The Prophet goes to Damascus for the second time

Most of the Meccan people did trade for a living. Abu Talib also dealt with trade for a while. However, he no longer had the financial strength to trade due to having too many members in his family, tribal wars, and outbreaks of famine and drought. For this reason, he was unable to attain another opportunity in joining a caravan after the previous journey he made to Syria with our Holy Prophet (PBUH).  He was making a living by doing some jobs in Mecca.

There was a rich widow, who lived in Mecca and was one of our Holy Prophet’s relatives, by the name of Khadija bint Khuwaylid; she was a partner in the caravan trade.

When our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was 25 years old, the Quraysh was preparing to send another caravan to Damascus. This caravan was also going to carry Hazrat Khadija’s goods. As usual, Hazrat Khadija was looking for reliable and trustworthy men to deliver her goods.

Abu Talib, who was writhing in the distress of trying to get by, heard this news. He called his nephew, the Marvelous Master of the Universe (PBUH), to his side and was left with no choice but say the following:

“My nephew, you know that I do not own any property or possessions. This harsh famine and drought has dried up our stock; it has left us with no business and no strength and energy to stand up. Look, the tribe’s caravan of trade is preparing to leave for Damascus. Khuwaylid’s daughter, Khadija, is looking for some individuals from this tribe to load her goods to the caravan and to deliver them. Khadija is a wealthy woman who deals with trade and wants others to benefit from her wealth as well. She is in need of someone like you in this matter, someone who is trustworthy, loyal, and honest. If you go and explain this matter to her, she will probably prefer you over others due to your honesty and superior virtue.”

After this talk, he indicated his sadness and hesitation in this way, “I am hesitant about sending you to Damascus. I am afraid that the Jews will try to harm you. However, what can I do? I cannot think of anything else that will guarantee our livelihood.” (1)

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) comforted his uncle by saying, “My dear Uncle, do whatever you wish.”

Hazrat Khadija heard about the conversation that took place between our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his uncle, Abu Talib. Khadija knew that the Master of the Universe (PBUH) was a trustworthy, reliable, honest individual and that he had a superior code of conduct. For this reason, she immediately sent for our Holy Prophet (PBUH) to come. When he arrived, she said to him:

“I would like to send my commercial goods that are to be shipped to Damascus with you. I know that you are an immensely trustworthy, honest, and ethical person. I am going to pay you a high sum that I have never paid anyone else."

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) informed his uncle of this offer. Abu Talib was happy beyond measure, “This is a blessing that God has bestowed on you”.

Abu Talib did not think it was appropriate for our Holy Prophet (PBUH) to set off on the journey without a price having been determined. Therefore, he told our Holy Prophet (PBUH) to discuss this matter with Hazrat Khadija herself. However, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) made it clear that he did not want to do this and so Abu Talib went instead. He said, “Oh Khadija, we heard that you gave two male camels for so-and-so’s services. We will not accept fewer than four camels for Muhammad’s services.”

Hazrat Khadija was glad to have found someone reliable. She answered, “Oh Abu Talib, you have asked for a very easy and agreeable fee. I would have still accepted if you had asked for a much greater one.” (2)

Abu Talib was beyond happy for having heard these words.

Hazrat Khadija placed her slave, Maysara, under our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) authority and issued a warning:

“If he commands you to do anything, obey immediately. Do not do anything that goes against his words and do not make him repeat his requests. Inform me on his every condition.”

All the preparations had been made for the journey. Abu Talib and our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) aunts came to see him off and requested that those on the caravan look after him.

And the caravan set off on the journey…

The trade caravan arrived on the soil of Damascus after three tiring months. Every participant in the caravan set up his/her stand in a suitable spot in the Busra Market. The Master of the Universe (PBUH) went underneath an olive tree that was near a monastery.

Nastura, the Priest, and our Holy Prophet (PBUH)

Bahira, the priest who was in the monastery during our Holy Prophet’s previous visit to Damascus, had passed away and left a priest by the name of Nastura in his place.

The arrival of the caravan procession and our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) descent underneath the olive tree had not escaped from the priest’s eyes. He called Maysara, whom he met before, and asked about the person who was lodging underneath the tree.

Maysara replied, “He is a respected figure in both the Quraysh and in Mecca.”

For a moment, Nastura was lost in thought. Afterwards, he expressed an idea that had left him astounded: “No one, other than a Prophet, has sat underneath that tree.” (3)

Later, he asked Maysara:

“Does he have redness in his eyes?”

When he received the answer, “yes” from Maysara, Nastura was certain in his recognition: “He is a prophet. In fact, he is the last prophet.” (4)

Maysara was bewildered by his excitement. The happiness and bliss of serving the Prophet of the Future (PBUH) spread to all of his cells in an instant. The priest’s words became thoroughly engraved in his memory.

The sales were finalized and the necessary items were bought. They found out that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had made greater and more profitable sales than everyone else. (5) This time, the procession’s amazement and bewilderment was added to that of Maysara’s.

The caravan departed from Busra and headed straight towards Mecca.

Angels Casting Shade

The caravan was advancing towards Mecca on top of the hot sands. The burning sun was thrusting its arrows of fire to the ground. Yet, what was this? Maysara could not believe his eyes. Was he imagining things?

No, what he saw was completely real. Two angels were shading our Holy Prophet (PBUH) so that he would not be bothered by the scorching heat, like a cloud. (6)

Maysara was unable to stand still in his place due to his wonder and excitement. The sun’s heat did not affect Maysara all that much after having witnessed the comforting warmth of this strange incident. However, he could not find the courage to explain everything that he had seen and heard to our Holy Prophet (PBUH). He was hiding his excitement, wonder, and bewilderment inside, and was using whatever energy he had to prevent it from being seen by others.

The caravan was now beginning to be seen in Mecca.

Hazrat Khadija was watching the caravan from the rooftop of her home with the Qurayshi women. She was amazed just like everyone else; the ones arriving were our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Maysara. What were those on top of Muhammad’s (PBUH) head? The two angels were casting shade upon the Master of the Universe (PBUH) once again. Khadija pointed out this strange occurrence to the other women with excitement, (7) “Look, look, Muhammad is being shaded by the angels!”

The caravan reached Mecca. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) submitted the goods to Hazrat Khadija. Hazrat Khadija then sold the goods and made a great profit. (8)

Meysara Explains his Observations

During this journey, Maysara saw and learned many things in regards to our Holy Prophet (PBUH).

First and foremost, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) observed cleanliness to the highest degree, his code of conduct was excellent, he was honest, and his friendship was sincere and in earnest. Nothing could be said about his honesty in trade.

Maysara explained all of this, all of what Nastura had said, and everything that he had seen on the journey, one by one.

Without wasting time, Hazrat Khadija went to Waraqa bin Nawfal, her uncle’s son, and explained him what she heard from Maysara and what she had seen.

Without wasting time, Hazrat Khadija went to Waraqa bin Nawfal, her uncle’s son, and explained him what she heard from Maysara and what she had seen.

Waraqa was a knowledgeable Christian and was not in favor of idol worshipping. He was a quiet and wise old man.

He was unable to hide his astonishment in the face of everything that Khadija had said. He then replied: If everything that you have said is true, than Muhammad is undoubtedly the Prophet of this community. I already knew that a Prophet for this community was going to appear and was awaiting his arrival. This is his exact time. (9)

Hazrat Khadija’s heart was filled with happiness upon hearing this statement and acknowledgment.

[1] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 129-130.

[2] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 130.

[3] Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 199; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 130; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 196.

[4] Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 130; Suhayli, Rawdu’l-Unf, V. 1, p. 122.

[5] Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 130.

[6] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 1, p. 200; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 130; Tabari, ibid, V. 2, p. 196.

[7] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 1, p. 200; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, p. 130-131.

[8] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 1, p. 200; Tabari, ibid, V. 2, p. 197.

[9] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 1, p. 203; Suhayli, Rawdu’l-Unf, V. 1, p. 123; Ibn Kathir, Sirah, V. 1, p. 267.

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