Chapter 6: Sufferings of the Oppressed
Sumayya daughter of Khayyit said to her husband Yasir: "Woe to this obstinate, transgressing tyrant! The city of Makkah is resounding with the tales of cruelty and oppression of this man with regard to ‘Ammar and the incident of atrocities committed by this cruel man on him is now the talk of the town .O my dear ‘Ammar! O Allah! What may I do, for I am going to lose my son!
I have learned that Abu Jahl has not permitted ‘Ammar to offer evening and night prayers and has ordered that he should be whipped. What a whipping! The sound of the whips falling on his body is now heard in the same manner in which his own voice used to be heard at dawn when he offered prayers and made supplications to Allah. O my dear ‘Ammar! I am boiling with indignation for the outrage let loose on you.
O my Lord! What may I do? People say that Abu Jahl is not contented with the blows which are being administered to ‘Ammar and which are so severe that they may split even the stones. Besides the torments to which he is subjected at night he is made to suffer torture during daytime also. It is unprecedented even in the jungles.
Alas, my dear ‘Ammar! Is it possible that I may be made to suffer this torture in his place? Will this male violent dictator accede to this request of mine? O Yasir! Get up. Go to Abu Jahl and ask him to torment me instead of ‘Ammar and to agree to let fall on me, those blows, which are being dealt on his delicate body. Do get up, Yasir! You are well aware that ‘Ammar's body is not used to such flogging.”
Yasir said: "O maidservant of Allah! The torments to which ‘Ammar is being subjected will be reckoned before Allah. Our Prophet (S) has ordered us to be patient and for bearing. Don't be in a hurry .Tomorrow your and my turn will come when we shall be subjected to daily torture.
How important it will be if the father and mother of ‘Ammar are sacrificed for the 'Word of Allah' and lay down their lives for the sake of the deliverance and freedom of the people so that these cruelties may disappear and people may live in peace and prosperity!
Furthermore, we know it well that the oppressions and transgressions to which the general public is being subjected are more severe and dreadful than the torture which ‘Ammar is suffering. How good it will be if these sacrifices of ours become the means of the deliverance of the common people and they get rid of servitude and oppression and this dark atmosphere changes into a luminous space.
If we make these sacrifices in lieu of the eternal blessings which soothes our souls we will not be doing any wrong and will not lose anything. On the contrary our good names will survive in both the worlds.
Don't get excited on account of these events. Don't grieve and complain but extinguish these flames with the cold and wholesome water of confidence and faith. In the meantime be cheerful and happy, because tomorrow you will succeed in meeting ‘Ammar, and will also receive your share of whipping and other tortures at the hands of this tyrant, who is called Abu Jahl.
Sumayya, you must keep this fact in view that this harassment and persecution in the path of Islam is not limited to the family of Yasir, but others are also have to face it. There can be nothing of greater pride for us than that we should serve as an example for these helpless people? These poor people have also to bear such sufferings and tortures, but have observed patience and fortitude. All of them are undergoing persecution and are bearing it. It is not only Abu Jahl who is oppressive and cruel, to his slaves and allies. All these unjust and aggressive tyrants who are polytheists oppress their allies and slaves and have made them helpless, so much so that the only food and sustenance which they provide them is whipping and branding of their bodies.
Umayya bin Khalaf Jahami tortures Bilal bin Ruba. ‘Umar bin Khattab torments the slave-girl of Bani Mu'il who belongs to the tribe of Adi.1 Furthermore, Salam, slave of Abu Huzayfa, Khubab bin Art, Suhayb bin Sanan, Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Amir bin Fahira, Abu Fakiha, Umme Ans, Zanira and many other brothers and sisters of ours are undergoing severe persecutions and tortures. You shouldn't, therefore, grieve because ‘Ammar is being tortured. ‘Ammar is the vanguard of dawn and the leader of the caravan of auspiciousness and quest for reform. All these distinguished persons, pure in heart, follow him and illuminate his dark night. In any case ‘Ammar has become a model for these devoted persons and what pride can be greater for all of them than that Allah should be their Helper, and what honour can be higher than that their reward lies with Allah?"
‘Ammar's mother said to Yasir: "O Abu ‘Ammar! May Allah give reward of the patient persons to you who are manifesting so much fortitude for the sake of Islam! I swear by Allah that you have extinguished the fire of my heart and invigorated my soul. Before I heard these words from you a fire was aflame in my heart. It was consuming my entire being. You might say that I was hearing the sound of the lashes which were being administered to my weak son and was burning with excitement on that account. O Abu ‘Ammar, may Allah give you a good reward! Even now I can hear the sound of those lashes but at the same time I feel that for every lash which is administered to him an angel gives solace to his grieved heart. Get up! This night is very lengthy for us and nothing cuts a lengthy night short like prayers.”
The husband and the wife got up and both hurried to the place where ‘Ammar used to worship and began offering prayers. They kept awake and remained busy in the prayers for a very long time till dawn appeared. Then they heard that someone was knocking at the door. With mixed sentiments of happiness and grief ‘Ammar's mother said with a painful smile on her lips: "Do you think we are being invited to meet ‘Ammar?"
Yasir said: "Don't you hear with what intensity and vehemence the knocker is knocking at the door? As if the door has committed a crime and the knocker is like one whose father has, so to say, been flogged in our house, or some one has abused his father; or, it may be said that the knocker has been commissioned to frighten us in advance and it is intended to vex us before we are subjected to torture. Rise with reliance on Allah. ‘Ammar has been away since long. It is possible that we may be able to see him ".
Yasir's words had not yet ended when the house was attacked by a number of rogues and ruffians. A group of rustics commissioned by Abu Jahl entered the house like the genii holding luminous torches in their hands. Behind this group of torch bearers came men who were carrying sticks on their shoulders. Flames of fire mixed with smoke had enveloped the entire space of the house and the attackers were raising a hue and cry. However, these aged couple did not pay any heed to this tumult.
At this juncture the transgressors stretched their hands to this couple and they were seized at the door of the room in which ‘Ammar prayed and where they were still standing. Later they were tied with ropes and pulled out of the house.
A group of rascals and vagabonds then went ahead and another group drove the innocent Yasir and Sumayya harshly from behind and reviled and abused them. However, these two persons were asking Divine forgiveness and reciting the name of Muhammad with respect and praising him.
The city of Makkah was not unaware of this incident, but the hue and cry of the rogues and vagabonds had filled the atmosphere of that morning with agitation and anxiety. For this reason the people came out of their houses in a confused state of mind and witnessed the hardships of Yasir's family.
This scene roused various sentiments in the hearts of the people. Many unbiased and just persons were apparently calm and quiet, but their hearts were bleeding with grief and the state of affairs was unbearable for them. Evidently, in the circumstances discontent was becoming stronger day by day. However, as the opponents of the prevailing conditions did not display their opposition openly, Abu Jahl thought that the masses that were observing silence were his supporters and endorsed his views. He also imagined that all the people had gathered under his standard. For this reason he felt elated and proud and considered himself powerful and in full authority.
As a result of this wrong thinking he did not give up the policy of cruelty, harshness and oppression, and imagined that the more oppressive he was the more the people would support him, and the followers of Islam would be terrified and would abandon their faith, and consequently the front of the polytheists would become stronger. However, if he had realized his mistake he would have known that the reality of the fact was other than what he had supposed, and would have also realized that the people were in fact the supporters of the family of Yasir and were observing patience for the sake of victory of truth over falsehood.
In the meantime the patience and fortitude of the family of Yasir in the face of the oppression of Abu Jahl was gaining sympathy of the impartial spectators, but an obstinate and despotic man like Abu Jahl could not perceive this fact until he was ruined and annihilated as a result of his mistake, rebellion and intellectual deficiency arising from sheer obstinacy.
Anyhow, when these pious, pure, and chaste couple surrendered to the executioner Abu Jahl said to them: “You traitors! How have you found the promise of Muhammad?”
Yasir: “It is the same promise which Allah and His Prophet (S) made to us.”
Sumayya: “Whatever Allah and His Prophet (S) have said is true and correct.”
They did not say anything more than this. Abu Jahl: “Are you prepared to curse Muhammad and praise our gods so that you may remain safe? Otherwise you will be subjected to an unprecedented torture.”
Yasir: “Whatever we have to endure is according to the promise of Allah and His Prophet.”
Sumayya: “Whatever Allah and His Prophet (S) have said is true and correct.”
Abu Jahl: “Don't be obstinate. I leave you free to make a choice between torture and safety. In any case I would advise you to be wise and not to follow the fool to whom you have given birth, and who is a source of inauspiciousness and bad luck to you as well as to the Makhzum tribe!”
Yasir: “Whatever has taken place is exactly according to the promise of Allah and His Prophet.”
Sumayya: “Whatever has been said by Allah and His Prophet (S) is correct.”
Abu Jahl said to his slaves: "Make them taste the unwholesome and bitter breakfast, and then take them to the place where ‘Ammar is confined, so that punishment may be awarded to all the three.”
The slaves of Abu Jahl dragged aside the innocent aged couple and flogged them continuously. The whips were rolling up round their bodies like snakes and their sound echoed loudly, but these pious persons did not groan or complain.
When the slaves of Abu Jahl got tired of whipping and Abu Jahl himself also was fed up with that he ordered them to be taken to the place where ‘Ammar was confined. When the parents of ‘Ammar met him all the three of them were overjoyed. It might be said that all of them achieved their object, and from that moment onwards the paradisiacal atmosphere, which they were awaiting, spread its shadow on them.
‘Ammar, who was bound in chains, said to his parents: "How do you do?" His parents said with one voice: "How do you do?" ‘Ammar replied: "If no weakness has taken place in my faith as well as in yours I am in a good state.”
Yasir said: "Blessed are you, ‘Ammar! Let me give you the good tidings about something which will be the source of the strengthening of your faith. The good news which I have for you is that I have been told that the Almighty Allah has referred, in one of the verses of the Qur'an, to you and to the masjid which you have built, and which was burnt by the polytheists, and has said:
Do you give attention to the condition of the person who offers throughout the night, whether standing or performing sajda (prostration) and fears the Day of Judgement and hopes for Divine blessings? (O Prophet!) Say: Are the persons who possess knowledge equal to those who do not possess knowledge? Only the people who possess reason take heed. (Surah al-Zumar, 39:9)
On hearing the contents of these verses tears trickled down the cheeks of ‘Ammar on account of excessive devotion, happiness and hope, and he performed a sajda on the earth as a mark of thanksgiving to Allah!
From then onwards the power of resistance of the members of this family against the torture, insults and contempt to which they were subjected by Abu Jahl increased, and as the mischief and shamelessness of the opponents was intensified the spirit of patience, forbearance and steadfastness of these pious persons also grew stronger.
- 1. It has been said that before embracing Islam ‘Umar bin Khattab was a sworn enemy of Islam and the Muslims. He tortured this slave girl, who had embraced Islam, so that she might give up Islam.
Ibn Hisham writes: ‘Umar meted out such a harsh treatment to this woman and cudgelled her so much that he himself got exhausted and then said to her: "I offer an excuse to you and leave you to yourself, because I am too tired of thrashing you". Eventually Abu Bakr delivered her, because he purchased her and set her free. This woman was one of those slavegirls and slaves who were reckoned to belong to the tribe of Quraysh and whose number amounted to thirteen. All of them were purchased and set free by Abu Bakr.