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He had better success with some men from Medina, who came to Mecca for the pilgrimage of Medina, whose original name was Yathrib, was a place very different from its sister-city, from which it was separated by a distance of miles. Situated in a fertile oasis, it was largely self-supporting, and took but a small part in commerce. It was at one time under Jewish dominance, but the three Jewish clans—the Nadir, the Kuraiza, and the Kainuka—were now overshadowed by eight Arab clans, of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. The more responsible citizens were anxious to put an end to these troubles: the most hopeful method, often resorted to in Arabia, was to bring in an arbitrator from outside, who would act as judge and keep the peace.

Who better, some of them now asked, than the man in Mecca who was claiming to be a prophet of God? In six men of the Khazraj met Muhammad and professed Islam; the next year five of these returned, bringing with them three of the Aws, and at Akaba, near Mecca, they solemnly pledged themselves to foreswear idolatry. At the pilgrimage of seventy-five Medinans entered into a compact by which they recognized Muhammad as the Apostle of God and promised to defend him as they would their own kin.

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He was assured of a welcome in their Had the Kuraish been united and resolute, they could probably have disposed of their disturber. But though the killing of the Prophet was apparently discussed, no course of action was decided on, and in September Muhammad and his loyal friend Abu Bakr slipped quietly out of Mecca, eluded pursuers sent belatedly to capture them, and reached the safety of Medina. Many of his followers, the Muhajirun or Emigrants, travelling in small groups, had got there before them.

Shortly after his arrival, Muhammad drew up a treaty or constitution the original text is uncertain, the one we have being a conflate of several documents of different dates which may be recognized as the earliest sketch of the Islamic theocracy. A distinction, never to be obliterated, was drawn between Dar al-lslam, the house or abode of Islam, and Dar al-Harb, the abode of war, of those who rejected Allah and his Prophet and were therefore deemed to be in state of enmity with those of the true faith. The Emigrants were probably fitted with some trouble into Medina society; the Medinan converts, the Ansar or Helpers, doubtless soon included many who joined the umma from interest rather than conviction, and whose loyalty was therefore suspect; the pagans held sullenly aloof, and the Prophet was surprised and irritated to find his claims contemptuously repudiated by the Jews.

In Mecca, at the outset of his mission, he perhaps scarcely distinguished between Jews and Christians, but he had gradually acquired an imperfect knowledge of the Bible, and the Koran contains references to Adam and Noah, Abraham and Moses, and the kings of Israel, while a whole sura is devoted to the story of Joseph and his brethren. Aware of the existence of prophets among the Jews of old, he conceived of himself as the last of a series of messengers of God, chosen to bring mankind a final and perfect revelation, the At Mecca he commanded his followers to face Jerusalem when they prayed, and soon after his arrival in Medina he instructed them to observe the Jewish Day of Atonement as a solemn fast.

Gohar Guzasht / گوہر گزشت

For a time he dissembled his wrath, but the Jews of Medina were destined to pay heavily for their refusal to accept the Koran as the new scripture and himself as the Rasul Allah or Apostle of God. In Mecca, the Kuraish, relieved at his departure, made no move, but Muhammad was resolved to punish the idolators who had cast him out, and in characterisic Arab fashion he did so by launching a series of razzias or raids against their caravans, thereby striking at their principal source of livelihood.

The Meccans decided to provide their next caravan with an armed escort of nearly a thousand men; Muhammad was able to collect a bare , but he displayed some military skill in forcing the enemy to fight him on ground of his own choosing, at Badr, eleven miles south-west of Medina, and in the skirmish which followed March , although the caravan escaped, the guards were routed, and fifty or more of them were left dead on the field.

Islam emerged with surprising success from its first ordeal by battle; The Banu-Kainuka were the first victims; besieged for fifteen days in their fortified quarter of the town, they received no help from their fellow-Jews, and were obliged to surrender. Meanwhile, Mecca was plotting revenge for Badr. Her trade was suffering badly, since it was now a hazardous business to send caravans northwards to Syria or Iraq.

In March a powerful force of men, of whom were clad in coats of mail, and of whom were mounted on horseback, set out for Medina, and encamped near Uhud, a hill a few miles from the city. The younger Muslim warriors, eager to repeat the success of the previous year, refused to stand on the defensive and rushed forward to the attack. For a moment, their impetus carried all before it, but the Meccan cavalry, under the command of Khalid b.

Yet the Kuraish strangely enough made no attempt to exploit their victory and capture Medina, but withdrew back to Mecca, perhaps feeling that they lacked the equipment and resources to besiege the town. In so doing, they missed their best chance of crushing Islam in its cradle. The skill and statesmanship of Muhammad were equal to the occasion. The Muslims were reassured by a revelation that Uhud was at once a divine punishment for their sins and failings and a test of their faith To occupy their minds with other things, the Prophet struck a fresh blow at the Jews, this time at the Banu Nadir, who were ordered to quit Medina within ten days on pain of death.

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After a brief resistance, the clan gave in, and was permitted to depart for Khaibar, seventy miles to the north, with as much property as they could load upon their camels. The astonishing march of nearly miles in the hot season must have startled the neighbouring nomads and disinclined them to join the grand alliance which the Kuraish were forming in order to annihilate the power of their adversary.

In all their dealings with Muhammad, the Kuraish displayed neither unity nor energy nor resolution. The situation which confronted them was beyond their experience, and they fumbled helplessly in their efforts to master it. Divided and weak in leadership, sluggish and hesitant in action, and untrained in war, they were perhaps impelled to a supreme attempt by the importunities of the exiled Nadirites at Khaibar, and they at last assembled a force of 10, men, probably the biggest force ever seen in Arabia.

To this formidable confederacy, Muhammad could oppose only 3,, comprising nearly all the able-bodied males of Medina. Learning by the example of Uhud, he decided to risk no open battle, but on the advice of a Persian convert, who was familiar with the military techniques of civilized nations, he defended Medina by an earthen trench and rampart, a simple device which baffled the Meccan besiegers when they arrived outside the city in March With this fiasco, Mecca shot its last bolt.

It was clear by now that Muhammad would never be crushed by military force, and unless the Kuraish were prepared to face economic ruin, some kind of accommodation would have to be reached with him. This final failure sealed the fate of the Banu-Kuraiza, the last remaining Jewish clan in Medina.

They had failed to succour their Blockaded in their quarters, they surrendered unconditionally, and no doubt expected that they would be expelled like the BanuNadir. This man was, however, their bitter enemy, and he decreed that all the men of the clan should be put to death and the women and children sold into slavery. The bloody sentence was instantly executed, and or unhappy Jews were led out in batches and beheaded.

Muhammad was now undisputed master of Medina; his prestige was mounting among the Bedouin tribes, and he boldly resolved to make the pilgrimage to Mecca during the sacred month when hostilities were forbidden. Since his break with the Jews, he had come to hold that the religion God had called on him to preach was the same as that revealed in early ages to Abraham, the first true Muslim, and which had been corrupted by the novelties of rabbis and priests. Mecca and its temple were thus skilfully fitted into the system of Islam, a fact which doubtless did much to placate some of the Kuraish.

These were, however, important concessions: if the Meccans could freely resume their trading journeys without fear of attack, they had been obliged to recognize the political status of their enemy. War with Mecca having been suspended, the Prophet turned to destroy the last stronghold of Jewry in Western Arabia, that of the wealthy oasis of Khaibar, where the exiled Banu-Nadir were allegedly inciting the neighbouring Arab tribes against the Muslims.

Muhammad used his victory with moderation, the Jews being retained as tenants on their lands, which passed into Muslim ownership.

The fall of Khaibar was followed by the capitulation, on the same terms, of the smaller Jewish settlements in the Hijaz. Thus closed a tragic chapter in the history of Arabian Jewry, of a people who had sought refuge in the freedom of a desert land from Babylonian or Roman oppression and who, although removed from the main stream of Judaism, preserved the purity of their faith, whose silent influence, when reinforced by that of Christianity, contributed to the overthrow of the ancient gods of Arabia.

Muhammad was deeply impressed by their antiquity, their God, their sacred books, and the ritual of their worship; the Koran abounds in rabbinic lore, and his title of Prophet nabi is visibly borrowed from the Old Testament. Their repudiation of his claims was perhaps the most grievous disappointment of his life; he was easily persuaded that by their blindness and unbelief they had forfeited the protection of the Almighty, and he could not feel that his mission was safe until these dangerous opponents had been removed from the scene.

Had the Jews accepted Islam, they might have become partners with the Arabs in a mighty world empire, but they would have forsworn their past and their principles and have been swallowed up in the umma of the Muslim faithful.


They chose, not for the first or last time, the path of consistency and danger; they rejected Muhammad as they had rejected Jesus, and were exposed to the eternal enmity of the two religions which had themselves sprung from the soil of Judaism. When the proper season arrived, Muhammad prepared to accomplish, in accordance with the terms of the treaty of Hudaibiya, the delayed pilgrimage to Mecca. He travelled with a cavalcade of two thousand men; the Kuraish retired to the hills as the Prophet re-entered the city from which he had fled more than six years before; he performed his devotions at the Kaaba, and after instructing the Abyssinian negro Bilal, who regularly filled this office at Medina, to summon the Muslims to worship from the roof of the temple, he conducted a service of prayer and thanksgiving.

Resistance to him was crumbling: among the noteworthy new converts at this time was the soldier Khalid, who had routed the Tradition recounts that Muhammad had already sent messengers to kings and rulers within his ken urging them to embrace Islam: the kings of Axum and Persia, the governor of Egypt, even the emperor Heraclius himself, are said to have been among the recipients. Did he now envisage Islam as a universal faith, something more than the national religion of the Arabs? It is impossible to be sure, but in the autumn of an expedition, under the command of his adopted son Zaid b.

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The object of this raid is obscure: perhaps it was designed to secure the submission of the local Arab tribes and unexpectedly ran into a Roman border patrol. At all events, it was the opening shot in the conflict between Christendom and Islam which was to rage throughout the centuries. Early in Mecca capitulated. Since the failure of the siege of Medina in it had been clear that peace would have to be made with Muhammad, and with the tide now running strongly in favour of Islam, the Kuraish leader, Abu Sufyan, the head of the Omayya clan, undertook to arrange for a peaceful occupation of the city by the Muslims.

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An army of 10, men marched on Mecca; Abu Sufyan offered his submission, and apart from a minor clash, no blood was shed, and the Prophet took possession of his birthplace in placid triumph. He demolished the idols of the Kaaba and dedicated the building afresh to the worship of the one true God.

To his former foes he displayed the tact, moderation and humanity of a born statesman, and most of the Kuraish chiefs, who had so bitterly opposed him, were won over to his side. Almost immediately he found himself in the odd position of having to defend Mecca against attack from two tribes, the Hawazin and the Thakif, who were probably alarmed at the growth of this strange new power in Arabia.

Gohar Guzasht / گوہر گزشت

Khalid won his first victory for Islam when he crushed this confederacy at Hunain, a few miles east of Mecca, a battle which convinced Arabia that resistence to the new religion was vain. Delegations poured into Medina whither Muhammad returned after the submission of Mecca from all quarters of the land; the chiefs of distant Oman and Bahrain accepted Islam; even the Persian governor of the Yemen is said to have accorded some form of They offered to submit if their chief deity, the goddess alLat, were spared for three years.

Its fall sounded the death-knell of the antique faith of Arabia. He entered into agreements with all the leading tribes: those who accepted Islam received most favourable treatment, those who were Christians or Jews and wished to remain so were taken under Muslim protection dhimma and guaranteed security of their goods and property and the free exercise of their religion, on condition that they paid the jizya, tax or tribute.

Among those who acquired the status of dhimmis or protected people were the Christians of Najran, whose annual payment was fixed at cloth garments. Gradually the Prophet reached out to extend his control over the tribes on the Syrian and Iraqian frontiers, not unaware, in all probability, that such a policy involved the risk of conflict with the Byzantine and Persian Governments. From Persia he had little to fear: in she had sustained a crushing defeat at the hands of Heraclius, and the State was slipping into anarchy and ruin. But Byzantium was a formidable Power, and Heraclius in celebrated his victory over the Persians by replacing the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, this revered relic having been for long in enemy hands.

It got as far as Tabuk, near the Gulf of Akaba, but no Roman army appeared, the men complained of the heat and difficulties of the campaign, and the Prophet was compelled reluctantly to retire. He had, however, clearly indicated the line of future Arab expansion, and he was sufficiently shrewd to realize that if peace was enforced within his umma, the warlike energies of his people must be employed in raids against the neighbouring lands of the north. Every detail of his actions on this occasion was carefully noted and imitated by his disciples: the rites and ceremonies which he had endorsed by his example and presence became standard Muslim practice.

He was now over sixty years of age, and his health was failing. On his return to Medina, he fell ill and requested Abu Bakr to lead the prayers in his place. The faithful were stricken with grief and incredulity, and the violent and impetuous Omar threatened to cut off the hands and feet of anyone who dared assert that the Prophet was dead. This wild ranting was rebuked by the calm good sense of Abu Bakr, who told the people: If anyone worships Muhammad, Muhammad is dead, but if anyone worships God, he is alive and dies not. An attempt by the Ansar to elect one of their number was forestalled: Omar seized the hand of Abu Bakr and called on the people to obey the man whom the Prophet had appointed to lead the prayers in his absence, and the venerable friend of Muhammad, who had rarely left his side, was saluted as the khalifa caliph , vicar or successor of the Apostle of God.

To delineate the character of this extraordinary man is a task of extreme difficulty. No contemporary descriptions have reached us, and the oldest portraits which have survived are hagiographical in tone. We are told that the Prophet had a stately and commanding figure, with sad and piercing eyes, that his manner was normally kind and gentle, that he loved children and animals, that his habits were so simple that even in his last days in Medina, when he governed Arabia, he mended his own clothes and cobbled his own sandals.

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He disclaimed all pretension to sinlessness and miracle-working when asked for a sign, he pointed to the Koran as the greatest miracle , discouraged superstitious veneration for his person, and insisted, insofar as was compatible with his claim to be the Apostle of God, that he was but a man amongst men. The losses which Islam inflicted on Christendom and the propaganda disseminated during the Crusades were not conducive to an impartial judgment, and down almost to recent times Muhammad has been portrayed in controversial literature as a lying deceiver and a shameless lecher.

Absurd stories were circulated and long believed, such as that he trained a dove to pick seeds of corn from his ear so as to persuade the people that he was receiving communications from the Holy Ghost, and that his iron coffin at Mecca he was really buried at Medina was suspended in midair by the action of powerful loadstones!

Our modern psychologists, who have explored the dark recesses of the human mind or rather of the unconscious, are slow to question the integrity of men of the type of Muhammad. The fiercest censure has been reserved for his sexual conduct, but it may be observed that so long as Khadija lived, he took no other wife, and that of the ten or twelve women he subsequently married, the majority were widows whose husbands had fallen in his cause and for whom he might feel obliged to provide.