15 Nov Hilm (Gentleness).Part3
- The Jewish tribes living in the Arabian Peninsula at that time were among the Prophet’s most relentless enemies.
Some of them had a rancorous, jealous, greedy character. It should also be noted that these Jews took great pains to separate their own education, scholarship and literature from the Arabs, whom they believed to be inferior in these areas. As a result, they knew about the prophecies concerning the advent of a new Messenger, and were waiting for the coming of God’s Messenger. When Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, first declared his prophetic mission from God, many Jews who had thought that the Prophet would be from the Children of Israel did not believe him. These enemies created the most evil strategies against him and tried desperately to get rid of him.
One of them cast a spell on the Prophet, who became ill and was confined to bed for several days. Finally Archangel Gabriel came and told him,
“O Muhammad, one from among the Jewish people cast a spell on you by throwing a knotted string into (such and such a well). Send someone there and have him remove the string.”
The Prophet sent Ali, who took out the knotted string and brought it to him. As soon as they untied the knot he was released from the illness and got well.
Although he knew who had done this, the Prophet never confronted the perpetrator about it.
- However, there were, of course, good and righteous people among the People of the Book (those who had been blessed with previous Revelations; that is, the Jews and Christians); there were those who sought the truth.
There were many signs and much knowledge in the earlier Scriptures regarding the unique characteristics and virtues of the coming Prophet, that is, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
- One of the most easily recognizable of the signs related in the Torah about the coming Prophet was his hilm.
The Torah proclaimed that the Prophet would be of gentle spirit and show great patience and tolerance in inviting the people to God’s way. The Jewish scholars saw with their own eyes that the Prophet had many qualities which the Torah had predicted. Some of them continued to search and question, and when they saw all of the signs fulfilled in the Prophet they believed him.
One of these Jewish scholars, thinking, “I have seen in him every single sign and characteristic foretold in the Torah except hilm,” decided to test this last trait. “I went and lent the Prophet thirty dinar for a specified time. Then I went to him one day before the payment date and said, ‘O Muhammad, pay me back. You sons of Abdul Muttalib never pay your debts on time.’” Hearing this, Umar retorted, “O foul Jew, by God, if we were not in the Messenger’s house, I would slap your face.” But the Messenger said to Umar, “O Umar, God forgive you. I expected better from you. You should have said that I would gladly pay what I owe him, and you should have said that you would assist him to collect it and acted courteously toward him.”
The Jewish man recounts, “The Messenger responded to my ignorant, harsh, rude manner only by increasing his own gentleness. He said to me, ‘O Jewish man, I will surely pay you back tomorrow morning.’ Then he told Umar, ‘O Umar, tomorrow morning take him to whichever date grove he wishes, and give him as much as he wishes. Then give him more than he asks for. If he is not pleased with the dates in that grove, take him to another one.’
“The following day Umar brought me to the date grove of my choice. He gave me as much as the Messenger had told him to, and added even more.” The Jewish man, after being repaid in this manner by the Prophet, declared the shahada, or testimony of faith, and became a Muslim. He explained his conversion to Umar as follows:
“O Umar, do you know why I acted that way to the Messenger of God? I acted thus because I saw in him all of the characteristics and morals foretold in the writings of the Torah. The only ones I had not observed were hilm and kindness. Today I tried his patience, and he responded just as the Torah said he would. With you as my witness, I hereby donate these dates and half of all my possessions to the poor among the Muslims.”
- This one simple demonstration of the Prophet’s patience and gentleness brought many other people to belief.