When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called the people to Islam in Makkah, he was opposed by the leaders of the tribes of Quraysh. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was ridiculed and those who converted to Islam were persecuted and tortured. The people of Quraysh boycotted the Muslims for three years, and the Muslims suffered from sickness, hunger, and poverty. In the same year, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lost his two strongest supporters and sources of comfort, his wife, Khadijah, and his uncle, Abu Talib.
Without the protection of his uncle, Abu Talib, in Makkah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) needed to reach out and seek support beyond the city of Makkah. He (peace be upon him) wanted to spread the message to the people of Taif, in hopes that they would believe and accept the message of Islam. He trekked from Makkah to Taif to invite the people to the belief in One God.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met with the chiefs of the major tribe in Taif, Thaqeef tribe. He (peace be upon him) told them about Islam, worshipping only one God, and leaving idol worshipping. They rejected his message and insulted him. Not only did they refuse to listen to his message, but they unleashed the children of their tribe to throw stones at him and drive him out of their town. With people jeering at him as his ankles bled, he ran out, finding shelter in an empty orchard.
Alone, bleeding, and rejected, he (peace be upon him) rests on a rock and prays to Allah. He (peace be upon him) is so compassionate and merciful, he does not ask Allah to punish the people of Taif or to execute revenge against them.
The supplication he (peace be upon him) said at Taif should be memorized by all Muslims and repeated by us every time we are in a difficult situation or have been wronged or when calamity strikes.
“To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support, and the humiliation I am made to receive. Most Compassionate and Merciful, You are the Lord of the weak, and You are my Lord. To whom do You leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy You have given power over me? As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy. I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger. To You I submit, until I earn Your pleasure. Everything is powerless without your support.”
At that moment, Angel Jibreel came to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and told him that if he wished, Allah could order an angel to collapse the two mountains surrounding the people of Taif and crush them.
How did Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) react to those who had insulted him and threw stones at him? He (peace be upon him) opted for mercy not violence towards them. He was not overcome with rage or hate. Instead of seeking revenge against the people of Taif, he said to Angel Jibreel, “I rather hope that Allah will raise from among their descendants people who will worship Allah the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him.”
We look to Taif today and we come to appreciate our Prophet’s vision, patience, and mercy. Today Taif has a population of 1,200,000 people, predominantly Muslim. Taif is the summer capital of Saudi Arabia, and it is known for its grapes, pomegranate, figs, roses, and honey. Anyone living in Saudi Arabia loves to visit Taif for its cooler weather and the beautiful scenery of its mountains.
When reading the history, the incident of Taif is often mentioned only with negative connotations. This is understandable because it was one of the most painful and hurtful incidents in the Prophet’s lifetime, but actually some good did come out of it on that day, and the message of Islam did not fall entirely on deaf ears. Someone did accept the message of Islam at that time in Taif, but he is not always mentioned in the books on the Prophet’s life.
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sat on the rock, raising his hands to Allah, the two owners of the orchard saw him and so they sent their slave with a bunch of grapes to give to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The slave’s name was Addas and he was a young Christian man. When Addas gave the Prophet the grapes, he heard the Prophet say, “In the name of Allah,” before he ate. Addas was surprised and curious because he never heard anyone say such words before. The Prophet asked Addas where he was from and Addas answered that he was from Nineveh.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The land of Jonah the Just, son of Matta.”
The young man was bewildered that this man, Muhammad, knew of Prophet Jonah. After informing the Prophet that he was a Christian, Addas then asked the Prophet who he was and how he had such knowledge.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Jonah is my brother. He was a prophet and I am a prophet.”
Addas was amazed; he knew that this man indeed had to be a prophet. Addas kissed the Prophet’s head and hands and he immediately accepted Islam. So, the Prophet’s mission to Taif was not totally unfruitful. One man, Addas, had whole heartedly embraced Islam after meeting and speaking with the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The lesson we can take from this incident is to never belittle any effort or act of goodness. Persevere and do your part. Work sincerely and do what you know is right, regardless of what the outcome may be, and sooner or later, the results will come.