sitting in the shade of the Ka‘ba, leaning over his cloak. We said to him, ‘Would you seek help for us? Would you pray to Allah for us?’ He said, ‘Among the nations before you a believing man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that torture would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would remove his flesh from the bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By Allah, this religion will prevail in a way that a traveler from Sana, Yemen to Hadramaut, Yemen will fear none but Allah, and a sheep will not fear the attack of a wolf, but you people are hasty!’
This migration (hijra) marked a turning point in Muhammad’s fortunes and a new stage in the history of the Islamic movement. Islam took on a political form with the establishment of an Islamic community-state at Madinah. The importance of the hijra is reflected in its adoption as the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Madinah, Muhammad had the opportunity to implement God’s governance and message, for he was now the prophet-head of a religiopolitical community. He did this by establishing his leadership in Madinah, subduing Mecca, and consolidating Muslim rule over the remainder of Arabia through diplomatic and military means. Muhammad had come to Madinah as the arbiter or judge for the entire community, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
9. Refusal to Resort to Name Calling
10. God Loves Gentleness
11. Abuse Only Increases Him in Grace
12. Quraysh’s Scout
13. Maintain Your Promise
14. I will not Mutilate Him, Lest Allah Mutilate Me
15. Merciful Instincts
16. Feeding the Captives
17. Clothing the Captives
18. Lenience with the Ransom
19. Increased Freedom Opportunities
20. Introducing Prisoner Exchange
21. Keeping Captive Families Together
22. No Favor Forgotten
23. Averting War with Banu Qaynuqâ‘
24. They Just Don’t Know Any Better
25. Forgiving Treason
26. God Informed Him of an Assassination Attempt
27. Forgiving a Sorcerer
28. A Blessed Woman
29. An Attempted Coup
30. “Let them Cool Off”
31. “Ignore their Insults”
32. “Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?”
33. Raided in Hudaybiya Valley
Eighty men swooped down from Mecca upon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ from the mountain of Tan‘eem. They were armed and seeking to attack the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions by surprise. However, he ﷺ captured them and spared their lives [freeing them without ransom], and about this Allah revealed, ‘And it is He who withheld their hands from you and your hands from them within [the area of] Mecca after He caused you to overcome them.’ [al-Fath (48): 24]
34. Hosting the Insulting Ambassador
35. Eager for Peace
36. “These are your rights”
37. The Mother of His Companion
38. “Who Will Protect You from Me?”
39. A Powerful Prisoner
40. Sparing Quraysh Again
41. “Did You Check His Heart?!”
42. The Sword of Allah
43. Islam Does Away with the Past
44. Allah Loves those who Act Justly
Marching to Mecca: A Conquest Like No Other
45. Abu Jahl’s Partner
46. “Whoever Enters the Home of Abu Sufyân…”
47. “Today is the Day of Mercy”
48. Access Granted
49. A Changed Man
50. A Proud Heart Humbled
51. The One Who Mutilated His Uncle
52. The Assassin
53. A Promise of Security
54. Curing the Heart of a Racist
55. The Touch of Compassion
56. His Daughter’s Persecutor
57. The Son of Abu Lahab
58. The Son of Abu Jahl
59. A Change of Tune
A Flawless Finish
60. A Broken Chief
61. The Man from Yâ Seen
62. Hypocrites at Tabook
63. Ibn Salool’s Death
64. The Man Who Had the Prophet ﷺ Stoned in Tâ’if
65. A Christian Chief
66. The Woman Who Poisoned Him
67. Musaylama’s Delegates
68. The Father of Extremism
69. Help Him with His Debts
70. The Bedouin Who Suffocated Him
A Mercy Misunderstood
It is such a distortion of historical facts when some writers accuse Prophet Muhammad of cruelty…They forget that he spared no effort in eliminating the inherited desire for revenge between Arabs; despite the fact that revenge was highly esteemed in Arabia, like fencing was in Europe. They do not read the Quranic verse by which the Prophet broke the horrible habit of burying new-born girls alive. They never think of the pardon he granted to his worst enemies after the Conquest of Mecca. Neither do they consider the mercy he showed to many tribes during war. Do they not know that he never misused his power in fulfilling the desire for cruelty? If any of his Companions committed anything wrong, he would stop them and correct them. It is well known that he refused the opinion of his close Companion, Omar bin al-Khattab, on killing the prisoners of war. When the time came to punish Banu Quraydha, he left the judgment to Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh who used to be their ally and was well acquainted with rabbinic law. He also forgave Hamza’s killer and never refused any request for kindness and forgiveness.
It takes man out of the darkness of his weaknesses and elevates him to the light of ethical highness…Those who call Islam a barbarous religion are people who are deprived of consciousness because they close their eyes to the clear and lucid verses of the Quran and they do not study how the Quran eliminated the disgraceful acts that lasted for centuries.
1 Honorific symbol stating: “salutations and peace be upon him.”
2 Michael David. Bonner, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 16.
4 Michael H. Hart, The 100: A ranking of the most influential persons in history (New York: Hart Pub. Co., 1978), 21.
6 Attributed to Manuel II Palaiologos, a 14th century Byzantine emperor, but more recently quoted by Pope Benedict XVI, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhumane, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” Lecture of the Holy Father–Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 12 September 2006.
7 Throughout her writings, Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that many Muslims today understand from the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that imposing their religion on others is a requirement of their faith, and the moment he ﷺ fled to Madinah and “cobbled together a militia,” his true colors surfaced. See: Islam is a Religion of Violence, Foreign Policy, 9 November 2015.
8 See: Mustadrak al-Hâkim; Bâb at-Tafseer; Surat an-Nahl; Illâ Man Ukriha wa Qalbuhu Mutma’inn bil-Eemân
9 See: Sunan Ibn Mâjah (153) and Hilyat al-Awliyâ’ (472)
10 Ghazâli, Fiqh-us-Seerah: Understanding the Life of Prophet Muhammad, 117.
11 Ṣallābī, The Noble Life of the Prophet (peace be upon him),. 327.
12 Haleem, The Qurʻan: A New Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, 237.
13 Ghazâli, Fiqh-us-Seerah: Understanding the Life of Prophet Muhammad, 125.
14 Ibid, 121.
15 Ṣallâbi, The Noble Life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), .181.
16 Quraysh would call the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ insane, a sorcerer, a soothsayer, a fraud (plagiarizer), a mere poet, barren (unmanly), cursed by the gods, and other such insults.
17 Collected by Ahmad (9251) and Abu Dawud (4896), and al-Arna’oot deemed it hasan li-ghayrih (sound in light of its corroborating chains).
18 Collected by al-Bukhâri (334)
19 Collected by at-Tirmidhi (3683)
20 Collected by al-Bukhâri (133, 333)
21 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3059) and Muslim (1795)
22 Collected by Ibn Hishâm in as-Seera (2/70-72) and Ibn Sa‘d in at-Tabaqât al-Kubrâ (1/211-221)
23 Collected by al-Bukhâri (4131)
24 Collected by al-Bayhaqi in as-Sunan al-Kubrâ (12477), Ibn Katheer ibn al-Bidâya wan-Nihâya (3/218-219), and at-Tabari in Târeekh al-Umam wal-Mulook (2/372)
25 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3419) and Muslim (2009), and this is the wording of Ahmad (17627) about which al-Arna’oot said, “Its chain is authentic according to the criteria of [Imam] Muslim.”
26 Muḥammad Ibn Ismāʻīl Bukhārī and Muhammad Muhsin Khan. Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī: The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari: Arabic-English. (Riyadh-Saudi Arabia: Darussalam Pub. & Distr., 1997), Hadith 3612.
27 Zeitlin, The Historical Muhammad, 317.
28 Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path. Revised Third ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. pp. 8-9.
29 Collected by al-Bukhâri (856) and Muslim (4431)
30 Collected by al-Bukhâri (410, 6528)
31 Collected by Ibn Hibbân (288), al-Bayhaqi (11066) and al-Hâkim (6547) who said, “This hadith has an authentic chain, though they (al-Bukhâri and Muslim) did not collect it.” Al-Haythami said in Majma‘ az-Zawâ’id, “Ibn Mâjah collected a part of it, and it was narrated [entirely] by at-Tabarâni via narrators that are [all] trustworthy.”
32 Collected by Ibn Ibn Hishâm (1/616-617), as-Sâlihi ash-Shâmi in Subul al-Hudâ war-Rashâd (4/27), and as-Suhayli in ar-Rawd al-Unf (3/58)
33 See: at-Tâj al-Ikleel (3/353)
34 Collected by Muslim (1787)
35 Collected by al-Hâkim (3/318) and Ibn Hishâm (3/200)
36 Collected by Muslim (1763)
37 Collected by at-Tabarâni in al-Kabeer (977), and in as-Sagheer (409), and al-Haythami said in Majma‘ az-Zawâ’id (6/115), “Its chain is hasan (sound).”
38 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3482) and Muslim (2242)
39 This was also stated by Sa‘eed b. Jubayr, ‘Atâ’ b. Abi Rabâh, al-Hasan al-Basri, and Qatâdah. See: Tafseer Ibn Katheer (4/584).
40 See: as-Seera (2/475) by Ibn Katheer and at-Tabaqât al-Kubrâ (2/15) by Ibn Sa‘d.
41 Collected by al-Bukhâri (2846) and al-Bayhaqi in as-Sunan al-Kubrâ (18570)
42 Collected by al-Bayhaqi in Dalâ’il an-Nubuwwa (5/264)
43 See: at-Tabaqât (4/14) by Ibn Sa‘d
44 See: ‘Uyoon al-Athar (1/352) by Ibn Sayyid an-Nâs
45 Collected by Ahmad (2216), and al-Arna’oot said, “This chain of transmission is hasan.” In Majma‘ az-Zawâ’id (4/172), al-Haythami said, “It was collected by Ahmad from ‘Ali b. ‘Âsim who makes many mistakes, though Ahmad deemed him trustworthy.”
46 See: al-Bidâya wan-Nihâya (3/311) by Ibn Katheer
47 Collected by at-Tirmidhi (1566) who called it hasan-ghareeb, Ahmad (23546) and al-Arna’oot called it collectively hasan in light of its corroborating chains. It was also narrated by al-Hâkim (2334) who deemed it authentic according to the criteria of Muslim, and at-Tabarâni in al-Kabeer (4080), al-Bayhaqi in al-Kubrâ (18089), and al-Albâni deemed it authentic in Saheeh al-Jâmi’ (6412).
48 Collected by al-Hâkim (6193) who said, “This hadith has an authentic chain, though they (al-Bukhâri and Muslim) did not collect it.” It was also collected by Sa‘eed b. Mansoor in as-Sunan (2654).
49 Collected by al-Bukhâri (2970), Abu Dawud (2689), at-Tabarâni in al-Kabeer (1/302), and Ibn Atheer in Asad al-Ghâba (1/337)
50 Collected by Abu Dawud (3001)
51 See: as-Seera (2/48) by Ibn Hishâm with a sound mursal chain
52 Collected by al-Bukhâri (6530) and Muslim (1792)
53 Collected by Muslim (2599)
54 “Cursed were those who disbelieved among the Children of Israel by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed.” [al-Mâ’idah (5): 78]
55 The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has cursed ribâ (interest), its consumer, its payer, its [contract] documenter, its witnesses. They are all equal.” Collected by Muslim (1598)
56 The Prophet ﷺ invoked Allah to curse the likes of Safwân b. Umayya, Suhayl b. ‘Amr, and al-Hârith b. Hishâm, but desisted when Allah (swt) revealed, “You do not have any decision in the matter whether He will forgive them or punish them.” [Âl-‘Imrân (3): 128] Collected by al-Bukhâri (4283), et al.
57 In Sharh Muslim (6/167), Imam an-Nawawi explains that the secret behind the Messenger of Allah ﷺ reciting Surat al-Munâfiqoon (the Hypocrites) in particular during the Friday prayer is that it prompted them to repent before their window of opportunity closes, as the hypocrites would attend this congregation more than any other.
58 Collected by al-Bayhaqi in Dalâ’il an-Nubuwwa (3/147-149), Ibn Sa‘d in at-Tabaqât (4/200) and al-Haythami in Majma‘ az-Zawâ’id (8/286) who attributed it to at-Tabarâni. The best of these chains of transmission is a sound mursal report traceable to ‘Urwa and another mursal report attributed to Anas (ra). Thus, researchers have extensively debated these accounts, especially the details about ‘Umayr embracing Islam after Badr.
59 Collected by al-Bukhâri (5765) and Muslim (2189). In Fath al-Bâri, Ibn Hajar explains that Labeed sought forgiveness, and pleaded that he only did this out of need for the money, and so the Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not want to stir hostilities between the people, or did not want to stir a rumor that Muhammad kills his followers, since Labeed was among those tribes who feigned Islam.
60 See: al-Bidâya wan-Nihâya (4/159)
61 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3518) and Muslim (2584)
62 Collected by Ibn Hishâm (2/291)
63 See: as-Sayr al-Kabeer (2/591) by ash-Shaybâni
64 See: Tafseer al-Qurtubi; [al-Ahzâb (33): 37]
65 Collected by al-Bukhâri (60/281)
66 See: Tafseer Ibn ‘Âshoor; [al-Fath (48): 24]
67 Collected by al-Bukhâri (2731, 2732) and Muslim (4401-4409)
68 Collected by al-Bukhâri (2731, 2732) and Muslim (4401-4409)
69 Collected by Muslim (1641), Abu Dawud (3316), Ibn Hibbân (4859), ash-Shâfi‘i (1490), ad-Dâraqutni (37), al-Bayhaqi in as-Sunan al-Kubrâ (1845), and Abu Nu‘aym in Hilyat al-Awliyâ’ (8/651)
70 Collected by Muslim (2491)
71 In Fath al-Bâri (7/426), Ibn Hajar said, “When the Bedouin witnessed this great firmness, and recognized that something had come between him [and the Prophet ﷺ], it is as if he verified his truthfulness and became certain that he would not reach him. This is why he threw down the weapon and lowered his guard.”
72 Collected by al-Bukhâri (2910) and Muslim (843)
73 Collected by al-Hâkim (4322) who graded it authentic according to the criteria of al-Bukhâri and Muslim. Imam adh-Dhahabi agreed with him, and al-Albâni authenticated it in at-Ta‘leeqât al-Hisân (2872).
74 Collected by al-Bukhâri (4372) and Muslim (1764)
75 See: as-Seera (4/284-285) by Ibn Hishâm
76 Collected by al-Bukhâri (83/11) and Muslim (1/176-178)
77 Collected by al-Wâqidi (2/749)
78 Collected by Muslim (711)
79 Collected by al-Bukhâri (801) and Muslim (2194)
80 Collected by al-Bukhâri (1360) in Kitâb al-Janâ’iz
81 See: al-Isâbah fee Ta‘reef as-Sahâba (4/12)
82 See: al-Bidâya wan-Nihâya (2/540)
83 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3817), Abu Dawud (2262), and an-Nasâ’i (8635)
84 Dr. Râgheb Sergani comments, “Look at this virtue, this greatness! A person cannot wrap his head around what just happened until he puts himself in this situation. Let us be honest with ourselves, and the world with itself; would anyone ever do this but the Messenger of Allah ﷺ? Are there still people claiming that Muslims do not acknowledge ‘the other,’ and do not understand coexistence? Is Islam still the religion of terror and savagery in people’s minds? Our real crisis is knowledge; once someone bypasses the superficial acquaintance with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ – he/she realizes how empty theory is in the presence of facts.” Adapted from “The Prophet’s Tolerance with His Enemies,” an article on www.islamstory.com
85 See: as-Seera (4/1072) by Ibn Hishâm
86 Collected by al-Bukhâri (40300 and al-Bayhaqi in as-Sunan al-Kubrâ (18058)
87 See: Fath al-Bâri (8/9)
88 See: as-Seera (2/411) by Ibn Hishâm, Zâd al-Mi‘âd (3/356) by Ibn al-Qayyim, ar-Rawd al-Unf (4/170) by as-Suhayli, and as-Seera (3/570), and Fath al-Bâri (8/18) by Ibn Hajar
89 Collected by Muslim (4395)
90 See: Tafseer at-Tabari (8/491-492) and Tafseer Ibn Katheer (2/340)
91 See: Asad al-Ghâba by Ibn Atheer, al-Isâbah by Ibn Hajar, and Fath al-Bâri also by Ibn Hajar
92 Collected by Muslim (2313)
93 Collected by al-Bukhâri (6150, 6628) and Muslim (3234)
94 See: as-Seera al-Halabiyya (1/461)
95 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3844, 4072), Ahmad (16077), and al-Bayhaqi in Dalâ’il an-Nubuwwa (3/241)
96 See: at-Tabaqât (3/573) by Ibn Sa‘d
97 Collected by Abu Dawud (4359) and Ibn Sa‘d in at-Tabaqât (339-448)
98 See: ar-Rawd al-Unf (7/239)
99 See: ar-Rawd al-Unf (7/114)
100 Collected by al-Hâkim (2812), and see: Fath al-Bâri (8/11)
101 Collected by al-Hâkim (5103)
102 Adapted from Muhammad:A Very Short Introduction, (pp. 41, 56) by Jonathan A.C. Brown, Oxford University Press, 2011. Also, see: Seerat Ibn Hishâm (3/502-512), Zâd al-Mi‘âd (3/455) by Ibn al-Qayyim, and Majma‘ az-Zawâ’id (3/407) by al-Haythami, who said therein about at-Tabarâni’s chain, “Its narrators until Ibn Ishaq are trustworthy.”
103 Collected by at-Tabari in Târeekh al-Umam wal-Mulook (2/174)
104 See: al-Wâqidi (3/960-961)
105 “They swear by Allah that they did not say [anything against the Prophet] while they had said the word of disbelief and disbelieved after their [pretense of] Islam and planned that which they were not to attain. And they were not resentful except [for the fact] that Allah and His Messenger had enriched them of His bounty. So if they repent, it is better for them; but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And there will not be for them on earth any protector or helper” [at-Tawbah (9) 74].
106 Collected by Muslim (2779)
107 Collected by al-Bukhâri (1269) and Muslim (2774)
108 Cited in Fath al-Bâri (8/336)
109 Narrated by Ibn Atheer in Asad al-Ghâba (3/504) and adh-Dhahabi in Târeekh al-Islâm (1/354)
110 Collected by Ahmad (19397) and al-Arna’oot graded this chain as sound.
111 Collected by al-Bukhâri (2617) and Muslim (2190); other narrations clarify that he ﷺ initially forgave her for what she did to him, but then handed her fate to the family of Bishr b. al-Barâ’ (ra) who died from her poison, which made them entitled to legal retribution.
112 Collected by Abu Dawud (2761)
113 See: The Enigma of Islam; the Two Faces of Muhammad, a “Renew America” article by Fred Hutchison, 30 June 2006.
114 Collected by Muslim (644)
115 Collected by Abu Dawud (2663) and Ahmad (17158)
116 Collected by al-Bukhâri (73/85) and Muslim (1064)
117 Collected by al-Bukhâri (578) and Muslim (3898)
118 Collected by al-Bukhâri (3149) and Muslim (1057)
119 See: Fath al-Bâri (10/506) by Ibn Hajar and Sharh Muslim (7/147) by an-Nawawi
120 The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not wish to meet the enemy [at war], but when you meet them, stand firm.” Collected by al-Bukhâri (2863)
121 See: ar-Rawd al-Unf (6/30)
122 Louis Sédillot (d. 1875), Histoire des Arabes (Brief History of the Arabs), pp. 63-64 – published 1854