SAFEGUARDING THE CAll
1- Against Meccan Danger
The light of the Mohammadan
Call, it will be remembered emanated in Mecca
where stands the praying place of Abraham and the sanctuary of all the Arabs
then. and where dwelt whose privilege and honour
amongst the Arabs was the keeping of the Holy House. That privilege gave them
great prestige which largely contributed to their prosperity and amenities. To
the Holy House, then, they owed their riches, their livelihood and even their
existence. They were therefore alive to any danger real or imaginary, which
threatened its sanctity and would unite to overcome the source of the danger at
all costs. We have already seen the fate that the call of Zeid son of Nofile,
prior to the Muhammadan Call, met at their hands, and the sort of resistance
meted to the Prophet and his followers in the earlier stages of the conflict.
This accounts for the
subsequent long cruel persecution of the Prophet and his adherents who had to
seek refuge elsewhere. That was the reason for the two emigrations to Abyssinia and the great emigration to Madinah. The
Meccans- planned the murder of the prophet himself knowing well that by so
doing the whole movement would collapse as did Zeid's attempt against their
idolatry before. They resorted to this desperate measure, having in vain
denounced him to their tribes first as poet and magician, and then as a mad
man, and having in vain gone even to the length of ostracizing him, and his
near relations who sympathized with him, in a rocky defile for three years.
Against this prolonged
Meccan danger to him and his Mission as pointed out in a previous occasion,
sought the protection of other tribes as occasion permitted, especially during
the pilgrimage season recommending hims?lf to them as God's Messenger asking
them to accept and defend him. Had they done, the centre of the Call would have
moved to where the protection was available, with a much better chance of
success than at Mecca.
and Khazrag who swore him allegiance gave him a way out of the difficulty.
Here, then at Yathrib (Madinah), he would find a wholesome atmosphere
permitting popular open preaching of Islam, capable of developing into a really
Islamic city, and affording a stronghold for himself and his Mission.
people of Quraish were aware of the allegiance sworn at Aqabah and of its
disastrous implications to themselves and their privileged position aiming as
it did at protecting Muhammad and safeguarding his Call. They instantly
embarked on a plot for his murder to avoid his emigration. Fortunately, through
Divine help they were outmanoeuvred, and he escaped on the very night assigned
for the execution of their monstrous plot.
At Madinah he found a more
extensive scope and a more productive soil, free from the vehement resistance
he formerly experienced. In a very short time he reconciled the Aus and the
Khazrag tribes on the one hand and instituted a brotherhood between the helpers
and the Immigrants on the other. He integrated them all into one whole,
harmonious within, and showing one front without against all danger especially from
Quraish. He sent out at intervals a series of expeditions, the first of which
commanded by his uncle Hamzah, to intimidate Quraish, and to detect, if
possible, any offensive measure they might have planned.
matters continued for a time, each side waiting for the opportunity to settle
the dispute forcibly in his favour. This led to the big pitched battle of Badr.
It was admittedly a decisive battle in the history of Islam, because it
strengthened the Muslims' morale and increased them to collective
self-consciousness or group-consciousness, to use a psychological term, having
given them the upper hand over an enemy of greater prestige, better equipment,
and almost treble their number.
Still the battle, decisive
in this sense, was not decisive in the sense of having annihilated the martial
power of Quraish. On the contrary it impelled them to rally and put forth their
collected strength that they might take their revenge and restore their lost
prestige. They pledged the rich caravan which was the cause of Badr, cargo and
all, to the meditated struggle against the Muslims. This resulted in the big
pitched battled of Ohod in which the- Muslims, victorious at the beginning were
defeated in the end although it was not a crushing defeat, since it did not
affect the prestige of the Prophet himself, as had primarily been the purpose
of the enemy. Quraish did not stop there. They did their best to incite ?ther
tribes against Islam and the Muslims. This led to a series of campaigns the
greatest of which was the campaign of Al Ahzab "the Clans" or of
Al-Khandak (the Moat), as it is variously called. More than 10,000 strong
attacked Madinah which was saved only through the prophet causing a moat to be
dug in time at the vulnerable part, himself taking
part in the digging.
On this occasion the
Prophet's efficient tactics, the counsel of his near companions and the valour
and faith his soldiers, stood them in good stead and held the enemy off. It was
in one of the skirmishes, when Amre lbn Wud with some enemy cavalry leapt the
moat, that the youthful hero Ali killed the veteran knight in a famous duel.
The situation became very critical when confidential news came to the Prophet
that the Jewish tribe of Bani Korizah at the other side of Madinah forsook
their pact with the Prophet for another with the enemy who was arranging with
them a concerted attack. A clever ruse by a Muslim in secret cowed doubt
between the enemy and the Jews at the same time God sent a tempest which caused
the enemy to decamp.
This was for the people of
Quraish a crushing defeat. The state of war continued between the Prophet and
his group. On the one hand, and the tribes of Quraish on the other till the
truce of Hodibeyah was signed when the Prophet with about fifteen hundred of
his men arrived near Mecca
(the 6th. year after Higrah) to pay a visit to the Kaabah. Though he did not
fulfil his visit, which by the terms of the truce had to be postponed for a
year, he was successful in extending the truce for ten years during which he
would be free to disseminate the Call himself and deal effectively with any
enemy that might arise.
The truce of Hodibeyah,
though including some rigorous terms binding on the Muslims, showed great
foresight on the part of the Prophet as may be seen by the fact that during the
two years following it great numbers joined the Faith - larger than the total
converts in all years. The truce remained in force until its breach by Quraish
when, with their connivance, an allied tribe attacked another in alliance with
He retaliated by leading an
expedition of nearly 10,000 braves against Mecca. The enemy could not but peace fully surrender the sacred city and welcome Muhammad
as God's Messenger.
Thus was Mecca conquered ;
the long struggle terminated the principal danger which had long jeopardized
the believers. More than twenty years had passed since the Islamic Call was
first begun at the hands of a single man in the sacred city of idolatrous Arabia. The city had rejected its Prophet and drove him
forth after thirteen years of patient preaching. In about eight years more the
r?jected Prophet entered the sacred city victorious but humble, forgave the
past enmity of its inhabitants, purged its idols, and confirmed it as the
sacred city of Islam.
A great triumph worthy of the great Mission.
2. - Against Jewish
Jews lived at Yathrib with almost undisputed power and prestige through their
control of economic and financial affairs and their exploitation of the
struggle then raging between the Aus and Khazrag tribes. Their maxim then,
seems to have been the maxim of the colonial system today "Divide and
conquer". It is no wonder, then, that the Prophet's and his companions emigration to Madinah terrified them, especially
after the reconciliation he effected between the two principal waning tribes.
They waited for the opportunity to declare their hostility to the Prophet,
ready to ally themselves even with the devil that they might crush his power
and regain their prestige. He was probably aware of their secret machination,
but he let matters until they would show their hand, giving much of his
attention to Quraish. Preliminary hostility began on the Jews' part by trying
to weaken the Helpers and Immigrants by sowing dissention and doubt, and asking
questions that would lead to disputes. Undoubtedly those Jews were a most
serious danger to the Faith and its Call, seeking to disarm and undermine both,
as may be seen from the divine text:
"Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who
believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters".
(Surah V, 82 - in part).
If they could not openly show their hostility or make Muslims disobey the
Prophet, they would try and weaken the faith of believers, using whatever
opportunity might offer. One such opportunity was the change of the Qiblah,
from facing towards Jerusalem to facing towards Mecca in prayer. They took
that as a proof of hesitancy in belief. Their calumny was both stated and
answered in the holy revelation.
"The foolish of the people will say : what bath
turned them from the Qiblah which they formerly observed ? Say Unto Allah belong the East and the west. He guideth whom he
will unto a straight path" . (Surah II, 142).
They also did their best to insinuate that Islam plagiarized much from Judaism.
Inspite of all, the Prophet bore patiently with them until they themselves
would give the opportunity for their iniquities to be visited on them. As long
as they outwardly kept the pact that the Prophet made with them when he first
came to Madinah, they could not be touched. It was a particularized pact;
referring to the Jews not generally but group by group. Therefore the breach,
if any, by one group, would be visited only On that
group not on all the Jews. Bani Kinaka were the first to break the pact. An
Arab woman selling her necklace to a Jew in their market was out raged by him.
This provoked a Muslim who killed the Jew. The Jews avenged themselves by
killing the Muslim instead of submitting the matter to the Prophet for judgment
as the pact specified. The Prophet be sieged Beni Kinaka, for fifteen nights
until they were forced to surrender unconditionally and to evacuate the city
and move to Wadi El Kira, then to Syria. But for the pact, it would have been
good policy to do this to all the Jews of Madinah in order to ensure security
against attack from within when the Prophet should go out on a campaign. Such a
general Jewish evacuation woul? have made of the city a single cohesive mass
working at one hand, moved by One heart, that would
stand firm in tempestuous weather and present one united front to all enemies
from without. But it could not be done as long as Jewish tribes singly kept
their part of the pact.
The example of Beni Kinaka however, did not
deter Jews from their purpose. Ka'ab Son of Al Ashraf commenting on the victory
achieved by the Muslims at Badr, made his recorded remarks "
Is this true ? Muhammad really kill these
nobles and leaders of Mecca. If he had really killed these,
then the bowl of earth would be a better abode than its surface". Having
assured the Victory he went directly to Mecca
incite the Meccans to a fresh campaign against the prophet weeping their dead
and stirring their enthusiasm !. He wanted to revenge
the Jew's of Bani-Kinaka stirring the Meccans to revenge according to the old
maxim " divide and conquer". He did it not
in prose in poetry, in bitter hateful poetry which moved them to double effort
in their preparation for the coming battle of Ohod.
It was natural that the Prophet could not leave Kaab and his mischief
unopposed. He consequently sent someone who killed the dangerous for that he
might an outstanding example for others of his kind. His death was- deeply
resented by Bani Nadeer, his mother's tribe, and certainly terrified the whole
When the Muslim army returned from Ohod, already strained and wounded, some
further action was necessary in the interest of security against possible
danger from those determined still to exact vengeance any cost, or to wreck the
whole Islamic movement. When on his way to the battle, the Prophet noticed
their organized hatred which collected a contingent directed against him,
though it was not actually sent to the battle field probably through a last
moment fear of consequences. Sound strategy at any rate dictates caution and
the elimination of potential danger threatening the rear.
The immediate cause however of the campaign against the Jews of Bani Nadeer in
their strongholds near Madinah was their attempt against the life of the
Prophet when, with some of his companions, he went to them as his allies to
seek some help. They were besieged in their forts, resisted the siege for some
time while, as the holy Qur'an describes it.
"They deemed that their strongholds would protect
them from Allah. But Allah reached them from a place they reckoned not, and
cast terror in their hearts so that they ruined their houses with their own
hands and the hands of the believers" , (Surah
59, 2 in part).
The campaign resulted in their ejection from their settlement near Koba; being
permitted to take with them what they could carry excepting armament. They went
partly to Khaiber and partly to Athriat in Syria where Bani Kinaka were exiled
Some of their leaders, among whom Haiy son of Akhtab and Sallam son of Abil
Hakik, who at first went to Khaiber, sent soon afterwards to Mecca to enlist
the aid of its people against the Prophet, working on their fears and bidding
them beware of the growing strength of the Muslims. Versed as of old in the
technique of sedition and conspiracy, and driven by their implacable hatred of
the Prophet they, to gain favour in the eyes of the Meccans-, went even to the
length of telling them that their idol-worship was better than Islam, the
religion of Muhammad and that the Jews for that reason were ready to ally
themselves with them, idol-worshippers as they were in the hope of defeating
One cannot but agree to the criticism passed on this very strange dictum of
theirs by one of them, Dr. Wilfinson by name, in his book "The History
of Jews in Arabia" ,
and wonder with him how the Jews could on that occasion abandon their religion
which emphatically upholds monotheism and abhors and fights idol worship to the
length of preferring the latter to monotheistic Islam,
Why did they commit that heinous sacrilege ? Simply to make a dual alliance against a common enemy.
Neither the impulse of survival nor the thirst for revenge could justify the
unforgivable act of preferring idolatry to Islam, a monotheistic religion like
their own And it availed them nothing. It is true that
they caused Quraish to attack Al-Madinah with their allies of Ghatfan in the
campaign of the Clans, and that Haiy Ibn Akhatab succeeded in making the Jewish
tribe of Bani Korizah join the Clans and break their pact with the Prophet. But
their campaign miserably failed and Bani Korizah were utterly destroyed. As
soon as the Clans decamped ?n despair the Prophet and his Muslim soldiers by
divine order upset a siege to the strongholds of Bani Korizah. The siege lasted
twenty five days and ended with their unconditional surrender. They were judged
by the head of their special allies the Aus, by Saad Ibn Moaz, who sentenced
their men to death, the rest passing as spoils to the hands of the Muslim army
which would have been utterly destroyed had the perfidy of Bani Korizah
succeeded. Haiy, the instigator of the perfidy was among the killed.