The Demand of Quraysh for a specific Sign, and the Rejection of that
Ibn Jarir recorded from Muhammad bin Ishaq, “An old man from among the people of Egypt who came to us forty-odd years ago told me, from `Ikrimah, from Ibn `Abbas, that `Utbah and Shaybah — the two sons of Rabi’ah, Abu Sufyan bin Harb, a man from Bani `Abd Ad-Dar, Abu Al-Bakhtari — the brother of Bani Asad, Al-Aswad bin Al-Muttalib bin Asad, Zam`ah bin Al-Aswad, Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, `Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah, Umayyah bin Khalaf, Al-`As bin Wa’il, and Nabih and Munabbih – the two sons of Al-Hajjaj As-Sahmin, gathered all of them or some of them behind the Ka`bah after sunset. Some of them said to others, `Send for Muhammad and talk with him and argue with him, so that nobody will think we are to blame.’ So they sent for him saying, `The nobles of your people have gathered for you to speak to them.’ So the Messenger of Allah came quickly, thinking that maybe they were going to change their minds, for he was very keen that they should be guided, and it upset him to see their stubbornness. So he came and sat with them, and they said, `O Muhammad, we have sent for you so that nobody will think we are to blame. By Allah we do not know any man among the Arabs who has brought to his people what you have brought to your people. You have slandered our forefathers, criticized our religion, insulted our reason, slandered our gods and caused division. There is no objectionable thing that you have not brought between us. If you are preaching these things because you want wealth, we will collect some of our wealth together for you and make you the wealthiest man among us.
If you are looking for position, we will make you our leader. If you are looking for kingship, we will make you our king. If what hascome to you is a type of Jinn that has possessed you, then we canspend our money looking for the medicine that will rid you of it sothat no one will think we are to blame. ‘ The Messenger of Allah said:
(My case is not as you say. I have not brought what I have brought to you because I want your wealth or to be your leader or king. But Allah has sent me to you as a Messenger and has revealed to me a Book and has commanded me to bring you good news and a warning. So, I have conveyed to you the Messages of my Lord and have advised you accordingly. If you accept what I have brought to you, then this is your good fortune in this world and the Hereafter, but if you reject it, I shall wait patiently for the command of Allah until Allah judges between me and you.) or words to that effect. They said, `O Muhammad, if you do not accept what we have offered you, then you know that there is no other people whose country is smaller, whose wealth is less and whose life is harder than ours, so ask your Lord Who has sent you with what He has sent you, to move away these mountains for us that are constricting us, to make our land wider and cause rivers to gush forth in it like the rivers of Syria and Iraq, and to resurrect for us those of our forefathers who have passed away.
Let there be among those whom He resurrects Qusayy bin Kilab, for he was a truthful old man, and we will ask them whether what you are saying is true or false. If you do what we are asking, and they (the people who are resurrected) say that you are telling the truth, then we will believe you and acknowledge your status with Allahand believe that He has sent you as a Messenger as you say. ‘ The Messenger of Allah said to them:
(I was not sent for this purpose. I have brought to you from Allah that with which He has sent me, and I have conveyed to you the Message with which I was sent to you. If you accept what I have brought to you, then this is your good fortune in this world and the Hereafter, but if you reject it, I shall wait patiently for the command of Allah until Allah judges between me and you.) They said, `If you will not do this for us, then at least do something for yourself. Ask your Lord to send an angel to confirm that what you are saying is the truth and to speak up on your behalf. Ask Him to give you gardens and treasures and palaces of gold and silver, and to make you independent so that you will not have to do what we see you doing, for you stand in the marketplaces seeking provision just as we do. Then we will know the virtue of your position with your Lord and whether you are a Messenger as you claim.’ The Messenger of Allah said to them:
(I will not do that, and I will not ask my Lord for this. I was not sent to you for this reason. But Allah has sent me to you to bring you good news and a warning. If you accept what I have brought to you, then this is your good fortune in this world and the Hereafter, but if you reject it, I shall wait patiently for the command of Allah until Allah judges between me and you.) They said, `Then cause the sky to fall upon us, as you claim that if your Lord wills, He can do that. We will not believe in you until you do this.’ The Messenger of Allah said to them:
(That is for Allah to decide. If He wills, He will do that to you.) They said, `O Muhammad, did your Lord not know that we would sit with you and ask you what we have asked and make the requests that we have made He should have told you beforehand and taught you how to reply to us, and informed you what He would do to us if we do not accept what you have brought to us. We have heard that the one who is teaching you this, is a man in Al-Yamamah called Ar-Rahman. By Allah, we will never believe in Ar-Rahman. We are warning you, O Muhammad, that we will not let you do what you want to do until you or we are destroyed.’ One of them said, `We worship the angels who are the daughters of Allah.’ Another said, `We will never believe in you until you bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face.’ When they said this, the Messenger of Allah got up and left them. `Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah bin Al-Mughirah bin `Abdullah bin `Umar bin Makhzum, the son of his paternal aunt `Atikah, the daughter of `Abdul-Muttalib, also got up and followed him. He said to him, `O Muhammad, your people have offered you what they have offered you, and you did not accept it. Then they asked for things for themselves so that they would know your position with Allah, and you did not do that for them. Then they asked you to hasten on the punishments with which you are scaring them. By Allah, I will never believe in you unless you take a ladder to heaven and ascend it while I am watching, then you bring with you an open book and four angels to testify that you are as you say. By Allah, even if you did that, I think that I would not believe you.’ Then he turned away from the Messenger of Allah , and the Messenger of Allah went home to his family, grieving over having missed out on what he had hoped for when his people had called him, because he saw that they were resisting him even more.”
The Reason why the Idolators’ Demands were refused
In the case of this gathering where the Quraysh came together to speak with the Messenger of Allah , if Allah knew that they were making these requests in order to be guided, they would have been granted, but He knew that they were making these demands out of disbelief and stubbornness. It was said to the Messenger of Allah , “If you wish, We will give them what they are asking, but if they then disbelieve, I will punish them with a punishment that I have never imposed upon anyone else in the universe; or if you wish, I will open for them the gate of repentance and mercy.” He said:
(Rather, You open for them the gate of repentance and mercy.) This is like the Ayah:
(And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat but that the people of old denied them. And We sent the she-camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. And We sent not the signs except to warn, and to make them afraid (of destruction).) (17:59) And Allah says:
(And they say: “Why does this Messenger eat food, and walk about in the markets (as we). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat” And the wrongdoers say: “You follow none but a man bewitched.” See how they coin similitudes for you, so they have gone astray, and they cannot find a path. Blessed be He Who, if He wills, will assign you better than that – Gardens under which rivers flow and will assign you palaces. Nay, they deny the Hour, and for those who deny the Hour, We have prepared a flaming Fire.) (25:7-11) Allah’s saying,
(until you cause a spring to gush forth from the earth for us) refers to a spring of flowing water. They asked him to bring forth springs of fresh water in the land of Al-Hijaz, here and there. This is easy for Allah, may He be glorified and exalted; if He willed, He could do that. He could have responded to all their demands, but He knew that they would not be guided by that, as He says:
(Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) (10:96-97) And Allah says:
(And even if We had sent down unto them angels, and the dead had spoken unto them, and We had gathered together all things before their very eyes, they would not have believed) 6:111 His saying;
(Or you cause the heaven to fall upon us in pieces, as you have pretended,) means, `you promised us that on the Day of Resurrection the heavens will be split asunder, being broken and torn up, with parts of it falling down, so do that in this world and make it fall in pieces.’ This is like when they said:
(O Allah! If this (the Qur’an) is indeed the truth from You, then rain down stones on us from the sky.) 8:32 Similarly, the people of Shu`ayb asked him:
(So cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!) (26:187) So Allah punished them with the punishment of the day of Shadow (a gloomy cloud), which was the torment of a Great Day. 26:189 As for the Prophet of Repentance and Mercy, who was sent as a mercy to the worlds, he asked Allah to delay their punishment, in the hope that Allah would bring forth from their offspring people who would worship Allah Alone, with no partner or associate. This is what indeed did happen, for among those who are mentioned above were some who later embraced Islam and became good and sincere Muslims, even `Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah, who followed the Prophet (out of that meeting) and spoke to him as he did. He became a sincere Muslim and turned to Allah in repentance.
(Or you have a house of Zukhruf.) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Qatadah said, “This is gold.” This was also what was said in the recitation of Ibn Mas`ud, “Or you have a house of gold.”
(or you ascend up into the sky,) meaning, you climb up on a ladder while we are watching you.
(and even then we will put no faith in your ascension until you bring down for us a Book that we would read.) Mujahid said, “This means a book in which there would be one page for each person, on which would be the words: `This is a book from Allah to so-and-so the son of so-and-so, which he would find by his head when he woke up in the morning.”
(Say: “Glorified be my Lord! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger”) meaning, `Glorified, exalted and sanctified be He above the notion that anyone would come before Him concerning any matter pertaining to His authority and sovereignty. He is the One Who does what He wills. If He willed, he could have given you what you asked for, or if He willed, he could have refrained. I am only a Messenger to you, sent to convey the Messages of my Lord and advise you. I have done that, and the response to what you have asked is to be decided by Allah, may He be glorified.’