The Life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) - PART (2) In Al Madinah (ii)*


  
Al-Hudaybiyah

In the same year the Prophet had a vision in which he found himself entering the holy place at Makkah unopposed, therefore he determined to attempt the pilgrimage. Besides a number of Muslims from Yathrib (which we shall henceforth call Al-Madinah) he called upon the friendly Arabs, whose numbers had increased since the miraculous (as it was considered) discomfiture of the clans to accompany him, but most of them did not respond. Attired as pilgrims, and taking with them the customary offerings, a company of fourteen hundred men journeyed to Makkah. As they drew near the holy valley they were met by a friend from the city, who warned the Prophet that Quraysh had put on their leopards-skins (the badge of valor) and had sworn to prevent his entering the sanctuary; their cavalry was on the road before him. On that, the Prophet ordered a detour through mountain gorges and the Muslims were tired out when they came down at last into the valley of Makkah and encamped at a spot called Al-Hudaybiyah; from thence he tried to open negotiations with Quraysh, to explain that he came only as a pilgrim. 

The first messenger he sent towards the city was maltreated and his camel hamstrung. He returned without delivering his message. Quraysh on their side sent an envoy which was threatening in tone, and very arrogant. Another of their envoys was too familiar and had to be reminded: sternly of the respect due to the Prophet. It was he who, on his return to the city, said: “I have seen Caesar and Chosroes in their pomp, but never have I seen a man honored as Muhammad is honored by his comrades.”

The Prophet sought some messenger who would impose respect. Othman was finally chosen because of his kinship with the powerful Umayyad family. While the Muslims were awaiting his return the news came that he had been murdered. It was then that the Prophet, sitting under a tree in Al-Hudaybiyah, took an oath from all his comrades that they would stand or fall together. After a while, however, it became known that Othman had not been murdered. A troop which came out from the city to molest the Muslims in their camp was captured before they could do any hurt and brought before the Prophet, who forgave them on their promise to renounce hostility.

 Truce of Al-Hudaybiyah

Then proper envoys came from Quraysh. After some negotiation, the truce of Al-Hudaybiyah was signed. For ten years there were to be no hostilities between the parties. The Prophet was to return to Al-Madinah without visiting the Ka‘bah, but in the following year he might perform the pilgrimage with his comrades, Quraysh promising to evacuate Makkah for three days to allow of his doing so. Deserters from Quraysh to the Muslims during the period of the truce were to be returned; not so deserters from the Muslims to Quraysh. Any tribe or clan who wished to share in, the treaty as allies of the Prophet might do so, and any tribe or clan who wished to share in the treaty as allies of Quraysh might do so. 

 There was dismay among the Muslims at these terms. They asked one another: “Where is the victory that we were promised?” It was during the return journey from Al-Hudaybiyah that the Surah entitled “Victory” was revealed. This truce proved, in fact, to be the greatest victory that the Muslims had till then achieved. War had been a barrier between them and the idolaters, but now both parties met and talked together, and the new religion spread more rapidly. In the two years which elapsed between the signing of the truce and the fall of Makkah the number of converts was greater than the total number of all previous converts. The Prophet traveled to Al-Hudaybiyah with 1400 men. Two years later, when the Makkans broke the truce, he marched against them with an army of 10,000.

 The Campaign of Khaybar

In the seventh year or the Hijrah the Prophet led a campaign against Khaybar, the stronghold of the Jewish tribes in North Arabia  , which had become a hornets’ nest of his enemies. The forts of Khaybar were reduced one by one, and the Jews of Khaybar became thenceforth tenants of the Muslims until the expulsion of the Jews from Arabia in the ‘Caliphate of Omar.’ On the day when the last fort surrendered Ja`far son of Abu Talib, the Prophet’s first cousin, arrived with all who remained of the Muslims who had fled to Abyssinia to escape from persecution in the early days.

They had been absent from Arabia fifteen years. It was at Khaybar that a Jewess prepared for the Prophet poisoned meat, of which he only tasted a morsel without swallowing it, and then warned his comrades that it was poisoned. One Muslim, who had already swallowed a mouthful, died immediately, and the Prophet himself, from the mere taste of it, derived the illness which eventually caused his death. The woman who had cooked the meat was brought before him. When she said that she had done it on account of the humiliation of her people, he forgave her.  

 Pilgrimage to Makkah

In the same year the Prophet’s vision was fulfilled: he visited the holy place at Makkah unopposed. In accordance with the terms of the truce the idolaters evacuated the city, and from the surrounding heights watched the procedure of the Muslims. At the end of the stipulated three days the chiefs of Quraysh sent to remind the Prophet that the time was up. He then withdrew, and the idolaters reoccupied the city.

 Mu’tah Expedition:

In the eighth year of the Hijrah, hearing that the Byzantine emperor was gathering a force in Syria for the destruction of Islam, the Prophet sent three thousand men to Syria under the command of his freedman Zayd. The campaign was unsuccessful except that it impressed the Syrians with a notion of the reckless valor of the Muslims. The three thousand did not hesitate to join battle with a hundred thousand. When all the three leaders appointed by the Prophet had been killed, the survivors obeyed Khalid ibn al-Walid, who, by his strategy and courage, managed to preserve a remnant and return with them to Al-Madinah.

Truce Broken by Quraysh:

In the same year Quraysh broke the truce by attacking a tribe that was in alliance with the Prophet and massacring them even in the sanctuary at Makkah. Afterwards they were afraid because of what they had done. They sent Abu Sufyan to Al-Madinah to ask for the existing treaty to be renewed and, its term prolonged. They hoped that he would arrive before the tidings of the massacre. But a messenger from the injured tribe had been before him, and his embassy was fruitless.

 Conquest of Makkah:

Then the Prophet summoned all the Muslims capable of bearing arms and marched to Makkah. Quraysh were overawed. Their cavalry put up a show of defence before the town, but were routed without bloodshed; and the Prophet entered his native city as conqueror. The inhabitants expected vengeance for their past misdeeds. The Prophet proclaimed a general amnesty. Only a few known criminals were proscribed, and most of those were in the end forgiven. In their relief and surprise, the whole population of Makkah hastened to swear allegiance. The Prophet caused all the idols which were in the sanctuary to be destroyed, saying: “Truth hath come; darkness hath vanished away;” and the Muslim call to prayer was heard in Makkah.

 Battle of Hunayn:

In the same year there was an angry gathering of pagan tribes eager to regain the Ka‘bah. The Prophet led twelve thousand men against them. At Hunayn, in a deep ravine, his troops were ambushed by the enemy and almost put to flight. It was with difficulty that they were rallied to the Prophet and his bodyguard of faithful comrades who alone stood firm. But the victory, when it came, was complete and the booty enormous, for many of the hostile tribes had brought out with them everything that they possessed.

Conquest of Ta’if:

The tribe of Thaqif was among the enemy at Hunayn. After that victory their city of Ta’if was besieged by the Muslims, and finally reduced. Then the Prophet appointed a governor of Makkah, and himself returned to Al-Madinah to the boundless joy of the Ansar, who had feared lest, now that he had regained his native city, he might forsake them and make Makkah the capital.

 The Tabuk Expedition:

In the ninth year of the Hijrah, hearing that an army was again being mustered in Syria, the Prophet called on all the Muslims to support him in a great campaign. The far distance, the hot season, the fact that it was harvest time and the prestige of the enemy caused many to excuse themselves and many more to stay behind without excuse. Those defaulters are denounced in the Qur’an. But the campaign ended peacefully. The army advanced to Tabuk, on the confines of Syria, and there learnt that the enemy had not yet gathered.

Declaration of Immunity:

Although Makkah had been conquered and its people were now Muslims, the official order of the pilgrimage had not been changed; the pagan Arabs performing it in their manner, and the Muslims in their manner. It was only after the pilgrims’ caravan had left Al-Madinah in the ninth year of the Hijrah, when Islam was dominant in North Arabia, that the Declaration of Immunity, as it is called, was revealed. The Prophet sent a copy of it by messenger to Abu Bakr, leader of the pilgrimage, with the instruction that Ali was to read it to the multitudes at Makkah. Its purport was that after that year Muslims only were to make the pilgrimage, exception being made for such of the idolaters as had a treaty with the Muslims and had never broken their treaty nor supported anyone against them. Such were to enjoy the privileges of their treaty for the term thereof, but when their treaty expired they would be as other idolaters. That proclamation marks the end of idol-worship in Arabia.


The Year of Deputations:

The ninth year of the Hijrah is called the Year of Deputations, because from all parts of Arabia deputations came to Al-Madinah to swear allegiance to the Prophet and to hear the Qur’an. The Prophet had become, in fact, the emperor of Arabia, but his way of life remained as simple as before.

The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight. He personally controlled every detail of organization, judged every case and was accessible to every suppliant. In those ten years he destroyed idolatry in Arabia; raised women from the status of a cattle to legal equity with men; effectually stopped the drunkenness and immorality which had till then disgraced the Arabs; made men in love with faith, sincerity and honest dealing; transformed tribes who had been for centuries Content with ignorance into a people with the greatest thirst for knowledge; and for the first time in history made universal human brotherhood a fact and principle of common law. And his support and guide in all that work was the Qur’an.

* Taken, with some editorial changes, from Pickthall’s introduction to his translation of the Qur’an.
 ** Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (1875–May 19, 1936) was a Western Islamic scholar, noted as a poetic translator of the Qur'an into English. A convert from Christianity to Islam, Pickthall was a novelist, esteemed by D.H. Lawrence, H.G. Wells, and E.M. Forster, as well as a journalist, headmaster, and political and religious leader. He declared his Islam in dramatic fashion after delivering a talk on ‘Islam and Progress' on 29th November 1917 to the Muslim Literary Society in Notting Hill, West London.

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