Bi'tha

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Biʿtha (Arabic: بِعثَة) means selection of prophet by God for guidance of people. The Prophet Muhammad (s) in the age of forty in the Hira' cave in Nur Mountain (close to Mecca) has been selected as prophet and the first verses of Sura al-'Alaq has been revealed to him. The Bi'tha was the beginning of Islam and occurred in Rajab 27, 13 years before Hijra (June 28, 610).

This day is called Mab'ath eve and it is one of the greatest eves among Muslims and in all Islamic countries in this day, people have celebration with their special customs.

Etymological and Technical meaning

The word derived from Arabic ب ع ث (Ba', 'Ayn , Tha') root which means sending, exciting or dispatching.

In the technical meaning, Bi'tha means sending a human by God toward other humans and jinn to guide them to the right path. The word is mainly used for the Prophet (s) when he was selected as prophet.

In Quran

The word Bi'tha in Quran indicates a special stage of life which has a kind of transformation therefore besides the meaning of becoming prophet; it also refers to resurrection in hereafter. However the dominant meaning is selection and sending someone as prophet.

In all chapters of Quran, Bi'tha is always attributed to God, that is, resurrection in hereafter, special rules of universe, and sending the prophets show the mightiness of God and his program in ruling the world.

One of the considerable points about Bi'tha is that God has graced humanity by sending prophets and this grace could be seen from two aspects:

  1. Bi'tha is the way of guidance for humanity
  2. The prophets have been chosen among the people themselves to be the same type.

Even though that choosing prophets from among the people sometimes is followed by ridicule and denial of polytheists and their pride and spite, it has a reason and wisdom that is introducing exemplar to people to follow, as prophets has been described in Quran. If prophets have been chosen from other beings than humans, they couldn't be exemplar for humanity and this is one of divine traditions that the prophet of each group should be from among them to be able to represent the religious message completely.

Bi'tha of the Prophet (s)

Bi'tha of the Prophet (s) has occurred when he was forty and there is a less known opinion that it has occurred when he was 43. The origin of these different ideas related to the different understandings of the meaning of Bi'tha, some believes that criteria of being prophet is receiving the first verse and others believe that the first public invite is the criteria of being prophet.

Hira' Cave

Hira cave, the place that the Prophet (s) for the first time received verses of Quran and was selected as prophet

When the Prophet (s) was in the Hira' cave in the Nur Mountain busy by contemplating and praying, he received first verses of Sura al-'Alaq:

And later, the revelation was continued by the first verses of the Sura al-Muddaththir.

The first time that Gabriel came to the prophet (s), this encounter was along with majesty and feeling of a great burden of prophethood and it has been narrated that after this encounter prophet went to his home and asked his wife: "Cover me" but no wondering or ambiguity were narrated about this encounter because the prophet (s) was ready and capable of having connection with the angel of revelation and the invisible world and the prophet (s) before seeing Gabriel, has seen its works.

In his childhood because of his purity and his hate of corrupted atmosphere of Mecca in that time, he was interested in soleness and isolation from the city. He used to go for one month isolation in the mountains close to Mecca and he had some dreams about the invisible world and he had three years of relationship with the Israfil and 20 years with the Gabriel before his Bi'tha and therefore he was ready when he received the first message from God.

If we accept these narrations, we find other narrations doubtful that state that the Prophet (s) was unfamiliar with revelation and angels and he was suspicious and afraid of distracted consciousness or being attacked by jinn and because of these doubts he had consultation with Khadija (a) and got confirmation from Waraqa b. Nawfal as witness of his prophethood and calmed down with his consolation. This kind of narrations is in conflict with growing stages and the training atmosphere that the Prophet (s) had and it is also against his vision and perspective of the great burden of prophethood.

He told about his prophethood first to his wife Khadija (a) and his cousin 'Ali (a). For three years the Prophet (s) didn't invite people in public, rather he would invite secretly and the new Muslims would perform religious acts in secret.

Three years later he received the Indhar Verse (warning) verse:

and thus his mission reached to a new level by inviting his kinsfolk to Islam.

In the same year he received:

by the revealation of this verse his mission became public and for the first time the prophet (s) declared his divine call in the 'Ukaz bazaar where people were gathered for trade and some of them had a session for new poems and different stories and he asked all for their attention and stated his divine message.

On that day Abu Lahab ridiculed the Prophet (s) and some joined him in making fun of the prophet (s) but Abu Talib advocated the Prophet (s) and punished them. Few people believed in Prophet (s) and were added to those who have believed in the concealed era of his mission. (see:Public Invitation)

Position in the Islamic Culture

Bi'tha has a very remarkable position among Muslims. It actually is the beginning point of Islam, the religion that in its early years had few followers and difficult circumstances and later expands to whole world and attracted numerous hearts. Beginning of all of that crucial change is Bi'tha.

According to historians, this great event happened on Monday in the Rajab 27 in the fortieth year after 'Am al-Fil and 13 years before Hijra (June 28, 610) which was the 20th year of Khusru Parwiz's government in Iran. There are other opinions which believe that Bi'tha was in 17th or 18th of Ramadan or in one day of Rabi' II, nonetheless Shi'a believes in first idea. Mab'ath (day of Bi'tha) is a great eve in all Islamic countries and among all Islamic denominations and in this day all Muslims have celebration with their special cultures.

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from بعثتin Farsi WikiShia.