The Religion Of Islam vol.1


  • bookcover

  • The Religion Of Islam vol.1


  • VII

    THE CONQUEST OF MECCA


    About the end of the seventh year of the Hijra, the Koreishites and their allies, the Bani Bakr violated the terms of the peace concluded at Hudeibiya by attacking the Bani Khuzaah who were in alliance with the Moslems. The Bani Khuzaab of whom a number of men were massacred appealed to the Prophet for help and protection. The Prophet determined to make a stop to the reign of injustice and oppression, which had lasted long at Mecca. He immediately gathered ten thousand men to march against the idolaters. On January 1st 630, the Prophet began his march. After eight days the Moslems Army halted and alighted at Marwat el Zahran a day’s journey from Mecca. On the night of his arrival, Abu Sufian, who was delegated by the Koreishites to ask the Prophet to abandon his project, presented himself and besought an interview. On the morrow it was granted “Has the time not come, O Abu Sofian,” said, the Prophet, for the to acknowledge that there is no deity save God, and that I am His apostle?” Abu Sofian after hesitating for a while pronounced the prescribed formula of belief [1], and adopted Islam. He was then sent back to prepare the city for the Prophet’s approach. With the exception of a slight resistance by certain clans headed by Ikrima and Safwan, in which many Moslems were killed, the Prophet entered Mecca almost unopposed. The city which had treated him so cruelly, driven him and his faithful band for refuge amongst strangers, the city which had sworn his life and the lives of his devoted adherents, now lay at his mercy. His old persecutors were now completely at his feet. The Prophet entered Mecca on his favourite camel “Al Kaswa,” having Abu Bakr on his right hand, Usaid on his left, and Usama walking behind him. On his way he recited a chapter of the Koran, known as the chapter of the victory.[2] The Moslem army entered the city unostentatiously and peacefully. No house was robbed, no man or woman was insulted. The Prophet granted a general amnesty to the entire population of Mecca. Only four criminals, whom justice condemned, were proscribed. He, however, ordered the destruction of all idols and pagan images of worship, upon which the 360 idols which the Holy Kaaba contained were thrown down. The Prophet himself destroyed a wooden pigeon from the roof which was regarded as one of the deities of the Koreishites. During the downfall of the images and idols he was heard to cry aloud. “God is great. God is great.” Truth has come and falsehood has vanished; verily falsehood is evanescent.” The old idolaters observed thoughtfully the destruction of their gods, which were utterly powerless. After the Prophet had abolished these pagan idols and very pagan rite, he delivered a sermon to the assembled people. He dwelt upon the natural brotherhood of man in the words of the Koran as contained in chapter XIIX, verse 13  [3]

    Now great multitudes came to adopt Islam and take the oath of allegiance to the Prophet. For this purpose an assembly was held at mount el Safa. Omar acting as the Prophet’s deputy, administered the oath, whereby the people bound themselves not to adore any deity but God to obey the prophet to abstain from theft, adultery, infanticide, lying and backbiting. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy embodied in the chapter of Victory in the Koran.[4]

     During his stay at Mecca, the Prophet dispatched his principal disciples in every direction to preach Islam among the wild tribes of the desert and call them to the true religion of God. He sent small detachments of his troops into the suburbs to destroy the temples of Al Uzza, Suwaa and Manat, the three famous idols in the temples of the neighbouring tribes. The Prophet gave strict orders that these expeditions should be carried out in a peaceable manner.[5]These injunctions were obey in all cases, with one exception. The troops under Khaled Ibn el-Walid, the fierce newly–converted warrior, killed a few of the Bani Jazima. When the news of this wanton bloodshed reached the Prophet he was deeply grieved, and exclaimed, “Oh my Lord I am innocent of what Khaled had done, and he dispatched a large sum of money for the windows and orphans of the slain and several rebuked Khaled.[6] At this time the tribes of Hawazin and Thakif showed unwillingness to render obedience to the Moslems without resistance. They formed a league with the intention of attacking the Prophet. But he was vigilant enough to frustrate their plan. A big battle was fought with this new enemy of Islam near Hunein, a deep and narrow defile nine miles to the north east of Mecca. The idolaters were utterly defeated. One body of the enemy consisting chiefly of the Thakif tribe, took refuge in their fortified city of Tayef, which, as the reader may remember, eight or nine years before had dismissed the Prophet from within its walls with injuries and insults. The remainder of the defeated force, consisting principally of the Hawazin, sought refuge at a camp in the valley of Autas. This camp was raided by the Moslem troops. The families of the Hawazin, their flocks and herds with all their other effects were captured by the troops of the Prophet. Tayef was then besieged for a few days only, after which the Prophet raised the siege, well knowing that the people of Tayef would soon be forced by circumstances to submit without bloodshed. Returning to his camp where the prisoners of Hawazin were left for safety, the Prophet found a deputation from this hostile tribe who begged him to set free their families. The Prophet replied that he was willing to give back his own share of the captives and that of the children of Abdul Muttalib, but that he could not force his followers to abandon the fruits of their victory. The disciples followed the generous example of their teacher and about six thousand people were in a moment set free.[7] The spirit of liberty influenced the hearts of several members of the Thaqif tribe who offered their allegiance and soon became earnest Moslems.

     

    The Prophet now returned to Medina fully satisfied with the achievements of his mission.

    The ninth year of the Hijra is known as the years of embassies, as being the year in which the various tribes of Arabia submitted to the claim of the Prophet and sent embassies to render homage to him. Hitherto these tribes had been awaiting the issue of the war between Mohammed and the Koreishites; but as soon as that tribe –the principal of whole nation, and descendants of Ismail, whose prerogatives none offered to dispute– had submitted, they were satisfied that it was not in their power to oppose Mohammed.[8] Hence their embassies flocked into Medina to make their submission to him. The conquest of Mecca decided the fate of idolatry in Arabia. Now deputations began to arrive from all sides to render the adherence to Islam of various tribes. Among the rest, five Princes of the tribe of Himyar professed Islam and sent ambassadors to notify the same. These were the Princes of Yemen, Mahra, Oman and Yamama.[9]

    The idolaters of Tayef, the very people who had driven the Preacher of Islam from their midst with violence and contempt now sent a deputation to pray forgiveness and ask to be numbered amongst his followers. They begged, however, for temporary preservation of their idols. As a last appeal they begged for one month’s grace only. But this even was not conceded. The Prophet said Islam and the idols could not exist together. They then begged for exemption from the daily prayers. The Prophet replied that without devotion religion would be nothing. At last they submitted to all that was required of them. They, however, asked to be exempted from destroying the idols with their own hands. This was granted. The Prophet selected Abu Sufian and Mughira to destroy the idols of the Tayefites, the chief of which being the notorious idol of Allat. This was carried out amidst cries of despair and grief from the old women of Tayef.

     

    The conversion of this tribe of Tayef is worthy of notice. This tribe which hitherto had proved hostile to the new faith was noted among the Arabs for its idolatrous priesthood. A small detachment under Ali was sent to reduce them to obedience and to destroy their idols. The prince of the tribe was Adi, the son of the famous Hatim, whose generosity was spoken of all over the peninsula of Arabia. On the approach of the Moslem force, Adi fled to Syria leaving his sister with some of his principal clansmen, to fall into the hands of the Moslems. These were conducted by Ali with every sign of respect and sympathy to Medina. When the daughter of Hatim came before the Prophet she addressed him in the following words: “O: Apostle of God, my father is dead; my brother, my only relation has fled into the mountains, on the approach of Moslems. I cannot ransom myself; I count on your generosity for my deliverance. My father was an illustrious man, the prince of his tribe, a man who ransomed prisoners, protected the honour of women fed the poor consoled the afflicted and was deaf to no appeal”. “ Thy father”, answered the Prophet, “had the virtues of a true Moslem: if it were permitted to invoke the Mercy of God on any whose life was passed in idolatry, I would pray to God for mercy for the soul of Hatim.” Then, addressing the Moslems around him, he said; “The daughter of Hatim is free her father was a generous and humane man; God loves and rewards the merciful” With the daughter of Hatem, all her people were set at liberty. She proceeded to Syria, and related to her brother the generosity of Mohammed”, Adi touched by gratitude hastened to Medina where he was kindly received by the Prophet. He professed Islam and returned to his people and persuaded them to abandon idolatry. They all submitted and became devoted Moslems.[10]

     

    Hitherto no prohibition had been enforced against idolaters entering the Holy Kaaba or performing their abominable rite within the sacred precincts. Towards the end of the ninth years of the Hijra, during the month of pilgrimage Ali was delegated by the Prophet to read a Proclamation that ran as follows: “ No idolater shall after this year perform the pilgrimage; no one shall make the circuit of the temple naked (such a disgraceful custom was practiced by the heathen Arabs), any treaty with the Prophet shall continue in force, but four months are allowed to every man to return to his territories; after that there will be no obligation on the Prophet except towards those with whom treaties have been concluded. [11]

    The vast multitude who had listened to the above declaration returned to their homes and before the following year was over the majority of them were Moslems.

    During the tenth year of the Hijra as in the preceding one, numerous embassies continued to pour into Medina from all parts of Arabia to testify to the adhesion of their chiefs and their tribes. Teachers were sent by the Prophets into the different provinces to teach the new converts the principles and precepts of Islam. These teachers were invariably given the following injunctions when they were about to depart on their mission: “Deal gently with the people and be not harsh; cheer them, and do not look down upon them with contempt. Ye will meet with many believers in the Holy Scriptures,[12] who will ask you “What is the key to heaven?” Answer them that it (the key to heaven) is to bear witness to Divine truth and to do good.” [13]

    Thus, the mission of the Prophet Mohammed was now accomplished; the whole work was achieved during his lifetime. Idolatry with its nameless abominations was entirely destroyed. The people who were sunk in superstition, cruelty and vice, in regions where spiritual life was utterly unknown, were now united in one bond of faith, hope and charity. The tribes which had been, from time immemorial, engaged in perpetual wars were now united together by the ties of brotherhood, love and harmony. Hence-forth, their aims are not confined to this earth alone; but there is something beyond the grave–much higher, purer and diviner–calling them to the practice of charity, goodness, justice and universal love. They could now perceive that God was not that which they had carved out of wood or stone, but the Almighty, Loving, Merciful the Creator of the Universe.

    On the return of the sacred month of the pilgrimage, the Prophet under the presentiment of his approaching end, determined to make a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca. In February 632, he left Medina with a very considerable concourse of Moslems. It is stated that from 90.000 to 140.000 persons accompanied the Prophet.[14] On his arrival at the holy places, from which every trace of the old superstition had been removed, and which in accordance with his orders of the previous year, no idolater was to visit unless he assumed the pilgrim garb. Before completion all rites of the pilgrimage, he addressed the assembled multitude from the top of the Mount Arafat, in the following words: “Ye people! Listen to my words, for I know not whether another year will be vouchsafed to me after this year to find myself amongst you. Your lives and property are sacred and inviolable amongst one another until ye appear before the Lord, as this day and this month is sacred for all; and remember, ye shall have to appear before your Lord Who shall demand from you an account for all your actions. Ye people, Ye have rights over your wives, and your wives have rights over you…Verily ye have taken them on the security of God and have made their persons Lawful unto you by the words of God. And your slaves, see that ye feed them with such food as ye eat yourselves, and clothe them with the stuff ye wear, and if they commit a fault which ye are not inclined to forgive, then part with them; for they are the servants of the Lord and are not to be harshly treated. Ye people Listen to my words and understand them. Know that all Moslems are brothers. Ye are one brotherhood; but no man shall take aught from his brother, unless by his free consent. Keep yourselves from injustice. Let him who is present tell this to him who is absent. It may be, that he who is told this afterwards may remember better than he who has now heard it.”

     

    The Prophet concluded his sermon by exclaiming, “O Lord I have fulfilled my message and accomplished my work” The assembled multitude all in one voice cried, “Yea verily thou hast,” The Prophet again exclaimed, “O Lord I beseech thee, bear witness unto it.”

    Having rigorously performed all the ceremonies of the pilgrimage that his example might be followed by all Moslems for all succeeding ages, the Prophet returned with his followers to Medina.

    The eleventh year of the Hijra being the last year of Mohammed’s life, was spent at Medina. There he settled the organisation of the provincial and tribal communities which had adopted Islam a

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