7.8 Persecution of Muslims Continues
Although Quraysh, for fear of tribal retaliation, would not kill Mohamed, they did all the mean and spiteful things they could to hurt him. What was beneath their dignity they incited their rabble and riff-raff to do. They harassed, insulted, and annoyed him in every possible way. They accused him of being a liar and a magician and they did all they could to distract him as he taught the believers. For a man of such noble birth, brought up to be looked up to and respected, it was not easy to bear, but Mohamed bore it all with very great patience and endurance. He was a man entrusted with the greatest responsibility that any human being has ever been entrusted with and he let nothing distract his attention from his noble mission of bringing people out of darkness into light.
While Mohamed bore injuries and insults to himself with equanimity, he found it more difficult to bear the suffering that those who followed him had to undergo. By nature very kind-hearted, he felt for them more than he felt for himself. The Koran says:
"There has come to you a messenger from among yourselves. Painful to him are the hardships you suffer, careful of you, merciful and compassionate to those who believe." (9:128)
The more Quraysh tried to coerce the Muslims into abandoning the worship of Allah, the more they adhered to their religion as being the only salvation for them and their people. They became people who cared for nothing, sought nothing except the great light that had dawned upon them, the truth that proclaimed itself to the heart and mind at the same time. They became patient and persevering in the effort to save as many of their people as possible from superstition and the false gods they worshipped. Many of these men had lived a life of luxury before Islam. They no longer cared for this idle way of life or for money or for the advantages and titles they used to enjoy. To be acceptable to Allah was far more important to them than this world and everything in it. Islam liberated them from the petty fetters of custom, tradition, prejudice, and material desires. They were born anew, remodeled to owe allegiance to none except Allah, the One, the Creator of all. They served Him in humble devotion and considered no sacrifice too great for His cause.
One day the Muslims said to each other,
"Quraysh have never really heard the Koran."
They were opposing it chauvinistically for the sake of their traditions and their idols, but very few of them had had a chance to hear it. Who would volunteer to recite it to them?
Ibn Masud, a young man not yet twenty, immediately volunteered. The Muslims objected saying that they needed a man who had a strong clan to protect him, otherwise he might be injured or tortured. But Ibn Masud insisted that it should be him. In the end they allowed him to try. He sat by the Kaaba and started to recite the Koran in the soft melodious tones that Mohamed had taught them to use. They listened for a moment enthralled, then someone said,
"But this is part of what Mohamed has brought."
So they got up and started hitting Ibn Masud about the head, while he continued to recite the Koran. When he could continue no longer, he returned beaten and bruised to the Muslims.
"But we told you so,"
they said. He answered that he was willing to do it again if they would let him. They refused, however. It was characteristic of the Muslims that each tried to do the difficult and unpleasant job in order to spare his brothers. They saw Mohamed's example and were quick to follow.