Failed Temptations

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed
March 3, 2024

As the number of Muslims grew in the period of open preaching in the fourth year of prophethood, the idolaters grew in their enmity towards the newly born community. The Muhammadan tidal wave had evidently bruised their big egos, so they raised the bar to uproot Islam.


Ruthless persecutions began to heighten in Makkah. In attempt to purge their enemy, the Quraysh went as far as to publicly hurt and humiliate the Prophet ﷺ, physically and verbally. The Prophet ﷺ had every reason to surrender or retaliate with the harm directed to him. But rather than be affected by their mindless methods of intimidations, he ﷺ anchored in resolute resistance to the tyranny of his persecutors, firmly rooted himself in his belief, and strove in the path of Allah ﷻ.

فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ‎﴿٩٤﴾‏ إِنَّا كَفَيْنَاكَ الْمُسْتَهْزِئِينَ ‎﴿٩٥﴾

So, proclaim openly what you have been commanded [to say], and ignore the idolaters. We are enough for you against all those who ridicule your message. (Surah al-Hijr, Verse 94-95)

There was nothing the Quraysh could do to stop the influence of Islam. He ﷺ continued calling people to guidance with full of determination and zeal. Meanwhile at the enemy camp, pressure steeped after the successful migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia which started in the fifth year. This consequently led them to devise a different strategy.

Proposals to Lure the Prophet

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Shaken by the unexpected events, the chieftains of Quraysh were sitting on pins and needles. After assessing the situation in their council, ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah, a respected elder, hatched a plan to tempt the Prophet ﷺ to give up his mission and silence his faith. He decided to contract a bargain with the Prophet ﷺ on their behalf. ‘Utbah confidently declared, “We will offer him whatever he seeks, and then he will leave us in peace.” 

Upon noticing that the Prophet ﷺ was praying all alone by the ka’aba one day, the honey-tongued leader sat next to Allah’s Messenger and cajoled him. “O my nephew, you are one of us, of the noblest of tribes and of admirable ancestry,” he said, while guilt-tripping the Prophet ﷺ for shunning their way of life, their forefathers’ beliefs and dividing their society. He asserted, “Now, listen to me and I will make you offers, and perhaps you will consent to one of them.”

The Prophet ﷺ was all ears. He patiently and respectfully listened to ‘Utbah’s suggestions. The first offer that was put on the table was money. ‘Utbah claimed that the Quraysh are willing to gather their wealth and make him the richest among them. Next, they offered him sovereignty and power to become a leader and a king. Finally, they exhibited concern over the Prophet’s well-being, “If you are possessed by a bad spirit which you cannot get rid of, we will find you a skillful physician and spend our wealth lavishly until you are fully cured.”

Once ‘Utbah was through with his tirade, the most perfect human being that Allah ﷻ blessed with جوامع الكلم (pithiness of speech) simply said, “Now listen to me.” Then, Allah’s divine words captivatingly began emanating from his mouth. ‘Utbah was made to listen intently to every single word recited from Surah Fussilat, and until the Prophet ﷺ reached the verse of prostration, he too, willingly fell in prostration — spell bound by the speech of Allah ﷻ.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ ۚ لَا تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلَا لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ ‎﴿٣٧﴾‏ فَإِنِ اسْتَكْبَرُوا فَالَّذِينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ يُسَبِّحُونَ لَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْأَمُونَ ۩ ‎﴿٣٨﴾‏

And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate to Allah, who created them, if it should be Him that you worship. But, if they are arrogant – then those who are near your Lord exalt Him by night and by day, and they do not become weary. (Surah Fussilat, Verse 37-38)

The Prophet ﷺ certainly made his point crystal clear. “You have heard what you have heard, now it is for you to decide,” he exclaimed. ‘Utbah’s facial expression altered dramatically following his visit with the Prophet ﷺ. The miraculous Qur’an had impacted his demeanor and the Quraysh noticed this significant change in him unlike never before.

When they asked him what had transpired, ‘Utbah narrated the details of his encounter with the Prophet ﷺ and professed, “I have heard a discourse the like of which I have never heard before. I swear by God, O Quraysh, that it is neither poetry nor spells, nor witchcraft. Take my advice and let this man be.” Despite all this, the Quraysh made a mockery of him saying, “You have been bewitched by his tongue.”

Their struggles in persuading the Prophet ﷺ persisted, and more appalling offers were put on the table. In addition to wealth, kingship and an honorary position, they granted as many beautiful women he wished to take as his bride, if he would forgo preaching Islam — though it was of no use as they were doomed for failure.

Stinging from their futile efforts, they hoped to reach some sort of a compromise with the Prophet ﷺ by offering an exchange of faith that required the Muslims to worship their gods for one year, and for them to worship Allah ﷻ for the same length of time. But Allah ﷻ prohibited any such compromise, and commanded the Prophet ﷺ to completely renounce their religion when He revealed Surah al-Kafirun.  

A Divine Wisdom 

It was Allah’s divine wisdom that all of these negotiations took place as one of the best proofs of the Prophet’s prophethood. They illustrate the fact that only a true Prophet ﷺ would deny any form of worldly temptation – none of them interfered with his commitment, and he remained obedient to Allah ﷻ above all else. Hence, for the critiques who attempt to invalidate the Prophet ﷺ and his mission with Islam as a whole, these incidents serve as a perfect response.

More importantly, while the Prophet ﷺ did not sacrifice his principles nor compromise his faith, he never stopped respecting people within the community, and never once employed any violent tactics against his bitter rivals as a means of defense throughout their hostilities. He ﷺ exercised peace in spreading his message of peace, because peace was the embodiment of his lofty character. As 'A'isha RA, the one who knew him best, described his perfect character:

كَانَ خُلُقُهُ الْقُرْآنَ

“His character was the Qur'an”

The Prophet ﷺ was as noble as the word of Allah ﷻ, and his gracious persona further shone when he ruled with mercy succeeding his conquest. His system was one which implemented tolerance and in his governance, he displayed the most outstanding ethics a preacher and a leader can hope to have. 

As followers of the most perfect human being to walk this earth, we should be inspired by his nobility, and keep his prophetic spark alive by upholding our identity as Muslims besides preserving the integrity of our Deen. In the face of prejudice and bigotry, we ought to be clear and respectful to others, yet be firm on where to draw the line — never steering away from the legacy our most beloved ﷺ left behind. 

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