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The Baseline Story


The Jews/ The Torah/The "Old Testament

There are  divisions in Jewish belief, the Orthodox, Reform, Humanist etc.

God created the Earth and Adam and Eve. They were given  the  Garden of Eden in which to live.  God told them not to eat of  the tree of knowledge, or the tree of life, but they  disobeyed and ate from the tree of knowledge, God banished them in order that they did not eat from the tree of life and then live forever.  However,  despite this, they still spoke to God at times. Adam and Eve then had 2 children, Cain and Able. Able brought a lamb as a gift for God and Cain brought fruit from the ground. The gift Cain brought was not acceptable to God for some reason (perhaps because it was from the ground and not the best he could have brought, therefore showing disrespect, but there may also be some other symbolic reason) and this made Cain angry and later he murdered  Able, after which he was banished from Eden and the presence of God.  Following this Eve gave birth to Seth in place of Able, she also had other children after this.  Seth gave birth to sons and daughters and following along the hereditary line of (usually) the eldest son, Noah and his children were born a few generations later.  The people at that time were all  very violent and corrupt so God destroyed every living thing on the Earth by a flood, except Noah and his family. After the flood  a few more generations passed by and Abraham was born who was a Syrian* (see below Deuteronomy 26:5).  Abraham was very pleasing to God and God chose to make a people and a nation from Abraham's offspring that he would call his own people. God wanted  to make a difference between them and other nations living on the Earth, in order to show His presence and power to the people of the world at that time. It was also for us now, for an example,  to read about it, believe and understand God, for many things God does throughout the bible are miraculous and strange. It was not just Jesus Christ that  did miracles, but other prophets also. A prophet is one that speaks on behalf of God.  Abraham had 2 children, Ishmael by Hagar his wife’s servant, and Isaac by Sarah his wife. Isaac and Rebekah his wife had twins Esau and Jacob.   Later Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and he and his 2 wives Leah and Rachel and their 2 maids, gave birth to 12 sons and a daughter. These  12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel, of which Judah is one. This tribe are the ancestors  of the  Jews of today, living in the land of Israel and throughout the world. It was also  promised to Abraham, that Ishmael his first son, would also have 12 princes and become a great nation (See below Genesis 17). I understand that Ishmael’s descendants are the Middle Eastern Arabic peoples  of today.  Following the birth of the 12 sons of Jacob (now Israel), these sons  tried to kill Joseph the 2nd  to youngest son, but one of the brothers interceded and instead he was carried off to Egypt by passing merchants. In Egypt  Joseph was in prison  and then serving and  greatly honoured by the Pharaoh. There was  a famine in the land and Jacob  and all his family of 70 persons were  reunited with Joseph in Egypt where Joseph was able  to provide for them.  The generations passed for  400 or  so years, by which time they had become too great in number  for the Pharaoh  and he made them  all slaves. Moses was born  and although of Israel’s people,  he was secretly brought up in Pharaoh’s household, for all Israeli sons  were being killed at birth. Moses grew up and an incident occurred  and he fled from Egypt and lived in Midian until  God spoke to him from a “burning bush”. God told him he wanted him to bring all his people (which were all Abraham's descendents) out of Egypt from slavery. When asked by Moses, God said His name was "I AM THAT I AM" and that he would show many miracles in the process of this delivering  of his people so that all the world would see his power and know that  He was God.  These miracles were plagues of lice, frogs, dust, killing of the firstborn, the rivers turning to blood and the parting of the seas, plus much more. After all this, the people travelled in the desert to reach the promised land that God said He would give them, showing other miracles throughout this time. After much disobedience, miracles and  receiving of the 10 commandments, plus many other laws, Moses died. Joshua shortly afterwards, took the people into the promised land, Canaan, although they had to fight for it. Some of this land is present day Israel. Many centuries passed and many incidents and miracles occurred. The people of Israel (all descendents of the 12 sons of Jacob, whose great grandfather was Abraham) were constantly worshipping other God's  and disobedient to the laws (Covenant) that God gave Moses, so God allowed them to be enslaved by the nations around them. Then they would see their error and turn to God again and God would raise up Prophets and  Judges or warriors to release them from captivity or slavery. These people include Samson, Saul, David, Elijah, Samuel, plus many others. Eventually God said he would create a New Covenant as the people were not obedient to the Old Covenant, nor ever would be.  He said he would send  another Prophet (or Shepherd), who would teach people His ways, and change the peoples hearts  (or attitudes) and be a means of access to God  and Eternal Life,   for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Please note again that all  people  who are  not Jews (who are the descendants of Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, who was renamed Israel) are Gentiles, the other tribes (or descendants) of Israel  appear to be unidentified as nations now, but are sometimes referred to as the lost tribes of Israel.


The Christians/The New Testament
(The Jews do not believe there is a New Testament)
There are many divisions in Christianity.
Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical etc.

The Prophet (or Shepherd) predicted by Moses to come is believed by Christians to be Jesus Christ and it was prophesied (told in advance) by God, via his prophets (Isaiah, Daniel  plus others), that this would be the Messiah, "the anointed of God". It is written in the New Testament of the Bible that Jesus is God’s only born Son, conceived by God by an “overshadowing” of his power over the Virgin Mary. Jesus  came to show the character  of God, because he was the only one who actually knew him and had seen him, for he was with God in some way before he was conceived. It was a miraculous conception, for he had no human Father, but was conceived by the power, or Spirit of God, by the "word" spoken by the Angel Gabriel to Mary.  Jesus came to overcome the power of Satan and therefore the power of disease. He also came  as a sacrifice  for our sin, in the same manner that the Jews were commanded to sacrificed a Lamb and other animals throughout the year for their sins. So now we Gentiles (those not Jews)  have  free access to God, as do the Jews (only if we believe in Jesus as the Son of God)  and  to bring into being God's Kingdom (or Government). Jesus was a “seed  sown in the Earth” as it were,  who died, then rose again, with witnesses (his 12 disciples in particular, who were Jews) so that others could learn from Him  and follow him, if they choose. If we believe that Jesus  is the  Son of God, that he died and rose again, we also can becomes sons and daughters of God in like manner, just by believing He is God's Son and  follow Christ’s commands and example. We will then be resurrected at some point after death, only if we believe and obey Christ’s commands, which are all in the New Testament of the Bible. That we should love one another as he has loved us, and He gave his life for us.  After Christ rose again he showed himself to his disciples and sent them out to preach and teach  his Gospel. He was taken up to heaven and  is alive now at the right hand of the  Father  (or the “power of God” Luke 22:69) and interceding (speaking) to God for us  in life,  to accomplish the kingdom (or government)  of God on earth. After Christ returned to  God, he released the   Holy Spirit of Truth  to the earth (or Holy Ghost), which is really God's  own Spirit, which leads and guides and lives inside those who believe. The Spirit of God comes with God's Power which should bring healing and will cause  us to “rise again” to Eternal Life. When we receive this Spirit, or at some point after we receive it, we should be aware of it. 

In the Old Testament (Torah & Prophets) it is written  that there was a curse that  will enter the earth if the Old Testament Commandments  were not obeyed. They were not obeyed, therefore great trouble will occur on the earth at some point in the future. If you believe in Christ and all he said you will be “saved” out of this trouble, also known as God's "wrath".  Christ also said he would come again to the Earth and it is predicted in Revelation 20 of the Bible (see home page) that he will live and reign for 1000 years from Jerusalem, with a certain number of chosen  believers. These are from many nations, not just Jews. This is the first resurrection, and Satan will be “bound” during this time. After the 1000 years, Satan will be released for a while and there will be a last battle of some  nations against Christ, after which there  will be  God's final Judgment of all people, except those in the first resurrection. Following this, the new heaven and new earth will come into being, and there will be no more curse, sickness, tears or death and God and Christ will be present with us. When we  are resurrected we  will be as  Christ is with God's Spirit in and with him, for when we believe in Jesus as the Son of God,  he has made us "co-heirs" with him of all God is and has, and we have become the "image" or  "likeness" of God with his power, for God is  in/ with us and it is that Spirit of God IN us that give us eternal life, or "Paradise".



Deuteronomy 26

And it shall be, when thou (the Israelites) art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.


Genesis 17

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name beAnd I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nationBut my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.



There are many divisions in Islam, Sunni, Shi'a, Wahabi etc.



It is said that the Qur'an cannot be translated in its full glory, and can only be fully appreciated when heard or read in Arabic.  It is also said that it cannot be read like an ordinary book, but to read verses here and there and dwell on them. I have read the Qur'an twice from start to finish and although there is a theme at times, and that may also correspond with a Bible story, it is not of great length, maybe a page at the  most. So that you can see this for yourself, the first 4 chapters  of the Qur'an are on the Home Page Listing on this website. I have included the Pickhall Introduction to the Qur'an below as it gives a picture of the Prophet's life and history and the events that were occurring as he was receiving the words that make up the Qur'an.  We should be aware I think as we read the introduction,  that the Qur'an was being created at a time when war was going on in the lives of the Prophet and the people in order to establish the religion, and  some verses  are particularly for certain incidents  at that time. A little like perhaps, the Old Testament or "Torah" when even Abraham and the Hebrews, or Israelites went out by God's command to establish their command of the area and land with God's help. Nevertheless, both the Qur'an and the Bible are for an ancient environment and while there may be a message for the present day, it may not be that  these words are meant to be  taken as literally as some do and I once did, for belief in these words as "perfectly" coming from God is causing some people to murder the innocent, the honourable, the vulnerable and hindering the progress and development of some nations in varying degrees. Even perhaps, for example, as the Catholic  Church has hindered the  African states by not allowing birth control. It is also causing wars. As mentioned, we need to re-evalate and compare all 3 religions and the writings, to see what the message from God really is, if it  is true  and if it can it be proved that there is a God and that the words are from God, be it the Bible or the Qur'an. We all have to 
consider this  for the sake of those that are dying and suffering because of  belief in God and what he has supposedly said in these books, the Bible and the Qur'an.

Part  I

At Mecca

Muhammad,  son of Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, of the tribe of Qureysh, was born at Mecca fifty -three  years before the Hijrah. His father died before he was born, and he was protected first by his grandfather,  Abdul  Muttalib, and after his grandfathers death, by his uncle, Abu Talib.  As a young boy he travelled with his uncle in the merchant’s caravans to Syria, and some years afterwards made the same  journey in the service of a wealthy young widow named Khadijah. So  faithfully did he transact the widow’s business, and so excellent was the report  of his behaviour which she received  from her old servant who had accompanied him, that soon afterwards married her young agent: and the marriage proved a very happy one, though she was 15 years older than he was. Throughout the  twenty-six years of their life together he remained devoted to her: and after her death, when he took other wives he always mentioned her with  the greatest love and reverence.  This marriage gave him rank among  the notables of Mecca, while his conduct earned for him the surname Al-Amin, the “trustworthy”.


The Meccans claimed descent  from Abraham through Ishmael, and tradition stated that their temple, the Ka’bah, had been built by Abraham for the worship of the One God. It was called the House of Allah, but the chief objects of worship there were a number of idols which were called daughters Allah and intercessors.  The few who felt disgust at this idolatry,  which had prevailed for centuries, longed for the religion of Abraham,  and tried to find out what had been its teaching. Such seekers of the truth were known as Hunafa (sing. Hanif), a word originally meaning “those who turn away”  ( from the existing idol worship), but coming in the end to have the sense of “upright”  or “by nature upright” ,  because such persons held the way of truth to be right conduct.  These Hunafa  did not form a community. They were the agnostics of their day, each seeking truth by the light of his own inner consciousness.   Muhammad son of Abdullah became one of these.  It was his practice to retire from his family for a month of every year to a cave in the desert for meditation.  His place of  retreat  was Hira, a desert hill not far from Mecca, and his chosen month Ramadan, the month of heat.  It was there one night toward the end of his quiet month that the first revelation came to him when he was forty years old.   He was asleep or in a trance  when he heard a voice  say: “Read!” He said: “I cannot read.”  A third time the voice,  more terrible,  commanded: “Read!”  He said: “What can I read?” The voice said:


“Read: In the name of thy Lord  Who createth

“Createth man from a clot

“Read: And it is thy Lord the Most Bountiful

“Who teacheth by the Pen,

“Teacheth man that which he knew not.”

(Surah 96: 1-50)


When he awoke the words remained “as if inscribed upon his heart.”  He went out of  the cave on,  to the hillside and heard the same awe-inspiring voice say:  “O Muhammad! Thou art Allah’s messenger, and I am Gabriel.”  Then he raised his eyes and saw the angel, in the likeness of a man, standing in the sky above the horizon.  Again the dreadful voice said: “O Muhammad! Thou art Allah’s messenger, and I am Gabriel.” Muhammad (God bless and keep him!)  stood quite still, turning his face away from the brightness of the vision,  but whithersoever he might turn his face, there always  stood  the angel confronting him.  He remained thus a long while till at length  the angel vanished, when he returned in great distress of mind to his wife Khadijah. She did her best to reassure him, saying his conduct had been such that Allah would not let a harmful spirit come to him and that it was her hope that he was to become the Prophet of his people.   On their return to Mecca she took him to her cousin Waraqu ibn Naufal, a very old man, “who knew the scriptures of the Jews and Christians,”  who declared his belief  that the heavenly who came to Moses of old had come to Mohammad, and that he was chosen as the Prophet of his people.


To understand the reason of the Prophets diffidence and his extreme  distress after the vision of Mt. Hira, it must be remembered that the Hunafa, of whom he had been one, sought  true religion in the natural  and regarded with distrust the intercourse with spirits of which men “avid of the Unseen”, sorcerers  and soothsayers and even poets, boasted in those days.  Moreover, he was a man of humble and devout intelligence,  a lover of quiet and solitude, and the very thought of being chosen out of all mankind, to face mankind, alone, with such a message, appalled him at first.  Recognition of the Divine nature of the call he had received involved a change of his whole mental outlook sufficiently disturbing to a sensitive  and honest mind, and also forsaking of his quiet, honoured way of life. The early biographers tell how his wife Khadijah “tried the spirit” which came to him and proved it to be good, and how, with the continuance of  the revelations and the conviction that they brought, he at length accepted the tremendous task imposed upon him, becoming filled with an enthusiasm of obedience  which justifies his proudest title of “The Slave of Allah.”


The words which came to him when in a state of trance are held sacred by the Muslims and are never confounded with those which he uttered when no physical change  was apparent in him.  The former are the Sacred Book: the latter the Hadith  or  Sunnah of the Prophet.  And because the angel on Mt. Hira bade him “Read!” – insisted on his “Reading” though he was illiterate – the Sacred Book is known as Al Qur’an, “The Reading” the Reading of a man who knew not how to read.


For the first three years,  or rather less, of his Mission, the Prophet preached only to his family and intimate friends, while the people of Mecca as a whole regarded his as someone who had become a little mad. The first of all his converts was his wife Khadijab, the second his first cousin Ali, whom he had adopted, the third his servant Zeyd, a former slave. His old friend Abu Bakr also was among  those early  converts   with some of his slaves and dependents. 


At the end of the third year the Prophet received the command to “arise and warn,” whereupon he began to preach in public, pointing out the wretched folly of idolatry in the face of tremendous laws of day and night, of life and death, of growth and decay, which manifest the power of Allah and attest  his sovereignty.  It was then, when he began to speak against their gods, that Qureysh became actively hostile, persecuting his poorer disciples, mocking and insulting him.   The one consideration that prevented them killing him was fear of blood-vengeance of the clan to which his family  belonged.  Strong in his inspiration, the Prophet went on warning, pleading, threatening, while  Qureysh did all they could  to ridicule his teaching, and deject his  followers.


The converts of the first four years were mostly humble folk unable to defend themselves against oppression. So cruel was the persecution they endured that the Prophet advised all who could possibly contrive to do so to emigrate to a Christian country, Abyssinia.  And still in spite of persecution and emigration the little company of Muslims grew in number.  Qureysh were seriously alarmed.  The idol-worship at the Ka’bah, the holy place to which all  Arabia made pilgrimage, ranked for them, as guardians of the Ka’bah, as first among their vested interests. At the season of the pilgrimage  they posted men on all the roads to warn  the tribes against the madman who was preaching in their midst. They tried to bring the Prophet to a compromise , offering to accept his religion if he would modify it so as to make room for their gods as intercessors with Allah, offering to make  him their king if he would give up attacking  idolatry:  and when their efforts at negotiation failed, they went to his uncle Abu Talib, offering to give him the best of their young men  in place of Muhammad, to give him all that he desired, if only he would let  them kill Mohammad and have done with him.  Abu Talib refused. The exasperation of the idolaters was increased by the conversion  of Omar, one of their stalwarts.  They grew more and more embittered, till things came to such a pass that they decided to ostracise the Prophet’s whole clan, idolaters who protected him as well as Muslims who believed in him.  Their chief men caused a document  to be drawn up to to the effect  that none of them or those belonging to them  would hold any intercourse (interaction) with that clan of sell to them or buy from them. This they all signed, and it was deposited in the Ka’bah.  Then for three years, the Prophet was shut up with all his kinsfolk in their stronghold which was situated in one of the gorges which run  down to Mecca. Only at the time of pilgrimage could he go out and preach, or did any of his kinsfolk dare to go into the city.


At length some kinder hearts among the Qureysh grew weary of the boycott of old friends and neighbours.  They managed to have the document  which had been placed in the Ka’bah brought out for  reconsideration; when it was found that all the writing had been destroyed by white ants. Except the words Bismika Alla-humma  (“In thy name O Allah”). When the elders saw that marvel the ban was removed, and the Prophet was again free to go about the city. But meanwhile the opposition to his preaching had grown rigid.  He had little success among the Meccans, and an attempt which he made to preach in the city of Taif was a failure, judged by worldly standards, when, at the season of the yearly pilgrimage, he came upon a little group who heard him gladly.


They came from Yathrib, a city more than two hundred miles away, which has since become world-famous as Al-Madinah, the city par excellence. At Yathrib there were Jewish tribes with learned Rabbis, who had often spoken to the pagans of a Prophet  soon to  come among the Arabs, with whom, when he came,  the Jews would destroy the pagans  as the tribes of A’ad and Thamud had been destroyed of old for their idolatry.  When the men from Yathrib saw Muhammad they recognised him as Prophet whom the Jewish Rabbis had described to them.  On their return to Yathrib they told what they had seen and heard, with the result that at the next season of pilgrimage a deputation came from Yathrib purposely  to meet with the Prophet. They swore allegiance to him in the first pact of Al-Aqabah, the oath they took being that which was afterwards   exacted from women converts, with no mention of fighting.   They then returned to Yathrib  with a Muslim teacher in their company, and soon there was not a house in Yathrib wherein “there was not mention of the messenger of Allah.”


In the following year, at the time of  Pilgrimage, seventy three Muslims from Yathrib came to Mecca to vow allegiance to the Prophet and invite him to their city. At Al –Aqabah, by night, they swore to defend him as they would their own wives and children.  It was then that the Hijrah, the Flight to Yathrib, was decided.


Soon the Muslims who were in a position to do so began to sell their property and to leave  Mecca unobtrusively.  Qureysh  had wind of what was going on.   They hated Muhammad in their midst, but dreaded what he might become if he escaped from  them.  It would be better, they considered, to destroy him now.   The death of Abu Talib had removed his chief protector: but still they had to reckon with the vengeance of his clan on the clan of his murderer.  They cast lots and chose a slayer out of every clan. All these were to attack the Prophet simultaneously and strike together, as one man. This his blood would be on all Qureysh.  It was at this time (Ibn Khaldun asserts, and it is the only satisfactory explanantion of what happened afterwards) that the Prophet received  the first revelation ordering him to make war upon his persecutors  “until persecution is no more and religion is for Allah only.”  (Surah 8: 39).


The last of the able Muslims to remain in Mecca were Abu Bakr, Ali and the Prophet himself. Abu Bakr, a man of wealth, had bought two riding camels and retained a guide  in readiness for the Flight.  The Prophet only waited command. It came at length. It was the night appointed for his murder. The slayers were before his house. He gave his cloak to Ali, bidding him lie down on the bed so that anyone looking in might think it was Muhammad that lay there. The slayers were to strike as he came  out of the house, whether in the night or early morning. He knew they would not injure Ali.  Then he left the house and, it is said,  a blindness fell upon the would-be murderers so that he put dust on their heads as he passed by – without their knowing it. He went to Abu Bakr’s  house and called to him, and they two went together to a cavern in the desert hills and hid there till the hue and cry was past, Abu Bakr’s son and daughter and  his herdsmen bringing them food and tidings after nightfall.  Once a search-party came quite near them in their hiding place, and Abu Bakr was afraid: but the Prophet said: “Fear not! Allah is with us.”  (Surah 9: 40). Then when the coast was clear, Abu Bakr had the riding camels and guide brought to the cave one night, and they set out on the long  ride to Yathrib, whither, for weeks past, the people of the city had been going every morning, watching for the Prophet till the heat drove them to shelter.   The travellers arrived in the heat of the day, after the watchers had retired. It was a Jew who called out to  the Muslims in derisive tones that he whom they expected had at last arrived.


Such was the Hijrah, the Flight from Mecca to Yathrib, which counts as the beginning of the Muslim era.  The thirteen years of humiliation, or persecution, of seeming failure, of prophecy still unfulfilled, were over.  The ten years of success, the fullest that has ever crowned one man’s endeavour, had begun. The Hijrah makes a clear division in the story of the Prophet’s mission, which is evident in the Koran (Qu’ran).  Till then he was a preacher only. Thenceforth he was ruler of a State, at first a very small one, which grew in ten years to the empire of Arabia. The kind of guidance which he and his people needed after the Hijrah was not the same as that which they had before needed.  The Madinah surahs differ, therefore,  from the Meccan surah’s. The latter give guidance to the individual soul  and to the Prophet as a warner:  the former give guidance to a growing social and political community and to the Prophet as example, lawgiver and reformer.


For classification the Meccan surah’s are here divided into four groups: Very Early, Early, Middle and Late. Though the historical  data and traditions are insufficient for strict chronological  grouping, the very early surah’s are, roughly speaking, those revealed before the beginning of the persecution: the early surah’s those revealed between the beginning of the persecution and  the conversion of Omar: the middle surah’s those revealed between the conversion of Omar and the destruction of the deed of ostracism : and the late surah’s those revealed between raising the ban or ostracism and the Hijrah.


Part  II


At  Al-Madinah

 In the first year of his reign at Yathrib the Prophet made a solemn treaty with the  Jewish tribes which secured to them equal rights of citizenship and full religious liberty in return for their support of the new State.    But their idea of a Prophet was one who would give them dominion, not one who made the Jews who followed him brothers of every Arab who might happen to believe as he did.  When they found that they could not use the Prophet for their own ends, they tried to shake his faith in his mission and to seduce his followers: behaviour in which they were encouraged  secretly  by some professing Muslims who considered they had reason to resent  the Prophets coming, since it robbed them of their local influence. In the Madinah surahs there is frequent mention of these Jews and Hypocrites.

Till then the Qiblah (the place toward which the Muslims turn their face in prayer) had been Jerusalem.   The Jews imagined that the choice implied a leaning towards Judaism and that the Prophet stood in need of  their instruction.  He received command to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem to the Ka’bah at Mecca. The whole first part of surah 2 relates to this Jewish controversy.

 The Prophets first concern as ruler was to establish  public worship and lay down the constitution  of the State; but he did not forget that the Qureysh had sworn to make an end of his religion, nor that he had received command to fight them till they ceased from persecution. After he had been twelve months in Yathrib several small expeditions went out, led either by the Prophet himself or some other fugitives from Mecca, for the purpose of reconnoitring and of dissuading of other tribes from siding with  Qureysh. These are generally represented as warlike but, considering their weakness, and the fact that they did not result in fighting, they can hardly have been that, though it is certain that they went out ready to resist attack. It is noteworthy that in those expeditions only fugitives from Mecca were employed, never natives of Yathrib: the reason being (if we accept Ibn Kahlduns theory, and there is no other explanation) that the command  to wage war had been revealed to the Prophet at Mecca after the Yathrib men had sworn their oath of allegiance  at Al=Aqabah, and in their absence.  Their oath foresaw fighting in mere defence, not fighting in the field.  Blood was shed and booty taken in only one  of those early expeditions, and it was against the Prophet’s orders. One purpose of those expeditions may have been to accustom  the Meccan Muslims to going to war in warlike trim.  For thirteen years they had been strict pacifists, and it is clear,  from several passages in the Koran (Qu’ran) that many of them, including, it may be, the Prophet himself, hated the idea of fighting even in self-defence and had to be inured to it.

In the second year of the Hijrah the Meccans merchants’ caravan was returning from Syria as usual by a road which passed  not far from Yathrib. As its leader Abu Sufyan approached the territory of  Yathrib he heard of the Prophets design to capture  the caravan. At once he sent a camel-rider on to Mecca, who arrived in a worn-out state and shouted frantically from the valley to Qureysh  to hasten to the rescue unless they wished to lose both wealth and honour. A force a thousand strong was soon on its way to Yathrib; less, it would seem, with the hope of saving the caravan than with the idea of punishing the raiders, since the Prophet might have taken the caravan before the relief force  started from Mecca.  Did the Prophet ever intend to raid the caravan? In Ibn Hisham, in the account of the Tabuk expedition, it is stated  that the Prophet  on that one occasion did not hide his real objective as had been his  custom in other campaigns.  The campaign was the pretext in the campaign  of Badr, the real objective was the Meccan army.  He had received command to fight his persecutors, and promise of victory: he was prepared to venture against  any odds, as was well seen at Badr. But the Muslims, disinclined and ill-equipped for war, would have despaired if they had known, from the first that they were to face a well-armed force three times their number.

The army of Qureysh had advanced more than half-way to Yathrib before the Prophet set out. All three parties-the army of Qureysh, the Muslim army and the caravan - were heading for the water of Badr. Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, heard from one of his scouts that the Muslims were near the water, and turned back to the coast-plain.  And the Muslims met the army of the Qureysh  by the water of Badr. Before the battle the Prophet was prepared still further to increase the odds against him. He gave leave to all the Ansar (natives of Yathrib) to return to their homes unreproached, since their oath did not include the duty of fighting in the field; but the Ansar were only hurt by the suggestion that they could possibly desert him in a time of danger. The battle went at first against the Muslims, but ended in a signal victory for them.

The victory of Badr gave the Prophet new prestige among the Arab tribes; but thenceforth there was the feud of blood between Qureysh and the Islamic State in addition to the old religious hatred.  Those passages of the Koran (Qur’an) which refer to the battle of Badr give warning of much greater battles yet to come.

In fact the following year, an army of three thousand came from Mecca to destroy Yathrib. The Prophets first idea was merely to defend the city, a plan of which Abdullah ibn Ubeyy , the leader of the leader of  “the Hippocrites” (or lukewarm Muslims), strongly approved.  But the men who had fought at Badr and believed that God would help them against any odds thought it  a shame that they should linger behind walls.  The Prophet, approving of their faith and zeal, gave way to them, and set out with an army of one thousand men toward Mt. Uhud where the enemy were encamped. Abdullah ibn Ubeyy was much offended by the  change of plan. He thought it unlikely  that the Prophet really meant  to give battle in conditions so adverse to Muslims, and was unwilling to take part in a mere demonstration designed to flatter the fanatical extremists. So he withdrew his men, a fourth of the army.

Despite the heavy odds, the battle on Mt. Uhud would have been and even greater victory than that at Badr for the Muslims but for the disobedience of a band of fifty archers whom the Prophet set to guard  a pass against the enemy cavalry.  Seeing their comrades victorious, these men left their post, fearing to lose their share of the spoils. The cavalry of Qureysh rode through the gap and fell on the exultant Muslims.  The Prophet himself was wounded and the cry arose that he was slain,  till someone recognised him and shouted that he was still living, a shout to which  the Muslims rallied.  Gathering round the Prophet, they retreated, leaving many dead on the hillside.

On the following day the Prophet again sallied forth with what remained of the army, that Qureysh might hear that he was in the field and so might perhaps be deterred from attacking the city.  The stratagem succeeded, thanks to the behaviour of friendly Bedawi, who met the Muslims and conversed with them and afterwards met the  army  of Qureysh. Questioned by Abu Sufyan, he said that Muhammad was in the field, stronger than ever, and thirsting for revenge for yesterdays affair. On that information, Abu Sufyan decided to return to Mecca.

The reverse which they had suffered on Mt. Uhud lowered the prestige of the Muslims with the Arab tribes and also the Jews of Yathrib. Tribes which had inclined toward the Muslims now inclined toward  Qureysh.  The Prophets followers were attacked and  murdered  when they went abroad in little companies. Khubeyd, one of his envoys, was captured by a desert tribe and sold to Qureysh, who tortured him to death publicly. And the Jews, despite their treaty, now hardly concealed their hostility. They even went  so far in flattery of Qureysh as to declare the religion of the pagan Arabs superior to Al-Islam (surah 4:51).  The Prophet was obliged to take punitive action against some of these.  The tribe of Bani Nadir was besieged in their strong towers , subdued and forced to emigrate. The Hypocrites had sympathised  with the Jews,  and secretly egged them on  (surah 59).

In the fifth year of Hijrah, the idolaters made a great effort  to destroy Al-Islam in the war of the Clans of  War of the Trench, as it is variously called: when Qureysh with all their clans and the great  desert tribe of Ghatafan with all their clans,  an army ten thousand men rode against Al-Madinah (Yathrib). The Prophet (by the advice of Salman  the Persian, it is said) caused a deep trench  to be dug before the city, and led the work of digging  it.   The army of the clans was stopped by the trench, a novelty in Arab warfare.  It seemed impassable for cavalry, which formed their strength.  They camped  in sight of it and daily showered their arrows on its defenders.  While Muslims were awaiting the assault, news came that Bani Qureyzah, a Jewish tribe of Yathrib, which had till then been loyal, had gone over to the enemy. The case seemed desperate. But the delay caused by the trench  had damped the ardour of the clans, and one who was secretly a Muslim  managed to sow distrust between Qureysh and their Jewish allies, so that both hesitated to act.  Then came a bitter wind from the sea, which blew for three days and nights so terribly  that not a tent could be kept standing, not a fire lighted, not a pot boiled. The tribesman were in utter misery. At length, one night the leader of Qureysh decided that the torment could be borne no longer and gave the order to retire.  When Ghatafan awoke next morning they found Qureysh had gone and they too took up their baggage and retreated. 

On the day of the return from the trench the Prophet ordered war on the treacherous Bani Qureyzah, who, conscious of their guilt, had already taken to their towers of refuge. After a siege of nearly a month they had to surrender unconditionally. They only begged that they might be judged by an Arab Tribe of which they were adherents.  The Prophet granted their request. But the judge, upon whose favour they counted, condemned their men to death, their women and children to slavery.

Early in the sixth year of the Hijrah the Prophet led a campaign against the Bani l-Mustaliq, a tribe who were preparing to attack the  Muslims. It was during the return from the campaign that Ayeshah, his young wife, was left behind and brought back to camp by a young soldier, an incident which gave rise to the scandal denounced Surah 24 (1-26). It was on this campaign also that  Abdullah ibn Ubeyy, the “Hypocrite” chief, said: “When we return to the city the mightier will expel the weaker”  at sight of a quarrel between Muhajirin (immigrants from Mecca) and Ansar (natives (of Yathrib).

In the same year the Prophet had a vision in which he found himself entering the holy place  at Mecca unopposed: therefore he determined to attempt the pilgrimage.  Besides a number of Muslims from Yathrib (which we shall henceforth call Al-Madinah) he called on  the friendly Arabs, whose numbers had increased since the miraculous (as it was considered) discomfiture of the clans, to accompany him, but most did not respond. Attired as pilgrims, and taking with them the customary offerings, a company of fourteen hundred men journeyed to Mecca. As they drew near the holy valley they were met by a friend from the city, who warned the Prophet that Qureysh had put on their leopard-skins (the badge of valour) and had sworn to prevent his entering the sanctuary; their cavalry  was on the road before him.  On that the Prophet ordered a detour thorugh mountain gorges and the Muslims were tired out when they came down at last into the valley of Mecca and encamped at a spot called Al-Hudeybiyah; from thence he tried to open negotiations with Qureysh, explaining that he came only as a pilgrim. The first messenger he sent towards the city was maltreated and his camel hamstrung. He returned without delivering his message.  Qureysh on their side sent an envoy who was threatening in tone and very arrogant.  Another of their envoys was too familiar and had to be reminded sternly of the respect due to the Prophet.  It was he who, on his return to the city, said, “I have seen Caesar and Chosroes in their Pomp, but I have never seen a man honoured as Muhammad is honoured by his comrades.”

The Prophet sought some messenger who would impose some respect. Othman was finally chosen because of his kinship with  the powerful Umayyad family.  While the Muslims were still awaiting his return the news came that he had been murdered. It was then that the Prophet, sitting under a tree (surah 48:18), in Al-Hudeybiyah, took an oath from all his comrades  that they wuld stand or fall together. After a while, however, it became known that Othman had not been murdered.  A troop which came from the city to molest the Muslims in their camp were captured before they could do any hurt (surah 48: 24) and brought before the Prophet, who forgave them before the Prophet, who forgave them  on their promise to renounce hostility.  Then proper envoys came from Qureysh. After some negotiation, the truce of Al-Hudeybiyah was signed.  For ten years there were to be no hostilities between the parties.   The Prophet was to return to Al-Madinah without visiting the Ka’bah, but in the following year he might perform the pilgrimage with his comrades, Qureysh promising to evacuate Mecca for three days to allow of his doing so.   Deserters from Qureysh to the Muslims during the period of the truce were to be returned; not so deserters  from the Muslims to the Qureysh.  Any tribe or clan who wished to share in the treaty of the Allies of the Prophet  might do so, and any tribe or clan who wished to share in the treaty  as allies of the Qureysh  might do so.

There was dismay among the Muslims at these terms. They asked one another: “Where is the victory that we were promised?” It was during the return journey  from Al-Hudeybiyah that the surah entitled “Victory” (surah 48) was revealed.  The truce proved, in fact,  to be the greatest victory  that the Muslims had till then achieved.  War had been a barrier between them and the idolaters, but now both parties met and talked together,  and the new religion  spread more rapidly.   In the two years which elapsed between the signing of the truce and the fall of Mecca the number of converts  was greater than the total number of all previous converts. The Prophet travelled to Al-Hudeybiyah with 1400 men.  Two years later, when the Meccans broke the truce, he marched against them with an army of 10’000.

In the seventh year of the Hijrah the Prophet led a campaign against Kheybar, the stronghold of the Jewish tribes in North Arabia, which had become a hornets’ nest of his enemies.  The forts of Kheybar were reduced one by one, and the Jews of Kheybar became thenceforth  tenants  of the Muslims  until expulsion of the Jews from Arabia in the Caliphate of Omar. On the day when the last fort surrendered Ja’far son of Abu Talib, the Prophet’s  first cousin, arrived with all who remained of the Muslims who had fled to Abbyssinia to escape from persecution in the early days. They had been absent from Arabia fifteen. It was at Kheybar that a Jewess prepared for the Prophet poisoned meat, of which he only tasted a morsel without swallowing it, then warned his comrades that it was poisoned. One Muslim, who had already swallowed a mouthful, died immediately, and the Prophet himself, from the mere taste of it, derived the illness which eventually caused his death.  The woman who cooked the meat was brought before him. When she said that she had done this on account of the humiliation of her people, he forgave her.

In the same year the Prophet’s  vision was fulfilled,:  he visited the holy place at Mecca  unopposed. In accordance with the terms of the truce the idolaters evacuated the city, and from the surrounding heights watched the procedure of the Muslims. At the end of the stipulated three days the chiefs of Qureysh sent to remind the Prophet that the time was up. He then withdrew, and the idolaters re-occupied the city.

In the eighth year of the  Hijrah, hearing that the Byzantine emperor was gathering a force in Syria  for the destruction of Al-Islam, the Prophet sent three thousand men to Syria under the command of his freedman Zeyd. The campaign was unsuccessful except that it impressed the Syrians  with a notion of the reckless valour of the Muslims. The three thousand did not hesitate to join battle  with a hundred thousand. When all three leaders appointed by the Prophet had been killed, the survivors obeyed Khalid ibn al-Walid, who, by his strategy and courage, managed to preserve a remnant and return with them to Al-Madinah.

In the same year  Qureysh broke the truce by attacking a tribe that was in alliance with the Prophet and massacring them even in the sanctuary at Mecca.  Afterwards they were afraid because of what they had done.  They sent Abu Sufyan to Al-Madinah to ask for the existing  treaty to be renewed and its terms prolonged.  They hoped that he would arrive before the tidings of the massacre.  But a messenger from the injured tribe had been before him, and his embassy was fruitless.

Then the Prophet summoned all the Muslims capable of bearing arms and marched to Mecca. Qureysh were overawed. Their  cavalry put up a show of defence before the town, but they were routed  without bloodshed. : and the Prophet entered his native city as conqueror.   The inhabitants expected vengeance for their  past misdeeds.  The Prophet proclaimed a general amnesty.  Only a few known criminals were proscribed, and most of them were in the end forgiven.  In their  relief and surprise, the whole population of Mecca hastened  to swear allegiance. The Prophet caused all the idols which were in the sanctuary to be destroyed, saying: “Truth hath come; and darkness hath vanished away;” and the Muslim call to prayer  was heard in Mecca.

In the same year there was an angry gathering of pagan tribes  eager to regain the Ka’bah.  The Prophet led twelve thousand men against them.  At Huneyn, in a deep ravine, his troops were ambushed by the enemy and almost put to flight. It was with difficulty that they were rallied to the Prophet and his body-guard of  faithful comrades who alone stood firm. But the victory when it came, was complete and the booty enormous, for many hostile tribes had brought with them everything they possessed.

The tribe of Thaqif were among the enemy at Huneyn. After that victory their city of Ta’if was besieged by the Muslims, and finally reduced.  Then the Prophet appointed a governor of Mecca, and himself returned to Al-Madinah to the boundless joy of Ansar, who had feared lest, now that he had regained his native city, he might forsake them and make Mecca his capital.

In the ninth year of the Hijrah, hearing that an army was again being mustered in Syria, the Prophet called on all the Muslims to support him in a great campaign.  The far distance, the hot season, te fact that it was harvest time and the prestige of the enemy caused many to excuse  themselves and many moreto stay behind without excuse.   Those defaulters are denounced in the Koran (Qur’an) (Surah 7:81).  But the campaign ended peacefully.  The army advanced to Tabuk on the confines  of Syria, and there  learnt that the enemy had not yet gathered. 

Although Mecca had been conquered and its people were now Muslims, the official order of the pilgrimage had not changed, the Pagan Arabs performing it in their manner, and the Muslims in their manner.  It was only after the pilgrims caravan had left Al-Madinah in the ninth year of the Hijrah, when Al-Islam was dominant in North Arabia, that the  Declaration of Immunity as it is called, was revealed (surah 9:1-12).   The Prophet sent a copy of it by messenger to Abu Bakr, leader of the pilgrimage, with the instruction that Ali was to read it to the Multitudes at Mecca.  Its purport was that after that year Muslims only were to make the pilgrimage, exception being made for such of the idolaters as had a treaty with the Muslims and had never broken their treaty nor supported  anyoe against them. Such were to enjoy the privileges of their treaty for the term thereof, but when their treaty expired they would be as other idolaters.   That proclamation marks the end of idol worship in Arabia.

The ninth year of the Hijrah is called  the Year of Deputations, because from all parts of Arabia deputations came to Al-Madinah (surah 49) to swear allegiance to the Prophet and to hear the Koran (Qur’an). The Prophet had become, in fact, the emperor of Arabia, but his way of life remained as simple as before.

The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty seven, in nine of which there was  hard fighting.  The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out  under other leaders is thirty eight.   He personally controlled every detail of organisation judged every case and was accessible to every suppliant.  In  those ten years he destroyed  idolatry in Arabia : raised women from the status of chattel (a possession) to complete legal equaltity with man:  effectually stopped  the drunkenness and immorality which had till then disgraced the Arabs: made men in love with faith, sincerity and honest dealing: transformed tribes who had been for centuries  content with ignorance into a people with the greatest thirst for knowledge; and for the first time in history made universal human brotherhood  a fact and principle of common law. And his support and guide in all that work was the Koran (Qur’an).

In the tenth year of the Hijrah he went to Mecca as a pilgrim for the last time – his “pilgrimage of farewell”, it is called – when from Mt. Arafat he preached to an enormous throng  of pilgrims. He reminded them of all the duties of Al-Islam  enjoined upon them, and that they would one day have to meet their Lord, who would judge each one of them according to his work:  At the end of the discourse, he asked: “Have I conveyed the Message?” And from that great multitude of men who a few months or years before had all been conscious less idolaters the shout went up: “O Allah! Yes!” The Prophet said  “O Allah! Be Thou witness!”.

It was during the last pilgrimage that the surah entitled “Succour” (surah 110 also called “Triumph”) was revealed, which he received as an announcement of approaching death. Soon after his return to Al-Madinah he fell ill. The tidings of his illness caused dismay  throughout  Arabia and anguish  to the folk of Al-Madinah, Mecca and Ta’if, the hometowns.  At early dawn on the last day of his earthly life he came out from his room beside the Mosque at Al-Madinah and joined public prayer, which Abu Bakr had been leading since his illness. And  there was great relief among the people, who supposed him well again.  When, later in the day, the rumour grew that he was dead, Omar threatened those who spread the rumour with dire punishment, declaring it a crime to think that the Messenger of God could die. He was  storming at the people  in that strain when Abu Bakr went into the chamber of his daughter Ayeshah, where the Prophet lay.  Having ascertained the fact, and kissed the dead mans forehead, he went back into the Mosque. The people were still listening to Omar, who was saying that the rumour was a wicked lie, that the Prophet who was all in all to them, could not be dead.  Abu Bakr went up to Omar and tried to stop him by a whispered  word. Then, finding he would pay no heed, Abu Bakr called to the people, who, recognising his voice, left Omar and came crowding around him.  He first gave praise to Allah, and then said: “O People! Lo! As for him who used to worship Allah, Allah is Alive and dieth not”  He then recited the verse of the Koran (Qur’an): “And Mohammad  is but a messenger, messengers the like of whom have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels? He who turneth back  doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful”  (surah 3: 144). 

“And,” says a narrator. An eye-witness,  “it was as if the people had not known that such a verse had been revealed till Abu Bakr recited it.”  And another witness tells how Omar used to say:  “Directly I heard Abu Bakr recite that verse my feet were cut  from beneath me and I fell to the ground, for I knew that Allah’s messenger was dead. May Allah bless and keep him!”

All the surahs of the  Koran (Qur’an)  had been recorded in writing before the Prophets death, and many Muslims had committed the whole Koran (Qur’an) to memory. But the written surahs were dispersed among the people: and when, in  a battle that took place during the Caliphate (deputy of God/successor of Muhammad)  of Abu Bakr – that is to say, within two years of the Prophets death – a large number of those who knew the whole Koran (Qur’an) by heart  were killed, a collection of the whole Koran (Qur’an)  was made and put in writing. In the Caliphate of Othman, all existing copies of surahs were called in , and an authoritative version, based on Abu Bakr’s collection and testimony of those who had the whole Koran (Qur’an) by heart, was compiled  exactly in the present form  and order, which is regarded as traditional and as the arrangement  of the Prophet himself, the Caliph Othman and his helpers  being Comrades of the Prophet  and the most devout students of the Revelation. The Koran (Qur’an) has thus been very carefully preserved.

The arrangement is not easy to understand. Revelations of various dates and on different subjects are to be found together in one surah: verses of Madinah revelation are found in Meccan surahs:  some of the Madinah surahs, though of late revelation, are placed first and the very early Meccan surahs at the end. But the arrangement is not haphazard, as some  have hastily supposed. Closer study will reveal  a sequence and significance   as, for instance, with regard to the placing of the very early Meccan surahs at the end. The inspiration of the Prophet progressed from inmost things  to outward things, whereas most people find their way through outward things  to things within.

There is another peculiarity  which is disconcerting in translation though it proceeds from one of the beauties of the original, and is unavoidable without abolishing  the verse-division of great importance  for reference.  In Arabic the verses are divided according to the rhythm of the language. When a certain sound which marks the rhythm recurs there is a strong pause and the verse ends naturally, although the sentence may go on to the next verse or to  several subsequent  verses. That is of the spirit of the Arabic language: but attempts to reproduce such rhythm in English have the opposite affect to that produced by the Arabic.  Here only the division is preserved, the verses being divided  as in the Koran (Quran), and numbered.







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