Episode 24: Fourth: Authority Held By Tribal Chieftains
The Arabs were a tribal people with deep-rooted practices that governed most aspects of their lives. These included their notions of nobility, rulership, and political power and led to tribal conflicts and struggles for dominance. When Allah chose Muhammed peace be and blessings upon him to be a Prophet and Messenger, he was from amongst the elite of his people since he had the blood of two noble families. The family of Abdu-Manaf on his father’s side and Zuhra on his mother's. He was from amongst the nobles of the tribe of Quraysh and from the clan of Bani Hashim, which was the noblest bloodline of the Arabs. Muhammed was also known to be very well mannered, generous and kind natured. Far from having any of the defects in his character that the people commonly boasted about in their ignorance and untouched by any blemishes on his reputation because Allah the Most High was always protecting him and guarding him from every suspicion or short coming. However in spite of all that, he did not become leader of his tribe for many reasons related to age and other circumstances on the one hand, and on the other because of Allah’s divine wisdom and secret protection of the message of Islam from being mixed up with worldly ambitions that insincere people are drawn to. As a result, one of the reasons the pagan Arabs rejected Islam was because they wondered amongst themselves why Muhammed was chosen for this mission. That was because they did not fully realize the virtue of his moral excellence and the special quality of his personality. Therefore they were not of the opinion that he was better than them or their equal rather they thought that such and such person from the great, important men of distinction from one of the tribes should have been chosen to bring the message. Allah the Most High says: And they say: “Why is not this Qur’an sent down to some great man of the two towns (Makkah and Ta’if)?” [Soorah Az-Zukhruf, Verse 31].
Obviously the pagan Arabs had no business trying to involve themselves in the matter of Allah’s divine choosing of whomever He wills as a Prophet. Especially since they, with their corrupt souls and confused intellect and bad natures, refused to even follow the chosen Prophet of Allah peace be and blessings upon him! They even went to the extreme of requesting from Allah that every single one of them be raised to the position of a Prophet and Messenger and that angels come to them and that they be given revelation! As if each one of them could never follow anyone else! Allah the Most High says:
"And when there comes to them a sign (from Allah) they say: “We shall not believe until we receive the like of that which the Messengers of Allah had received.” Allah knows best with whom to place Message. Humiliation and disgrace from Allah and a severe torment will overtake the criminals (polytheists, sinners) for that which they used to plot." [Soorah Al-An’aam, Verse 124].
They attached great importance to themselves and haughtily refused to follow another human being even if he was a Prophet peace be and blessings upon him who received revelation from the heavens. They proclaimed: “If you were to obey another human being like yourselves, then verily you indeed would be losers.” [Soorah Al-Mu’minun, Verse 34].
As a result of the importance of adhering to tribal customs regarding leadership, the people who were from the same clan as the Messenger Muhammed peace be and blessings upon him refused to follow him, arguing that he was not a chieftain of their clan nor was he one who held a leadership position amongst them. Meanwhile those who were from a different clan refused in order to protect the status of their clan's. Those who were from a different tribe altogether rejected the message of Islam hoping to protect the status of their tribe by not following someone from a different tribe!
Once Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan and Al-Akhnas ibn Shareeq listened to the Qur’an night after night. One morning Al-Akhnas ibn Shareeq went to Abu Jahl and asked: ‘O Abu Al'Hakam what do you think about that which you have heard from Muhammed?’ He replied: ‘What have I heard? He disputes with us and the honorable tribe of Abdu Manaf: they provided food and we have provided food, they have carried a burden and we have carried a burden, they gave and we gave until we became firmly united as if we had already mounted our fastest horses. They said: ‘Is there a Prophet peace be and blessings upon him from amongst us who receives revelation from the sky! When will we ever be able to say this? By Allah we will never listen to him and we will never believe in him.’ Then Al-Akhnas ibn Shareeq arose and departed from Abu Jahl. The opposition of the tribe of Quraysh heavily influenced the rest of the Arabs to oppose Islam. The influence of the Quraysh was so great that even if they had not exerted themselves in their resistance to Islam and in the defamation of the Prophet peace be and blessings upon him, they still would have
swayed the people. That was because all of the Arabs looked to the Quraysh and waited for their approval. The tribe of Quraysh enjoyed a high status among the Arabs. The Arabs revered the Quraysh for many reasons, especially because they were the people who lived close to the Ka'bah and were the caretakers of Allah’s house.