From Merchant to Messenger

The Prophet Muhammad's struggle for legitimacy as revealed in the Koran

Rukaya Saves her Father

From Merchant to MessengerThere were at least two attempts on Muhammad’s life during his time in Mecca.

8:30 And [remember (Muhammad)] when the unbelievers plotted against you, so as to confine you, kill you or expel you. They schemed and Allah schemed, but Allah is the Best of schemers.

Allah’s ‘scheming’ could not prevent a rather disgusting attempt to suffocate His beloved spokesman using the stomach of a dead camel. Muhammad was kneeling in prayer at the Ka’ba when someone⁠—Georgiou claims it was Abu Jahl, while others said it was Aqabah ibn Moeet (also spelled Uqbah bin Mu’ayt)⁠—came up behind him and somehow managed to get him completely inside the camel’s stomach, which he then sealed with the intestines of the animal.

Based on a hadith by Abu Dawud about Uqbah bin Mu’ayt pleading for his life after his capture at the battle of Badr—asking Muhammad who would look after his children, only to be told that it would be 'Fire'—I would surmise that he was the perpetrator of the attempted suffocation. Muhammad was known to be pitiless with detractors when he got his hands on them, but to include the children of Mu’ayt as part of his punishment (they will burn in Hell) is indicative of a deep-seated animosity towards the man.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud.

Ibrahim said, “Al-Dahhak ibn Qays intended to appoint Masruq as governor. Thereupon Umarah ibn Uqbah said to him: Are you appointing a man from the remnants of the murderers of Uthman? Masruq said to him, ‘Ibn Mas‘ud narrated to us, and he was trustworthy in respect of traditions, that when the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, intended to kill your father (Uqbah bin Mu’ayt), 'he said: Who will look after my children?’ He replied: ‘Fire'.

Abu Dawud 14.2680

None who witnessed the attempted murder intervened, except for a woman who rushed to the house of Allah’s spokesman and told Rukaya what was being done to her father. She ran to the Ka’ba and liberated her dad from the camel’s stomach, saving his life.

My account of Rukaya saving her father is from what I consider the definitive non-Arab biography of Muhammad: La Vie de Mahomet by Virgil Gheorghiu. He names Arab historian al-Balādhurī (d. 892) as his source. Another scholar I believe to be ibn Hisham (d. 833) claims that it was six-year-old Fatima, Muhammad's favourite daughter and future wife of Ali, who saved her father's life, not her then fourteen-year-old older sister.

The people of the Quraysh were trying every trick to trouble him. One day while he was performing Salãh in the Haram, on the instigation of the pagans of Makkak, Aqabah ibn Moeet brought the entrails of a camel and placed it on his neck whilst he was prostrating. Someone told Fatimah (R.A.) who was then just six years old. She came running and removed the stuff and cursed the non-believers.

Allah’s excuse for not punishing those who attempted to suffocate the man who spoke on His behalf:

8:33 And Allah did not wish to punish them while you (Muhammad) were in their midst, and Allah was not going to punish them while they were asking for forgiveness.

Having failed to rid themselves of a prophet, in whom they did not believe, through assassination, and tiring of listening to him insult their ancestors for worshipping idols—insisting that their forefathers were burning in Hell because they died as unbelievers—the Meccans who allegedly asked for forgiveness banned Muhammad and his followers from the Ka’ba, and for that they would be punished.

8:34 And what excuse do they have that Allah should not punish them, when they bar people from the Sacred Mosque (the enclosure surrounding the Ka’ba), although they were not its guardians? Its guardians are only those who fear Allah; but most of them do not know.

2:114 And who is more unjust than those who prohibit mentioning of Allah in His mosques, and who even seek to destroy them. Those people should not have been allowed to enter them except in fear. For them there is disgrace in this world, and terrible punishment in the Hereafter.

The believers defied the ordinance, prompting the Meccans, in 616, to send them all into exile. Muhammad did not leave until learning of another attempt on his life. The next time he will enter Mecca, it would be as its conqueror (see Jihad in the Koran: "Mecca Surrenders," Boreal