by Abul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi
The number of the Prophet’s followers increased daily, threatening to turn the tide against Quraysh who as a tribe, chose to stay at the other end of the spiritual spectrum and therefore, took the situation as highly embarrassing. But they were unable to do anything to alter the tide of Islam. ‘Utbah b. Rabiah, the old and wise aristocrat of the Quraysh realized that he must find a way to patch up the differences with the Messenger of Allah r. He consulted the Quraysh to make some concessions with the Messenger of Allah r so that he might give up his mission. The Quraysh felt that it was a workable proposition and allowed him to negotiate with the Prophet r on their behalf.
‘Utbah went to the Messenger of Allah r and sat by his side. Then said, “O my nephew, you know the worthy position you enjoy among us. But you have created a rift in your people by ridiculing them, insulting their gods as well as their religion, declaring their forefathers as heathens and denying their customs. Now, listen to me, I will offer you some proposals that will hopefully include one which will merit your acceptability.”
“O Abu Walid,” replied the Prophet r, “go on, I am listening.” ‘Utbah continued, “My Nephew, if you want to have wealth by what you preach, we will collect enough of it that you will be the richest of us. If you desire honour, we will make you our chief and leave every decision to your choice. If you aspire for kingship, we will recognize you as our monarch. And if you are possessed of a ghost or a jinn for which you have no remedy, we will find a competent physician for you and spend our wealth lavishly until your health is completely restored.”
The Messenger of Allah r listened patiently. When ‘Utbah had finished talking, he asked him, “ is it all that you have to say”? , to which ‘Utbah replied “ yes”.
“Now listen to me,” said the Prophet r:
“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful…” and he continued to recite a portion of Surah Fussilat, putting his hands behind him and leaning on them. Once completing the recitation, the Prophet r prostrated and then said to ‘Utbah, “Abul Walid, you have heard what you heard, now it is for you to decide.”
As the Quraysh saw ‘Utbah returning, they said; “Truly, he comes with an altered expression on his face.” And, when he finally came, they asked him what had happened.
“I have heard a discourse the like of which I had never heard before. I’ll swear to God, O Quraysh, that it is neither poetry, nor spells, nor witchcraft. Take my advice and leave this man alone.” The Quraysh berated ‘Utbah, and said, “now you may do whatever you think fit.”
Father of Walid. The Arabs called the elders by the name of their sons. Surah 41, Chap. ‘They are expounded
Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, pp. 293-94