The story of the three Quraish who listened to the recitation in secret…

Here is the rendering from Ibn Ishaq about the incident with the three members of Quraish who used to listen in secret to the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he read the Quran. Ibn Katheer mentions it in his tafseer with relation to the 33rd Ayah in Sura An’am (6th Sura, Mekkan) given below-

قَدْ نَعْلَمُ إِنَّهُ لَيَحْزُنُكَ الَّذِى يَقُولُونَ فَإِنَّهُمْ لاَ يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَـكِنَّ الظَّـلِمِينَ بِـَايَـتِ اللَّهِ يَجْحَدُونَ

6:33 We know indeed the grief which their words cause you; it is not you that they deny, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers deny.

Ibn Katheer says

‘ Allah’s statement,

… فَإِنَّهُمْ لاَ يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَكِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ يَجْحَدُونَ ﴿٣٣﴾

it is not you that they deny, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers deny.

means, they do not accuse you of being a liar, وَلَكِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ يَجْحَدُونَ (but it is the Verses of Allah that the wrongdoers deny). It is only the truth that they reject and refuse.

Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned that Az-Zuhri said that;

Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb and Al-Akhnas bin Shurayq once came to listen to the Prophet reciting the Qur’an at night, but these three men were not aware of the presence of each other. So they listened to the Prophet’s recitation until the morning, and then left.

They met each other on their way back and each one of them asked the others, “What brought you!”

So they mentioned to each other the reason why they came. They vowed not to repeat this incident so that the young men of Quraysh would not hear of what they did and imitate them.

On the second night, each one of the three came back thinking that the other two would not come because of the vows they made to each other. In the morning, they again met each other on their way back and criticized each other, vowing not to repeat what they did.

On the third night, they again went to listen to the Prophet and in the morning they again vowed not to repeat this incident.

During that day, Al-Akhnas bin Shurayq took his staff and went to Abu Sufyan bin Harb in his house saying, “O Abu Hanzalah! What is your opinion concerning what you heard from Muhammad.”

Abu Sufyan said, “O Abu Thalabah! By Allah, I have heard some things that I recognize and know their implications. I also heard some things whose meaning and implications were unknown to me.”

Al-Akhnas said, “And I the same, by He Whom you swore by!”

Al-Akhnas left Abu Sufyan and went to Abu Jahl and asked him, “O Abu Al-Hakam! What is your opinion about what you heard from Muhammad.”

Abu Jahl said, “We competed with Bani Abd Manaf (the Prophet’s sub tribe) and so we fed as they fed and gave away as they gave away. So, when we were neck and neck with them, just as two horses in a race, they said, `There is a Prophet from among us, to whom revelation from the heaven comes.’ So how can we ever beat them at that! By Allah we will never believe in him or accept what he says.’

This is when Al-Akhnas left Abu Jahl and went away.”

–It is interesting how this story also relates to this verse, when we were discussing it in how it related in a different context!–