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This week is the fifth in our series entitled "It's not fair."  At a time when we are facing all kinds of issues that seem to be unfair, it gives us a chance to look at some of the wisdom that can be found in different religious traditions and worldviews.  This story comes from the Muslim tradition and considers the issue of forgiveness.
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It’s not fair! - Islam
Over 1400 years ago, there lived a man in the part of the world that is now called Saudi Arabia. His name was Muhammad.  Muhammad belonged to a powerful tribe called the Quraysh, who were meant to be protectors of the holy house in Makkah, known as the Ka’aba. Muslims believe that the Ka’aba was built as a place to worship one God. However, the Ka’aba had become a place of idol worship. God revealed to Muhammad that this was wrong and at the age of 40, he began to preach the message that there is only one God.
This story comes from the Hadith tradition. These are narrations about the Prophet Muhammad’s life, they were written and shared after he died.

The Story of Muhammad and Makkah

When the Prophet Muhammad started preaching the message that there is only one God, he only told his close family and friends. The small but growing community of Muslims would gather in secret to meet and to pray. Slowly, news of Muhammad’s preaching spread. Eventually, God told Muhammad to preach to everyone in his community to believe in one God. He was mocked and insulted, but never responded with angry or harmful words.

As Muhammad’s followers increased, the local Quraysh leaders started to worry about the threat to their power. They tried to bribe him to stop preaching, but he and his followers remained steadfast in their belief. Things became so bad that God ordered the Prophet and his followers to migrate to a nearby city. The city became known as Medina. There, Muhammad led his community in peace, but the Quraysh leaders still longed to see the end of Muhammad and his followers. Although they were safe in Medina, the migrants missed their old home, Makkah.

After some years, Muhammad decided that they should do a pilgrimage to Makkah. So, they went on their way, not wanting any conflict with the Quraysh. When they got to the outskirts of Makkah, Muhammad’s camel knelt down; it wouldn’t move any further. The Quraysh saw them on the city’s outskirts and sent someone to find out why they were coming. Muhammad told them that they wanted to do a pilgrimage. The two sides made an agreement that the Muslims would wait until the following year to do the pilgrimage, and that there would be a 10-year truce between the two sides. Muhammad saw this as a victory, as he had secured the pilgrimage for the following year.
A year later, the Quraysh broke the treaty. Muhammad had to right this wrong. He gathered an army to enter Makkah and surprise the Quraysh. The plan worked, and they were surprised!

Muhammad thanked God for allowing him to return to his home city and announced to Makkah’s people, ‘There will be no blame on you today! May God forgive you. He is the Most Merciful of the merciful’.

The years of patience and suffering which Muhammad and his followers had endured finally came to an end. Muhammad forgave all those who had harmed him, oppressed him and forced him to leave his home. From then on, the Ka’aba was restored as a place to worship one Almighty God.
(This story comes from the Hadith)
Follow up questions:
  1. Why was the Prophet Muhammad upset about life in Makkah?
  2. How did the Quraysh tribe treat the Muslim followers?
  3. What did the Prophet Muhammad do to try to find a way back to Makkah?
  4. How did the Prophet Muhammad respond when he finally got back to Makkah?
  5. What lessons can the story teach us about being fair and just?
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