The Opposition Of Quraish
The opposition of the Quraish to the message of Islam greatly influenced the rest of the Arabs to reject Islam as well. In fact the influence of the Quraish was so great that even if they had not exerted themselves in their resistance to Islam and in the defamation of the Prophet peace be upon him they still could have swayed the people. That was because all of the Arabs looked to the Quraish and waited for their approval for many reasons such as:
A) The high status of the Quraish in the hearts of the Arabs. They revered the Quraish because they were the people who lived close to the Kabah and were the caretakers of Allahs house. For this reason the other Arabs honored and respected the Quraish and took pride in rushing to fulfill any need that they might have for food, drink or other things as well. Qasiy ibn Kulaab played a major role in the establishment of the high status of the Quraish inasmuch as he was the one who settled the tribe in the city Mecca and he led them in a bloody war against the tribe of Jarham to wrest away from them the honor of being the caretakers of the Kabah. With that he succeeded in acquiring for the Quraish a position of honor and authority. It is for this reason that a poet said about them:
And your father Zaid called for you to gather together
Furthermore Allahs protection of the Kabah from Abraha and his army in the miraculous manner that is mentioned in the Quran(16) served to increase the sanctity and holiness of the Kabah in the hearts of the Arabs. And consequently it increased their respect for those who lived close to the Kabah and were its caretakers. As a result the Quraish could safely travel wherever they wanted to in Arabia even though highway robbery was common because they enjoyed the protection of all of the tribes. Hence there were two major merchandise caravans a year that traveled to Syria and Yemen, one in the summer and another one in the winter, which constituted the mainstay of trade for the Quraish.
For this reasons, as well as others, all of the Arabs respectfully and reverently looked to the Quraish. And in general the Quraish deserved this high status amongst the Arabs because of the special favors that Allah bestowed upon them. In fact the Quran supports and gives evidence of the special favor of the Quraish inasmuch as Allah mentions them in the Quran and the story of how He destroyed the army that tried to invade Mecca, and how He rendered the Kabah a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety. Islam has also stipulated that the leader of all of the Muslims should be chosen from the tribe of the Quraish. And Allah caused the hearts of the people to love the Kabah and send all types of fruits and crops to those who inhabited the Holy City of Mecca. Allah also protected the Kabah from the invading Ethiopian army, and other would be invaders as well, and He protected the people of Mecca too.
Also the Quraish, as leaders, protected the oppressed and helped the needy as is evidenced by Hilf Al-Fudool(17) which was an agreement concluded in the house of Abd-Allah ibn Judan (18) All of these factors influenced the Arabs to wait and refuse to accept Islam until the people of Mecca -the Quraish- accepted Islam. Therefore when the Arabs saw the Quraish reject Islam and witnessed their contempt for it they too turned away.
B) The Messenger of Allah was himself from the tribe of the Quraish and the Arabs had a saying that the tribe was more knowledgeable and more informed about the character and condition of its own members than anyone else. So the Arabs were not about to challenge the judgement of the Quraish about their own tribe member notwithstanding the high status of this tribe.
So in the beginning there was almost no tribe that considered entering Islam while the prestigious Quraish refused to enter it, especially since the Prophets own tribe refused to believe him and they knew him best!
C) The outright rejection of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad by the Quraish would seemingly have been enough of a deterrent for the rest of the Arabs but the Quraish added to that very public and very vocal attacks on Islam and the Messenger of Allah using every means at their disposal.
Tribal leaders from the Quraish gathered together in order to carefully plan what they were going to say about the Quran to all of the people who would be coming to Mecca as pilgrims next season. And they tried to come to an agreement amongst themselves so that they would all say exactly the same thing regarding the Quran and the Messenger of Allah hoping to avoid contradicting each other in public (19). Allah the Most High says:
Leave Me Alone (to deal) with whom I created Alone (without any means, i.e. Al-Walid ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi). And then granted him resources in abundance. And children to be by his side. And made life smooth and comfortable for him. After all that he desires that I should give more; Nay! Verily, he has been opposing Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations). I shall oblige him to (climb a slippery mountain in the Hell-fire called As-Saud, or) face a severe torment! Verily, he thought and plotted. So let him be cursed: how he plotted! And once more let him be cursed: how he plotted! Then he thought. Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way; then he turned back, and was proud. Then he said:
This is nothing but magic from that of old, this is nothing but the word of a human being!
[Sura Al-Muddaththir, verses 11-25]
The scholars of tafseer (explanation of the meaning of the Quran) have said that these verses were revealed about a man named Al-Waleed ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi because he used to claim that the Quran was magic that the Prophet used in order to separate men from their wives and kinsfolk.(20)
It was not enough for the Quraish to simply spread bad rumors about the chosen Prophet of Allah but the ignorant and foolish ones amongst them who were full of enmity for the Prophet also used to follow him everywhere he went. They would behave in a mean and evil manner with the Prophet and slander and defame his name in front of all of the tribes so that no one would dare accept Islam and follow the Prophet.
In a Hasan hadith narrated upon the authority of Rabiah ibn Abbad Ad-Daylee who said: I saw the Messenger of Allah with my own eyes in a marketplace called Dhu-Al-Majaz and he was saying: O people! Testify that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allah and then you will be successful. He entered every direction of the marketplace and the people were crowding around him and I did not see anybody say anything. He (the Messenger of Allah) did not stop saying: O people! Testify that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allah and then you will be successful. Then there appeared behind him a man with a handsome face who wore his hair in two braids and he said: Verily he is a Sabian and a liar. I (the narrator of the hadith) sai: Who is that? They said: He is Muhammad ibn Abd-Allah and he says that he is a Prophet. I (the narrator of the hadith) then said: Who is the one calling him a liar? They said: His uncle Abu Lahab. I (the person who the narrator of the hadith was talking to) said: Surely you were just a small boy then (on that day)!? He (the narrator) said: No, by Allah I had already reached the age of understanding by then. (21)
In another hadith narrated upon the authority of Tariq ibn Shaddad who said: I saw the Messenger of Allah two times. Once I saw him in a marketplace called Dhu Al-Majaz while I was inside a vendors stall that I owned. He walked by and he had on a red garment. I heard him saying: O people! Testify that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allah and then you will be successful. All the while there was a man following behind (the Prophet) throwing rocks at him and his ankles were bleeding. The man was saying: Do not obey him, verily he is a liar. I (the narrator of the hadith) said: Who is that? Someone replied: It is someone from the tribe of Bani Abd Al-Muttalib. I (the narrator) then said: Who is the one throwing stones? Someone replied: His uncle Abd Al-Izza Abu Lahab ibn Abd Al-Muttalib. (22)
And in a hadith narrated upon the authority of a Sheikh from the tribe of Bani Malik ibn Kinanah who said: I saw the Prophet going around in a marketplace called Dhu Al-Majaz and he was saying: O people! Testify that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allah and then you will be successful. He (the narrator) then said: Meanwhile Abu Jahl was throwing dirt upon him, saying: O people! Dont let this man deceive you into leaving your religion. He just wants you to leave your gods and to stop worshipping Al-Lat and Al-Izza. He (the narrator) then said: But the Messenger of Allah never paid him any attention. He (Ashath ibn Salim; one of the people the narrator was talking to) said: We asked: Describe the Messenger of Allah for us. He (the narrator) said: He (was wearing) two red garments, (he was) medium sized, very muscular, handsome, (with) long black hair (and) very white (skin). (23)
Also, upon the authority of Jabir ibn Abd-Allah who said: Verily the Prophet persisted for ten years in pursuing the people in their camping places at Majannah and Ukadh and Mina during the pilgrimage season, (saying): Who will come to me and help me until I convey the message of my Lord? Whoever does so will receive Paradise. But he did not find anyone who would help him or come to him. If a man traveled from Madhar or from Yemen to see some of his relatives (in Mecca) his people would come to him and say, pointing (to the Prophet) as he was walking in their camping place: Beware of that man from the Quraish so that he wont put you to trial(24)
These narrations reveal the pains that the Quraish took to warn the people against Islam and the Messenger of Allah. There were collective efforts made by the tribe as a whole as well as individual efforts made by influential men who acted on behalf of the tribe such as Abu Jehl and Abu Lahab. And of course being rejected by ones own tribe and family is a very hard trial indeed.
Prophet Muhammad had been commanded by his Lord to convey the message of Islam so he would approach the people while they were in their marketplaces and places of assembly. He would even go to the campsites of the pilgrims in Mina and present the message of Islam to them, always using the best of speech and never being offensive or hateful to anyone. Rather he would simply invite the people to Tawheed (to worship Allah alone) and to help and support him in spreading the message of Islam.
The Messenger of Allah was alone, a stranger in his own land. His closest relatives publicly opposed and rejected him in front of the crowds of people that would gather to look and listen, throwing rocks at him until his heels and ankles were bleeding! They would also throw dirt upon his head and in his face and chest, all the while accusing him of being a liar even though they knew that he had never told a lie in his entire life! And they would encourage the people to stay away from the Prophet because he would call them to leave off worshipping Al-Lat and Al-Izza and that which they found their fathers and their grandfathers worshipping and to leave off seeking help from Jinn!
Indeed this was a difficult test. The Messenger of Allah and those few who believed with him in Mecca were totally ostracized by their closest relatives before being ostracized by strangers! This was in spite of the fact that the Prophet asked his family to at least maintain the ties of kinship with him by ceasing to harm and annoy him if they would not accept Islam. Allah the Most High says:
Say (O Muhammad): No reward do I ask of you for this except to be kind to me for my kinship with you. (25)
There was no family or sub-tribe of the Quraish except that the Messenger of Allah was directly related to them. So when they belied him and rejected the message of Islam, he requested that they at least keep the ties of kinship with him. And since the Quraish were the tribesmen and the kinsfolk of the Messenger of Allah they should have been the first to protect and help him.
In an authentic hadith narrated upon the authority of Ibn Abbas who said that he was asked about the interpretation of the meaning of the verse:
except to be kind to me for my kinship with you.
Saeed ibn Jubair (who was present then) said: It means (to show what is due for) the family of Muhammad. On that Ibn Abbas said: You have hurried in giving the answer! There was no branch of the tribe of Quraish but the Prophet had relatives therein.
The Prophet said: I do not want anything from you except to be kind to me for my kinship with you. (26)
The Quraish refused to comply with the request of the Messenger of Allah and likewise they were never pleased if someone from a different tribe accepted Islam and supported the Prophet Muhammad.
The Quraish were overcome by their own wrongdoing and they imagined that they would be able to extinguish Allahs Light with their mouths. It was as if they believed that they could block out the sun with their tiny little hands and bury the message of Islam alive while it was still in its infancy. But how wrong they were! Allah the Most High says:
And, verily, Our Word has gone forth of old for Our slaves, the Messengers, that they verily would be made triumphant, and that Our hosts! they verily would be the victors.
[Qur’aan Sura As-Saffat, verses 171-173]
The Prophet endured those lean and difficult early years which, as Allah would have it, were a cause for the resplendent end (of this important part of Islamic history).