The disbelievers of Quraish tried to
implant doubt in the heart of the Messenger of Allah r
and his followers by denying his prophethood altogether. They claimed that he r
was neither a prophet nor a messenger. Allah U answered them saying:
those who disbelieve say, “You are not a messenger.” Say (O Muhammad),
“Sufficient is Allah as Witness between me and you, and (the witness of)
whoever has knowledge of the Scripture.”)1
The previous Ayah calls to witness the scholars of the
People of Scripture who had the description of Muhammad r
in their Books and the tidings of his advent conveyed to them by their
Prophets. Allah U
says in another Ayah:
Mercy embraces all things. I will decree it for those who fear (Me) and give
Zakah and those who believe in Our Ayat. Those who follow the Messenger,
the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written in
what they have of the Torah and the Gospel.)2
The Messenger of Allah r
is described in the Torah with some of the qualities attributed to him in the
Qur’an (as follows): (O
Prophet! Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bringer of glad tidings,
and a warner)3 and a refuge for the illiterates (i.e. the Arabs). You are My
Servant and My Messenger. I have called you “Al-Mutawakkil” (the one who relies on Allah, Alone, for
each and everything). Neither discourteous, nor harsh, nor clamorous in the
markets, nor repels (repays) evil with evil. Rather, he pardons and forgives.
Allah will not take him (in death) until He straightens through him the crooked
religion, by making them (people) say: “There is no god but Allah,” and so opens by it blind
eyes, deaf ears, and sealed hearts. 4
The Jewish rabbis and Christian monks could recognize the
even before his mission. They knew the time of his Message and were sure of his
Abu Talib, the uncle of
the Prophet r,
once traveled with a trade caravan to Syria, having in his company the
Messenger of Allah r,
who was still a boy. The caravan reached Busra, where there lived a monk called
Bahira, the most knowledgeable of Christian scholars at that time. Since becoming
a monk he had secluded himself at his hermitage.
Many a time the caravan passed by his place, but monk Bahira
never talked or appeared to them until that year, when they stayed near his
He prepared much food for them because of something – as they
said – he saw while in his hermitage. They narrated that on their arrival he
saw from his hermitage the Messenger of Allah r in the caravan, with a
cloud shading him alone among the people.
Upon seeing this sign, Bahira descended from his hermitage and
sent for the caravan. He said, “I have prepared food for you, O people of
Quraish, and I would love that you all should attend, the young of you and the
old, the slaves and the free.”
After the banquet, Bahira approached the Messenger of Allah r
and said, “O boy, I adjure you by Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzza (two idols of the
pagan Arabs) to tell me what I shall ask you.”
Monk Bahira adjured him in their name only because he had heard
the Quraish swearing by these idols. It is said that the Messenger of Allah r
replied, “Do not ask me in the name of Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzza. By Allah, I have
never hated anything more than them.”
Bahira said, “Then in the Name of Allah tell me what I shall
The Messenger of Allah r said, “Ask me about
whatever you like.”
Bahira asked the Messenger of Allah r
about certain personal matters related to his sleeping, his form, and his
affairs, to which the Messenger of Allah r gave him replies, all
agreeing with what Bahira had of his description. He then looked at his back
and saw the seal of prophethood between his shoulders, in exactly the same
position stated in the description he had with him.
Upon finishing, his uncle Abu Talib arrived.
Bahira asked him, “What is this boy to you?”
“He is my son,” Abu Talib replied.
“He is not your son, and
the father of this boy should not be alive,” Bahira said.
“He is my nephew,” Abu Talib replied.
“What became of his
father?” Bahira asked.
“He died while his mother was pregnant with him,” Abu Talib
“You told the truth. Return with your nephew
to his homeland and guard him against the Jews. By Allah, if they saw him and
learned from him what I did, they would seek to do him harm. This nephew of
yours will be of great importance. Hasten to take him back to his land,”5 Bahira said.
Translated meanings of Ar-Ra‘d 13: 43.
Translated meanings of Al-A‘raf 7: 156-158.
Translated meanings of Al-Ahzab 33: 45.
4 Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin
Al-‘As: Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Buyu’
(Transactions), Hadith no. 1981; similar versions of the Hadith are also
reported by Al-Bukhary (4461) and Ahmad (6333).
Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah: The Story of Bahira, vol. 1.