SHAFAQNA | by Dr Ali Shariati*: Suddenly, all at once, in one of the narrow alleys of Mecca, he saw a large crowd in a corner who had tied themselves into a knot. He delivered himself there: a man alone, with an enlightened face, with a look which awakened the depths of his soul, an open and calm brow, middle-size stature, an aggressive shape, and, at the same time, inspiring kindness and affection, with a manly, hoarse voice, decisive and certain and, at the same time, sweet and full of tenderness, with profound words, a pleasing tone and more beautiful than poetry, full of fear and hope. Anis stood before him. He did not know whether to listen to his words, to give his heart to his charisma, or to simply observe all of the beauty and kindness of his stature, look, behavior and words?
He was still in a state of bewilderment, caused by seeing this man, when a group came, creating an uproar. Without listening to his words and answering him, they generated a flood of abuses and repeated, pre-fabricated insults, upon his head and face; and, the ignorance of the unbiased, abased people who had nothing so that they would lose it in ‘the illumination of the message’ and ‘the revolution of the mission’, who were themselves condemned by the ruling system and sacrifices of the status quo, had made them into toys of tyranny and jailers of their own prisons, the popular masses, with ugly enthusiasm and sedition, shouted out that which the biased had placed in their mouths.
The lonely Messenger had the tranquillity of heaven
They pushed the ‘lonely Messenger’ away with anger or rage or they withdrew from him with abuse and ridicule and left him alone. As he had the tranquillity of the tranquillity of heaven and the poise of patience, like the patience and poise of a mountain (for he had come down from Hira and had brought a message from heaven), the blows of anger and the darkness of ignorance had no effect, left no scratch of anger upon his face, which overflowed with tenderness and affection. He would hurriedly go to another place and, amidst another group, his words would begin again, and, once again, not having been heard, not having been understood, abuses and accusations, and again, insults and ridicule, and he, again, to other places and, again, the beginning of his words!
He wandered through all areas of the city, in the street and bazaar, a place of gathering and mosque; he would go everywhere looking for people. He would stand along the way of the people and, without thinking about their answers, would give them fear, would give them glad tidings, warning them of a danger, showing them the way to salvation, for he had a message, for he had a mission, that God, ‘the Friend of the honorable’ and ‘Enemy of the arrogant’ had cried out to him, “O thou wrapped up (in a mantle)! Arise and deliver thy warning.” (Quran 74:1-2); warn people who slumber in the tranquillity of ignorance and security of tyranny and who, by shepherding the wolf, graze poverty and humiliation! O appointed shepherd!
In the house of Abraham (AS)
Release the sheep of the Qararit desert, for in the city of God, human beings are made into being sheep-like! The God of Abraham made all of his angels prostrate themselves before the feet of Adam, and now, in the house of Abraham, the children of Adam are made to prostrate upon the earth, before the feet of Iblis’s fossils —which are the protectors of clans and classes.
In spite of the storm of insult, conspiracy, threat and ridicule which the despicable aristocrats raised with their dishonorable and foolish allies to silence him, make him ‘not speak’, he spoke, saying, “God of the deprived,” had said, “Say!” Say, “We Willed to be gracious to those that were deprived upon the earth, and to make them leaders and to make them the heirs. “(Quran 28:3) Anis looked at the man, followed him, listened to his words and thought about his existence, a perplexed and wonderous existence, but the wonders of the very being of the man, the gravity of his presence, the charisma of his behavior and his beauty so fascinated and captivated him that he became more of a spectator of the man than his listener:
Anis sensed the indescribable warmth of faith
All of that kindness in all of these difficulties; all of that beauty in all of that stability; all of that serenity in all of that restlessness; all of that simplicity in all of that complexity; all of that servitude in all of that rebellion all of that ardency in all of that anguish; all of that power in all of that weakness; all of that shame in all of that boldness; all of that tranquillity in all of that excitement; all of that patience in all of that impatience; all of that humility in all of that awe; all of that love, inspiration, emotions, finesse and ghazels of feelings and the heart in all of that sagacity, logic, vigilance, seriousness, epics and intellect, and finally, [with] all of that ‘to be heavenly’ and [with] all of this ‘to appear earthly’; all of that worship of God and, head to foot, the enflamed of God, and all of this thinking about people and complete occupation with them and what can I say?
All of this aggressiveness and certainty and all of this … and alone. A man, this miracle, who threw such a hue and cry into Anis so that he did not hear his words, or he heard, but the wonder of his words and the miracle of his tone caused such a state of wonder to appear in him, for he was hearing the Words of God for the first time, that he was unable to understand their meaning; Anis—the brother of Jundab, a young bedouin, ‘did not know’ what the man was saying, but through his strong instincts, through the clear, primordial nature of a ‘bedouin spirit’, ‘a primordial person’ in whom ‘logic’ had not as yet replaced ‘conscience’, he found that the man is an ‘event’. He realized, through his senses, that these words have come from another world; he did not understand the truth; he did not comprehend the meaning of the words; he did not come to know the man; but he smelled the perfume of revelation, tasted the taste of the truth and sensed the indescribable warmth of faith.
Abu Dhar in searching for the message
And Abu Dhar, resides in the desert, anxiously awaiting the road from Mecca. “Anis, my brother, did you see him? Did you hear his words? What was he saying? Who was he?” “He was a man alone. His tribe distressed him and showed animosity but, patient and kind; whenever a crowd rejected him or they left him with abuse and ridicule, he would move towards another group and he would again begin to speak.”
“Tell me, Anis! Tell me what he said. What did he invite people to?”
“I swear by God, however much I tried to understand what he was saying, I did not understand, but his words were like nectar which ran through my soul!”
Abu Dhar, in searching for the message, did not have scholarly curiosity or the diversion of an intellectual. He was restless and thirsty and Anis had not brought even one drop of water from that spring for him. He hurriedly arose, and, without sitting and reflecting for a moment on the whys and wherefores of the journey and its outcome, he undertook the long way from the Ghifar land to Mecca. Throughout the way, the traveler, the journey, the route of the journey and the final station, were all ‘him’.
He was going and faith was coming
He was going and faith was coming. Yea. Faith comes in this way. Then he reached Mecca. A man from the Ghifar tribe, amidst the Quraysh caravan leaders and capitalists! And searching for a man, even the mentioning of the name of whom is a crime in this city. He searched the whole day through the valleys of Mecca, the bazaar and the Masjid al-Haram. He found nothing. He went to sleep that night in the Masjid al-Haram, alone and hungry, when Ali, who, every night before going home, would come to the mosque and circumambulate [in accordance with the traditions of Abraham] and then go to his home, saw him alone, asleep upon the dust.
“You appear to be a stranger! ”
He took him to his home and, without exchanging any other words, Abu Dhar, slept there. What design does destiny project! This house, this is the house of the Prophet, because Ali, at this time, is a young boy, who lives in the Prophet’s house. The first events in this journey which determine Abu Dhar’s fate and he, for the first time, comes from the wilderness to Islam, are these: the first person who spoke to him in Mecca is Ali (AS); the first house in which he sleeps is the house of Muhammad (PBUH); the first person who takes him from his unfamiliarity and his solitude in the city to the house of the Prophet (PBUH) is again Ali (AS). And these first encounters and first events which give form to the total life of Abu Dhar and remain with his total being until his death.
Abu Dhar cautiously tells Ali (AS) his secret
And the next morning, in search of Muhammad (PBUH), he leaves Muhammad’s (PBUH) house. The day, without results, becomes night and, at night, again Ali (AS), who comes for the circumambulation, takes him home and, again, the next morning and the next night and this time—on the third night, Ali adds a word to his short and repeated question of each night, “Has the time not come for you to give your name and say why you have come to this city?”
Abu Dhar cautiously tells Ali (AS) his secret, “I have heard that in this city, a man has appeared and …” A ray of a smile, from ardor and happiness, alights upon the face of young Ali. In a tone full of kindness and familiarity, he speaks to him about Muhammad (PBUH). He arranges with him, “Tonight I will take you to his hiding place. I will move ahead. You follow at a distance. If I see a spy, I will move towards the wall and I will bend down over my shoes as if I am tying them. You realize what’s going on and, without paying any attention to me, pass by and continue on your way. When the danger is over, I will catch up with you.”
And tonight, Islam will find the fourth Muslim
These are the difficult days of the Prophet. The town is completely threats and danger. The enemy, one front, and friends, only three people! and tonight, Islam will find the fourth Muslim.
Muhammad is in the home of Arqam ibn Abi Arqam, on the Safa hill, several steps from Masa’. In the fearful darkness of night, the young son of Abi Talib, in the front, and the son of Junadah Ghifari, behind him, they climb Safa, towards Muhammad. This sight seems to be like a beautiful scene that embodies their destiny, a fate which will soon begin. Step by step, he grows closer and inflammation, breath by breath, more restless; faith and certainty have conquered him. He will not go until he sees the man who claims to be a Prophet, knows him and tests him. He has an appointment to see his heart’s beloved and his faith’s desire. Now he is a few steps from the home of Arqam.
He senses the gravity of Muhammad’s (PBUH) existence with all of his being
What difficult moments! Bearing the first moments of the visit is grave. Love had captured Jundab. The son of Junadah was filled with ‘him’. There is more Muhammad (PBUH) (PBUH) in him than himself. The son of Junadah is no more than a far distant and forgotten memory in the mind of Jundab.
His heart has been placed in the magnetic field of a powerful force. Every moment a familiar aroma quickens his sense of smell, and at this very moment, he senses the gravity of Muhammad’s existence with all of his being. His presence fills the area around Safa. Jundab knows who Muhammad is. He knows what he is saying but…what is he like? His face? His form?
His way of speaking? His existence? How can he look at him? How can he speak to him? What can he say to him? What will be? What will happen?
“Alayka Salam wa Rahmatullah.”
And these are the first greetings offered in Islam. We do not know how long this visit took. Even if history had told us, we would not know, for at these moments, time does not work. That which we know is that the son of Junadah descended into the house of Arqam and was lost there. No one knows where he went. He never left the house of Arqam. Jundab ibn Junadah left and suddenly, beside the Kaaba, upon the summit of Safa, from the hiding place of revelation, the morning horizon of Islam, a visage arose, kindled by the dawn, it stopped for a moment. With two eyes which were filled with the flame of the fire of the desert, he hurriedly turned upon the mountainous walls of the valley of Mecca and held his look upon the idols of the Kaaba.
*And Once Again Abu-Dhar, Mashhad, Iran 1955
To be continued