The early companions of Muhammed (p) faced all sorts of persecution. The companion of Prophet Muhammed (p), Abdullah Ibn Masud was beaten up by Quraysh for merely reciting a verse from the Quran. Below are some of the earliest sources which mention the incident(s) where Abdullah Ibn Masud was attacked and beaten up for reciting a verse from the Quran.
Ibn Ishaq (704 – 768 AD):
“THE FIRST ONE WHO PRONOUNCED THE QURAN LOUDLY
Yahya b. Urwa b. al-Zubayr told me as from his father that the first man to speak the Quran loudly in Mecca after the apostle was Abdullah b. Mas’ud. The prophet’s companions came together one day and remarked that Quraysh had never heard the Quran distinctly read to them, and who was there who would make them listen to it? When Abdullah said that he would, they replied that they were afraid on his behalf and they wanted only a man of good family who would protect him from the populace if they attacked him. He replied, ‘Let me alone, for God will protect me.’ So in the morning he went to the sanctuary while Quraysh were in their conferences, and when he arrived at the Maqam, he read, ‘In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,’ raising his voice as he did so, ‘the Compassionate who taught the Quran.’ Then he turned towards them as he read so that they noticed him, and they said, ‘What on earth is this son of a slave-woman saying? And when they realized that he was reading some of what Muhammad prayed, they got up and began to hit him in the face; but he continued to read so far as God willed that he should read. Then he went to his companions with the marks of their blows on his face. They said, ‘This is just what we feared would happen to you.’ He said, ‘God’s enemies were never more contemptible in my sight than they are now, and if you like I will go and do the same thing before them tomorrow.’ They said, ‘No, you have done enough, you have made them listen to what they don’t want to hear.’” (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, [Oxford University Press – Seventeenth Impression 2004], page 141 – 143)
Muhammed Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838 – 923 AD):
“’Abdallah b. Masud Recites the Qur’an Aloud to Quraysh
Ibn Humayd-Salamah-Muhammad b. Ishaq-Yahya b. ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr-his father:” The first to recite the Qur’an aloud in Mecca after the Messenger of God was ‘Abdallah b. Masud. One day the companions of the Messenger of God were assembled together and said, “By God, Quraysh have never heard this Qur’an recited aloud to them. Who will let them hear it?” ‘Abdallah b. Mas’ud said, “I will.” They said, “We fear what they will do to you. What we want is a man who has a clan who will protect him against them if they seek to harm him.” He replied, “Let me do it. God will protect me.” The next day, Ibn Masud went to the Magam in the late morning when the Quraysh were gathered in their groups. When he was standing at the magam, he said, “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” raising his voice as he did so, “The Compassionate has made known the Qur’an. He has created man.” He turned toward them as he recited, and they took notice of him and began to say, “What is this son of a slave’s mother saying?” Then they said, “He is reciting some of what Muhammad has brought,” and rose up and began to hit him in the face. He continued to recite as much as God willed that he should, and then went back to his companions with the marks of their blows on his face. They said, “This is what we feared would happen to you,” but he replied, “The enemies of God were never more despicable in my sight than they are now. If you wish, I will do the same thing to them tomorrow.” They replied, “No, you have done enough. You have made them hear what they do not wish to hear.” (The History of Al-Tabari: Muhammad at Mecca – (“Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-Muluk”) – [Translated by W. Montgomery Watt – State University of New York Press, 1988], volume VI (6), page 104 – 105)
At times, even those (Muslim and non-Muslims) who do not recite but merely listened to the Quranic recitation were punished by the Quraysh:
“If anyone of them wanted to hear what he was reciting as he prayed, he had to listen stealthily for fear of Quraysh; and if he saw that they knew that he was listening to it, he went away for fear of punishment and listened no more. If the apostle lowered his voice, then the man who was listening thought that they would not listen to any part of the reading, while he himself heard something which they could not hear, by giving all his attention to the words. (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, [Oxford University Press – Seventeenth Impression 2004], page 141)
Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1374):
“When the Messenger of God spoke the Quran loudly as he prayed, people would move away and refuse to listen to him. If anyone did want to hear any of what the Messenger of God was reciting as he prayed, he had to strain his ears away from the rest. And if he knew that they were aware that he was listening he would have to leave, for fear of harm from them. And so he would not listen. But if the Messenger of God (SAAS) were to lower his voice, those who were listening would hear nothing. Therefore God Almighty revealed, ‘and do not speak the prayer loudly’ or they will disperse away from you. And also ‘nor speak it too softly’ or those trying hard to hear it, believing it may be beneficial to them, will not be able to do so. And so, ‘seek a path between these.”‘ (The Life Of The Prophet Muhammad – (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 1998, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 1, page 368 – 369)
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