reliable that we have. The details of this work were learned from Zohry (d.
A.H. 124), who knew a succession of the Companions, and in especial Orva, a
relation of Ayesha. Zohry's book no longer exists, but much has been preserved
in that of his pupil, Ibn Ishac (d. A.H. 151), from which we have quotations in
the Sirat of Ibn Hisham (d. A.H. 213). No doubt in these writings there is a
vast amount of the fanciful and exaggerated; but much also is valuable as giving
men's impressions, and memory of facts, as they existed at the time. We take,
therefore, from the Sirat the following account of the Hanefites:
The Coreish were once gathered together during their Eed beside one of their
idols, slaying sacrifices, praying, and making circuits around it, as they used
to do at this festival every year. Just then four friends stood apart, and spoke
secretly to one another in righteous terms. These were Waraca, Obeidallah
grandson of Abdal Mutalib, Othman and Zeid ibn Amr. They said: By the Lord! our
people have nothing left of the faith of Abraham. What is this stone that we
should encircle it? It can neither hear nor speak, neither hurt nor help. O our
people! look out for your souls, for by the Lord ye are altogether wanting. Then
they separated, and departed into various lands to find out the true faith of
Abraham. Waraca embraced the Christian religion, and studying the books of its
people, became fixed in their faith. Obeidallah remained in his doubts, but at
last embraced Islam; then with a party of the Muslims he emigrated to Abyssinia
along with his wife Omm Habibah, daughter of Abu Sofian and also a believer.
There, however, he afterwards became a Christian, and perished. When he was
converted to Christianity, he said to his companions: "We see, but ye
are only blinking" that is, cannot see plainly, like a whelp trying to
open its eyes. The Prophet himself married his widow, Omm Habibah, sending over
a follower for that purpose to the Najashy, who himself concluded the
marriage ceremonial - the dower being 400 dinars, which
formed a precedent for time to come. Now as to Othman, he repaired to the Court
of the Emperor of Byzantium, where he obtained high rank and embraced the
Christian faith .....
Last of all we come to Zeid, who stood fast, joining neither the Jewish nor
the Christian religion. He broke off from his own people's faith, and gave up
idols, the eating of carrion, blood, the slaughter of animals for the gods, and
the putting of daughters to death. He said: I worship the God of Abraham; but
he blamed his people for having chosen evil ways. There is a tradition from
Amina daughter of Abu Bekr that she once saw Zeid, then very aged, leaning with
his back on the Kaaba, and thus addressing the people: O Coreish! by Him in
whose hand is the life of Zeid ibn Amr I swear, that not one of you professeth the
faith of Abraham, but me alone, Then he prayed: O Lord! if I but knew what way
was most pleasing unto thee, I would worship thee in that manner; but I know it
not. Then putting the palms of his hands to the ground, he bent his body down in
worship. We are also told that Muhammad being asked by his relations to pray that
Zeid might be forgiven, consented, "for he shall be raised up alone, like
a community."1 Zeid wrote the following lines regarding his parting with
his people's faith, and what happened to him therefrom
Am I to worship one or a thousand
I have altogether forsaken Lat and Ozza,
Hence I neither worship Ozza nor he two daughters,
Neither do I worship Ghanam,
I was astonished, and had strange thoughts in the night seasons.
Since the Lord destroyeth multitudes
And many others he preserveth for their goodness,
Are Divine affairs divided thus?
Thus should every brave and thoughtful man.
Nor the two idols of the Beni Amr, nor do pilgrimage unto them.
Though I did regard him my Lord, when I had little understanding.
And in the day-time the seeing will understand.
Because their works are evil;
And cherisheth the little ones.