Synopsis: This episode begins by showing the beating of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud by the Quraysh and then turns to ‘Umar sitting with his household expressing frustration at what he witnessed…he asserts that the Muslims have responded to persecution with calls to peace and that their weak have become strong and their strong have become merciful. He continues and says that “we” (i.e. the Quraysh) allow the strong to oppress the weak, while the Muslims care for one another, with the rich and powerful among them bearing the burdens of the weak, and cites the example of Abu Bakr and ‘Uthman in freeing many Muslim slaves. He then laments how Ibn Mas’ud was beaten by the Quraysh. At this point, his brother in law interrupts him and says he also perpetrates persecution against Muslims…’Umar declares that he only persecutes those of his own rank (not the weaker ones) and proceeds to assert that these divisions within Quraysh have all arisen because of the Prophet. He then vows to murder the Prophet in order to restore peace and order…before his sister interrupts him and implores him to think carefully about what he is saying. His brother-in-law (or brother?) then raises his voice and tells him to cast all such thoughts from his mind.
The next scene shows Abu Bakr and the Prophet (not physically depicted obviously, but the context makes it clear he is there as well) praying near the Ka’ba…which provokes the ire of Abu Jahl who rallies the nobles of Quraysh. As they approach the Ka’ba, Abu Bakr casts himself between them and the Prophet and tells them to fear God and questions how they can persecute someone merely for saying “my Lord is God.” Abu Jahl then proceeds to physically attack and beat Abu Bakr quite severely and pushes him away, at which point another Qurayshi noble (‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah) begins whipping him brutally until he falls unconscious. During all this, ‘Umar is watching from afar. As Abu Bakr regains consciousness (in the next scene, surrounded by his friends and family), he immediately asks about the Prophet and his condition, and whether he was at all harmed. Even in his weakened state, he continues to inquire about the whereabouts and safety of the Prophet. He then is carried to the Prophet’s house by his relatives. Once inside, Abu Bakr brings his mother into the house where she takes the shahdah at the hands of the Prophet himself. A very touching scene.
The next scene goes to the house of ‘Utbah, where Abu Hudhayfa is chastising his father for his oppression against the Muslims and Abu Bakr in particular. ‘Utbah is unapologetic and declares that his son should be thankful that he has not inflicted any punishment on him, even though other notables of Quraysh had already done so to their sons who followed Muhammad. Abu Hudhayfa says that God will judge between them, as he judges between truth and falsehood. Elsewhere, there is a small scuffle in the home of al-Walid ibn Mughirah where his sons al-Walid and Khalid ibn al-Walid (yes, the famous general) are arguing over the teachings of Islam. Khalid is staunchly against, while al-Walid seeks to convince his father and brother that such teachings bring mercy, justice and compassion into the world, and are not as bad as the Quraysh are making them seem; however, he declares, he has not become a Muslim yet. The next scene shows ‘Umar approaching ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud sitting under a tree at night just outside Mecca. They engage in discussion and about religion. Very moving. the relationship between these two characters is among the most interesting in the show so far
The next scene shows al-Walid ibn Mughirah approaching ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab the next morning and telling him that the Prophet had given permission for some of his followers to migrate to Abyssinian…and said it seemed very strange. We are then returned to ‘Utbah and Abu Hudhayfa arguing again, this time about the latter’s decision to migrate to Abyssinia. A lot more goes down…with the Quraysh continuing to deliberate about how to deal with the Muslims, especially in light of their new decision for a substantial number of them to leave Mecca. Wahshi and Bilal then run into each other in Mecca and get into a serious argument, with Bilal trying to convince Wahshi about Islam, but the latter refusing to listen. Much of the episode revolves around a lot of the personal struggles and journeys of several of the Muslims from Mecca to Abyssinia.
Next, we see Ja’far ibn Abi Talib leading the delegation of the Muslims to the Negus of Abyssinia, who grants them safety and sanctuary…the Negus reassures them that, like all prophets, Muhammad will be successful but they have to be patient and trust in God. Back in Mecca, the Quraysh are in a major crisis…worried about the establishment of the Muslims in Abyssinia. Abu Sufyan, in particular, is anxious that such a situation could dramatically disrupt Meccan trade in Abyssinia. The solution of the council: lessen the persecution of the Muslims in Mecca until a more viable answer to Islam is found.
Review: This episode was rather slow, but nevertheless good. I thought they did an OK job dealing with the migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia and the reverberations this move had on the Quraysh. I really love how each early Muslim has his/her own small plot and storyline which all interweave together as the story develops further. However, I feel that more attention needs to be devoted to the character of ‘Umar, who seems important but not important enough in this episode. After all, the show is named after him! Also, at times, the plot seems rather erratic and moves too frequently between the different characters rather than focusing substantially upon one. I suppose this is the best way to cover the most ground, but it is also a little distracting for the viewer.