Armoire

THE CONQUEST OF MECCA

The tents had already been loaded onto the transport camels, and the Prophet had at last called for the standards and pennants, to be brought to him. These he mounted one by one, placing each the hand of the bearer he had chosen for it. He told ‘Abbas to accompany Abu Sufyan as far as the narrow end of the valley and keep him there so that he could see for himself the size of the army as it passed. There would be time enough for him then to return to Quraysh and deliver his message, for a  single man could reach Mecca in a more direct way than the army would take.

“Who is that?” said Abu Sufyan, pointing to the man at the head of the host which now came insight. “Khalid the son of Walid,” said ‘Abbas; and when he came level with them Khalid uttered three magnifications, ALLAHUAKBAR. With Khalid was the horse of Sulaym. They were followed by the yellow-turbaned Zabayr at the head of a troop of five hundred Emigrants and others. He likewise uttered three magnifications as he passed Abu Sufyan, and the whole valley resounded as with one voice his men echoed him. Troop after troop went by, and at the passing of each Abu Sufyan asked who they were, and each time he marveled, either because the tribe in question had hitherto been far beyond the range of influence of Quraysh, or because it had recently been hostile to the Prophet, as was the case with the Chatafanite clan of Ashja’, one of whose ensigns was borne by Nu’aym, the former friend of himself and Suhayl. “Of all the Arabs,” said Abu Sufyan, “these were Muhammad’s bitterest foes.” “God caused Islam to enter their hearts,” said ‘Abbas. “All this is by the grace of God.”

The last of the squadrons was the Prophet’s own, consisting entirely of Emigrants and Helpers. The glint of their steel gave them a greenish-black appearance, for they were fully armed and armored, only their eyes being visible. The Prophet had given his standard to Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, who led the van; and as he passed the two men at the side of the route he called out: “O Abu Sufyan, this is the day of slaughter! The day when the inviolable shall be violated! The day of God’s abasement of Quraysh.” The Prophet was in the midst of the troop, mounted on Qaswa’, and on either side of him were Abu Bakr and Usayd, with whom he was conversing. “O Messenger of God,” cried Abu Sufyan when he came within earshot, “hast thou commanded the slaying of thy people?” – and he repeated to him what Sa’d had said. “I adjure thee by God,” he added, “on behalf of thy people, for thou art of all men the greatest in piety, the most merciful, the most beneficent!” “This is the day of mercy,” said the Prophet, “the day on which God hath exalted Quraysh.” Then ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf and ‘Uthman said to him, for they were close at hand: “O Messenger of God, we are not sure of Sa’d, that he will not make a sudden violent attack upon Quraysh.” So the Prophet sent word to Sa’d to give the standard to his son Qays, a man of relatively mild temperament, and to let him lead the squadron. To honor the son was to honor the father, and in the hand of Qays, the standard would still be with Sa’d. But Sa’d refused to hand it over without direct command from the Prophet, who thereupon unwound the red turban from his helmet and sent it to Sa’d as a token. The standard was immediately given to Qays.

When the army had passed, Abu Sufyan went back to Mecca with all speed, and standing outside his house he shouted at the top of his voice to a quickly gathering crowd: “O men of Quraysh, Muhammad is here with a force ye cannot resist. Muhammad is here with ten thousand men of steel.  And he hath granted me that whoso entereth my house shall be safe.” Hind now came out of the house and seized her husband by his mustaches. “Slay this greasy good-for-nothing bladder of a man,” she cried. “Thou miserable protector of a people!” “Woe betide you,” he shouted, “let not this woman deceive you against your better judgment, for there hath come unto you that which ye cannot resist. But whoso entereth the house of Abu Sufyan shall be safe.” “God slay thee!” they said. “What good is thy house for all our numbers?” “And whoso locketh upon himself his door shall be safe,” he answered, “and whoso entereth the Mosque shall be safe,” whereupon the crowd that had gathered dispersed, some to their houses and some to the Mosque.

The army halted at Dhu Tuwa, which is not far from the city and within sight of it. This was the place where two years previously Khalid had been stationed to bar their approach. But now there was no sign of any resistance. It was as if the city were empty, as it had been at their visit the previous year. But this time there was no three-day limit to their stay; and when Qaswa’ came to a halt the Prophet bowed his head until his beard almost touched the saddle, in gratitude to God. He then drew up his troops, putting Khalid in command of the right and Zubayr in command of the left. His own troop which was now in the centre he divided into two; half of it was to be led by Sa’d and his son, and the other half, in. which he himself would ride, was to be led by Abu ‘Ubaydah, When the order was given they were to divide and to enter the city from four directions, Khalid from below and the others from the hills through three different passes.

High above the gathered host, on the slopes of Mount Abu Qubays, were two figures which a keen sight could have distinguished as a somewhat bent old man with a staff, guided and helped by a woman. They were Abu Quhafah and Quraybah, the father and sister of Abu Bakr. That morning, when the news came of the Prophet’s arrival in Dhii Tuwa, the blind old man had told his daughter to guide him up the mount and tell him what she could see. As a young and vigorous man, he had climbed the hills on the other side of Mecca to see the army of Abrahah and his elephant. Now he was old, and had been blind for many years; but he would at least have sight, through the eyes of his daughter, of this host of ten thousand in which were his son and two grandsons. Quraybah described what she could see as a dense mass of black, and he told her that those were the horsemen drawn up in close formation, waiting for orders. Then she saw the black mass spreading out until it became four distinct divisions, and her father told her to take him home with all speed. They were still on their way when a troop of horses swept past them, and one man leaned over from his saddle and snatched the silver necklace that Quraybah was wearing. Otherwise, they suffered no harm and reached home in safety. They had not been alone on Abu Qubays.

At another part of the mount ‘Ikrimah, Safwan and Suhayl had gathered a force of Quraysh together with some of their allies of Bakr and Hudhayl. They were determined to fight, and when they saw Khalid’s troop making for the lower entrance to the city they came down and attacked them. But they were no match for Khalid and his men, who put them to flight, having killed some thirty of them with the loss of only two lives on their own side. ‘Ikrimah and Safwan escaped on horseback to the coast; Suhayl went to his house and locked the door. The fight was almost at an end when the Prophet entered through the pass of Adhakhir into Upper Mecca. Looking down towards the marketplace, he was dismayed to see the flash of drawn swords. “Did I not forbid fighting?” he said. But when it was explained to him what had happened he said that God had ordained it for the best. He could see his red leather tent which Abu Rafi’ had now pitched for him not far from the Mosque. He pointed it out to Jabir who was at his side; and after a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, he made his way down to the hollow. “I shall not enter any of the houses,” he said.

Umm Salamah, Maymunah and Fatimah were waiting for him in the tent; and just before his arrival they had been joined by Umm Hani’, The law of Islam had made it clear that marriages between Muslim women and pagan men were dissolved, and this applied to her marriage with Hubayrah, who had foreseen the fall of Mecca and gone to live in Najran. But two of her kinsmen by marriage, one of them the brother of Abu Jahl, had taken part in the fighting against Khalid and had afterward fled to her house for refuge. Then ‘All had come to greet her, and seeing the two Makhzumites he drew his sword and would have killed them despite the formal protection she had given them; but she threw a cloak over them, and stepping between him and then she said: “By God, thou shalt slay me first!”, whereupon he left the house. And now, having locked the door upon them, she had come to intercede with the Prophet. She found Fatimah no less stern than ‘All. “Dost thou gives protection to idolaters?” she said. But Fatimah’s reproaches were cut short by the Prophet’s arrival.

He greeted his cousin with great affection, and when she told him what had happened he said: “It shall not be. Whom thou makest safe, him we make safe; whom thou proteetest, him we protect.” He performed the rite of the greater ablution and prayed eight cycles of prayer, after which he rested for an hour or more. Then he called for Qaswa’, and having put on his coat of mail and his helmet, he girt on his sword, but in his hand, he carried a staff, and his visor was up. Some of those who had ridden with him that morning was already in line outside the tent, and they made an escort for him as he went to the Mosque, talking to Abu Bakr, who was at his side. He rode straight to the southeast corner of the Kaaba and reverently touched the Black Stone with his staff, uttering as he did so a magnification. Those who were near him repeated it, ALLAHUAKBAR, ALLAHUAKBAR, and it was taken up by all the Muslims in the Mosque and the whole of Mecca resounded with it until the Prophet motioned them to silence with his hand. Then he made the seven rounds of the Holy House with Muhammad ibn Maslamah holding his bridle. At the Lesser Pilgrimage that honor had been given to a man of Khazraj. It was therefore fitting that this time it should go to a man of Aws.

The Prophet now turned away from the Kaaba towards the idols which surrounded it in a wide circle, three hundred and sixty in all. Between these and the House, he now rode, repeating the verse of the Revelation: The Truth hath come and the false hath vanished. Verily the false is ever a vanisher,’ and pointing at the idols, one by one, with his staff; and each idol, as he pointed at it, fell forward on its face. Having completed the circle he dismounted and prayed at the Station of Abraham, which was at that time adjoining the Kaaba. Then he went to the Well of Zamzam where ‘Abbas gave him to drink, and he confirmed forever the traditional right of the sons of Hashim to water the pilgrims. But when ‘Ali brought him the key of the Kaaba, and when ‘Abbas asked him to give their family also the right of guarding it, he said: “I give you only that which ye have lost, not that which will be a loss for others.” Then he called for the man of ‘Abd ad-Dar who earlier had come to him in Medina with Khalid and  ‘Amr, ‘Uthman ibn Talhah, and handing him the key he confirmed forever his clan’s traditional right of guardianship. ‘Uthman reverently took the key and went to open the door of the Holy House, followed by the Prophet. Usamah and Bilal were close behind, and bidding them enter after him the Prophet told ‘Uthman to lock the door behind them.

Apart from the icon of the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus, and a painting of an old man, said to be Abraham, the walls inside had been covered with pictures of pagan deities. Placing his hand protectively over the icon, the Prophet told ‘Uthman to see that all the other paintings, except that of Abraham, were effaced.’ He stayed awhile inside, and then, taking the key from ‘Uthman, he unlocked the door; and standing on the threshold with the key in his hand, he said: “Praise be to God, who hath fulfilled His promise and helped His slave and ‘routed the clans, He alone.” The Meccans who had taken refuge in the Mosque had since been joined by many of those who had at first taken refuge in their homes and they were sitting in groups, here and there, not far from the Kaaba, The Prophet now addressed them, saying: “What say ye, and what think ye?” They answered: “We say well, and we think well: a noble and generous brother, son of a noble and generous brother. It is thine to command.” He then spoke to them in the words of forgiveness which, according to the Revelation, Joseph spoke to his brothers when they came to him in Egypt: “Verily I say as my brother Joseph said: This day there shall be no upbraiding of you nor reproach. God forgiveth you, and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful. ‘

Abu Bakr had left the Mosque in order the visit his father, and he now returned leading Abu Quhafah by the hand, followed by his sister Quraybah. “Why didst thou not leave the old man in his house,” said the Prophet, “for me to go to him there?” “O Messenger of God,” said Abu Bakr, “it is more fitting that he should come unto thee than that thou shouldst go unto him.” The Prophet gave him his hand and drawing him down to sit in front of him, invited him to make the two testifications of Islam, which he readily did. Having given orders that Hubal, the largest of the fallen idols, should be broken to pieces and that all of them should be burned, the Prophet had it proclaimed throughout the city that everyone who had an idol in his house must destroy it. He then withdrew to the nearby hill of Safa, where he had first preached to his family. Here he received the homage of those of his enemies who now wished to enter Islam, both men, and women. They came to him in hundreds. Amongst the women was Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan. She came veiled, fearing that the Prophet might order her to be put to death before she had embraced Islam; and she said: “O Messenger of God, praise be to Him who hath made triumph the religion which I choose for myself.” Then she unveiled her face and said: “Hind, the daughter of ‘Utbah”; and the Prophet said: “Welcome.” Another of the women who came to Safa was Umm Hakim, the wife of ‘Ikrimah. When she had entered Islam she begged the Prophet to give her husband immunity. He did so, although ‘Ikrimah was still at war with him, and Umm Hakim found out where he was, and went after him to bring him back.

The Prophet looked around at the gathering in front of him, and turning to his uncle he said: “O ‘Abbas, where are thy brother’s two sons, ‘Utbah and Mu’attib? I see them not.” These were the two surviving sons of Abu Lahab. It was ‘Utbah who had repudiated Ruqayyah under pressure from his father, and it seemed that they were afraid to appear. “Bring them to me,” said the Prophet, so ‘Abbas fetched his nephews, who entered Islam and pledged their allegiance. Then the Prophet took them each by the hand, and walking between them, he led them to the great place of supplication which is named al-Multazam and which is that part of the Kaaba wall which lies between the Black Stone and the door. There he made a long prayer, and noticing the joy on his face, ‘Abbas remarked on it. He was answered: “I asked my Lord to give me these two sons of mine uncle, and He hath given me them.”

The nearest to Mecca of the three most eminent shrines of paganism was the temple at Nakhlah. The Prophet now sent Khalid to destroy this center of idolatry. At the news of his approach, the warden of the temple hung his sword on the statue of the goddess and called upon her to defend herself and slay Khalid or to become a monotheist. Khalid demolished the temple and its idol and returned to Mecca. “Didst thou see nothing?” said the Prophet. “Nothing,” said Khalid, “Then thou hast not destroyed her,” said the Prophet. “Return and destroy her.” So Khalid went again to Nakhlah, and out of the ruins of the temple there came a black woman, entirely naked, with long and wildly flowing hair. “My spine was seized with shivering,” said Khalid afterward. But he shouted “‘Uzza, denial is for thee, not worship,” and drawing his sword he cut her down. On his return, he said to the Prophet: “Praise be to God who hath saved us from perishing! I was wont to see my father set out for al-Uzza with an offering of a hundred camels and sheep. He would sacrifice them to her and stay three days at her shrine, and return unto us rejoicing at what he had accomplished!”

Meantime most of the Meccans had pledged their allegiance. Suhayl was an exception; but having taken refuge in his house, he sent for his son ‘Abd Allah to ask him to intervene with the Prophet on his behalf. For despite the general amnesty he could scarcely believe that it would apply to him. But when ‘Abd Allah spoke to the Prophet he immediately answered: “He is safe, under the protection of God, so let him appear.” Then he told those about him: “No harsh look for Suhayl if ye meet him! Let him come out freely, for by my life he is a man of intelligence and honor, not one to be blind to the truth of Islam.” So Suhayl came and went as he pleased, but he did not yet enter Islam. As to Safwan, his cousin ‘Umayr obtained for him a two months’ respite from the Prophet, whereupon he set out after him and found him waiting for a boat at Shu’aybah, which was in those days the port of Mecca. Safwan was suspicious and flatly refused to change his plans, whereupon ‘Umayr went again to the Prophet, who gave him his turban of striped Yemeni cloth to take to his cousin as a token of his safety. This convinced ~afwan, who decided to return and seek further assurances for himself. “O Muhammad,” he said, “Umayr telleth me that if I agree to a certain thing” – he meant the entry into Islam – “well and good, but that if not, thou hast given me two months’ respite.” “Stay here,” said the Prophet. “Not until thou givest me a clear answer,” said Safwan, “Thou shalt have four months’ respite,” said the Prophet; and Safwan agreed to stay in Mecca.

‘Ikrimah was the last of the three to come into the presence of the Prophet after the victory of Mecca. Yet he was the first of them to enter Islam. He had decided to take a boat from the coast of Tihamah to Abyssinia, and as he was about to step onboard the captain said to him: “Make good thy religion with God.” “What shall I say?” said ‘Ikrimah. “Say: there is no god but God” was the answer, and the man-made it clear that for fear of shipwreck he would accept no passenger who did not so testify. The words LA ILLAHA ILLALLAH  entered into the soul of ‘Ikrimah, and he knew at that moment that he could have uttered them with sincerity. Yet he did not embark, for his sale reason for wishing to do so had been to escape from those words, that is from the message of Muhammad which was summed up in LA ILLAH ILLALLAH. If he could accept that message on board the boat, he could accept it onshore. “Our God at sea is our God on land,” he said to himself. Then his wife joined him and told him that the Prophet had guaranteed his safety in Mecca, and they returned forthwith.

The Prophet knew he was coming and said to his Companions: “‘Ikrimah the son of Abu jahl is on his way to you, as a believer. Therefore revile not his father, for the reviling of the dead giveth offense unto the living and reacheth not unto the dead.” On his arrival in Mecca, ‘Ikrimah went straight to the Prophet, who greeted him with a face full of gladness, saying to him, after he had formally entered Islam: “Thou shalt not ask of me anything this day but I will give it thee.” “I ask thee,” said ‘Ikrimah, “that thou shouldst pray God to forgive me for all mine enmity against thee,” and the Prophet prayed as he had asked. Then ‘Ikrimah spoke of the money he had spent and the battles he had fought to bar men from following the truth, and he said that he would henceforth spend the double of it and fight with doubled effort in the way of God, and he kept his promise.

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