THE LIFE OF MOHAMMAD (PBUH) THE PROPHET OF ALLAH
BY E. DINET and SLIMAN BEN IBRAHIM
An Arab Horseman of the Desert.
Verily, We have won for thee an undoubted victory.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH
Mohammad was never able to get the Jews to ally themselves with him, despite all his advances, and the encouragement he had lavished on them. As we have seen already, they could not admit of the expected Prophet belonging to any other race but theirs; nor pardon him for having, by means of religious fraternity, put an end to the secular quarrels of the citizens of Al-Madinah, which, in olden days, had been a source of abundant profit. To sum up, the victories of the Islamic Arabs led the Jews to fear that they would never be able to free themselves from the Arabic yoke. Therefore each fresh success of the Mussulman armies increased the jealousy of the Jews and their perfidy soon degenerated into open hostility, necessitating a long series of expeditions against them.
For the sake of clarity, we gather into one chapter the whole of these expeditions, although they took place at long intervals.
EXPEDITION AGAINST THE QAYNUQA JEWS
(Year II of the Hegira A.D. 624)
An Arab woman, seated close to the shop belonging to a jeweller of the Qaynuqa Jews, was the victim of a most insulting practical joke. Without her knowing it, someone had hooked the lowest edge of her robe to the part of the apparel covering her shoulders, so that when she rose to her feet, her nakedness was displayed to the gaze of the Jews in the shop, who were all overtaken by a fit of the most indecent hilarity.
An Arab, very indignant, struck down the insulter with a blow from a club. He was felled in his turn, by the jeweller’s relatives. Other Arabs rushed to avenge him, and a pitched battle took place in the open, blood flowing on both sides.
Jews being the agressors, the Prophet, knowing their deep-rooted inimical feelings, profited by the opportunity to demand in due form that they should become converts to Islam. At first he tried persuasion: ‘By so doing, you will be making a loan to Allah which will bring you in marvellous interest,’ he told them.—’Allah must be very poor,’ they replied, ‘since He is reduced to borrow of us who are rich?’
At this blasphemy, the Prophet threatened them with exemplary punishment, unless they embraced Islam immediately. They shrugged their shoulders. ‘Thou art proud indeed by reason of thy victory over soldiers of no account,’ said the Jews. ‘Try now to attack us and thou wilt see that we are in nowise like thy fellow-countrymen of Makkah.’
Mohammad called upon the Mussulmans to come to his aid, and the Banu Qaynuqa, losing their arrogance as soon as Allah’s warriors showed themselves, ran away and took refuge in neighbouring strongholds belonging to their co-religionists. After holding out for a fortnight, they had to surrender and beg for mercy. The Prophet ordered their throats to be cut as an example to the other Jews that would deliver them from the temptation of copying their slaughtered brethren. Abdullah, the “Hypocrite,” with whom they were allied, interceded with Mohammad in their favour. Twice he answered: ‘Let me be.’
Abdullah placed his hand on the heart of Allah’s Apostle and supplicated him, saying: ‘I cannot stand by and see them massacred! It would be black ingratitude on my part!’—’They are at thy disposal,’ the Prophet told him at last. ‘But their belongings are ours.’
The Qaynuqa, saved by the intervention of the “Hypocrite,” had to go into exile in Syria, and their property was divided among the victors.
EXPEDITION AGAINST THE JEWS OF THE BANU NADIR
(Year III of the Hegira, A.D. 625)
The Jews of the Banu Nadir having claimed money compensation for the death of two of their brethren killed by the soldiers of Amr, the Prophet went among the tribesmen to enquire into the matter.
He had just given them satisfaction; and, whilst conversing with a few companions, the Prophet was seated in the shade of a house, when a Jew, son of Jahsh ibn Ka’b, climbed stealthily on to the flat roof with the intention of crushing Mohammad with great stones already brought there. By celestial inspiration, Mohammad looked up just as the son of Jahsh was about to commit the crime. The Apostle of Allah moved quickly away from the wall, dragging his companions with him.
As soon as he returned to Al-Madinah, he called his warriors together, and set out with them to punish the authors of this treacherous act. The Banu Nadir, having failed in their attempt, shut themselves up in their strongholds, but after holding out for six days, they had to follow the example of the Qaynuqa and surrender unconditionally, throwing themselves on the mercy of their conqueror.
Their lives were spared, but of all their immense wealth, each man was only allowed the load of one camel.
EXPEDITION AGAINST THE JEWS OF THE BANU QURAIZAH
(Year V of the Hegira, A.D. 627)
The Confederates, being dispersed following their defeat at the Battle of the Ditch, the Mussulmans had laid down their arms. One day, when taking their siesta, recuperating after passing sleepless nights and undergoing great fatigue during the siege, they were suddenly awakened by the voice of the Mua’zzin. Acting under the Prophet’s orders, he shouted: ‘Let all who hear and obey refrain this day from saying the prayer of “Asr” (afternoon), unless in the midst of the Banu Quraizah.’
Mohammad judged that the treachery of these tribesmen, renouncing their alliance and joining his enemies, deserved immediate punishment. The same day, he camped with his soldiers at the well of Enna, in front of his enemies’ citadels; and after a blocus of twenty-five days, forced them to capitulate.
The Aus, to whom the Banu Quraizah had long been allied, begged the Prophet to spare their lives, as in the case of the Qaynuqa. The Prophet, however, considered that the treachery of the Banu Quraizah was a much more serious matter and he was not at all inclined to let himself be mollified. At last, desirous of meeting them halfway, he said: ‘O Assembly of the Aus! will ye not consent to let one among you become arbitrator and decide what shall be done with your allies?’—’Yea! we consent.’—’Then let one of your chieftains, Sa’b ibn Mu’adh, seal their fate.’
Now, Sa’b ibn Mu’adh had been badly wounded during the Battle of the Ditch by an arrow which had severed an artery in the arm and he prayed Allah to let him live long enough to punish the Banu Quraizah for their felony. Sa’b, corpulent and too weak to walk, had himself placed on the back of an ass; where propped up by cushions and supported by two Believers, he was led to the assembly of the Mohadjirun and the Ansars, who stood up to do him honour, saying: ‘The Prophet hath commissioned thee to decide the fate of they allies.’—’Will ye swear by Allah that my decision be carried into effect!’—’We swear it!’—’Well then, I decide that the men shall be slain, their property divided, and their wives and children sent into bondage.’—’Thy decision hath been inspired by the will of Allah!’ concluded Mohammad.
Seven hundred Jews paid for their unjustifiable treachery with their lives. The wish for which Sa’b had lived was fulfilled. His old wound burst open, causing the last drops of his blood to flow away, and he earned the crown of martyrdom.
EXPEDITION AGAINST THE JEWS OF KHAIBAR
(Year VI of the Hegira, A.D. 628)
Notwithstanding these grave defeats, the power of the Jews in Arabia was not definitively crushed.
The land of Khaibar, about ninety-six miles north of Al-Madinah, still belonged to them and it was richer and more important than the territory they had lost. Many Jews, driven from the neighbourhood of Al-Madinah, had taken refuge there; and by their thirst for revenge, they rekindled the hatred which the inhabitants already felt towards Islam.
The Jews of Khaibar, fancying themselves safe from any attack of the Mussulmans, never let an opportunity escape to do them harm; and copying the manner in which Mohammad had proceeded against the Makkans, the Jews found out a good way to satisfy their rancour. The region between Khaibar and the sea was inhabited by the tribe of the Ghatafans, their allies, and they had come to an agreement to block the road and stop all Mussulman caravans leaving Al-Madinah to travel to Syria. The damage inflicted from these tactics had often made the Prophet think about sending an expedition against the Jews of Khaibar, but he was too busy round about Makkah, to carry out this plan.
On returning from Al-Hudaibiyah, the ten years’ truce, signed with the Quraish, freed him from all anxiety as regarded them, and the Revelation he received at that moment: “He rewarded them with a speedy victory. * And with a rich booty,” (The Qur’an, xlviii, 18-19), seeming to him to apply to Khaibar, and nothing else, he hesitated no longer, and decided to march against this fortress, the last stronghold of the Jews in Arabia.
The Ghatafans, secretly forewarned by Abdullah, the “Hypocrite,” rushed to the aid of the Jews, their allies, but on arriving at the Wadi’r Raji, they found that the Mussulman forces had outstripped them and thus they were cut off from the road to Khaibar. Whilst brought to a dead stop, disagreeably surprised, they heard noises behind them, near their tents, and imagining that part of the Mussulman “qawm” had been diverted to take them in the rear, they turned back in great haste.
The palm-gardens of Khaibar, spreading between the sombre heights of the Harra like an emerald lake whence emerged rocky, citadel-crowned islets, came suddenly into view, after passing through a ravine. To be able to take possession of them, the Prophet invoked the aid of the Almighty. But night coming on, Mohammad postponed the attack till the following day. When the first rays of the sun gilded the tops of the date-trees, the Khaibar husbandmen left their strongholds to go in their gardens; their spades, pickaxes and baskets hanging from their shoulders. Suddenly, they found themselves confronted by the Believers’ army debouching from the Harra; spearheads and swords reflecting the light of the rising sun in ensanguined radiance.
‘Mohammad and his Jihsh!’ they cried, and throwing away implements and baskets, fled as fast as their legs would carry them. ‘Allah is great!’ proclaimed the Prophet. ‘Khaibar shall be destroyed. When we swoop down on the territory of a nation, its awakening is terrible! Lo and behold the sinister omen! On our behalf, its inhabitants abandon their tools that will serve to undermine their ramparts and dig their graves.’
The first of the many Khaibar citadels to fall into the Mussulmans’ hands was that of Na’im. It was there they had to mourn the loss of Mahmud ibn Maslama, who, tired of having fought all day in the sun, wearing heavy armour, had imprudently gone close to the rampart to rest in the shade. A mill-stone, hurled from an embrasure, smashed the valiant soldier’s helmet, split his skull, and caused the skin of his forehead to fall down over his eyes. In that parlous state, the wounded man was brought into the presence of the Prophet who put the strip of flesh back in its place, fastening a turban round it; but the best of attention was unavailing in face of such a serious injury, and it was not long before Mahmud gave up the ghost.
The citadels of Natha, the next to be invested, resisted more obstinately. In order to force the besieged to capitulate, the Prophet gave orders to cut down under their eyes four hundred palm-trees of their oasis, but all in vain. He therefore put an end to such devastation, contrary to his principles, for as he has said: ‘Among all trees, there is one which is blessed like a Mussulman: ’tis the palm.’
The siege continuing, famine began to make itself felt, discouraging the besiegers, when Umar, having taken a Jew prisoner, the captive, to save his life, offered to give the Prophet valuable information. In the cellars of Sa’b ibn Mu’adh, one of the Natha citadels, called after the man, instruments of warfare of all kinds were stored: battering-rams; catapults for siege purposes; and armour, shields, pikes, lances and swords for the equipment of combatants. Just then, this fort happened to be weakly garrisoned, and the Jewish captive undertook to take the Mussulmans inside by means of a secret itinerary known to him alone.
Mohammad having accepted the offer, seized upon Sa’b easily, and thanks to the machines he found therein, which he used to destroy the ramparts, he captured the remaining fortresses of Natha, one after the other. They all contained provisions in abundance. While taking one of these forts, the poet Amr ibn u’l-Uhayha, pursuing one of the enemy, dealt him a furious sabre-cut, aiming at his legs to stop him in his flight. But the blade, too short, striking the empty air, rebounded from the force of the blow and pierced Amar’s knee, setting up such strong hemorrhage that he expired soon afterwards, being sacrificed by his own hand, whilst fighting for Allah.
The most important of all the Khaibar citadels was still standing: that of Al-Qamus, in which Kinana, Prince of the Banu-Nadir, had taken refuge. It was defended by Marhab al-Yahudi, an illustrious warrior. Built on the top of a vertical black rock, with smooth sides, and surrounded by cleverly-designed fortifications, this fort was said to be impregnable. After ten days of desperate efforts against the ramparts, the Believers, however, succeeded in effecting a breach, into which leapt the Prophet, setting the example to his companions; but after having been in the greatest danger, he was compelled to retrace his steps.
The shooting pains of neuralgia forcing him to take forty-eight hours’ rest, he entrusted the standard to Abu Bakr, who led an attack through the breach, with the most ardent courage, but he also had to beat a retreat at last. Umar took his place, accomplishing prodigies of valour, likewise without success.
Hearing of their failure, Mohammad declared: ‘By Allah! to-morrow I’ll confide the flag to an intrepid fellow, to whom flight is unknown. He loveth Allah and His Messenger, and by them he is beloved. ‘Tis he who will capture Al-Qamus by sheer strength.’
Next day, all the companions clustering close to the Prophet were anxious to learn who was the man among them to be so greatly honoured. But without glancing at the group, he sent for Ali who had to remain in the rear because he was suffering from painful ophthalmia. Led by a friend, he came into the Prophet’s presence. Ali’s eyes were covered by a bandage.
‘Come hither, close to me,’ said Mohammad. ‘Take this flag and keep a hold on it until the Almighty shall open a way for thee through these ramparts.’—’I suffer cruelly from my eyes, O Prophet!’ replied Ali. ‘I cannot even see to walk.’
Mohammad made Ali rest his head in his lap; separated the young man’s swollen eyelids, and rubbed the bloodshot eyes with a little saliva. All inflammation vanished immediately and every vestige of pain disappeared…. The Prophet then buckled his own breastplate on Ali and armed him with his own sword, celebrated under the title of “Dhu’l-Fiqar”.
Ali went towards the fortress, planting in the ground, close to the ramparts, the white flag on which stood out in bold relief, embroidered in black letters, the Islamic profession of faith. He then got ready to storm the breach…. Al-Harith, at the head of a few Jews, tried to bar the way and drive back the Mussulman hero, but the leader of the children of Israel succumbed, struck down by Ali; and the soldiers who had followed all ran away.
The brother of Al-Harith, Marhab, famous and feared, came now to the front, eager for revenge. He produced an effect of terror by his gigantic stature, double armour, a pair of swords, a three-headed spear, a double turban; and his helmet on which sparkled a jewel as big as an egg. His eyes, too, glistened like two carbuncles. Puffed up by pride, he strode to the breach. ‘The whole of the land of Khaibar, from end to end, knoweth my valour! When war rageth, sometimes I pierce with my lance; and sometimes I slice with my sword! Doth there exist in all the world a champion who dare stand up against me?’
Without being moved by this bragging bombast, Ali showed himself to take up the challenge: ‘I’ll be that man! Verily I, called by my mother Haydra, the lion cub, in memory of my father, known as the Lion. With my sabre I’ll give thee good measure!’
Hearing this reply, Marhab became purple with rage. Brandishing his scimitar, he rushed at Ali. The formidable blade hissed through the air and it seemed as if the champion of Islam had just been annihilated. But the sword of the terrible Jew was stopped by Ali’s shield in which it penetrated deeply and stuck therein. Without giving his adversary time to drag it away, Ali loosened his hold of the buckler, now useless and in his way, and replied to the attack by a wonderful cut that split the helmet, turban and skull of his enemy, scattering the brains in every direction. The steel was only stopped by the Jew’s teeth, forming barrier. The giant fell in a huddled heap, like a tower ruined by an earthquake, in a cloud of dust, with a noise as of thunder….
Seized with affright, the Jewish soldiers fled, pursued by Ali’s men. He tore from its hinges the heavy door of the ramparts and it served him as a shield in place of the one broken in the fight. Resistance was cut short and Al-Qamus, the impregnable, was captured by the warriors of Islam.
When the fall of the famous fort became known, the Jews of Fadak and of Wadi’l-Qura, two places a few days’ march towards the north, sent in their submission. In concordance with their co-religionists of Khaibar, they supplicated the Prophet to let them live as farmers on their estates which they alone knew how to cultivate properly; and to allow them to take half of the crops as remuneration for their labour. Mohammad consented, on condition that the Believers would have the right to alter this decision, should they deem it necessary.
Khaibar was the most fertile land of all the Hijaz; the spoils were therefore considerable. One half was set apart to defray the expenses of the pilgrimage to take place during the current year; the rest was distributed among the warriors. The land, with the exception of the portion due to the Prophet and to orphans, was divided in such a way that each man received one share, and each charger two shares; making three shares for each horseman. This was done with the aim of encouraging the breed of horses. A supplementary gift fell to the lot of any soldier being the owner of a pure-blooded courser.
IMPORTANCE OF HORSE-BREEDING ACCORDING TO THE PROPHET
These measures show the importance attributed by the Prophet to the equine race in the life of the Arabs.
Up till then, horses were very rare in Arabia, being looked upon as articles of luxury, as it were. Led by the bridle by the side of the camels ridden by the warriors, the steeds were only called upon when charging or pursuing the enemy. The Prophet completed these arrangements by founding race-meetings destined to develop emulation among breeders and horsemen. In the Qur’an, so as to inspire Believers with the fear, of the Day of Retribution, horses galloping breathless are called to witness: “By the panting chargers! * And those that dash off sparks of fire * And those that scour to the attack at morn! * And stir therein the dust aloft! * And cleave therein their midway through a host! * Truly, Man is to his Lord ungrateful! * And of this he verily is himself a witness * And truly he is vehement in the Love of this world’s good. * Knoweth he not, then, that when that which is in the graves shall be torn forth * And that which is in men’s breasts shall be brought out * Verity their Lord shall on that day be well informed concerning them?” (The Qur’an, c, 1-11.)
Unfortunately, tame translation is powerless to give an idea of the dizzy, whirling rhythm and the panting, galloping, neighing—if one may venture so to write—assonance of the first verses of this surah. One of the most celebrated horsemen of that epoch, Abdullah ibn Abi Sarh, afterwards governor of Egypt and who inflicted cruel defeats on the Romans, by land and sea, was such an enthusiastic admirer of this surah that it was always on his lips, and he recited it even on his deathbed.
Thanks to the vigorous impulsion given by the Prophet to horse-breeding, the race of pure-blooded barbs unrivalled in the world, was soon formed, to be kept up ever afterwards.
THE POISONED LAMB
After sunset, when the Prophet had said the prayer of “Magrib,” he went back to the camp. Near his tent, he saw seated the Jewess Zainab, daughter of Al-Harith, and wife of Sallam ibn Mishkam. She awaited Mohammad’s coming to give him the present she had brought: a lamb spitted on a spear, and which had been roasted at a fire fed with aromatic wood from the desert. He thanked the woman, and when she had taken her leave, he invited his companions to sit down and partake of the roast. Its crisp, golden outer skin looked very tempting.
The Prophet was the first to fall to, twisting off a shoulder, into which he bit and began to chew a morsel. Following his example, Bishr ibn U’l-Bara took a mouthful of meat; masticating and swallowing it. The other guests had already reached out their hands in like fashion, when the Prophet spat out the piece he was chewing and stopped them abruptly, shouting: ‘Hold your hands! This shoulder hath just told me that it is poisoned!’—’By Him who is Generosity incarnate!’ exclaimed Bishr, ‘I thought that my mouthful had a peculiar flavour and guessed what it meant; but seeing thee chew thine, I could not spit it out, saving your reverence. If this poison should destroy thy life, what liking can remain to me for mine?’
Scarcely had Bishr uttered these words than his face, overspread by a blackish hue, became distorted, and he writhed on the ground, a prey to unbearable suffering.
The Prophet sent at once for the Jewess and said to her: ‘Thou hast poisoned this lamb?’—’Who told thee so?’—’This!’ and he showed her the fragment of shoulder he held.—’It is true,’ she confessed.—’Why didst thou do this thing?’—’My father, my uncle, my husband and many of my people have suffered the sad fate thou knowest of, by thy fault. And I did think: if Mohammad is naught but a mighty monarch, I end his days and glut their vengeance and mine. If, on the contrary, he is truly a Prophet, he is in no danger, because his Allah will warn him of my purpose.’
This clever answer calmed the Prophet and he was perchance on the point of pardoning the guilty woman for her abominable crime, when Bishr expired at that moment. Mohammad delivered the Jewess into the hands of the dead man’s relatives who came clamouring to be avenged. Zainab was crucified and the remains of the fatal lamb were burnt.
Although the Prophet spat out the perfidious piece of meat almost as soon as it passed his lips, the poison filtered through his body as far as his entrails, and he never fully recovered from its pernicious effects. Three years later, when fatally ill, Bishr’s sister coming into his house to ask after his health, he told her: ‘The vein of my heart was torn by the food I ate with thy brother, at Khaibar.’
AMRATU’L-QADA OR THE PIOUS VISITATION
(Year VII of the Hegira, A.D. 629)
At the same time as the expeditionary forces, laden with spoils, came back from Khaibar, the last emigrants arrived from Abyssinia. Among them was Jafar, son of Abu Talib and brother to Ali. Their return made Mohammad very joyful. With sincere effusion, he kissed Jafar between the eyes and declared: ‘I know not which causeth me the greatest joy: the taking of Khaibar, or the return of Jafar.’
Among those returning was also Umm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sufyan, the Prophet’s mortal enemy. She had emigrated with her husband, Ubaydu’llah ibn Jahsh, but he was a convert to Christianity and had died in Abyssinia, while she remained steadfast to Islam. As a reward for such fidelity, as well as hoping to disarm by alliance one of his most fierce adversaries, the Prophet had sent Amr ibn Umayya to the Negus, asking to be married by proxy to Umm Habiba and to have her sent back afterwards with the other emigrants. This being done, Umm Habiba, on arriving at Al-Madinah, was received in the dwelling of her illustrious husband.
As for the emigrants, Mohammad proposed that they should be allowed a share of the Khaibar booty. This arrangement being ratified by unanimous consent, they were thus compensated for having sacrificed their property and left their country in order to remain true to their faith.
The date on which the treaty of Al-Hudaibiyah gave the Prophet the right to come to Makkah with his disciples to visit the Holy Places having arrived, he was now on the point of being able to fulfil one of his most ardent aspirations and also see his native land.
Followed by the same number of pilgrims, and driving before him the same number of camels, destined to be sacrificed, as in the expedition of Al-Hudaibiyah, he made his partisans disarm and left in the valley of Batn Ya’jiju, a great quantity of weapons, brought as a precautionary measure, in the care of a guard, two hundred strong, commanded by Aws ibn Khawli. ‘We only penetrate into the Holy Land,’ declared the Prophet, ‘carrying the arms of the traveller: our swords in their scabbards, according to the terms of our oath, but if we detect in the glances of the idolatrous Quraish the slightest sign of treachery, our other weapons will be found handy.’
He then pushed on. Self-communing, he climbed the Kuda hill, in order to descend into the valley near the cemetery of Al-Hajun where rested his beloved Khadijah (May Allah welcome her in His Grace!) When he cast eyes on the first houses of Makkah, unspeakable emotion overpowered him by reason of the remembrances and hopes they evoked. Fearing lest treachery, on the part of the Infidels, should force him to order reprisals, causing the blood of his fellow-countrymen to sully the streets of the city where he was born, he cried out: ‘O Allah, spare us all misfortune in the Holy City!’ He never ceased repeating this request until he left the precincts of Makkah.
On the approach of the Believers, the leading citizens, exasperated at the triumphant return of the men they had banished, went out of the town and hid their impotent rage in tents pitched in the neighbouring ravines. As for the mass of the inhabitants, like all mobs, they were dominated by a feeling of curiosity and clustered either on the heights of the Jabal Qu’ayqu’an, or on the terrace-roof of the “Dar-un-Nadwa”, House of Council, from which they were able to look down into the interior of the Temple. From the gossip of the crowd could be gathered the general hope: that the Prophet and his partisans would arrive in a state of complete exhaustion, their blood and bodies impoverished by the torrid summer heat and pernicious fevers of Al-Madinah.
Forewarned by divine inspiration, Mohammad cautioned his companions. ‘Allah will be merciful to those,’ said he, ‘who this day display their bodily vigour.’
With the exception of the common people mustering on the roof of the “Dar-un-Nadwa,” the city was quite empty. The Prophet could have captured it without striking a blow; but his soul, incapable of such treachery, was entirely engrossed by pious thoughts. Riding his she-camel, Qaswa, its bridle held by Abdullah ibn Rawaha, and surrounded and followed by his disciples, he passed through the outlying districts, under the eyes of enemies, without even honouring them by a single glance. He alighted on the Temple threshold, wrapping himself up in the folds of his mantle, by throwing one end over his left shoulder, leaving his right arm and shoulder at liberty. Followed and imitated by all the Faithful, he kissed the Black Stone and performed the “Tawaf,” the seven ritual circuits round the Ka’bah. The three first were made with swift, measured strides (called “Ramal,” or “Harwala”), with a view of proving the fine state of health of the Believers to the Infidels looking on. They shook their heads gloomily, saying to each other: ‘So these are the men described to us as enfeebled by the heat and fevers of Al-Madinah!’ At the bottom of their hearts, the Unbelievers were forced to confess that such men as these, their mental well-being surpassing even their bodily health, were unconquerable. The four remaining circuits were made with slow dignity, as Mohammad had no desire to demand useless efforts from his partisans; and ever since that day, this manner of performing the “Tawaf” is religiously copied by pilgrims.
“Among all trees, one is blessed like the Mussulman, ’tis the palm,” said the Prophet.
The Prophet then ordered Bilal to call the Faithful to prayer. When the idolaters heard the resounding accents of the black freed slave, reverberating in the echoes of the valley, they were so deeply annoyed that they envied the fate of their illustrious dead, Abu Jabal and Abu Lahab, prevented from hearing this call by the weight of the earth piled on their graves. After the prayer, Mohammad again bestrode his she-camel, to perform the “Sa’y” which is the run between the two hills of Safa and Marwa. His example swept away the Believers’ scruples; for until then, they had hesitated about going through this ceremony, being embarrassed by the presence of the idols Isaf and Na’ila, set up at that spot.
By the performance of these rites, instituted by Abraham and perpetuated by the Arabs, the Prophet had in view a nationalist and political goal, which he wished to combine with his religious aims. If he kissed the Black Stone, it was not by reason of a feeling of superstitious worship which would have contradicted all the principles of the Qur’an much too flagrantly, but solely through a feeling of reverence for this relic of his glorious ancestor.
Quoth Ibn Abi Shayba, following Isa ibn Talha: “Addressing the Black Stone, the Prophet declared: Verily, I know that thou art nothing more than a stone, powerless to do harm, or be of any use. Then he kissed it…. In this conjuncture, Abu Bakr, followed by Umar, one after the other, came and kissed it, declaring: By Allah! I know that thou art nothing more than a stone, powerless to do harm or be of any use, and if I had not seen the Prophet kiss thee, I should not have kissed thee!”
In like fashion, by the “Sa’y” and the ablutions at the well of Zamzam, Mohammad kept alive the touching remembrance of the Arab’s ancestor Ishmael and of his mother Hajar (Hagar). “Being too weak to carry any farther her wretched child succumbing athirst in a horrible desert, Hajar placed her offspring on the ground in the shade of a shrub and ascended a hill, hoping to see from afar a well or spring; but all in vain. Then, fearing that the soul of Ishmael might have escaped from his body, she came back, panting, to his side, and climbed another hill for the same purpose, but with no more success than before. So she went down again, tortured by the same anguish.
“Seven times did she run in despair between the two hills until, maddened, she thought she would only find a corpse, when she caught sight of her beloved son quenching his thirst at a spring which, by order of the Compassionate, had gushed forth under the heel of the poor child. And to this miraculous well was given the name of Zamzam.”
In imitation of Hajar, pilgrims pass seven times along the path of agony which she trod between the two hills known as Safa and Marwa, and it is their duty to drink and perform their ablutions at the Zamzam spring.
On the following day, in commemoration of the sacrifice of Abraham, the victims were immolated in the valley of Mina. Their flesh was shared among the pilgrims who, having shaved their heads, were once again in the state of “halal,” ordinary life, which they had relinquished since Zu’l-Holifah.
While still in the state of “ihram,” Mohammad, thanks to the special privilege derived from his position as Allah’s Messenger, married a woman of Makkah, named Maimunah. She was fifty years of age and extremely poor; but this matrimonial alliance was bound to bring notable recruits to Islam. In the first place, her brother-in-law, Al-Abbas, was Mohammad’s uncle. He was her “wakil,” or guardian, and decreed her union with the Prophet. But the marriage was only consummated at the first halt on the return journey to Al-Madinah.
Despite the rage of the idolatrous Quraish, who could not bear to look upon the sight of their enemy’s pilgrimage, the Prophet had gained his end: to inform the Arabs of the whole of the Peninsula that he had no intention of abolishing their secular traditions; but on the contrary, would devote all his efforts to consolidate them, by restoring their primitive purity.
The “Amratu’l-Qada” was thus the cause of great reaction; bringing about immediate conversions; among others, those of three great personages: Uthman ibn Talha, Amr ibnu’l-As and Khalid ibn Walid, besides preparing the minds of the majority of the Arabs to follow their example.
THE PROPHET SENDS AMBASSADORS TO THE PRINCIPAL MONARCHS OF THE WORLD
The definitive defeat of the Jews rallied a great part of Arabia to the Prophet; and the rest of the Peninsula was fatally bound, in course of time, to come under the sway of Islam.
It was then that Mohammad turned towards neighbouring empires. Allah’s presence filled the universe and Islam, which counted already in its ranks disciples of many different origins, was not destined to be merely confined to the land of the Arabs. It spread over the whole world. As it is written in the Qur’an: “We have not sent thee otherwise than to mankind at large.” (xxxiv, 27).
To the most powerful monarchs of Europe, therefore, Mohammad despatched envoys carrying letters inviting those potentates to embrace the religion of Allah, the Only One; and the missives bore a seal on which the Prophet had caused to be engraved these words, set out in three lines: “From Allah—the Prophet—Mohammad.”
On receipt of the message, Al-Mundhir, King of Bahrayn, and Badhan, Persian Satrap of Yaman, became converts to Islam. Al-Muqawqas, Viceroy of Egypt, sent rich presents, among which, as well as Duldul, a white mule, and Ya’fur, an ass, was a young slave, Mary the Copt. She at once became Mohammad’s concubine. Hirqal, (Heraclius), the Roman Emperor, and the Najashi, (Negus), of Abyssinia, both replied by most courteous letters.
Kesra (Chosroes), King of Persia, swore he would punish the Prophet for his audacity and the Almighty immediately chastised the monarch, for he was murdered by his son Shiru’e, (Siroes), who took his father’s place on the throne. Al-Harith, son of Abu Shamar, was fated to see his kingdom torn asunder, even as he had torn the letters delivered to him by the Prophet’s envoy.
Only one of these ambassadors, Al-Harith ibn Amr, was received with contumely and afterwards treacherously murdered near Karak in the Balqua region, following orders given by Shurabil al-Ghassani who governed this region under Roman rule.
THE EXPEDITION OF MUTAH
(Year VII of the Hegira, A.D. 629)
When the news of the outrage on his ambassador came to the Prophet’s ears, he determined to be instantly avenged, although he did not conceal from himself the dangers of the undertaking.
This time the Believers had to face, not only the Syrian Arabs, outnumbering those of the Hijaz, but also the Roman troops who occupied the Balqua-Land. The Prophet placed Zayd ibn Al-Haris at the head of three thousand men; but foreseeing that in this unequal struggle, his army might be deprived of its leader, he nominated in advance, as successor, Jafar, son of Abu Talib; and if misfortune befell Jafar, Abdullah ibn Rawaha; and lastly, in the case of anything unluckily happening to the latter, it was left to the soldiers to choose a commander themselves.
A Jew was present at the council of war and made the following remarks: ‘O Abul Qasim! (a surname of Mohammad), if thou art really a Prophet, all the men thou hast appointed are irretrievably lost. When our prophets of Israel, after having placed a general at the head of their armies, used to add: ‘and, if he is killed, name such an one in his place,’ that infallibly meant that he was bound to lose his life.’ Then, turning to Zayd, he went on: ‘I swear to thee that if Mohammad is a true Prophet, thou wilt never return from this expedition.’ Zayd replied simply: ‘I swear to thee that Mohammad is the Prophet of Allah.’ Then the Apostle tied the white “Liwa” (flag) to a spearhead and gave it into the hands of Zayd.
Filled with funereal sentiments, Mohammad accompanied his troops to Saniyat-ul-Wida, (the Pass of Farewells). It was there that he halted and gave them his final instructions: ‘Remain ever in fear of Allah. Fight in his name and kill His foes who are yours. But leave in peace such men as dwell in the seclusion of monasteries. Spare women, children and the blind. Destroy no monuments; cut down no trees; and when ye shall have avenged the death of Al-Harith ibn Amr, summon the Arab tribes of Syria to Islam.’
Shurahbil, anxious as to the results of his cowardly outrage, called upon all the Arabs of the surrounding country: the Banu Bahra, the Banu Lakhm, the Judham, the Baliyy, etc., and he notified his fears to Theodurus, lieutenant of Heraclius, who sent him all the Roman troops then occupying the land.
Shurahbil had therefore mustered an army of nearly a hundred thousand men before the Mussulman forces arrived at Mu’an. When they found themselves fronting such formidable cohorts, the Believers remained two days and two nights in consultation and many among them proposed that a messenger should be despatched to the Prophet who would then decide whether they were to turn back or fight. Perhaps he might send them reinforcements. But the utterances of Abdullah ibn Rawaha revived the courage of the Believers. ‘O comrades! how is it that ye seem to fear the very thing ye come to seek: martyrdom in the Holy War? We reckon not on numbers to gain the victory, but on the faith with which Allah hath inspired us!’—’Thou dost speak truly!’ they cried and, hesitating no longer, advanced towards the enemy, coming in contact with him at Mutah, a little village situated south of the Karab fort.
Like lions, they dashed into the centre of their massed foes, whose chief, Malik ibn Rafila, was killed by a spear-thrust…. Recovering from their first surprise and profiting by their great numerical superiority, the Infidels were not long in getting the best of the struggle and they encircled the Mussulmans completely. Outnumbered, Zayd ibn Al-Haris died the death of a hero; and Jafar, obeying the Prophet’s instructions, bounded forward to uphold the standard that Zayd’s contracted fingers still gripped, and to take command in his place.
Jafar rode a magnificent chestnut charger, but seeing the immediate danger, he alighted and hamstrung his steed, so that if the master succumbed, his horse should not be captured by the enemy to be used against Islam. By his example, he was able to rally the Believers and lead them in an enthusiastic charge, whilst waving the Islamic standard which proudly spread its wings above their heads. But soon, like an eagle wounded in its flight, the flag fell down; the hand that held it being hacked off by a blow from a scimitar.
Jafar picked up the standard, grasping it in his left hand, when another sword-cut sliced his unwounded wrist. Jafar stooped, and seizing the flag between the bleeding stumps of his arms, he kept it aloft by pressing the staff against his breast, and with sublime heroism, continued to charge the enemy until he fell, riddled with ninety wounds.
Abdullah ibn Rawaha succeeded him and met with the same fate shortly afterwards. The Mussulmans, attacked on all sides, seeing their leaders struck down, gave way and began to flee in disorder. Arqam ibn Amir stopped them. ‘O comrades!’ he cried out, ”tis better to be struck in the breast than in the back!’ Picking up the standard, he passed it on to Khalid ibn Walid who refused it at first, saying: ‘Thou hast a better right to this honour than I, for thou wert at Badr.’
But Arqam insisting, Khalid took charge of the flag. His impetuous energy instilled fresh courage and confidence into the hearts of the Believers, ashamed of their momentary weakness, and being a skilful strategist as well as a valiant soldier, he succeeded with the help of Allah, in freeing the Mussulman troops and reorganising the fighting front in such masterly fashion that the Infidels were unable to claim the victory.
At sunrise, the next day, he was first to attack, so as not to give the enemy time to recover from his partial defeat. To deceive him with regard to the numerical weakness of the Islamic forces, he resorted to the following stratagem: by rapid evolutions of various sections of his army, he made the rearguards pass to the van, and vice versa, in such a way that the enemy, continually seeing fresh adversaries confronting him, imagined that the Mussulmans had been greatly reinforced during the night. The Infidels’ certainty of triumph, mainly founded on their numbers, vanished; and seized with indescribable terror, they gave way, pursued by the Believers who slaughtered them ruthlessly. During that memorable day, Khalid had nine sabres broken in his hand.
By divine inspiration, the Prophet was informed of the ordeals of his army. After general prayer, he went up in the pulpit, his eyes full of tears, and cried out three times: ‘The Gate of Good! Know ye all that Zayd hath fallen a martyr; implore the mercy of Allah in his favour. Then Jafar and Abdullah died martyrs; implore the mercy of Allah for them. Then the standard was upheld by Khalid ibn Walid, who is the sword among all the swords of Allah. And the Almighty granted him victory.’
Mohammad afterwards went to see Asama bint Omis, the wife of Jafar, and bent down over his children to “smell” them; tears welling up in his eyes and trickling pearl-like down his beard. ‘O Prophet!’ asked Asama, ‘what maketh thee weep? Hast thou had news of Jafar and his comrades?’—’Aye, and now they are no more!’
The wretched woman dropped down, groaning in despair and, lacerating her cheeks with her nails. Attracted by her shrieks, the other wives imitated her and the whole house resounded with lugubrious lamentation. The Prophet ordered one of his companions to impose silence on the women. ‘It is not fitting,’ said Mohammad, ‘to mourn thus for Jafar. Hath he not obtained the great reward? I pray Allah that He may permit the father’s place on this earth to be taken in posterity by the most accomplished among his children!’
Suddenly he lifted his eyes to heaven and murmured: ‘The Salvation and Mercy of Allah be upon you!’—’To whom dost thou speak, O Prophet?’ asked one of his followers.—’I have just seen Jafar go by in the midst of a procession of angels. He was mounting to Paradise with ruby-studded wings in lieu of his amputated hands. He greeted me and I returned his greeting.’
Sohail, who recorded this tradition, is careful to add: ‘Such are merely images: the wings are symbols of the supernatural strength of Jafar’s soul; and the rubies are the precious drops of his blood.’
In the midst of the universal mourning at Al-Madinah, the Prophet ordered the funereal repast know as “Al-Oudhim,” to be prepared. It was destined for the families of the martyrs; for it is hard for those whose souls are saddened to have to think about preparing nourishment for the body.
When the return of the army was announced, the whole of the population of the city, rich or poor, went out to meet it. The Prophet ordained that the mounted men should lift up the children and give them a ride on the pummels of the saddles. He took the son of Jafar in his arms and seated the child in front of him. The soldiers, on arriving, confirmed the tidings of their leaders’ death and the people of Al-Madinah, thinking that these heroes had not been fully avenged, threw handfuls of dust in the soldiers’ faces, and inveighed against them: ‘O cowards! ye fled, even when ye trod the Path of Allah!’
The Prophet bade the crowd be silent and made this declaration: ‘On the contrary, these warriors deserve your greatest praise, for they returned and charged courageously!’
THE TAKING OF MAKKAH
(The 21st Day of Ramadhan Year VIII of the Hegira, January 11th A.D. 630)
It was not long before the idolaters of Makkah violated the ten years’ truce, signed at Al-Hudaibiyah.
By surprise, one night, they massacred a score of Mussulmans belonging to the tribe of the Khuza’a, encamped at the well of Al-Watir. In face of such terrible treachery, the Prophet threw all scruples to the winds. Determined to attack, he proposed to organise an expedition.
The Makkans, well aware that their crime would not go unpunished, delegated Abu Sufyan to go to Al-Madinah, to offer compensation and ask for the truce to be maintained. On arriving, Abu Sufyan went to the dwelling of Umm Habiba, his daughter, who, as we know, was one of Mohammad’s wives. But, when he made as if to sit down on a carpet, Umm Habiba, guessing his purpose, quickly folded up the rug and placed it on one side. ‘O my daughter,’ said Abu Sufyan in offended tones, ‘dost find thy father unworthy of that carpet, or is that carpet unworthy of thy father?’—’That carpet belongeth to the Prophet,’ she replied. ‘Now thou art a worshipper of idols; therefore in a state of impurity, and thou wouldst sully it with thy impiety.’—’Of a surety, O my daughter, some misfortune hath happened, bringing disorder to thy mind, since the day thou left us!’
Understanding, by this kind of welcome, that there was no hope for him in that quarter, he sought out the Prophet from whom no reply was obtained. Then he made desperate attempts to circumvent Abu Bakr; and tried his best with Umar and Ali, supplicating them to intercede in favour of his fellow-citizens, but with no greater success. Full of apprehension, he mounted his camel and went back on the road to Makkah.
The steps taken by Abu Sufyan no longer allowed the Prophet to conceal his designs. His sole care was to hurry on with his preparation, so as to surprise the men of Makkah before they had time to place the city in a state of defence. On the tenth day of the month of Ramadhan, after having left Abu Ruhm Kulthum al-Shifari as his lieutenant at Al-Madinah, the Prophet set out, followed by an army of no inconsiderable strength, increased on the way by numerous tribes joining, and the total forces soon numbered ten thousand men.
The fast of Ramadhan was strictly kept by all the Faithful, but when they reached the well of Al-Kadid in the middle of the day exactly, the Prophet judged that their constancy had been sufficiently tested. Fearing that deprivation of drink, joined to extreme fatigue, might have a dangerous effect on their health, he asked for a jar filled with water to be brought to him. Overlooking the crowd on his tall she-camel, he swallowed a mouthful in front of all, so as teach by his example that they might break their fast when on a journey as soon as they felt their strength exhausted. Thus prescribes the Qur’an: “But he among you who shall be sick, or on a journey, shall fast that same number of other days.” (ii, 180.)
After that halt, the Prophet hastened the march of his army so actively that he camped at Marru’dh-Dhahran, close to the town gates, before the Quraish were able to find out anything about the important strength of the Mussulman troops, or the road they had taken.
Abbas, Mohammad’s uncle, kept in Makkah till then by his business functions as superintendent of the water supply, joined the Believers at Al-Juhfa, with the whole of his family. The sincerity of his conversion had not caused him to forget the love he felt for his fellow-citizens. He was most uneasy about their fate, in case they should behave in such a way that Mohammad would be forced to take the town by murderous onslaught.
Quoth Abbas: “When the tents were pitched, I rode the Prophet’s white mule and went to Al-Arak, on the road to the Arafa, hoping to meet a carrier of wood, brickmaker, or pilgrim whom I might charge to take a warning to the Quraish and exhort them to go and implore the mercy of Allah.
“Whilst advancing with due precaution in the dark, two men passed quite close to me. They were hidden from my sight by big boulders and they talked in whispers. One of them, his mind engrossed by the myriads of golden stars that the camp-fires of the Faithful caused to scintillate on the hills beneath the real silvery stars of the firmament, said: ‘Never have I seen so many lights as this night on those mountains.’—’They are probably the camp-fires of the Khuza’a, determined to wage war to avenge their dead.’—’The Khuza’a are not so numerous. No, truly, these cannot be their fires!’ replied the first speaker whose voice I recognised. It was that of Abu Sufyan. ‘O father of Handala!’ I called to him.—’O father of Al-Fadl! if ’tis thee, what dost thou want of me?’ he returned, having also recognised my voice.—’O Abu Sufyan! the Prophet is here at the head of such a great army that all resistance is impossible. To-morrow the Quraish will be cut to pieces!’—’What is to be done! Canst thou advise me?’—’If thou art taken prisoner during the fight, thy head will be cut off. Doubt it not. But get up behind me on my mule. I will take thee to Mohammad and implore him for thee.’
“Abu Sufyan, understanding that this was his last hope of safety, could only submit. He got up behind me and we went on in front of his companion Budayl, who made up his mind to follow us.
“Every time the flicker of one of the many camp-fires lit up our little group, on the dark background, sentinels stopped us, asking: ‘Who is that man?’ But when I told them that I was Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, and as they recognised the mule, they allowed us to pass….
“All went well until we came to the lights of Umar’s tents. He came forward to meet us and also demanded: ‘Who is that man?’ Just then, the flame of the brazier lit up the face of my companion who held me tightly. Umar knew him again, and cried out in sudden joy: ‘Ah! ’tis thee, Abu Sufyan, with no treaty or safe-conduct, O enemy of Allah! The Almighty be praised for delivering thee into our hands!’
“He ran to the Prophet’s tent. I made the mule gallop along, outstripped him and jumped off, going into Mohammad’s tent; but Umar arrived, almost at the same instant. ‘O Prophet!’ he shouted. ‘Here is Abu Sufyan, Allah’s enemy, without treaty or safe-conduct, given up to us by the Almighty! Charge me to cut his head off!’
“I interfered: ‘O Prophet! He is under my protection. No one but me shall go near him this night.’ As Umar kept on manifesting still greater hatred, I said to him: ‘Softly, O Umar! If Abu Sufyan was one of the Banu Adi ibn Kab, thy relatives, thou wouldst not behave in this way; but he is one of the Banu Abd Manaf, related to the Prophet, which thou must not forget!’
“Umar made answer: ‘Softly, O Abbas! Know that thy conversion gave me more pleasure than that of my father, Al-Khattab, would have caused me, for he lived and died in idolatry; for the sole reason that, as I know well, the Prophet attached more importance to thy conversion than to that of my father.’ Allah’s Messenger cut our dispute short by saying: ‘Take away Abu Sufyan, O Abbas, and to-morrow at dawn, come back here with him.’
“I obeyed. Abu Sufyan passed the night in perfect safety in my tent, but seeing all the Mussulmans rise up at one bound at the first glimmer of daybreak, he was overcome by anxiety. ‘O father of Al-Fadl!’ he asked; ‘what are they about? Do they want to kill me?’—’Be not alarmed,’ I told him in reply. ‘They only want to pray.’
“At the sight of these ten thousand men, the mysterious light reflected by the rosy dawn playing on them; all piously repeating every gesture of the Prophet; bowing down when he bowed down and prostrating themselves when he prostrated himself, he could not refrain from exclaiming: ‘By Allah! I have never seen kings obeyed as this man is obeyed; not even Chosroes, nor Cæsar, nor any of the most powerful monarchs of the universe!’
“‘Come,’ I told him, when prayers had been said. ‘I will intercede for thee; and thou wilt intercede for thy qawm.’—’How now?’ asked the Prophet when the idolater came before him. ‘Dost thou not acknowledge, O Abu Sufyan! that there is no God but Allah?’—’By my father and my mother! How patient, generous and conciliatory thou art! Yea, I acknowledge it. If with Allah there were other gods, they would have given me some little help.’—’Dost thou acknowledge that I am the Prophet of Allah?’—’By my father and my mother! As for that, there is still some doubt in my mind. I will see later.’—’Woe unto thee! O Abu Sufyan!’ I exclaimed, indignant at his reply. ‘Hasten to bear witness to the whole truth, or I deprive thee of my protection and thine head will fall from thy shoulders!’
“Abu Sufyan still hazarded a few objections: ‘What wilt thou do with the statue of Al-Uzza that is in my dwelling?’—’Thou shalt throw it in the privy!’ shouted an angry voice. It was that of Umar, listening behind the canvas of the tent, hoping to be ordered to execute the man who had been an enemy of Allah. ‘Woe unto thee, O Umar! thou art an indecent fellow,’ he replied. ‘Let me come to terms with my uncle’s son.’
“Having made up his mind by this time, he recited the profession of Islamic faith integrally, at the same time as his companion Budayl, who had just rejoined us.
“I remarked to the Prophet: ‘Thou knowest how proud is Abu Sufyan. Invest him with some authority, no matter what, and he will be bound to us definitively.’
“My idea met with Mohammad’s approbation and he gave out the following proclamation: ‘He who taketh refuge in the dwelling of Abu Sufyan will be in safety; he who taketh refuge in the Temple will be in safety; he who layeth down his arms and remaineth shut up in his house will be in safety.’
“The Prophet then said to me: ‘O Abbas! bring Abu Sufyan to a halt where the valley is narrow, on the mountain top, so that all the warriors of Allah will pass before his eyes.’ I obeyed and took my stand with Abu Sufyan on one of the rocks overhanging the outlet of the valley. One after the other passed the soldiers of the Sulaym, the Muzayna, the Banu Ghifar, the Banu Ka’b, the Kinana, the Juhayn, etc., and my companion, despite all his efforts, could not hide the impression made upon him by the numbers of the Believers. When he caught sight of the Ashja, he cried out: ‘Those tribesmen, notwithstanding, were the most inveterate of all the Prophet’s enemies!’—’Truly,’ I retorted, ‘but Allah, in His Generosity, instilled Islam in their hearts!’
“At last, the Prophet appeared, surrounded by his bodyguard, the flower of his army, comprising the Ansars and the Mohadjirun, called “Al-Khadra,” the green guards. When Abu Sufyan saw these warriors entirely covered in sombre armour, from which the sun caused blinding sparks to fly, he started in affright: ‘By Allah! O Abbas, who are those men?’—’The Prophet with his companions, the Ansars and the Mohadjirun.’—’None can make a stand against such troops! Verily, O Abbas, this morning, thy brother’s son is resplendent with the majesty of a glorious king!’—’His majesty is not that of a king, O Abu Sufyan! ’tis that of a Prophet. And now that thine eyes convince thee that all resistance would be rank folly, hasten back to thy people and let thy good advice save them from misfortune!’ Without losing a minute, Abu Sufyan went on his way to the town, where immediately on arriving, he was surrounded by anxious crowds overwhelming him with questions. ‘O Assembly of the Quraish!’ he cried, ‘Mohammad is upon us with such an army that ye cannot hope to resist him for a single instant!'”
His wife, Hind, furious at the emotion caused by these tidings, caught him by his moustaches to make him hold his tongue and she bawled: ‘Hearken not to the old fool and traitor! Kill him!’ Tearing himself out of the shrew’s clutches, Abu Sufyan went on: ‘Woe unto you, if ye let yourselves be led astray by this woman! Again I say to you, ye are lost without fail if ye dream of resistance.’ He then added proudly: ‘All those who take refuge in the dwelling of Abu Sufyan will be in safety.’—’May Allah cause thee to perish!’ was the reply made to him on all sides. ‘How can thy house afford security for all of us?’
It was then that he concluded to announce that which he had intentionally omitted, out of pure vanity: ‘Likewise will be in safety all those taking refuge in the Temple; and eke those who, laying down their arms, remain behind closed doors in their dwellings.’
ENTRY OF THE PROPHET INTO MAKKAH
The Prophet stopped his she-camel at Dhu Tawad. At the sight of Makkah, where he hoped to make his entry victoriously without shedding the blood of his fellow-countrymen, he offered up thanksgivings to the Most Generous, bowing down deeply until his beard swept the pummel of his saddle. He then placed his troops for the occupation of the city: Zubayr was to go in by the Kuda road; Khalid ibn Walid, by the outlying western districts; Sa’d ibn Ubayda, by the pass of Al-Kada. But as the latter chieftain, in his ardour, let drop this remark: ‘To-day is a day of carnage; allowable even in the holy precincts!’ Mohammad bade Ali deprive the rash speaker of his command and take charge of the standard in his place.
Zubayr, Ali, and Ubayda met with no resistance and, without striking a blow, occupied the parts of the city assigned to them. As for Khalid, just as he passed through the suburbs, a volley of arrows disturbed his troops and several of his men were killed. The darts came from marksmen in ambush, posted by Safwan ibn Umayya and Ikrimah, behind the rocks of the Jabal Al-Khandama. Without the least hesitation, Khalid called on his soldiers to storm the position. He routed the enemy, massacred many and pursued the survivors, putting them to the sword. Some fled to the Temple; others ran towards the sea.
From the summit of Al-Hajun, which the Prophet had just reached, he saw the sparkle of spearheads and swords. ‘What’s this?’ he cried. ‘Did I not forbid all fighting?’ He despatched an Ansar to Khalid and when he came into the presence of Mohammad, he upbraided him severely for having given battle against his strict orders.
‘The enemy were the agressors. They riddled us with their arrows,’ replied Khalid. ‘I held back as much as I could, but I was obliged to unsheath my sword to defend ourselves…. And Allah granted us the victory!’—’The Will of Allah be done!’ concluded the Prophet, getting ready to make his own entry into the town.
He rode Qaswa, his favourite she-camel. Behind him, on the same animal, was Usama, the son of Zayd ibn Al-Haris. Mohammad prostrated himself on his saddle and recited the surah of Victory: “Verily, We have won for thee an undoubted victory * In token that Allah forgiveth thy earlier and later faults, and fulfilleth his goodness to thee, and guideth thee on the right way. * And that Allah succoureth thee with a mighty succour.” (The Qur’an, xlviii, 1, 2, 3.)
Round the red-striped drapery that covered his head, the Prophet rolled a black turban, letting one end hang down between his shoulders. He rode to the Ka’bah to perform the “tawaf”, and without leaving the saddle, saluted the Black Stone by touching it with the end of a hooked stick. He then alighted to enter the sanctuary, but seeing the idols that dishonoured it, he started back in horror. In front of an image of Abraham holding divining arrows, he cried out: ‘May Allah annihilate all those who represent our ancestor Abraham trying to peer into futurity by means of arrows!’ Mohammad ordered the impious statue to be destroyed. With his own hands, he shattered a dove carved in wood and went in proclaiming: ‘Allah is Great!’
Bird’s-eye View of Makkah, the Most Sacred City, as seen from the Jabal Abi-Qubais.
He then went up to the three hundred and sixty idols ranged round the Temple. Beginning with the biggest: Hubal, he pierced its eyes with the hooked stick, saying: ‘Truth hath come, error hath vanished; error is perishable!’ The idol fell face downwards, shattered in a thousand pieces.
One after the other suffered the same fate, as he passed in front of them. A single effigy remained standing—the idol of the Khuza’a—fashioned out of bronze and enamel. It stood superbly erect on the Temple’s terrace-roof. ‘Kneel down,’ was the order given by the Prophet to Ali. Mohammad mounted on his shoulders. ‘Rise!’ Ali was unable to do so, despite all his bodily strength. He felt himself crushed by supernatural weight: that of the Prophecy. Seeing this, the Prophet got down, knelt in his turn and said to Ali: ‘Climb up on my back to destroy that idol!’ Ali, overcome by confusion, refused; but finally obeyed, as Mohammad persisted.
Quoth Ali: “I stood upon the Prophet’s shoulders; he drew himself up erect and I felt myself lifted by some unknown force by which I could have risen to heaven had I tried.
“The idol was fixed by iron clamps, but at the words of the Prophet: ‘Truth hath come; error hath vanished,’ it tottered without the least effort on my part and falling to the ground, crumbled away in dust.”
The people, recovered from affright, stole gradually forth from their dwellings and, dumb with stupor, looked on while their impotent idols were being destroyed…. When the last vestige of idolatry had disappeared, the Prophet, turning towards the Ka’bah, proclaimed: ‘There is no God but Allah! He hath no associates! He hath kept his word and succoured His Servant and dispersed His enemies!’ Mohammad turned to the Makkans: ‘O Assembly of the Quraish! how shall I treat you, do ye think?’—’With generosity, O generous brother, son of a generous man!’ they replied, devoured by anxiety.—’Begone!’ he told them. ‘Ye are free!’ (According to the laws of war, they were slaves and captives.)
The only exceptions to this magnanimous amnesty were made in the cases of eleven men and six women whose conduct had been inexcusable. He ordered them to be put to death, wherever found. The sentence was immediately carried out, and a few of the condemned were executed, including Huwarith, who brutally ill-treated Fatimah, the Prophet’s daughter and Ali’s wife, when she went away from Makkah.
In order to establish the new state of affairs firmly, Mohammad proceeded to appoint immediately the two most important functions of Makkah: the custodian of the Ka’bah and that of the Zamzam well.
He sent to claim the keys of the Temple from Uthman ibn Talha who, after having in a fit of fury locked the gates, took the keys away with him to his house. The Prophet had them torn from him forcibly, and intended to confide them to his uncle Abbas whom he maintained at his post as Superintendent of the Zamzam well. But a Revelation made the Prophet alter his mind and he was ordered to reinstate the former custodian of the Temple. Mohammad therefore charged Ali to take the keys back to Uthman and say to him: ‘O son of Talha, take the keys once more and with them the appointment as custodian of the Ka’bah.’
This official, touched by such generosity, so little deserved, hastened to give the Prophet the promise of sincere gratitude and absolute fidelity.
Just then a touching group approached: there was Abu Quhafa, an old blind man, bent beneath the burden of his eighty-seven years, and leaning on the arm of his son, Abu Bakr. ‘Why didst thou not let this noble old man remain in his dwelling, whither I could have gone to see him?’ said the Prophet to Abu Bakr.—’It is only right that he cometh to thee, and not that thou shouldst go to him,’ replied Abu Bakr.
Mohammad made the venerable sightless man sit by his side, paying him great attention, stroking his breast affectionately, and was overjoyed to hear that Abu Quhafa had come to announce his conversion to the faith of Islam.
THE PROPHET AT SAFA
Next day, all the inhabitants of Makkah wended their way towards the hill of Safa where the Prophet had called them together to receive their submission.
Tranquilized already by the generosity of the first utterances and acts of their conqueror, they did not seem to be affected by the feelings of sadness, shame and dejectedness that usually overcome the vanquished. Was not their conqueror one of their own people? Would not his glory become their glory; his triumph, their triumph; and his empire, their empire? As a matter of fact, despite their hostility towards him, most of them had suffered cruelly at being separated from their genial fellow-countryman; the man who, in the heyday of his youth, had been called by them: “Al-Amin,” the Reliable. They were greatly moved as they called to mind the mysterious charm of his personality and the irresistible allurement of his speech.
For some time past, in secret, they had feverishly longed to join the enthusiastic religious movement that Mohammad stirred up throughout the whole of Arabia, and become converted in their turn. How derisive their idols seemed now; the miserable fragments of the graven images swelling the garbage heaps swept out of the city! Even those men who exploited the superstition surrounding the false gods of wood or stone, were the first to arrive at Safa, being in a hurry to get the fact forgotten that they had been the priests of such a coarse cult. Despite the levelling humility which Mohammad required of all his disciples, those who had waxed fat on the proceeds of commercial idolatry were inwardly proud of the family ties binding them to the Prophet upon whom, of old, they had showered the vilest insults.
As for Mohammad, it is impossible to describe the sublime emotion that seized upon his great soul when he saw flocking to him from all parts, their eyes at last open to the Light, all those among his fellow-countrymen who had so stubbornly fought against him and whom he cherished, notwithstanding their injustice. Seated beneath the Prophet, Umar, as his deputy, received the submission of the Makkans who all came, one after the other, to strike his palm, and in the name of Mohammad, he pledged his word to protect them. When this grand ceremony was finished, a most poignant scene was enacted on the slopes of the hill.
An odious barrier, formed by the idols, which for nigh upon twenty years separated the Quraish Mohadjirun from the Quraish dwelling in Makkah, was broken down never to be set up again, and all the enemy brethren threw themselves in each other’s arms, reconciled and reunited in “the Path of Allah.”
A third group of brothers rejoined them soon. They were the Ansar citizens of Al-Madinah, the rival town to Makkah; and the two cities, now having become two sisters, called themselves by the glorious name of “Al-Haramani, the two Sacred Cities.”
One incident, however, cast a gloom over this unforgettable manifestation that realised so perfectly the dream which had haunted the Prophet, filling him with superhuman perseverance. The Khuza’a, falling across one of the murderers of their brethren, cut his throat. Mohammad caused the guilty parties to be brought before him and, after blaming them severely, he added: ‘I will compensate your victim’s relatives myself, but cease all reprisals. Too much blood hath been shed already. On the day when He created the Heavens and the Earth, Allah declared the territory of Makkah to be holy; its sacred character hath remained for all before me and shall remain for all after me. Not only shall the lives of human beings be sacred here, but it is likewise forbidden to hunt game, fell trees and cut grass.’—’In this prohibition, O Prophet! the Idhkhir must be excepted,’ remarked Abbas. ‘It furnisheth us with that which we cannot do without, to wit: fuel for the forge and the cooking of food.’ After a moment’s silence, the Prophet concluded: ‘With the exception of the Idhkhir, which it will be allowable to uproot.’ Following this declaration, all those condemned to death, and who had not been executed the first day, were granted a free pardon.
Among the crowd of Makkan women who came to declared their devotion, Mohammad’s attention was drawn to a female hiding herself behind her companions. Despite the fact that she was disguised, he recognised ferocious Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan. ‘Aye! ’tis I!’ she cried, throwing off her veil, ‘I am Hind, and I implore pardon for the past!’
The Prophet, in spite of the odious mutilation of the body of his uncle Hamzah, forgave her. Hind, when she returned to her dwelling, lavished insults on her private family idol: ‘O impotent idol! How mad we all were to rely on thy succour!’ And she smashed it to pieces.
The son of Abu Jahal, Ikrimah, who had organised the ambush that nearly entrapped Khalid, fled to the sea coast. The fugitive’s pardon was granted to Umm Hakim, his wife, who rejoined him when he was on the point of embarking. She brought him back, and the Prophet, fearful lest his companions, remembering how he had been so often outraged by Abu Jahal, Ikrimah’s father, might seek to be avenged on Ikrimah personally, declared: ‘Ikrimah hath come to Islam. Let no one insult his father’s memory! To insult the dead is to wound the living!’ And Ikrimah, deeply moved by such rare tolerance, became one of the most ardent defenders of the Religion.
Al-Uhayha, the slayer of Hamzah, was pardoned likewise, after becoming a convert to Islam. Habbar who, by a blow of the shaft of his spear, had brought about the death of Zainab, Mohammad’s daughter, had fled, fearing deserved punishment; and then, confiding in the infinite clemency of the Prophet, came and gave himself up, after having embraced the Islamic faith in all sincerity. ‘Go thy way in peace,’ said Allah’s Apostle. ‘Thy conversion doth wipe out the past; but never let me see thee more!’
Safwan, the second instigator of the ambush in which Khalid was to have fallen, profited also by the victor’s magnanimity; and as he begged for a delay of two month’s reflection before abjuring idolatry, the Prophet replied: ‘I grant thee four months.’
Ibn Abi Sarh was the only man who had great trouble in softening the just wrath that his defection had kindled in Mohammad’s heart. Ibn Abi Sarh was well versed in the arts of calligraphy and horsemanship. Formerly in the Prophet’s employ as secretary, he had shamelessly changed words and altered the sense of the Revelations whilst copying them out, in order to make a mockery of the Word of Allah. When his crime was discovered, he fled to Makkah and reverted to idol-worship. When the town was taken, he took refuge under the roof of Usman ibn Affan, his foster-brother. After having kept the faithless scribe in hiding for some time, Usman made up his mind to take him to the Prophet and beg for mercy, but in vain. At each supplication, he averted his head. Finally, giving way to fresh and pressing entreaties, Mohammad consented to grant a free pardon, but when the guilty wretch was gone, the Prophet said to his companions: ‘If I kept silence just now, it was but to give one of you time to kill him.’—’We were only waiting for one glance of thine eyes to put him to death.’—’A sign by a look of the eye is a treacherous act,’ he replied, ‘ill befitting one of Allah’s Messengers.’
From the foregoing examples, it can be seen how carefully the Prophet tried to win over his fellow-countrymen by gentleness, but nevertheless never deviating from inexorable firmness when anything concerning idolatry was in question. His mercy led to results which could never have been obtained by sanguinary repression.
He conquered all hearts. With the exception of the Hawazin and the Saquifs, all the neighbouring tribes came in at once and made their submission. From that day onwards, no one could earn the title of Mohadjer by emigration, because Islam was as firmly establised in Makkah as in Al-Madinah.
GHAZWAH OR EXPEDITION OF HUNAIN (6th day of Shawwal, Year VIII of the Hegira, 28th of January, A.D. 630)
Relying on the solidity of the ramparts surrounding their town of Taif; hoping to be able to take refuge there in case of defeat, the Hawazin and the Saquifs had refused to bow down to the Prophet. They even got ready to fight him and, under the leadership of two celebrated warriors, Malik ibn Awf and Durayd ibnu’s-Simma, they mustered in the valley of Awtas.
Mohammad, being told about their plans, sent Ibn Abi Hadrad as scout. When he came back with positive information, the Prophet resolved to set out and face his foes.
His ten thousand soldiers were joined by more than two thousand Makkans, lately converted, and impatient to prove their devotion and fervour. The effect produced by the army of the Believers was so imposing that a voice in the group of the Banu Bakr, it is said, cried out: ‘Truly we need not fear defeat with such a big army!’
This exclamation of pride displeased the Prophet greatly, for vanity weakens endeavour and causes forgetfulness of the fact that victory is granted by Allah. Mohammad blamed the boastful cry in the most severe terms.
On the bank of a “wadi,” the troops saw a big green tree, growing by itself, which the idolaters worshipped and looked upon with superstitious awe. Beneath its shade, they sacrificed victims and, on its branches, they hung their weapons, imagining they would become invincible by this verdant contact. Several soldiers, their minds not yet sufficiently purified from the stain of fetich observances, longed to possess likewise a tree, “Dhat Anwat,”—”Carrier of Weapons”—and sent in a demand to the Apostle which made him very indignant.
‘Your demand,’ he replied, ‘is just as abominable as that of the Banu-Isra’il, when saved by a miracle from Pharaoh’s hosts and the waves of the sea, they asked Moses for an idol in human shape. Ye are a stupid “qawm” accustomed to adopt without reflecting the vilest custome of your neighbours!’
Quoth Jabir ibn Abdullah: “Shortly before daybreak, we reached the “wadi” of Hunain, at the entrance of an extremely narrow and deep defile. All of a sudden, while we were still in the black shadows of the lofty crags, the first rays of the sun, on the other side of of the pass, lit up a sight that made our hearts leap impatiently.
“Under the careless guard of a few sentinels, our enemies’ tents were pitched in the plain. Between them, women and children passed to and fro. Round the encampment, countless flocks of sheep and herds of camels were about to depart to pasture-land. Without waiting for the Prophet’s orders, overwrought by the hope of plunder, we rush into the pass, so narrow that we were pressed together, shoulder to shoulder. No sooner was the entire army in the defile, when a lengthy, whistling murmur was heard in the air and, like great swarms of locusts, clouds of arrows darkened the sky. The darts were showered on us, aimed from two ridges, overlooking the pass…. We had fallen into an ambush organised by cunning Durayd.
“In consequence of the sting of the arrows from which there was no escape, for not one was lost in the soil, all finding a target as they pierced with a hissing noise the flesh of men, horses and camels, mad terror overcame us. Indescribable panic was also caused by our foes, lying in wait, concealed at the egress of the pass and who, with savage shouts, charged into our ranks. Tugging at the bridles of our camels, we turned round, the poor beasts grunting gloomily and shaking their long necks bristling with arrows. In the inextricable confusion of their stampede and fright, they tripped each other up and rolled over on the ground with their riders, who were at once trampled on by fleeing comrades….
“Whilst the archers continued to distress us with their darts, we discovered that the entry into the pass was barricaded by another detachment of our enemies who had allowed us to ride through and now awaited our return. At their head was a soldier of the Hawazin, bestriding a gigantic red camel and he was signalling with a spear to which he had fixed a black flag. When a Believer passed within reach, he lowered his lance to run him through, and perchance he missed, he signalled with his flag lifted again to those following him, and they pursued the Mussulman and put him to death.”
The defeat seemed irretrievable. Already many of the Prophet’s old enemies, their hearts still brimming with, rancour, began to gloat over the critical situation of the Mussulmans. ‘Their flight will not cease until they reach the sea coast!’ cried Abu Sufyan, who busied himself with consulting his divining arrows which he carried concealed in his quiver. ‘Mohammad’s sorcery is powerless this day!’ exclaimed Kalada ibn Hanbal in his turn. But his brother Safwan, although not yet converted, silenced him with these words: ‘May a gag close thy mouth!’
In the midst of general confusion, the Prophet alone was cool and collected. He posted himself on a low hill, to the right of the valley. ‘I am the Prophet of Allah and no impostor!’ he declared, and urging his mule forward, went to throw himself in the thick of the fight. Abu Bakr rushed in front of the animal and, seizing the bridle, held it back. To try and rally his troops, Mohammad ordered Abbas to shout: ‘O Ansars and Mohadjirun, my companions! O ye who took their oath over there!’ (at Al-Hudaibiyah). When, from the top of a rock, his stentorian voice carried the Prophet’s cry to the fugitives, they were covered with great confusion. Regaining their self-control, they replied: ‘We are here at thy service!’
But what was to be done to stem such a torrent of fleeing men and beasts, crowded together between the two vertical sides of the ravine? The Faithful did their best to lash the camels, twisting their necks by pulling the bridle contrariwise. With great strides, the frightened animals kept on in their flight…. It was then that the warriors of Allah slung their shields round their necks and jumped out of the saddle, leaving their camels to go on alone. Unsheathing their swords, the soldiers turned back to begin fighting again.
The Prophet, standing up in his stirrups, saw with joy that the situation was changed, and when his gaze fell upon the countless warriors rushing into the brazier of the battle, he cried out: ‘The furnace is alight!’
Ali, accompanied by an Ansar, resolved to put a stop to the exploits of the Bedouin of the Hawazin, proudly waving his spear adorned with the black flag. With one blow of his scimitar, Ali hamstrung the camel, and at the same moment, the Ansar brought down the Infidel by slicing his leg from the knee to the heel, putting an end to his misery as soon as he was flattened out on the ground.
Mad terror seized the idolaters when thinking they had crushed the Mussulmans, they resumed the offensive. It was now the Infidels’ turn to give way…. Mohammad ordered his mule to lie down. The animal bent its knees until its belly rested on the ground. Then taking up a handful of dust, the Prophet, as he had done at Badr, threw it towards his enemies whose flight became a mad rout. It seemed as if they had been blinded by this dust and that their soldiers were dispersed exactly the same as these impalpable atoms….
“Now hath Allah helped you in many battle-fields, and, on the day of Hunain, when ye prided yourselves on your numbers; but it availed you nothing; and the earth, with all its breadth, became too strait for you: then turned ye your backs in flight. * Then did Allah send down a spirit of tranquillity upon His Apostle, and upon the Faithful; and He sent down hosts which ye saw not and punished the Infidels.” (The Qur’an, ix, 25, 26.)
Harried by the sword during their retreat, Malik and the remains of his army managed to find safety in the fortified town of Taif.
Less lucky, Durayd, the Infidels’ second leader, was unable to escape his fate. Ninety years of age and blind, he was unable to direct his camel when abandoned by his panic-stricken fellow-countrymen, and he fell into the hands of a mere lad, Rabi’a ibn Rafia. When he saw the litter in which reclined this celebrated warrior, paralysed by the infirmities of great age, the youth thought he had captured a woman. He made the camel kneel, parted the hangings and was petrified at only finding an old man. Vexed and disappointed, he dealt Durayd a sabre-cut, but the aged fighter did not even seem to know that he had been struck. ‘What sort of weapon hath thy mother placed in thy hands, O little vagabond?’ he asked in accents of supreme scorn. ‘Take my sabre, hanging from my camel’s saddle. Lift the blade aloft and hit between the vertebrae of the back and those of the head. That was how I used to strike men down.’
Abashed at his first failure, Rabi’a followed this piece of advice and the famous warrior rolled dead in the dust.
Urged on by the spur of victory, the Prophet pursued the fugitives to the foot of the ramparts of Taif and tried to take the town. After a useless siege of twenty days, he preferred to give up all ideas of an attack in favour of other means, slower but more sure, and instead of invoking the wrath of the Divinity against the inhabitants, he said: ‘O Allah! enlighten the people of Taif and inspire them with a desire to come to Thy Apostle of their own free will!’
Despite the disappointment of his troops, he retook the road to Makkah, camping at Al-Ji’rana where all the prisoners were collected, as well as all the booty to be divided.
When the Prophet arrived, a female captive, Ash-Shayma, of the Banu Sad, which was a fraction of the Hawazin, was struggling to escape from the brutality of the soldiery. On perceiving Mohammad, she cried out: ‘O Prophet of Allah, I am thy foster-sister!’—’Prove it!’—’See the scar on my shoulder where thou didst bite me when I carried thee, a baby boy, on my back.’
The Prophet recognised the cicatrice. Much moved, he shed tears, spread his mantle on the ground, and asked Ash-Shayma to sit down on it. ‘According to thy wish,’ he said, ‘thou wilt find generous friendship by my side; or thou canst return to thy tribe with all the gifts I’ll lavish on thee.’—’Send me back to my people in the desert, O Prophet! Such is my sole desire.’ Mohammad set her free, after having loaded her with presents.
A deputation of the Hawazin was presented to the Prophet, and Abu Sorada, an old man belonging to the division of the Banu Sa’s, spoke in their name: ‘O Prophet! among thy prisoners are thine aunts, sisters of the wet-nurses who suckled thee. As for the male captives, they were the companions of thy childhood—almost of thy race! In the great misfortune which crusheth us, we implore thee in the name of Allah! If, for the same reasons, we were forced to implore Al-Harith ibn Abi Chammar, or Nu’man ibnu’l Mundhir, they would surely take pity on us! Now thou art the best of nurslings!’—’Which do ye prefer: your families or your property?’ asked Mohammad, scarcely able to hide his tender feelings.—’ O Prophet! give our wives and children back to us. We love them quite otherwise to our property.’—’I restore to you all male and female captives belonging to the Banui Muttalib,’ declared Mohammad loudly.—’But those who are ours belong to the Apostle of Allah!’ cried the Mohadjirun and the Ansars immediately. Thus all the prisoners, numbering about six thousand, were given up to the delegates of the Hawazin.
The family of Malik ibn Awf formed an exception to this ruling. Mohammad, however, charged those he had just liberated to make him the following proposal: ‘If Malik cometh to me and becometh a convert to Islam, I will give him back his property. Nay, more—I will make him a present of a hundred camels.’
Malik accepted. He left Taif secretly, and when converted, gave such tokens of sincerity, that the Prophet appointed him as commander over all the Mussulmans of the country. It was the best way to curb the resistance of the inhabitants of Taif.
And so it turned out indeed, for this able leader, proud of the investiture, at the head of troops stirred by faith, continued to war against the Saquifs. By pitilessly raiding their flocks and caravans, blocking them by hunger behind the ramparts of their city, he soon compelled them to come in their turn and implore the Prophet’s mercy, when they were converted to Islam. The booty was considerable, consisting of about twenty-four thousand camels and forty thousand sheep. After the emotions of the affair of the prisoners, Mohammad resolved to postpone the division of the plunder until another day, and he mounted his she-camel. But his soldiers were so impatient to share the spoils that they followed and importuned him. By accident, they pushed his animal against a thorny shrub, and its branches tore the mantle of Allah’s Chosen One. ‘Now, you men, give me back my mantle!’ he told them, and yielding to their entreaties, he returned to see the booty shared among them.
He tried, above all, to ingratiate himself definitively with the nobles of the city, by favouring them in all ways; and afterwards, they were called “Al-mu’allafa qulubuhum,” “those whose hearts have been won over.” Abu Sufyan and Mu’awiya his son; Hakim ibn Hizam, An-Nadr ibn Al-Harith, Suhayl, Ikrimah Uyayna, Al-Ajra, and Safwan, all received fifty camels each. This difference of treatment gave rise to protestations. Ibn Mirdas manifested his dissatisfaction in a piece of poetry: ‘My share of the booty and that of Al-Ubayd have been distributed to Oyama and Al-Ajra. And yet their fathers, Al-Hasan and Al-Habis, never took precedence of my father in any assembly whatsoever!’
The Prophet sent for him and asked: ‘Hast thou composed these rhymes: “My share of the booty and that of Al-Ubayd have been distributed to Al-Ajra and Oyama?” changing the order of the two last names mentioned; without noticing that he had thus broken the metre. In the Qur’an, Allah says: “We have not taught him (Mohammad) poetry.” (xxxvi, 59.)
Abu Bakr pointed this out to him. ‘No matter,’ he replied. ‘The meaning remaineth the same.’ And he gave orders to “cut the poet’s tongue” by granting him all he claimed.
An Arab of the Tamim tribe, Dhu’l Khuwaysira, dared to say to Allah’s Messenger: ‘Thou wert unjust in thy division.’ Umar started up. ‘I’ll cut the throat of that insolent churl!’ he shouted.—’Nay! let him go his own road,’ was Mohammad’s simple reply.
The Prophet was obliged to resort to most skilful political measures in order to spare all kinds of feelings during the division of these riches; and to prevent dangerous jealousy arising among his disciples. All the spoils, nevertheless, were nearly all allotted and he seemed to have forgotten his devoted Ansars who, naturally, expected to rank among the first to be rewarded. With ever-increasing surprise, they saw no share offered to them and the rich bounty flowing into the hands of the Quraish and the Bedouins.
At last there was no more left to give away and the Ansars exchanged bitter remarks: ‘By Allah, the Prophet thinketh only of his own people. Now that, thanks to us, he hath returned victorious to his birthplace, we are forgotten and neglected.’
Sa’d ibn Ubada, having heard these complaints, went and told Mohammad, who said: ‘Good! Call the Ansars together!’
When they were mustered, the Prophet came before them. ‘O Assembly of the Ansars!’ he said; ‘I have been told about your talk and the sadness of your souls. Did I not seek you out when ye had been led astray? Hath not Allah led you all into the right path? Ye were unfortunate: hath not Allah made you happy? Each man was his brother’s enemy: hath not Allah reconciled your hearts?’—’Truly!’ they answered unanimously. ‘Allah and His Apostle are the most compassionate and generous!’—’And on your part,’ he added, ‘did ye not welcome me with compassion and generosity when I was a homeless wanderer? Have ye not the right to say to me: “Thou wert branded as an impostor and we put faith in thee; thou wert east down and we helped thee to be victorious; thou wert poverty-stricken and we made thee rich?”‘—’Nay, nay!’ protested every man of the Assembly. ‘We are indebted to thee for everything and thou dost owe us nothing!’—’In that case,’ he went on, ‘O Ansar comrades! how could you let the least feeling of affection arise in your hearts concerning the fleeting riches of this world, with which I have endowed certain persons in order to strengthen their vacillating faith, whilst I knew that you were unshaken. Know ye not that these people will return to their homesteads with camels and sheep only, whilst ye will take the Prophet of Allah back with you to your dwellings?… By Him who holdeth Mohammad’s soul in His hands, I swear that if the Arab tribes retired into one valley and the Ansars into another, I would follow into the valley of the Ansars. For me, the Ansars are as a shirt on the skin; and for me, the other tribes are as the mantle outside everything. O Allah, show mercy to the Ansars; to the sons of the Ansars; and to the children of their children!’
These words, which the Prophet was unable to utter without betraying intense emotion, mollified the entire Assembly. Tears of gratitude flowed from the eyes of the Ansars so abundantly that their beards were wetted. All cried out, sobs causing them to falter: ‘Aye, verily, we accept our share of the booty, for the most beautiful portion is ours!’
Now hath Allah helped you in many battle-fields, and, on the day of Hunain, when ye prided yourselves on your numbers; but it availed you nothing.