Armoire

A CLEAR VICTORY

It was during ‘Uthman’s absence in Mecca that there came over the Prophet a state which was comparable to that of receiving a Revelation but which left him in full possession of his faculties. He gave instructions to one of his Companions, who thereupon went through the camp proclaiming: “The Holy Spirit hath descended upon the Messenger and commandeth allegiance. So go ye forth in the Name of God to make your pledge.'” Meantime the Prophet had seated himself beneath an acacia tree that was green with its spring foliage breaking into leaf, and one by one the Companions came and pledged allegiance to him. The first man to reach him was Sinan, who was of the same tribe as the jahsh family, that is the Bani Asad ibn Khuzaymah. The crier had specified nothing about the nature of the pledge, so Sinan said “O Messenger of God, I pledge thee mine allegiance unto that which is in thy soul,” and the others pledged themselves accordingly. Then the Prophet said “I pledge the allegiance of ‘Uthman,” whereupon he put out his left hand, as the hand of his son-in-law, and grasping it with his right hand, pledged the pact.

Only one man present failed to respond to the crier, and that was the hypocrite Jadd ibn Qays who tried to hide behind his camel but was nonetheless seen. Quraysh now sent Suhayl to conclude a treaty, and with him were his two clansmen Mikraz and Huwaytib. They conferred with the Prophet, and the Companions heard their voices rise and fall according to whether the point in question was hard to agree upon or easy. When they had finally reached an agreement the Prophet told ‘All to write down the terms, beginning with the revealed words of consecration BISMILLAHIRAHMAANIRAHEEM, in the Name of God, the Good, the Merciful, but Suhayl objected. “As to RAHIM,” he said, “I know not what he is. But write BISMIK ALLUHUMA, In Thy Name, O God, as thou wert wont to write.” Some of the Companions cried out “By God, we will write naught but BISMILLAHIRAHMAANIRAHEEM” but the Prophet ignored them and said “Write BISMIK ALLUHUMA” and he went on dictating: “These are the terms of the truce between Muhammad the Messenger of God and Suhayl the son of ‘Amr”, but again Suhayl protested. “If we knew thee to be the Messenger of  God,” he said, “we would not have barred thee from the House, neither would we have fought thee; but write Muhammad the son of ‘Abd Allah.” ‘All had already written “the Messenger of God,” and the Prophet told him to strike out those words, but he said he could not. So the Prophet told him to point with his finger to the words in question, and he himself struck them out. Then he told him to write in their place “the son of ‘Abd Allah,” which he did.

The document continued: “They have agreed to lay down the burden of war for ten years, in which times men shall be safe and not lay violent hands the one upon the other; on condition that whoso cometh unto Muhammad of Quraysh without the leave of his guardian, Muhammad shall return him unto them; but whoso cometh unto Quraysh of those who is with Muhammad, they shall not be returned. There shall be no subterfuge and no treachery. And whoso wisheth to enter into the bond  and pact of Muhammad may do so, and whoso wisheth to enter the bond and pact of Quraysh may do so.” Now there were present in the camp some leading men of Khuza’ah who had come to visit the pilgrims, whereas one or two representatives of Bakr had followed in the wake of Suhayl; and at this point, the men of Khuza’ah leaped to their feet and said: “We are one with Muhammad in his bond and his pact.” Whereupon the men of Bakr said: “We are one with Quraysh in their bond and their pact.” And this agreement was subsequently ratified by the chiefs of both tribes. The treaty ended with the words: “Thou, Muhammad, shalt depart from us this present year, and shalt not enter Mecca when we are present in despite of us. But in the year that is to come, we shall go out from Mecca and thou shalt enter it with thy companions, staying therein for three days, bearing no arms save the arms of the traveler, with swords in sheaths.”

In virtue of the Prophet’s vision, the Companions had been certain of the success of their expedition; and when they heard the terms of the treaty and realized that having reached the very edge of the sacred precinct they must now return home with nothing accomplished, it was almost more than they could endure. But worse was to come: as they sat there in sullen and explosive silence, the clank of chains was heard and a youth staggered into the camp with his feet in fetters. It was Abu jandal, one of the younger sons of Suhayl. His father had imprisoned him on account of his Islam, fearing that he would escape to Medina. His elder brother ‘Abd Allah was among the pilgrims and was about to welcome him when Suhayl caught hold of the chain that was round his prisoner’s neck and struck him violently in the face. Then he turned to the Prophet and said: “Our agreement was concluded before this man came to thee.” “That is true,” said the Prophet. “Return him then unto us,” said Suhayl. “O Muslims,” shouted Abu Jandal at the top of his voice, “am I to be returned unto the idolaters, for them to persecute me on account of my religion?” The Prophet took Suhayl aside and asked him as a favor to let his son go free, but Suhayl implacably refused. His fellow envoys, Mikraz and Huwaytib,  had been so far silent; but now, feeling that this incident was an inauspicious start for the truce, they intervened. “O Muhammad,” they said, “We give him our protection on thy behalf.” This meant that they would lodge him with them, away from his father, and they held to their promise.

“Be patient, Abu jandal,” said the Prophet. “God will surely give thee and those with thee relief and a way out. We have agreed on the terms of a truce with these people, and have given them our solemn pledge, even as they have done to us, and we will not now break our word.” At this point ‘Umar could no longer contain himself. Rising to his feet, he went to the Prophet and said “Art thou not God’s Prophet?” and he answered “Yea.” “Are we not in the right and our enemies in the wrong?” he said, and again the Prophet assented. “Then why to yield we in such lowly wise against the honor of our religion?” said ‘Umar, whereupon the Prophet replied: “I am God’s Messenger and I will not disobey Him. He will give me the victory.” “But didst thou not tell us,” persisted ‘Umar, “that we should go unto the House and make our rounds about it?” “Even so,” said the Prophet, “but did I tell thee we should go to it this year?” ‘Umar conceded that he had not. “Verily thou shalt go unto the House,” said the Prophet, “and shalt make thy rounds about it.” But ‘Umar was still seething with indignation and went to Abu Bakr to work off his feelings still further. He put to him exactly the same questions he had put to the Prophet; but though Abu Bakr had not heard the answers, he gave him the same answer to each question in almost exactly the same words; and at the end, he added: “So cleave unto his stirrup, for by God he is right.”

This impressed ‘Umar, and though his feelings had not yet subsided, he gave no further vent to them, and when the Prophet summoned him to put his name to the treaty he signed it in silence. The Prophet also told Suhayl’s son ‘Abd Allah to put his name to it. Others of the Muslims who signed it were ‘Ali, Abu Bakr, ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, and Mahrnud ibn Maslamah. Some of the general bitterness seemed to have been smoothed over; but when Suhayl and the others left the camp, taking with them the tearful Abu Jandal, men’s souls were stirred up again. The Prophet was standing apart,  with those who had signed the document. He now left them and went towards the main body of the pilgrims. “Rise and sacrifice your animals,” he said, “and shave your heads.” Not a man moved, and he repeated it a second and a third time, but they simply looked at him in dazed and bewildered silence. It was not a rebellion on their part, but having had their expectations shattered by the turn of events they were now genuinely perplexed by the command to do something which they knew to be ritually incorrect; for according to the tradition of Abraham the sacrifices had to be performed within the sacred territory, and the same applied to the rite of shaving the head. Nonetheless, their apparent disobedience dismayed the Prophet, who withdrew to his tent and told Umm Salamah what had happened. “Go forth,” she said, “and say no word to any man until thou hast performed thy sacrifice.”

So the Prophet went to the camel which he himself had consecrated and sacrificed it, saying in a loud voice, so that the men could hear: BISMILLAH, ALLAHUAKBAR. At these words the men leaped to their feet and raced to make their sacrifices, falling over each other in their eagerness to obey; and when the Prophet called for Khirash – the man of Khuza’ah he had sent to Mecca before ‘Uthman – to shave his head, many of the Companions set about shaving each other’s heads so vigorously that Umm Salamah was afraid, as she afterward remarked, that mortal wounds might be inflicted. But some of them merely cut locks of their hair, knowing that this was traditionally accepted as a substitute. Meantime the Prophet had retired to his tent with Khirash; and when the rite had been accomplished he stood at the entrance with shaven scalp and said: “God have Mercy on the shavers of their heads!” Whereupon those who had cut their hair protested: “And on the cutters of their hair, O Messenger of God!” But the Prophet repeated what he had said at first, and the voices were raised in protest still louder. Then after another repetition and a third thunderous protest he added: “And upon the cutters of their hair!” When asked afterward why he had, first of all, prayed only for the shavers of their  heads, he answered: “Because they doubted not.”

Returning to his tent, the Prophet gathered up his luxuriant black hair from the ground and threw it over a nearby mimosa tree, whereupon the men crowded around, each bent on taking what he could for its blessing. Nor was Nusaybah to be outdone by the men, and she also made her way to the tree, and was able to snatch some locks, which she treasured until her dying day. The earth of the camp was strewn with the hair of the pilgrims. But suddenly there came a powerful gust of wind which lifted the hair from the ground and blew it towards Mecca, into the sacred territory; and everyone rejoiced, taking it as a sign that their pilgrimage had been accepted by God in virtue of their intentions, and they now understood why the Prophet had told them to perform their sacrifices. After they had set off on the return journey to Medina, ‘Umar’s conscience began to trouble him; and his anxiety was greatly increased when he rode up to the Prophet, seeking to enter into conversation with him, and the Prophet, so it seemed to him, was markedly distant and reserved. ‘Umar rode on ahead, saying to himself: “O ‘Umar, let thy mother now mourn her son!” He said afterward that he was so troubled for having questioned the wisdom of the Prophet that he feared there would be a special Revelation condemning him. His fears reached their height when he heard behind him the hooves of a galloping horse, and the rider summoned him back to the Prophet. But his troubles vanished in an instant when he saw the Prophet’s face radiant with joy. “There hath descended upon me? he said,  which is dearer to me than aught else beneath the sun.”

The new Revelation left no doubt that the expedition from which they were now returning must be considered as a victorious one, for it opened with the words: Verily We have given thee a clear victory:’ It also spoke of the recent pact of allegiance: God was well pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance unto thee beneath the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, and sent down the Spirit of Peace upon them, and hath given them the need of a near victory.’ The Divine Good Pleasure referred to is no less than the promise of Ridwan’ for him who fulfilled his pledge, and so this beatific allegiance is known as the Pact of Ridwan. The descent of the Sakinah, the Spirit of Peace, is mentioned also in another verse: He it is Who sent down the Spirit of Peace into the hearts of the believers that they might increase in faith upon their faith . . . that He may bring the believing men and the believing women into gardens that are watered by flowing rivers, gardens wherein they shall dwell immortal, and that He may take from them all guilt of evil. Triumph immense for them is that in the sight of God.’ The Prophet’s vision, which had prompted the expedition, is referred to as follows: God hath truly fulfilled for His Messenger the vision: God willing, ye shall enter the inviolable mosque in safety, not fearing, with the hair of your heads shaven or cut. But He knoweth what ye know not, and before that hath He given you a near victory.

President

The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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