By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
27 March, 2015
In the previous part, we covered the oft repeated stories of the Prophets Noah, Hud, Salih, Shoaib, Lut and Moses (pbut) in the MeccanSurahs and their relevance as a warning to the people of Mecca, who were active in their opposition to Muhammad (pbuh).
Let us draw some important lessons from the end that came to the people of the previous prophets. The following is from Surah Hud number 52 in chronological order and a Meccan Surah.
From the Story of Noah
(11:36) It was revealed to Noah: "None of thy people will believe except those who have believed already! So grieve no longer over their (evil) deeds.
(37) "But construct an Ark under Our eyes and Our inspiration, and address Me no (further) on behalf of those who are in sin: for they are about to be overwhelmed (in the Flood)."
(38) Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the chiefs of his people passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. He said: "If ye ridicule us now, we (in our turn) can look down on you with ridicule likewise!
(39) "But soon will ye know who it is on whom will descend a penalty that will cover them with shame,- on whom will be unloosed a penalty lasting:"
(40) At length, behold! there came Our command, and the fountains of the earth gushed forth! We said: "Embark therein, of each kind two, male and female, and your family - except those against whom the word has already gone forth,- and the Believers." but only a few believed with him.
(41) So he said: "Embark ye on the Ark, In the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!"
(42) So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): "O my son! embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!"
(43) The son replied: "I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water." Noah said: "This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy! "And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood.
(44) Then the word went forth: "O earth! swallow up thy water, and O sky! Withhold (thy rain)!" and the water abated, and the matter was ended. The Ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: "Away with those who do wrong!"
(45) And Noah called upon his Lord, and said: "O my Lord! surely my son is of my family! and Thy promise is true, and Thou art the justest of Judges!"
(46) He said: "O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous. So ask not of Me that of which thou hast no knowledge! I give thee counsel, lest thou act like the ignorant!"
(47) Noah said: "O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I should indeed be lost!"
(48) The word came: "O Noah! Come down (from the Ark) with peace from Us, and blessing on thee and on some of the peoples (who will spring) from those with thee: but (there will be other) peoples to whom We shall grant their pleasures (for a time), but in the end will a grievous penalty reach them from Us."
(49) Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto thee: before this, neither thou nor thy people knew them. So persevere patiently: for the End is for those who are righteous.
Noah preached to his people for 950 years (29:14) “We sent Noah to his people, and he tarried among them a thousand years less fifty: but the Deluge overwhelmed them while they (persisted in) sin”. At the end of this period, it is Allah who signals “None of thy people will believe except those who have believed already! So grieve no longer over their (evil) deeds”. The command is given to make preparations to save the believers. Even when it was pouring, and the ark was afloat, there was a window of opportunity for the people to choose to embark but the disbelievers typified by Noah’s son, were too haughty to heed and met their end. This window of opportunity may or may not have been utilized by those who remained “disbelievers” only out of fear of the powerful “Chiefs of Unfaith”.
From the Story of Salih
(11:64) "And O my people! This she-camel of Allah is a symbol to you: leave her to feed on Allah´s (free) earth, and inflict no harm on her, or a swift penalty will seize you!"
(65) But they did ham-string her. So he said: "Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days: (Then will be your ruin): (Behold) there a promise not to be belied!"
(66) When Our Decree issued, We saved Salih and those who believed with him, by (special) Grace from Ourselves - and from the Ignominy of that day. For thy Lord - He is the Strong One, and able to enforce His Will.
(67) The (mighty) Blast overtook the wrong-doers, and they lay prostrate in their homes before the morning,-
(68) As if they had never dwelt and flourished there. Ah! Behold! for the Thamud rejected their Lord and Cherisher! Ah! Behold! removed (from sight) were the Thamud!
In this story, it was one among those active opponents of the Prophet who killed the she-camel sent as a sign which brought the wrath of Allah on all the people. The people were given a clear 3 days to dissociate from the wrong-doers and save themselves by joining Salih and those who believed in him.
From the Story of Lut
(11:81) (The Messengers) said: "O Lut! We are Messengers from thy Lord! By no means shall they reach thee! now travel with thy family while yet a part of the night remains, and let not any of you look back: but thy wife (will remain behind): To her will happen what happens to the people. Morning is their time appointed: Is not the morning nigh?"
(82) When Our Decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread, layer on layer,-
It was on Allah’s clear order that Prophet Lut left with his household.
From the Story of Moses
The end part of Pharaoh and his followers in greater detail is found in Surah Yunus, and Surah Ash-Shu'araa / The Poets. Both Surahs are Meccan and their number in chronological order is 51 and 47 respectively.
(10:82) "And Allah by His words doth prove and establish His truth, however much the sinners may hate it!"
(83) But none believed in Moses except some children of his people, because of the fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them; and certainly Pharaoh was mighty on the earth and one who transgressed all bounds.
(84) Moses said: "O my people! If ye do (really) believe in Allah, then in Him put your trust if ye submit (your will to His)."
(85) They said: "In Allah do we put out trust. Our Lord! make us not a trial for those who practise oppression;
(86) "And deliver us by Thy Mercy from those who reject (Thee)."
(87) We inspired Moses and his brother with this Message: "Provide dwellings for your people in Egypt, make your dwellings into places of worship, and establish regular prayers: and give glad tidings to those who believe!"
(88) Moses prayed: "Our Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on Pharaoh and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of the present, and so, Our Lord, they mislead (men) from Thy Path. Deface, our Lord, the features of their wealth, and send hardness to their hearts, so they will not believe until they see the grievous penalty."(89) Allah said: "Accepted is your prayer (O Moses and Aaron)! So stand ye straight, and follow not the path of those who know not."
(90) We took the Children of Israel across the sea: Pharaoh and his hosts followed them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: "I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israel believe in: I am of those who submit (to Allah in Islam)."(91) (It was said to him): "Ah now!- But a little while before, wast thou in rebellion!- and thou didst mischief (and violence)!(92) "This day shall We save thee in the body, that thou mayest be a sign to those who come after thee! but verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Signs!"
(26:52) By inspiration we told Moses: "Travel by night with my servants; for surely ye shall be pursued."(53) Then Pharaoh sent heralds to (all) the Cities,(54) (Saying): "These (Israelites) are but a small band,(55) "And they are raging furiously against us;(56) "But we are a multitude amply fore-warned."
(57) So We expelled them from gardens, springs,(58) Treasures, and every kind of honourable position;(59) Thus it was, but We made the Children of Israel inheritors of such things.
(60) So they pursued them at sunrise.(61) And when the two bodies saw each other, the people of Moses said: "We are sure to be overtaken."(62) (Moses) said: "By no means! my Lord is with me! Soon will He guide me!"(63) Then We told Moses by inspiration: "Strike the sea with thy rod." So it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.(64) And We made the other party approach thither.(65) We delivered Moses and all who were with him;(66) But We drowned the others.(67) Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe.(68) And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.
The points to be noted are:
1. It was on Allah’s clear order that Prophet Moses (pbuh) left with his people.
2. None believed in Moses except the “Children of Israel” because of the fear of Pharaoh and his Chiefs.
3. The Pharoah sent heralds to the city to garner forces to pursue Moses and his followers. It was those wicked people who responded to his call alone who were drowned in the sea and not every “non-believer”.
Please make a note of how Allah found a way to separate among the Egyptians those who were actively engaged in opposing Moses who deserved to be destroyed from those who may not have been believers for any reason but also were not actively engaged in opposing Moses and his followers. Those Egyptians who did not believe for any reason such as the fear of Pharaoh and his Chiefs, but were not among the pursuers of Moses and his people did not get drowned. Now with the fear of Pharaoh and his Chiefs removed, and a clear proof of the truth of Moses warning having come true, they presumably accepted belief. Among such believers was Pharaoh’s wife also who till such time must have believed only secretly.
Relevance of the Stories of the Prophets to Muhammad’s mission
(21:106) Verily in this (Qur´an) is a Message for people who would (truly) worship Allah.(107) We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all the worlds.
The people of Mecca asked for a sign to be sent. A sign such as a she-camel was sent to the people of Thamud was not sent because:
(17:59) And We refrain from sending the signs, only because the men of former generations treated them as false: We sent the she-camel to the Thamud to open their eyes, but they treated her wrongfully: We only send the Signs by way of terror (and warning from evil).
The people of Mecca were spared from such a fate.
When a Prophet is given the command to leave with his band of believers, it is a sign from Allah that no more people will believe even if the Prophet spends more time with them. The Prophet leaves with his band of believers and the rest are destroyed by an act of God.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was driven out of Mecca and pursued but the people of Mecca were not destroyed. Even the pursuers of the Prophet were not destroyed. The following verse alludes to the Prophet’s migration accompanied by just his close companion and friend Abu Bakr (RA)
(9:40) If ye help not (your leader), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, "Have no fear, for Allah is with us": then Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise.
The inevitability of the success of the Prophet’s mission grew on the people of Mecca gradually over the next 8 years. No calamity was sent on them all of a sudden in the form of an act of God destroying every non-believer. Many of the “Chiefs of Unfaith” met their end in the first battle of Badr itself although the total number of Meccans killed in this battle was less than one hundred. This went on till every “Chiefof Unfaith” had met his end in battle or was executed after the bloodless conquest of Mecca. The total number killed in the battles on both sides aggregated only a few thousand. After all the “Chiefs of Unfaith” were eliminated, the rest of them were free to accept Islam and indeed the numbers accepting Islam became a torrent. Every remaining Meccanand all Arab pagans of the Arabian Peninsula accepted Islam. While in the case of Prophet Lut only his household but not his wife were saved and in the case of the Noah, Salih, Hud, Shoaib also the number who believed and were saved were very few, in the case of Muhammad (pbuh) the number who perished were a few thousand only and the number who believed and were saved were in the vast majority as evidenced by Surah An-Nasr / Divine Support which is the very last in chronological order.
(110:1) When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory,
(2) And thou dost see the people enter Allah´s Religion in crowds,
(3) Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).
Muhammad’s mission indeed was merciful in every way when compared with the stories of the previous prophets.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com. The author initially used a pseudonym "Observer" for this article.