Armoire

RECONCILIATIONS

When the army reached ji’ranah the captives were in a large enclosure, sheltering from the sun, about six thousand women and children. Most of them were very poorly clad, and the Prophet sent a man of Khuza’ah to Mecca to buy a new garment for each one, to be paid for out of the silver which was part of the spoils. The camels were about twenty-four thousand in number; as for the sheep and goats, no one attempted to count them, but they judged them to be forty thousand, more or less.  Many of the men were impatient to receive their share of the spoils, but the Prophet was unwilling to commit himself for the moment to any irrevocable extent, for he anticipated that Hawazin would send him a delegation begging for generous treatment. There was, however, one sector of distribution that he did not wish to delay. His fifth of the spoils served the same purposes as the money received by way of alms; and a recent Revelation had introduced a new category of persons entitled to benefit from such funds, namely those whose hearts are to be reconciled.

The revealed verse said: The alms are for the poor and the needy, and for those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled and to set free slaves and captives, and for the relief of debtors, and for the cause of God, and for the wayfarer – an obligation enjoined by God. And God is  Knowing, Wise.’ An immediate example of men whose hearts are to be reconciled were those of Quraysh who had recently entered Islam through the force of circumstances when their world – the world of Arab paganism – had been shattered by the establishment of the new religion in Mecca. The Prophet now gave Abu Sufyan a hundred camels, and when he thereupon asked that his two sons Yazid and Mu’awiyah should not be forgotten they were each given a hundred, which meant in fact that Abu Sufyan received three hundred. This did not escape the notice of others, and when Khadijah’s nephew Hakim was given a hundred he asked for two hundred more, which the Prophet allotted him forthwith. As in the case of Abu Sufyan, any hesitation or reluctance would have defeated the purpose of the gift. But to Hakim, the Prophet nonetheless said: “This property is a fair green pasture. Whoso taketh it in the munificence of soul shall be blessed therein, but whoso taketh it for the pride of his soul shall not be blessed therein, and he shall be as one that eateth and is not filled.  The upper hand is better than the lower hand, and begin thy giving with such of thy family as are dependent upon thee.” “By Him Who sent thee with the truth, I will not receive aught from any man after thee,” said Hakim determined that for the future his hand should never be the lower hand; and he took only a hundred camels, relinquishing his claim to the rest.’

Included in the same category of recipients were those who were on the brink, and had not yet made their decision to enter Islam. Some of these were also given a hundred camels. The most important of them were Safwan and Suhayl. Both had fought at Hunayn and when one of the unconverted Meccans in the rear had expressed satisfaction at the initial flight of the Muslims he was sharply rebuked by Safwan: “If an overlord I must have,” he said, “let it be a man of Quraysh rather than Hawazin!” After he had received his hundred camels, Safwan accompanied the Prophet as he rode through the valley of ji’ranah to look at the spoils. There were many side valleys opening out from the main valley, and in one of these, the pasture was especially luxuriant so that it was full of camels and sheep and goats, with the men who herded them. Seeing that Saiwan was struck with wonder at the sight, the Prophet said to him: “Doth it please thee, this ravine?” And when Safwan warmly assented, he added: “It is thine, with all that is in it.” “I bear witness,” said Safwan, “that no soul could have such goodness as this if it were not the soul of a Prophet. I bear witness that there is no god but God, and that thou art His Messenger.”

As to Suhayl, it was also at ji’ranah that his final doubts were overcome, either through his renewed acquaintance with his son ‘Abd Allah, or his witnessing of the miraculous victory of Hunayn, or his experience of the Prophet’s presence and his magnanimity, or through all of these together; but once he entered Islam he entered it without reserve; and three years later, when ‘Abd Allah was killed in battle, and Abu Bakr spoke words of comfort to the bereaved father, he replied: “I have been told that God’s Messenger said: ‘The martyr shall intercede for seventy of his people.’ And I have hopes that my son will not begin with anyone before me.” Amongst others who entered Islam at ji’ranah were some leading men of Makhzum: two brothers of Abu Jahl; Khalid’s half-brother Hisham, the

full brother of the young Walid who had died; and a second son of the Prophet’s aunt ‘Atikah, Zuhayr, whose brother had recently been martyred at Ta’if, It was Zuhayr who, some ten years previously, in defiance of Abu Jahl, had been the first to speak in the Assembly in favor of the annulment of the ban on the Bani Hashim and the Bani l-Muttalib. His mother, ‘Atikah, had already entered Islam before either of her sons. The Muslim army had now spent several days in the valley, but still, no delegation had come from Hawazin, so the Prophet allocated each man his portion of the spoils. No sooner had he finished doing so than the delegation arrived, and in it was the brother of his foster-father Harith. Fourteen of them were already Muslim. The remainder now entered Islam, and insisting that the whole tribe of Hawazin must be considered as his foster-kinsmen, they asked for his generosity. “We nursed thee on our laps, and suckled thee at our breasts,” they said. He told them that he had waited for them until he thought they were not coming and that the spoils had already been distributed.

Then, although knowing the answer, he asked them which were the dearer to them, their sons and their wives, or their possessions; and when they said “Give us back our sons and our wives” he said: “As for those which have fallen unto me and unto the sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, they are yours; and I will plead with other men on your behalf. When I have led the congregation in the noon prayer, then say: ‘We ask the Messenger of God to intercede for us with the Muslims, and we ask the Muslims to intercede for us with the Messenger of God.”’ They did as they were told, and the Prophet turned to the congregation and explained that they were asking for their children and their wives to be returned to them. The Emigrants and Helpers immediately presented their captives to the Prophet. As for the tribes, some of them did the same, and some refused; but those who refused were persuaded to let their captives go in return for future compensation, and so they were all returned to their people except one young woman who had fallen to the lot of the Prophet’s maternal cousin, Sa’d of Zuhrah, and who wished to remain with him.

The Prophet gave his foster-sister some more camels and some sheep and goats and bade her farewell. Then, as the delegation was leaving, he asked them for news of their leader, Malik. They told him that he had joined Thaqlf in Ta’if. “Send him a word,” he said, “that if he comes to me as a Muslim, I will return his family to him and his possessions, and I will give him a hundred camels.” He had deliberately lodged Malik’s family with his aunt ‘Atikah in Mecca and had withheld his property from being distributed. When the message reached Malik in Ta’if, he said nothing to Thaqif for fear they would imprison him if they suspected his intention; and leaving the town by night, he made his way to the camp and entered Islam. The Prophet put him in command of the already large and increasing Muslim community of Hawazin, with instructions to give Thaqif no peace. The raising of the siege of Ta’if had thus been no more than the briefest of respites. Another kind of siege, less acute but more implacable, was now to take its place.

The Prophet knew well that though the religion had power in itself to work upon souls, this power depended on the religion’s being accepted with some degree of commitment, and not just nominally. It was to remove barriers to that commitment, such as a sense of bitterness or frustration, that the principle of giving to those whose hearts are to be reconciled had been revealed; but this principle was not understood at first by many of the older Companions, let alone others. In addition to what has already been mentioned, rich gifts had also been given to some prominent Bedouin whose Islam was highly questionable, whereas more deserving men of the desert had been neglected. Sa’d of Zuhrah asked the Prophet why he had given a hundred camels each to ‘Uyaynah of Ghatafan and Aqra’ of Tamim and nothing to the devout Ju’ayl of Damrah, who was moreover, unlike the other two, exceedingly poor. The Prophet replied: “By Him in whose hand is my soul, ju’ayl is worth more than a world full of men like ‘Uyaynah and Aqra’; but their souls have I reconciled that they might better submit unto God, whereas I have entrusted Ju’ayl unto the submission! he hath already made.”

There were no further objections on the part of the Emigrants, but by the end of the Prophet’s halt in ji’ranah there was a growing disquietude of soul among the four thousand Helpers. Many of them were impoverished, and out of the exceptionally plentiful spoils each man had received only four camels or their equivalent in sheep and goats. They had hoped for good ransoms from the captives, but their share in these they had unhesitatingly sacrificed to please the Prophet. Meantime they had witnessed the bestowal of rich gifts upon sixteen influential men of Quraysh and four chiefs of other tribes. All these recipients were men of wealth. But not one of the Helpers had received a gift from the Prophet. The same was true of the Emigrants; but that was no consolation to the citizens of Medina, for most of the gifts had gone to men of Quraysh, that is to close kinsmen of the Emigrants. “The Messenger of God hath joined his people,” the Helpers were saying amongst themselves. “In a time of battle it is we who are his companions, but when the spoils are divided his companions are his own people and family. And we would fain know whence this cometh: if it be from God, then we accept it with patience; but if it be no more than a thought which hath occurred to God’s Messenger, we would ask him to favor us also.”

When feeling rose high amongst them, Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah went to the Prophet and told him what was in their minds and on their tongues. “And where standest thou in this, O Sa’d?” said the Prophet. “O Messenger of God,” he answered, “I am as one of them. We would fain know whence this cometh.” The Prophet told him to gather all the Helpers together in one of the enclosures that had been used to shelter the captives; and some of the Emigrants also joined them, with Sa’d’s permission. Then the  Prophet went to them, and, having given praise and thanks to God, he addressed them: “Men of the Helpers, word hath come to me that ye are deeply moved against me in your souls. Did I not find you erring, and God guided you, poor and God enriched you, enemies each of the other and God reconciled your hearts?” “Yea indeed,” they answered. “God and His Messenger are most bountiful and most gracious.” “Will ye not retort against me?” he said. “How should we retort?” they asked, in some perplexity. “If ye wished,” he answered, “ye might say unto me, and say truthfully, and be believed: ‘Thou didst come unto us discredited, and we credited thee, forlorn and we helped thee, an outcast and we took thee in, destitute and we comforted thee.’ O Helpers, are ye stirred in your souls about the things of this world whereby I have reconciled men’s hearts that they may submit unto God when you yourselves I have entrusted unto your Islam? Are ye not well content, O Helpers, that the people take with them their sheep and their camels, and that ye take with you the Messenger of God unto your homes? If all men but the Helpers went one way, and the Helpers another, I would go the way of the Helpers. God has Mercy upon the Helpers. and on their sons. and on their sons’ sons.” They wept until their beards were wet with their tears. and with one voice they said: “We are well content with the Messenger of God as our portion and our Iot.”

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.
Back to top button