The concept of Islam beginning as something strange was certainly the case during Islamâs early years in Makkah when the Prophet (pbuh) began his mission of calling people to the one Allah.
In the fourth year after revelation came to him, the Prophet (pbuh) was instructed to openly call people to Islam. In spite of the hostile atmosphere in Makkah, the Prophet (pbuh) continued his mission and a minority of people â many of who were weak and of low social standing â accepted the Prophetâs message.
Among those early Muslims were Yasir, his wife Sumayya and their son Ammar (may Allah be pleased with them). One of the noblest examples of Muslim womanhood was Sumayya â a small old woman who stood firm, steadfast and resolute on the worship of Allah alone and attained the envious honor of becoming the first martyr in Islam. She was also the seventh person to accept the faith.
The pagan chiefs of Makkah subjected this blessed family to severe forms of torture to pry them away from Islam. They were physically and mentally tortured on the extremely hot sands of Makkah. The Prophet (pbuh), when passing by them â himself experiencing hardships at the hands of his enemies â would enjoin patience, giving them glad tidings of paradise.
He would visit them when they were being punished in Al-Abtah (a valley in Makkah) during the month of Ramadan and would say, âBe patient oh family of Ammar, your appointed destination is Jannah.â
Yasir died after prolonged sufferings at the hands of his tormentors; Sumayya, on the other hand, patiently bore the hardships. She refused to abandon the faith and was tortured despite her age and frail body. It was a sacrifice that is remembered till this day. On one occasion, Abu Jahl was passing by and seeing her began swearing and thrust a spear through the most private part of her body, an act that led to her death. She became the first person to be martyred for Islam.
After her murder, a small group of Muslims, including Ammar, fled by boat to Abyssinia, where they found protection under the tolerant Negus. Abu Jahl was subsequently killed some years later in the battle of Badr. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) told Ammar on that day, âAllah has killed the one who killed your mother.â
Ammar also built the first mosque in Islam. When the Prophet (pbuh) performed Hijrah, Ammar offered to build a place where the Prophet (pbuh) could sit, take rest in the afternoon and offer prayers. He collected stones and then built a mosque in Quba.
During a battle, Ammar â who was 94 at the time â also attained martyrdom like his parents. In this manner, they became a family of martyrs.
The patience, perseverance and sacrifice of these early Muslims, including Sumayya, are enviable. It seems that no affliction is too much when a person, blessed with the spirit of Islam, is determined to bear it. We hear about hundreds of persons dying for some type of cause. It is only dying for the sake of Allah that brings eternal happiness and comfort in the life to come. People who lose their lives for material gains are really at loss twice â in this world as well as in the Hereafter.
Islam began as something strange and â as the Prophet (pbuh) mentioned â will return as such. In these modern times when even a little adherence to the faith is looked at astonishingly, let us take inspiration from the sacrifices of our spiritual forefathers, the early Muslims (may Allah be pleased with them), and in their footsteps remain firm on the faith. ¬