The Second Pledge took place a year after the first one, which was the concluded in the twelfth year of Prophethood. That year during the haji season, many of the people of Yathrib, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, came to Makkah, The Muslims had decided that they would not leave the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in Makkah to be expelled and persecuted. Seventy-three men and two women, Nusaybah bint Ka’b and Asmaa bint Amr, contacted him in secret and agreed to meet him in secret at night in the mountain pass that is next to Jamrat al-Aqabah.
Preaching Islam to Different Tribes and in Different Places
The disbelievers of Makkah continued to treat the Muslims. The Quraysh continued to plot against the powerless in the city. But the Prophet (pbuh) did not lose heart. Back from Taif, he resumed preaching Islam to the tribes, which stayed around Makkah. He also preached Islam among the caravans that came to Makkah from outside during the days of hajj. Abu Lahab always tried to interrupt the Prophet’s missions. He would tell the people not to pay any attention to what the Prophet was saying.
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
The Israa’ and the Mi’raaj (The Night Journey and the Ascension)
It is in this period that the Prophet’s night journey (Israa’) from Al-Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah to Al-Masjid al-Aqsaa in Jerusalem, and his ascension (Mi’raaj) from there through the heavens took place. He was accompanied in this journey by Angel Jibreel, and was taken on a wonderful animal called al-Buraag, which was bigger than a donkey and smaller than a mule, and whose stride reached as far as his eye could see.
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and Abu Talib died in the same year: the tenth year of Prophethood. The Prophet’s grief was deep. He was keenly aware that he was left not only without a caring wife, but also without a protector. His pagan enemies saw in the death of Abu Talib an opportunity to harm and persecute him. The neighbours of the Prophet (pbuh) who were opposed to him, under the leadership of Abu Jahl and his wife Umm Jameel, intensified their attacks against him. The Prophet (pbuh) used to remove the dirty refuse, which they repeatedly threw into his courtyard and in front of his door.
The year in which Khadijah and Abu Talib died became known as Aam al-Huzn (the Year of Grie) because of the great loss to the already persecuted Prophet (pbuh).
Prophet Muhammad’s memoirs pertaining to the period of shepherding are interesting as well as instructive. One such episode has been narrated by the Prophet (pbuh) himself in these words: “I had no inherent at traction for all those pleasant pastimes that the Makkan pagans indulged in so fondly. On two occasions even when I had intended to enjoy those recreations God intervened in between me and my desires. Once I and another shepherd from the Quraish were tending our cattle over the hills of Makkah. I told my colleague that I was going to the city for the night in quest for some rest and recreation I requested him to take care of my goats as well. When the other shepherd consented I set out for the city. As I neared the very first house sweet melodies of flute and tambourine struck my ears. I was told that the inmates were busy celebrating a wedding function. I too went in and sat among them. I had hardly started enjoying the music when God suddenly shut my ears. Sound slumbers of sweet sleep overwhelmed me so completely that only the rays of the following morning’s sun could wake me up. I remained utterly unaware of the proceedings of that merry marriage party. Then I hastened to return to my companion in the hilly pasture and reported him the entire episode.”
On the untimely demise of young Muhammad’s mother the honour of looking after him fell rather exclusively to the lot of his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. He undertook that responsibility with great affection and dedication. Unfortunately, however poor Muhammad (pbuh) had not yet recovered from the trauma of his loving mother’s death when his noble grandfather also breathed his least. The young boy was hardly eight then. His infancy was punctuated by a rapid succession of tearful tragedies. When he joined his grandfather’s funeral procession torrential tears trickled down his innocent cheeks. The lovely little boy presented a pathetic picture of grief and depression.
Carrying baby Muhammad (pbuh) in her lap Haleema Saadia eventyally arrived at her ancestral village in the desert. The surrounding area being hit by a severe drought that year the shepherds experienced great difficulties in finding fodder for their herds. Consequently they were facing an acute milk shortage. Strange enough when Haleema’s goats returned home from the neighbouring pastures they overflowed with milk. When others milked their goats they seldom got any worthwhile yield. Haleema’s household had no such milk problem. Both the spouses as well as the children had plenty of the milk to drink.
According to the customs prevalent among the Makkan elites a few days after birth the new-born babies were entrusted to the custody of rural womenfolk who specialized in the art of nursing the babies such desert-living ladies would visit Makkah periodically in caravans to carry away foster babies of their choices. They would then engage themselves in their feeding and upbringing in the free and bracing environment of the desert. When the foster babies grew a bit older they were returned to their parents. Foster mothers were rewarded by parents for their service.
Spring is a wonderful time. New saplings sprout up in the gardens. Fragrant flowers bloom forth all over. Colourful birds twitter about on the twigs, chirping ever sweet songs. Waves of smiles and happiness dominate everywhere. Dry and desolate lands begin to wear a gay and green look. The blissful spirit of health and happiness cheers even the most dull and the depressed faces.
As the days pass by spring’s radiance begins to fade and wane. Flowers wither away. Gardens soon look deserted. Then a day comes when flowers cease to emit fragrance and no birds sing on the trees. Until the next spring people are obliged to wait for the radiance of hope and happiness.
We saw earlier how Muhammad (pbuh) as a child had visited the city of Yathrib with his mother. Yathrib was a wealthy city, and in it lived two important tribes, the Aws and Khazraj. A certain number of Jewish tribes also lived in Yathrib. They were people with a holy book, fiercely proud of their religion, and would boast to the Arabs of their knowledge and learning. Their religious leaders, the rabbis, preached the coming of a new prophet, though they believed that he would be a member of their community
Now at a certain time each year, the Arab tribes would come in large numbers from all over the peninsula to Makkah in order to perform the pilgrimage and to visit the Kaba. News of the teachings of Muhammad (pbuh) reached the city of Yathrib through a number of returning pilgrims. And so it was that a party from the tribe of Khazraj decided to make the journey to Makkah to see and hear Muhammad s for themselves. All the while, they had in mind the stories that the Jews of Yathrib used to tell about the coming of a new prophet.