Roj Mohor Mah Ardibehesht, 1385 Yz.
We continue our series on the migration of Parsis to India.
In part 1 of the series we introduced the topic
In part 2 we gave the prelude to the happenings of Sassanian Iran
In part 3 we saw the terrible fall of Dastur Dinyar and his exile from Iran
In part 4 we saw the troubles faced by the Sassanian empire from the Armenians
In part 5 we analyzed the heretic Mazdakite philosophy and how it dealt crushing blows to Iran and weakened it from all sides.
Readers are advised to go through part 3 again and follow from there below:
The meeting of Dastur Dinyar with Prophet Mohammad was one of the turning points in the history of Iran, and indeed the world. Although the various Hadith or sayings and collections of traditions of Islam paint a different story as to the origin and facts about Salman-e-Fars (Dastur Dinyar, as he is known in Islamic history), we will base our account on the revelations of Khshnoom as explained by Ustad Saheb Behramshah Shroff.
As an orphan under the charge of his uncle Abu Talib, Mohammad as a youngster was left alone to fend for himself. He accompanied his uncle’s caravans as they went on trading missions to Syria and Yemen. Little by little, Mohammad learnt the trade and also acquired a reputation for truthfulness (Al-Sadiq) and honesty (Al-Amin). As such he was often called in to mediate in disputes amongst the perpetually feuding tribes of Arabia. Over a period of time he caught the attention of Khadija bint Khuwaylid, a very wealthy merchant of the Quraysh family, whose caravans were said to equal the profits of all the other caravans put together. Being a lady in those days, she never herself went for the caravans but appointed different men to represent her on a commission basis.
Hearing of the honesty of Mohammad, she engaged him to be her representative for one of the trips and was surprised when he returned double the amount she expected as profits. His honesty proved and him being otherwise eligible, Khadija sent a proposal for marriage through the family elders, which was agreed upon by Mohammad after some hesitation due to her wealthy status. The marriage of Khadija and Prophet Mohammad in around 595 was monogamous for 25 years, and she bore him about six children, some of whom died very young.
As a young person Mohammad had a practice of spending time meditating alone in a cave of Mount Hira, near Mecca. In around the year 610, the angel Gabriel appeared in a vision and asked Mohammad to recite certain verses which would become part of the Quran later on. (Surah 96.1) He came home very disturbed as he was not sure an to the authenticity of the revelation. He was comforted by his wife and cousin and his ever-present companion, Dastur Dinyar. This continued over a period of three years after which Mohammad became reassured that the revelations were genuine and he began to preach Islam. His wife Khadija was the first convert to the new religion, followed by his cousin Ali, his close friend Abu Bakr, and adopted son Zaid.
The Arabian peninsula in those days was a hotbed of idolatry. The Kaaba at Mecca which existed much before Prophet Mohammad housed nearly 360 idols of different sprites and tribal deities, including a god called Allah and three goddesses associated with him as daughters, called Allat, Mannat and al-Uzza. It was the site of an annual pilgrimage from the various tribes of Arabia and derived much of its prosperity from the trade that arose out of the pilgrimage. The second most important centre was the agricultural town of Medina (called Yathrib in those days) about 320 kilometres north of Mecca, which also housed a large community of Jews.
When Mohammad began preaching Islam, which regarded Allah as the Supreme Being and totally banished the practice of idolatry or images, there arose immediate opposition from the different tribes of Mecca, which depended on the annual pilgrimage for their prosperity and survival. The protection afforded to him by Abu Talib, who was the leader of the Banu Hashim community, ensured that Mohammad was not harmed. Slowly, the number of followers increased and the Quraysh tribe, the traditional guardians of Mecca began to feel threatened. Although they could not harm Mohammad because of Abu Talib, they began some harassment and persecution of his limited followers. Matters came to such a pass that a large number of followers had to migrate to Ethiopia in around 615.
In around 619, the Prophet suffered two severe blows in the death of his beloved first wife Khadija as well as his protector and patron Abu Talib. Now the leadership of the Banu Hashim went into the hands of Abu Lahab, who was a sworn enemy of Mohammad. The tribal protection offered to Mohammad was withdrawn, and he became a marked man. To ensure his safety, Mohammad befriended several traders of Medina, who because of the presence of Jews were more inclined towards monotheism. The traders of Yathrib (Medina) were also intensely jealous of the success of Mecca because of the annual pilgrimage and found the message of Mohammad attractive, both commercially and spiritually.
As matters came to a boil in Mecca, Mohammad advised his followers to migrate to Medina. In June 622, the Prophet learned of a plot to assassinate him. Helped by Ali, who lay down in the Prophet’s bed as though he was Mohammad (disregarding the great danger to his own life), Mohammad slipped out of Mecca and began the journey to Medina. When morning came and the ruse was discovered (Ali was not harmed), teams went out to locate and finish off the trouble maker but were not successful. Those who migrated with Mohammad and arrived at Medina were henceforth known as the Mohajirun (emigrants) whereas the original residents of Medina who adopted Islam became known as the Ansaris (the helpers).
In all these years, Dastur Dinyar was at the side of Prophet Mohammad, guiding him with his years of experience in the Sassanian empire as well as his advanced spirituality. As an outsider with a reputation for truth and fairness, Mohammad was called upon to arbitrate amongst the perpetually fighting tribes as well as the disputes between Jews and Arabs. Mohammad, with the help of Dastur Dinyar, formulated the ‘Constitution of Medina’ giving basic rights to all residents as well as the liberty to follow different religious practices amongst the ‘people of the book’ (Christians and Jews) and the Muslims and tribals. But issues arose as the Jews were not willing to accept Mohammad as a Prophet.
On the other side, the residents of Mecca were left licking their chops on the successful migration of the Muslims to Medina. They retaliated by taking over all the property of the emigrants. In Medina, on the other hand, the Muslim emigrants had no means of income and no property. They were given authority by Mohammad to raid the caravans going to trace with Mecca, thereby setting into motion a dispute that would soon escalate into all-out war. In March 624, Mohammad himself led a raid on a Meccan merchant caravan. However, they had been forewarned and the Muslims found themselves facing an army from Mecca sent to protect the caravan. The Battle of Badr was fought, which was won by the Muslims.
The victory at the Battle of Badr raised Mohammad’s position in Medina and attracted additional converts. The festering relations with the Jews erupted into another dispute which resulted in Mohammad banishing the Banu Qaynuqa, one of the leading Jewish tribes. Those expelled gravitated to Mecca and along with the Quraysh there began plotting for a major battle to finish of the fledgling faith once and for all. Over a period of three months, raids and counter attacks took place between Mecca and Medina. Abu Sufyan, a sworn enemy of Prophet Mohammad commandeered an army of 3000 and began the march to Medina.
The scouts alerted the Muslims and Mohammad moved to the mountain of Uhud to fight the battle of Uhud. Despite their best efforts, they were defeated. But the Meccans did not press their advantage and left the battle field early due to a rumour spread that the Prophet had died. When they realized their mistake it was too late and the Muslims had regrouped and become ready once more. Abu Sufyan began instigating the nomadic tribes with promises of loot and revenge and tried to form a grand alliance against Mohammad. The Muslims retaliated by exploiting the age-old tribal rivalries and defeating any alliance before it could pose any serious threat to them. At this time, Mohammad expelled from Medina another main Jewish tribe, the Banu Nadir, on charges of collaborating with the Meccans.
The Banu Nadir aligned themselves with Abu Sufyan and gathered a large army of 10,000 warriors. On the other side, Mohammad could muster only about 3000. As news of the formidable army reached Medina, there was great confusion as to the way forward. Outnumbered 3:1, there was no way the Muslims could succeed in traditional warfare. What should be done? How would they survive? Would the new faith be able to survive this crisis? The solution to this existential battle came from Dastur Dinyar.
[to be continued…]
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram