The months drew on until almost a year had passed since the signing of the treaty of Hudaybiyah, It was now time to set off for Mecca in accordance with the promise of Quraysh that the Prophet and his Companions should have safe access to the Holy Precinct in order to perform the rite of the Lesser Pilgrimage. There were about two thousand pilgrims in all, including the would-be pilgrims of the previous year, except for a few who had died or been killed in battle. Amongst those who had not been at Hudaybiyah was Abu Hurayrah, a man of the Bani Daws.’ He had arrived in Medina with others of his tribe during the campaign of Khaybar, and being destitute he had joined the People of ‘the Bench. On entering Islam his name had been changed to ‘Abd ar-Rahman, but he was always known as Abu Hurayrah, “the kitten man”, literally “the father of a kitten”, because like the Prophet he was very fond of cats and often had a kitten to play with. He soon found favor with the Prophet, who on this occasion put him in charge of some of the sacrificial camels.
When they heard that the pilgrims had reached the edge of the sacred territory, Quraysh vacated the whole of the hollow of Mecca and withdrew to the tops of the surrounding hills. The chiefs of Quraysh were gathered together on Mount Abu Kubays, from which they could look down into the Mosque. They also had a wide view of the surrounding country, and now they saw the pilgrims emerge in a log file from the north-western pass which leads down into the valley just below the city. Their ears soon caught an indistinct murmur which quickly became distinguishable as the age-old pilgrim’s cry: LABAIK ALLAHUMA LAABAIK, Here I am, a God, at Thy service.
The long procession of bare-headed, white-robed men was led by the Prophet mounted on Qaswa’, with ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah on foot, holding the bridle. Of the others, some were on camelback and some on foot. They made straight for the Holy House by the nearest way. Each man was wearing his upper garment like a cloak, but at the entrance to the Mosque, the Prophet adjusted his, passing it under his right arm, leaving the shoulder bare, and crossing the two ends over the left shoulder so that they hung down back and front. The others followed his example. Still mounted, he rode to the southeast corner of the Kaaba and reverently touched the Black Stone with his staff. Then he made the seven circuits of the House, after which he withdrew to the foot of the little hill of Safa, and passed to and fro between it and the hill of Marwah, seven courses in all, ending at Marwah, to which many of the sacrificial animals had now been led. There he sacrificed a camel, and his head was shaved by Khirash, who had done the same for him at Hudaybiyah. This completed the rite of the Lesser Pilgrimage.
He then returned to the Mosque, intending to enter the Holy House, cluttered with idols though it was. But the doors were locked, and the key was with a member of the clan of ‘Abd ad-Dar. The Prophet sent a man to ask for it, but the chiefs of Quraysh replied that this was not in their agreement, the entry into the House not being part of the Pilgrimage rite. So none of the Muslims entered it that year, but when the sun had reached its zenith the Prophet told Bilal to go up to the roof of the Kaaba and make the call to prayer. His resonant voice filled the whole valley of Mecca and floated up to the tops of the hills, first with the magnification, then with the two rectifications of Islam: “I bear witness that there is no god but God. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” From Abu Kubays the chiefs of Qurayshcould plainly distinguish Bilal, and they were outraged at the sight of the black slave on the roof of the Holy House. But above all, they were conscious that this was a triumph for the enemy which might have incalculable repercussions, and they bitterly regretted having signed the treaty, which a year ago had seemed to be in their favor.
The pilgrims spent three days in the evacuated city. The Prophet’s tent was pitched in the Mosque. During the nights those of the Meccans who were Muslims in secret stole down from the hills, and there were many joyous encounters. ‘Abbas, whose Islam was tolerated by Quraysh, openly spent most of the three days with the Prophet. It was then that he offered him in marriage his wife’s sister Maymunah, now a widow, and the Prophet accepted. Mayrnunah and Umm al-Fadl were full sisters, and with them, living in the household of ‘Abbas, was their half-sister Salma, the widow of Hamzah, and her daughter ‘Umarah. ‘Ali suggested that their cousin, Hamzah’s daughter, should not be left amongst the idolaters, to which the Prophet and ‘Abbas agreed; and since Fatimah was one of the pilgrims it was arranged that she should take ‘Umarah with her in her howdah.
When the three days were at an end, Suhayl and Huwaytib came down from Abu Kubays and said to the Prophet who was sitting with Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah and others of the Helpers: “Thy time is finished, so begone from us.” The Prophet answered: “How would it harm you to give me some respite, that I may celebrate my marriage amongst you and prepare for you a feast?” “We need not thy feast,” they said. “Begone from us. We adjure thee by God, O Muhammad, and by the pact which is between us, to leave our country. This was the third night, which now is passed.” Sa’d was angry at their lack of courtesy, but the Prophet silenced him, saying: “O Sa’d, no ill words to those who have come to visit us in our camp!” Then he gave orders that by nightfall every pilgrim should have left the city. But he made an exception for his servant, Abu Rafi’, whom he told to stay behind and bring Mayrniinah with him, which he did; and the marriage was consummated at Sarif, a few miles outside the Sacred Precinct. This new alliance established another unforeseen relationship with the enemy. Maymiinah and Umm al-Fadl and their half-sisters Salma and Asma’ were all daughters of the same mother. But Mayrminah and Umm al-Fadlhad another half-sister on their father’s side, by name ‘Asma’, widow of the great Walid of Makhzum. It was she who had borne him Khalid, who had now become the Prophet’s nephew by marriage.
One day soon after the return to Medina, the Prophet was woken from an afternoon siesta by the sound of a somewhat heated discussion. He recognized the voices of ‘Ali, Zayd, and Jafar, and it was evident that they were all three at odds with each other. It was also evident that the more they argued, the further they were from reaching an agreement. Opening the door of the room he was in, he called them to him and asked what was the cause of their dispute. They exclaimed that it was a question of honor, as to which of them had most right to be the guardian of Hamzah’s daughter, who had been in ‘Ali’s house ever since her arrival from Mecca. “Come to me,” said the Prophet, “and I will judge between you.” When they were all seated he turned first to ‘Ali and asked him what he had to say for himself. “She is mine uncle’s daughter,” he said, “and it was I who brought her out from Mecca.”
The Prophet then turned to Ja’far, who said: “She is mine uncle’s daughter, and her mother’s sister is in my house.” His wife Asma’ was ‘Umarah’s maternal aunt. As to Zayd, he simply said “She is my brother’s daughter,” for the Prophet had made the pact of brotherhood between Hamzah and Zayd when they first came to Medina, and Hamzah had made a testament leaving Zayd in charge of his affairs. There was no doubt that each of the three was convinced that he had the best right to the honor in question. So before pronouncing his judgment the Prophet spoke words of praise to each one of them. It was then that he said to Ja’far: “Thou art like me in looks and in character.”? Not until he saw that he had made each one of them happy did he voice his decision, which was in favor of Ja’far. “Thou hast the most right to her,” he said. “The mother’s sister is as a mother,” Jafar said nothing, but rose to his feet and circled around the Prophet with the steps of a dancer. “Ja’far, what is this?” said the Prophet. He answered: “It is that which I have seen the Abyssinians do in honor of their kings. If ever the Negus gave a man a good reason to rejoice, that man would rise and dance about him.”
It was not long before the Prophet arranged a marriage between ‘Umarah and his own stepson, her cousin Salamah, whose father, Abu Salamah, was the son of Harnzah’s sister Barrah. On that occasion, the Prophet said: “Have I now requited Salamah enough?” He meant that he was indebted to Salamah for having given him his mother Umm Salamah in marriage, and now in return, he had given Salamah a bride. The Prophet’s entry into Mecca had been witnessed by the most eminent men of Quraysh. But there had been two notable exceptions: Khalid and ‘Amr was not on Abu Qubays, nor were they encamped on any of the other hills above Mecca. Both had withdrawn from the city well in advance of the Prophet’s approach. Their decisions to absent themselves had been made independently, nor were their reasons for doing so the same. But on one point they were in complete agreement, namely that ·the treaty of Hudaybiyah had been a great moral victory for the Prophet, and that his entry into Mecca would prove to be the end of their resistance to him. But the hostility of ‘Amr against Islam had not diminished, whereas Khalid had for some years now been a man who is in two minds. Outwardly this had not been evident: his military prowess had thrust him to the fore in every action that Quraysh had taken against the Prophet. But he confessed afterward that he had come away from Uhud and from the Trench with the uneasy feeling that the battle had been pointless and that Muhammad would triumph in the end; and when the Prophet had eluded his squadron on the way to Hudaybiyah, Khalid had exclaimed: “The man is inviolably protected!” That had been his last action against Islam. Then had come the amazing victory at Khaybar.
But there were also considerations of a different kind: almost despite himself he had a personal liking for the Prophet; and from the letter that his younger brother Walid had written him before his death he had learned that the Prophet sometimes asked after him and that he had said: “If he would put his redoubtable vigor on the side of Islam against the idolaters it would be better for him, and we would give him preference over others.” To this Walid had added: “So see, my brother, what thou hast missed!” There was, in addition, an even closer family influence at work. Khalid’s mother, ‘Asma’, who had long been favorable to the Prophet, had recently entered Islam; and now his aunt Maymunah had become the Prophet’s wife.
Not long after this marriage, Khalid had a dream in which he was aware of being in a country that was shut in on all sides and extremely barren. Then he went out from this confinement into a land which was green and fertile, with pastures which stretched far and wide. He knew that this was something of a vision; and having divined the essence of its meaning, he made up his mind to go to Medina. But he preferred to go with a companion. Was there no one else of like mind with himself? Next to ‘Amr, who was not to be found, his nearest comrades in arms were ‘Ikrimah and Safwan, He sounded both of them, but Safwan said: “Even if every other man of Quraysh were to follow Muhammad, I would never follow him.” ‘Ikrimah said much the same; and Khalid remembered that both their fathers had been killed at Badr, where Safwan had lost also a brother. Regretfully he set out alone but no sooner had he left his house than he fell in with ‘Uthman the son of Talhah of ‘Abd ad-Dar – the man who, years ago, had gallantly escorted ‘Umm Salamah from Mecca to Medina.
‘Uthman was a close friend to Khalid, closer than either Safwa nor ‘Ikrimah; but Khalid’s experience with the other two had made him reticent, and he remembered moreover that ‘Uthman had lost his father, two uncles and four brothers at Uhud. They rode on together in silence for a while. Then Khalid suddenly decided to speak, and with a searching look, he said: “Our plight is no better than that of a fox in his earth. Pour in but a pail of water, and out he must come!” He immediately saw that ‘Uthman understood perfectly what he meant, so he told him where he was going and why; and ‘Uthman, who had been gradually coming to the same decision, now resolved to accompany him. Khalid gladly agreed to wait for him while he returned home for provisions and clothes, and early the next morning the two of them set off together for Medina. As to ‘Amr, he was of one mind with Safwan and ‘Ikrimah about Islam, but he saw more clearly than they did the precariousness of the situation; and gathering round him a few younger men, his clansmen of Sahm and others, who looked on him as a leader, he persuaded them to go with him to Abyssinia. He pointed out that if Muhammad triumphed in the inevitably imminent struggle for power then they would have safe asylum, and if Quraysh should triumph after all they could return to Mecca. “We had rather be under the Negus than under Muhammad,” he said, and they agreed.
‘Amr was an astute politician, and a man of great perseverance, not easily discouraged. Despite his total failure to undermine the powerful impression which Jafar and his companions had made, he had nonetheless been at pains to appease the Negus as far as he was concerned, and had assiduously maintained relations with him throughout the years, always avoiding any mention of the Muslim refugees. But now they had left the country and gone to Medina, and with them would have gone, so ‘Amr wrongly concluded, all the Negus’s prejudice in favor of the new religion. At his first audience, his rich gift of leather was graciously accepted, and the Negus seemed so well disposed of that ‘Amr decided to come at once to the point and to ask for asylum. But in doing so he spoke slightingly of the Prophet, and this provoked a sudden overwhelming outburst of royal anger. ‘Amr was altogether taken aback: from what the Negus said it was clear that the best way for him to build a future for himself at his court – far better than gifts of leather – was to become a follower of Muhammad. He had fled from Islam only to find that Islam had outstripped him to the very refuge he had hoped to take, and with the ruin of his plans, his resistance began to crumble. “Dost thou testifies unto this, O King?” he said, meaning to the prophethood of Muhammad. “I bear witness to it before God,” said the Negus. “Do what I tell thee, O ‘Amr, and follow him. His is the truth, by God, and he will triumph over every persuasion that setteth itself against him, even as Moses triumphed over Pharaoh and his hosts.”
History has not recorded the names of the companions of ‘Amr or what they decided to do. But ‘Amr himself boarded a boat which took him to a port on the Yemeni coast, where he bought a camel and provisions and set off for the north; and when he reached Haddah, one of the first halts on the coastal route from Mecca to Medina, he came upon Khalid and ‘Uthman, and they traveled the rest of their way together. They were joyfully received in Medina, and Khalid said of the Prophet: “His face shone with light as he returned my greeting of Peace.” He was the first to pledge allegiance. “I bear witness that there is no god but God, and thou art the Messenger of God.” “Praise be to God who hath guided thee,” said the Prophet. “I ever saw in thee an intelligence which I hoped would not bring thee in the end to anything but good.” “O Messenger of God,” said Khalid, “thou didst see all those fields of battle whereon I took part against thee in obstinate resistance to the truth. Pray therefore unto God that He may forgive me them.” “Islam cutteth away all that went before it,” said the Prophet. “Even so much as that?” said Khalid, still visibly troubled in conscience; and the Prophet prayed: “O God forgive Khalid for all his obstructing of the way to Thy path.”
Then ‘Uthman and ‘Amr pledged their allegiance; and ‘Amr said afterward that he had been quite unable to raise his eyes to the Prophet’s face, such was the reverence he felt for him at that moment. ‘Umar’s cousin Hisham,’ the brother of ‘Arnr, had escaped from Mecca to Medina shortly after the battle of the Trench. Since then he had been joined by his nephew ‘Abd Allah, the son of ‘Amr, ‘Abd Allah, now in his sixteenth year, was deeply devout and much given to fasting. He also showed promise of being one of the most learned of the Companions and recorded many of the sayings of the Prophet, who gave him permission to write them down. Both ‘Abd Allah and Hisham had prayed for the Islam of ‘Amr, and his reunion with them in Medina was a matter of great rejoicing both for them and for him. Two other events of joy in these months were the Islam of ‘Aqil, the brother of Ja’far and ‘Ali, and of Jubayr, the son of Mut’im. The faith which had taken root in Jubayr’s heart when he had come to ransom some of the captives of Badr was now a growth that could not be set aside. To ‘Aqil, when he came to pledge his allegiance, the Prophet said: “I love thee with two loves, for thy near kinship unto me, and for the love which I ever saw for thee in mine uncle.”