The history of the Prophet Muhammad has recorded numbers of helpful non-Muslims. They are people who did not (yet) join Muslim ummah, but had helped the Prophet Muhammad through their own way. They protected, guided, assisted and became loyal friends of the Prophet hence indirectly help the struggle of the Prophet Muhammad during his early preaching of Islam.
We start with Waraqah bin Naufal, a hanif – follower of an Abrahamic monotheistic belief. When the Prophet Muhammad was shocked and in doubt had he been visited by Gabriel, Khadijah brought the Prophet Muhammad to meet Waraqah. After listening to the Prophet and the first five verses he received, Waraqah said: “This is the same person who brought the revelation that Allah sent to Moses”, meaning Gabriel who sent the revelation.
Waraqah’s statement calmed the Prophet Muhammad. At a critical moment in the beginning of Prophethood, Waraqah had testified that the one who came to him was Gabriel the angel, not Shaitan.
The second figure who helped the Prophet Muhammad was his uncle Abu Talib. I don’t need to rewrite the story here. Many have understood the protection given by Abu Talib, the head of Quraysh tribe, to his nephew. At that time the tribal tradition was so strong, as protection of a clan will guarantee one’s life. Harming one’s life will face the entire members of the tribe. Abu Talib’s protection made the Prophet safe and put him into lesser risk of threat.
But what about the Prophet’s companions? Quraysh tribe is a respected tribe so the Prophet’s life was not threatened, but his companions experienced severe threats. The Prophet thus ordered his companions to seek protection to Habashah as refugee. Habashah – Ethiopia now – is a Christian country. The companions were then protected by King of Habashah. Look at how they seek refuge in Christian-populated countries, just as now waves of refugees from Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia coming to Europe and seek refuge in Christian-populated countries due to conflicts in their homeland.
The Prophet Muhammad was safe under protection, until Abu Talib died. So Abu Lahab, who commanded the tribe of Quraysh, announced he was giving up protection to the Prophet Muhammad. That means possibly anyone could harm him and there will be no member of Quraysh willing to defend him. The miserable fate made the Prophet chased by those who wanted to harm him. The Prophet was injured due to harmful attack by Thaif residents.
Fortunately there is a chief of one small tribe who is willing to protect the Prophet Muhammad. Mu’thim bin Adi announced that Muhammad was under his protection. The life of Prophet Muhammad wa saved under his protection. Mu’thim did not believe in Islam but he wanted to protect Muhammad SAW at that time. Mu’thim gave up his protection after Isra Mi’raj when he accused the Prophet Muhammad of lying and therefore he openly gave up his guarantee of protection to the Prophet Muhammad.
In that condition the Prophet Muhammad received command to migrate to Yathrib. At that time the life of Muhammad SAW was truly threatened, only migrating was the only way out. Abu Bakr and the Prophet Muhammad decided to leave to Yathrib at night. They were helped by a non-Muslim named Abdullah bin Arqat (at that time had not yet confessed to Islam). Abdullah bin Arqat was the one who led the Prophet’s journey through an unusual way in order to deceive and avoid the pursuit of kafir jahiliyah. Again, non-Muslims contributed here.
Finally, many did not know that there was a Jewish rabbi who was very fond of the Prophet Muhammad. Mukhayriq. He was a wealthy man and then decided to take part in the Uhud war in defending the Prophet Muhammad. He stated that if he was killed then all his wealth was left to the Prophet Muhammad.
The battle took place on Saturday, and as a Jew he should have stayed for his Sabbath. But he decided to go and help the Prophet Muhammad. In a state of severe injury at the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet Muhammad was told that Mukhayriq had died and given his wealth to the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet then commented: “He is the best Jew!”. Mukhayriq remained a Jewish to his death.
History has marked sweet stories on how the Prophet Muhammad established good relations with non-Muslims. Now re-reading the history, suddenly I wonder: Islam has changed much in our hands. Started from a religion that spreads mercy turning to now, a religion that’s easily judging others; from such a friendly religion to a religion full of anger, from a loving religion to a religion whose people easily offended and shout, “this is blasphemy to Islam!”
General Advisor of Nahdlatul Ulama Special Branch of Australia-New Zealand and Senior Lecturer of Monash Law School