Waraka ibn Nawfal
Waraka (or Waraqah) ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn Abd-al-Uzza ibn Qusayy Al-Qurashi (Arabic ورقه بن نوفل بن أسد بن عبد العزّى بن قصي القرشي) was the paternal first cousin of Khadija, the first wife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Waraka and Khadija were also the first cousins twice removed of Muhammad: their paternal grandfather Asad ibn Abd-al-Uzza was Muhammad’s matrilineal great-great-grandfather. By another reckoning, Waraka was Muhammad's third cousin once removed: Asad ibn Abd-al-Uzza was a grandson of Muhammad's patrilineal great-great-great-grandfather Qusai ibn Kilab.
Muslim tradition maintains that Waraka was one of the believers in the Pre-Islamic period, meaning that he was a believer before the prophecy of Muhammad. He studied the Bible under Jews and Christians and read an Arabic translation of the New Testament. He also "wrote the New Testament in Arabic," but it is not clear whether this means that he translated it from the Greek or merely wrote out someone else's translation so that he would have his own copy.
It is said that in 576 Waraka found a lost five-year-old boy wandering around Upper Mecca. This was Muhammad; and it was Waraka who returned him to his grandfather Abdul Muttalib in the Kaaba. This has been interpreted to be a foreshadowing to his acceptance of Muhammad's prophecy.
Once in the heat of the day Waraka passed an open valley, where Umayyah ibn Khalaf was forcing his slave Bilal to lie with a large rock on his chest until he denied his faith and worshipped Al-lāt and Al-‘Uzzá. Bilal kept insisting, "One, one!" i.e., there was only one God. Waraka rejoined, "One, one, by God, Bilal!" He then protested against the abuse, telling Umayyah and his clan: "I swear by God that if you kill him in this way, I will make his tomb a shrine." Umayyah took no notice. Ibn Kathir doubts this tradition because the persecution of the Muslims only began several years after Waraka's death. However, Sprenger points out that Bilal, being ancestrally Abyssinian, was probably a Christian before he was a Muslim, and it is possible that Umayyah was already persecuting him for this reason before 610. In that case, the story that Waraka tried to help his co-religionist is likely to be true.
As Muhammad grew in age, Waraka's knowledge of the scriptures increased. Several years later, when told of Muhammad's first revelation (which is understood to be Sura 96:1-5), Waraka acknowledged his call to prophecy as authentic. Tradition recounts Waraka saying: "There has come to him the greatest Law that came to Moses; surely he is the prophet of this people". A narration from Aisha gives these details:
- Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin 'Abdul 'Uzza, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as God wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, "Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!" Waraqa asked, "O my nephew! What have you seen?" God's Apostle described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, "This was the same one who keeps the secrets whom Allah had sent to Moses (angel Gabriel). I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." God's Apostle asked, "Will they drive me out?" Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, "Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly." But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while.
Muhammad is later said to have said of Waraka: "Do not slander Waraka ibn Nawfal, for I have seen that he will have one or two gardens in Paradise." In a hadith classified as "weak", Khadija told Muhammad that Waraka "believed in you, but he died before your advent." Muhammad added: "I saw him in a dream, and upon him were white garments. If he were among the inhabitants of the Fire then he would have been wearing other than that."
- Muhammad ibn Saad, Tabaqat vol. 1. Translated by Haq, S. M. Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, p. 54. Delhi: Kitab Bhavan.
- Encyclopedia of Islam, Online ed., Waraka b. Nawfal
- Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 107. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Bukhari 4:55:605.
- Muslim 1:301.
- Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume pp. 72-73. The qualification "It is said" is Ibn Ishaq's.
- Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume pp. 143-144.
- Ismail ibn Umar ibn Kathir. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya. Translated by Le Gassick, T. (1998). The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, vol. 1 p. 357. Reading, U.K.: Garnet Publishing.
- Sprenger, A. (1851). The Life of Mohammad, from Original Sources, pp. 161-162. Allahabad: The Presbyterian Mission Press.
- Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 107.
- Bukhari 1:1:3. See also Bukhari 4:55:605; Bukhari 9:87:111; Muslim 1:301.
- Reading Islam.com What Really Happened Up There?
- Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer, 6/1534, no. 7197
- Tirmidhi 4:8:2288.