If someone wanted to harm you to the point of murdering you, how would you respond?
Would you return their act of aggression with a good deed?
This is what exactly happened to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 13 years after the start of the revelation. Do you know how he reacted when his aggressors tried to kill him?
After protecting himself from the murderous plot, he made arrangements to return the trusts his enemies kept with him.
But before going into the details, let’s continue where we left off last time.
The situation in Makkah was now very tense. Most of the Prophet’s companions had managed to emigrate to Madinah. The Quraish tried to stop some of them from leaving town, like Umm Salamah, as highlighted in the previous article. But most men were able to leave, though some had to leave their wealth and belongings behind, like Suhaib Al-Rumi.
There were now two important companions left in Makkah with the Prophet: Abu Bakr and Ali. One day, Abu Bakr asked the Prophet’s permission to leave for Madinah. But the Prophet asked him to be patient and wait. Abu Bakr understood that answer as a sign that he may get the privilege of traveling with the Prophet.
To prepare for the journey, Abu Bakr got two she-camels and made arrangements for the trip. Meanwhile, though the Quraish had allowed some companions to leave town, they could not reach consensus on what to do with the Prophet. Should they also let him leave to get rid of him? Or should they kill him before he left for Madinah?
A Plot and a Divine Rescue
So, one day the leaders of Quraish met to decide what to do. Killing the Prophet was not an option for one tribe alone. That would only lead to revenge and retribution.
Eventually, they decided to choose a strong young man from each tribe. These men would gather at the house of Prophet Muhammad and kill him together. That way, the Prophet’s clan, the Banu Hashim, would not be able to take their revenge. The Quraish assumed they could not fight all the tribes and would eventually settle on accepting blood money.
Allah (SWT) describes their plot in the Quran:
And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners. (8:30)
On that day, Gabriel informed the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he was to leave Makkah immediately. The Prophet hurried to Abu Bakr’s house and informed him that he now had divine permission to make the trip.
Abu Bakr asked to accompany him, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) agreed. With tears of joy, Abu Bakr offered the Prophet the she-camel he had prepared for the journey. The Prophet accepted but insisted on paying him its cost.
Meanwhile, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had several issues to deal with. First, he needed enough time to leave town without the Quraish knowing. So he asked his cousin Ali to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle.
In the middle of the night, when his house was under siege, Allah (SWT) made his enemies fall asleep. With God’s protection, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was able to leave safely.
And We have put before them a barrier and behind them a barrier and covered them, so they do not see. (36:9)
The Trustworthy (Al-Ameen)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then made his way to the house of Abu Bakr. They both left town immediately, heading south instead of north to Madinah. The Prophet asked Ali to stay behind to return to the people of Makkah their belongings they had kept with him.
This is one of the amazing decisions Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made on this journey. Even when faced with extreme danger, he remained trustworthy and honest. He never betrayed those who betrayed him. Instead, he responded to a bad deed with a good deed.
That was part of the Divine teachings Allah (SWT) taught him, as He says in the Quran:
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. (41:34)
Three Days in a Cave
The two men sought refuge in a cave outside Makkah; the cave of thawr. The cave was located to the south, whereas Madinah was to the north.
Abdullah, the son of Abu Bakr, would come to the cave at night with the latest news from Makkah.
Meanwhile, the Quraish had launched a massive search operation. Anyone who found Muhammad and brought him back dead or alive would receive a reward of one hundred camels. So many people were out looking for them.
Asma’, the daughter of Abu Bakr, would bring them provisions. And a shepherd would bring his sheep to the mountain where the cave was located to erase their footsteps.
But one day, men from the Quraish arrived at the mountain and climbed up in front of the cave. Abu Bakr was afraid. He told the Prophet (peace be upon him) that if they looked down, they would see them. Prophet Muhammad responded in such a way as to calm down his best friend, as recorded in the Quran:
If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down his tranquillity upon him and supported him with angels you did not see… (9:40)
Good Planning is Part of Reliance Upon Allah
How can a new convert, or a born Muslim, benefit from this amazing journey?
One important lesson is that we must do our best and always plan ahead. After planning for his companions to travel to Madinah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) made his own travel plan. It was a very precise and accurate plan.
Some Muslims who misunderstand Islam think that trusting in God means doing nothing; just relying on divine help. They are wrong. This attitude is known as tawaakkul, which is the opposite of tawakkul, true reliance upon Allah.
After making the best plan, and making your best effort, a believer’s heart should then be calm. We should try to be like the Prophet (peace be upon him), trusting that God will give us the best outcome.
Another important lesson is to always be honest and trustworthy, even when faced with injustice. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) could have easily taken the wealth of the Quraish with him to Madinah. No one would have blamed him; after all, they were about to kill him.
Saved from Danger
After spending three days in the cave, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr met their guide to Madinah. He was an expert non-Muslim guide who knew a way to Madinah which most people were not familiar with.
Instead of taking them on the normal route north, they first headed south towards the city of Jeddah. Then they headed north, taking the coastal route to avoid the men from Quraish who were out to catch them.
On the way, they met two non-Muslims. The first was Suraqah ibn Malik, who tried to catch them but failed. The other was a lady named Umm Ma’bid. She gave a very accurate description of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is detailed in Sahih Al-Bukhari and other books of Hadith.
What happened next?
Around two weeks after leaving home, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) arrived in Quba’, near Madinah. More events will be detailed in the next part of this series, in sha’ Allah.
So please stay tuned…
Activities for New Converts Following this Series
1- New Converts Trusting Allah – Tawakkul (Reliance upon Allah)
One of the main lessons from the Prophet’s journey out of Makkah was his strong trust in Allah (SWT). After doing his best effort to implement his travel plan to Madinah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sure that God would save him.
On two occasions, his enemies nearly caught him, but Allah saved him.
Check these resources for further details on what it means for a new convert to Islam to have trust in Allah, and how to have true reliance upon Allah:
Moses’ Mother: The Story of Reliance on God
What Happens When We Rely on God?
4 Ways to Boost Your Trust in Allah
Keeping Ties With God and Trusting Him
2- Honesty & Trustworthiness in Islam
Even before receiving the first revelation of the Quran, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was known in Makkah as Al-Sadiq, Al-Ameen. These two words in Arabic mean the truthful, the trustworthy.
Honesty is highly praised in Islam and one of the important manners Muslims are commanded to have and develop. The following are some selected resources on this topic:
The Prophet’s Absolute Honesty and Integrity
Why is Honesty So Rare Nowadays?
How to Be a Successful Business Owner? Follow the Prophet (PBUH)
3- Sample of Contemporary Stories of Men Converts to Islam
Suraqah ibn Malik was one of the people who tried to stop Prophet Muhammad’s migration to Madinah. He hoped to catch him and hand him over to the Quraish, to get the one hundred camels reward.
He did not succeed, as God saved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. But several years later he converted to Islam. The following are a selection of contemporary stories of men who found the truth and converted to Islam:
Young Convert Finds Structure in Islam (Q&A)
The Refugee Crisis Brought Me to Islam
From Hip-Hop Star to Muslim
I Was Reading the Quran, I Found It Reading Me
4- Send us your questions on this series to [email protected]
This is a special series for new converts to learn about Islam in a comprehensive way through learning the Seerah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) in a gradual, chronological way. We add a few more resources of other related areas of Islamic knowledge in each part of the Seerah at the end of each article as extra learning resources.
We are also adding videos to this series as we progress from Year 1 to Year 23 in sha’ Allah.
The references we use in each article are given below for further details. Please feel free to send us any questions you may have to this e-mail: [email protected]
You may also wish to join our Facebook Group, Islam 101, for further learning and also to interact with fellow new converts and those who are new to Islam here.
The Sealed Nectar – Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri
The Hijrah – Emigration to Madinah – (Part 27 of Dr. Yasir Qadhi Video Series)