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Waraqah b. Nawfal

This article is drawn from the second volume of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Qadi Nu’man’s RA sixteen-volume Kitāb Sharḥ al-Akhbār and the first volume of Syedna Idris ‘Imad al-Din’s RA seven-volume ‘Uyun al-Akhbar.

As Rasūl Allāh SA reached adulthood word of his noble character, ritual purity, piety, and honor spread throughout the various tribes that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula. Various prominent learned figures such as Christian Monks realized that Rasūl Allāh SA was the promised prophet described in their scriptures.

Waraqah b. Nawfal was one such Nestorian monk of Quraysh, well respected in the Islamic tradition, who foretold of Rasūl Allāh’s SA prophethood before his advent. Although he shared lineage with Rasūl Allāh SA, he was more closely related to Maulatona Khadija AS, his paternal first cousin. Waraqah had a deeply intimate understanding of the Old and New Testament and extensively studied various prophetic scriptures that had survived to his time. Waraqah found references to the coming of a new prophet of Allah in these texts, thus, he eagerly awaited the prophet’s advent as he continued to witness the many signs that indicated that the promised time had neared.

Through his cousin, Maulatona Khadija AS, he heard accounts of the noble character Rasūl Allāh SA embodied, and the various miraculous feats that he revealed. As he continued to hear these accounts, it became increasingly clear to him that Rasūl Allāh SA was the prophet to who past prophetic traditions alluded. Similarly, as Maulatona Khadija AS continued to share these events with him, which he correctly interpreted as dalāil-al-nūbūwah (signs of prophethood), his sincere longing to witness the advent of Rasūl Allāh SA and to be amongst the first that answer his calling to Islam grew stronger. Often, he would tell Maulatona Khadija AS, “Indeed, he is the long awaited prophet.” This desire of his is aptly encapsulated in one verse (bayt) from a qaseedah he wrote in expression of his deep yearning:

“Upon hearing description after description [of Mohammed] from Khadija, Indeed, my waiting has longed O’ Khadija”

Of the many happenings of Rasūl Allāh SA that Maulatona Khadija AS conveyed to Waraqah are the following two accounts found in Kitāb Sharḥ al-Akhbār:

Upon hearing the various accounts of Rasūl Allāh’s SA lofty character, Maulatona Khadija AS ordered her servant Maysarah to accompany a caravan of Quraysh [of which Rasūl Allāh SA was a part] that was headed to modern-day Syria. Maulatona Khadija AS instructed her servant to closely follow him and inform her of all happenings throughout the journey.

One day the caravan made camp near a monastery in which a learned monk resided. As the others made camp, Rasūl Allāh SA settled at a location away from them in the shade of a distant tree. The monk carefully observed Rasūl Allāh SA and saw Maysarah speaking and offering his services to him. The monk approached Maysarah in private and asked, “Where is that young man I saw you with from?” Maysarah replied, “from the inhabitants of Makkah, the Haram of Allah.” The Monk clarified, “From Quraysh.” Maysarah responded, “yes, amongst its noblest of pedigree. What do you desire from him?” The monk revealed, “Indeed we cite that a prophet will be sent from amongst the Arabs, he will make camp below this tree on this day, and only prophets have ever made camp below its shade.” Maysarah similarly revealed, “I swear to Allah, indeed, many of our accounts have revealed to us the same.” The monk implored, “Keep secret what I have just told you, for he has enemies…”.

In another account, Maysarah reports: it was a hot day. The heat was so intense that no one amongst the members of the caravan could manage to speak. On that same day, a cloud shadowed Rasūl Allāh SA, and so he was at ease, unaffected by the intense heat. Finally, the profits reaped during this trip were higher than anyone had ever made before.

When Maysarah reported these earnings to Maulatona Khadija SA, she emphatically stated, “How great is Mohammed’s honesty and blessing. Never has anyone profited in business similar to what Mohammed has”. Maysarah added, “More astounding than that is what I have heard and witnessed of him”. Maulatona Khadija SA inquired, “And what is that which you speak of”. Maysarah, then, informed Maulatona Khadija AS of the events of the monk and the cloud.