CHAPTER ELEVEN

MUSLIM ASCENDANCY ASSURED


11.1 The attempted `umra pilgrimage

The Messenger of God stayed in Medina during Ramadn and Shawwl (January, February 628), then in Dh-l-Qa`da set out for Mecca to do the `umra, with no intention of fighting. He gathered the neighbouring Arab nomads to go with him, fearing that the Meccans might try to fight him or keep him from the shrine, as they in fact did. Many of the nomads held back; so he went with the Emigrants and Ansr and the Arabs who joined him. He brought the animals to be slaughtered and consecrated himself for the `umra so that people would know that he did not come to fight but only to visit and venerate the shrine... He took seventy camels for sacrifice, each camel on behalf of every ten of his 700 men.. Others say they were 1400 men.

When the Messenger of God was in `Usfn, Bishr ibn-Sufyn met him and said, The Meccans have heard of your coming and have come out with milk camels and have put on leopard skins and camped at Dh-Tuw, swearing to God that you will never enter Mecca in defiance of them. Khlid ibn-al-Wald is with their cavalry and has advanced to Kur` al-Ghamm. The Messenger of God said, Woe to Mecca War has eaten into them. What keeps them from leaving me and the other Arabs deal with each other on our own? If the Arabs kill me they will be satisfied, but if God makes me victorious over them they will enter Islam in droves. If they do not they will continue to fight while they have strength. What are the Meccans thinking? I will continue to fight for the mission that God has entrusted me until he makes it victorious or I am killed. Now who will lead us on a by-pass to avoid them? A man of Aslam volunteered.

They went by a rugged, rocky track between passes which was hard on the Muslims. When they emerged to flat land at the end of the valley the Messenger of God told his men, Say, We ask for Gods forgiveness and repent towards him. They did so, and he said, By God, that is the putting away of sins which the Israelites were told to do...

The Messenger of God commanded his men to turn right through the salty places on the road through the pass of al-Murr to the slope of al-Hudaybiyya, below Mecca. When the Meccan army saw from the dust of the Muslim army that they had gone another way, they galloped back to Mecca. The Messenger of God went as far as the pass of al-Murr where his camel knelt down and the men said, It refuses to get up. He said, It has not refused; that is not its nature, but it is restrained by the One who restrained the elephant from Mecca. Whatever stipulations of kindness to their relatives the Meccans ask of me today I will grant. Make camp here. They objected, There is no water here. So he took an arrow from his quiver and gave it to one of his men to poke at the bottom of one of the water holes that were there. Water rose and the men and their camels drank all they wanted. (2:308-10)

When the Messenger of God had rested, Budayl ibn-Warq and some Khuz`a men came and asked him why he came. He answered that he did not want to fight but only to visit and venerate the shrine.. Budayl and his men returned to the Meccans and told them this, but the Meccans suspected them and spoke roughly to them saying, If he did not come to fight, still, by God, he will never come in here by force, nor will the Arabs ever say that he did so against our will. (2:311)

Negotiations dragged on between Muhammad and the Meccans. At one point Muhammad sent `Uthmn to press his case to be allowed to perform the `umra peacefully:

When `Uthmn was about to enter Mecca, Abn ibn-Sa`d met him, escorted him and took him under his protection until he could deliver his message. `Uthmn came to Ab-Sufyn and the big men of Mecca and delivered the message of the Messenger of God. They answered, If you want, you may do the march around the sanctuary. He said he could not do so until the Messenger of God had done it. So they kept him under detention. The Messenger of God and the Muslims heard that he had been killed. (2:315)

11.2 The Pledge of Good Pleasure

When the Messenger of God heard that `Uthmn was killed, he said, We will not leave until we fight the enemy. So he called his men to pledge allegiance. The Pledge of Good Pleasure took place under a tree. People used to say that the Messenger of God did not make the pledge that they would die but that the would not run away. None of the Muslims present refused to pledge except al-Jadd ibn-Qays... Then the Messenger of God heard that the news of `Uthmns death was false. (2:315-16)

11.3 The treaty of al-Hudaybiyya

Then the Meccans sent Suhayl ibn-`Amr to the Messenger of God to make peace on condition that he retire this year, so that the Arabs would never say that he made a forcible entry. When the Messenger of God saw him coming he said, The enemy wants peace when they send this man. When Suhayl came he spoke at length with the Messenger of God until they had agreed on a treaty and all they had to do was to sign it. Then `Umar jumped up and said to Ab-Bakr, Is he not the Messenger of God and we Muslims, and are they not polytheists? Why should we concede what is demeaning to our religion? Ab-Bakr answered, Stick to what he says, for I testify that he is the Messenger of God, and `Umar repeated the same thing. Then he went to the Messenger of God and asked him the same questions, to which the Messenger of God answered, I am the servant of God and his messenger. I will not oppose his order and he will not leave me stranded. `Umar used to say, I never stopped giving alms, fasting, doing salt and freeing slaves to atone for what I did that day, when I thought I had a better plan.

Then the Messenger of God called Al and told him to write In the name of God the merciful and compassionate. Suhayl said, I do not accept that, but write In your name, God. The Messenger of God agreed, then said, Write This is what Muhammad, the Messenger of God, has agreed with Suhayl ibn-`Amr. Suhayl objected, If I testified that you are the Messenger of God I would not be fighting you, but write your name and the name of your father. The Messenger of God said, Write This is what Muhammad ibn-`Abdallh agreed with Suhayl ibn-`Amr. They agreed not to fight one another for ten years, during which time men can be safe and refrain from fighting one another. Any Meccan who comes to Muhammad without permission of his guardian shall be returned, but anyone who comes from Muhammad to Mecca should not be returned. We shall not secretly plot or make evil engagements against one another. Anyone who wishes to make a treaty with Muhammad may do so, and anyone who wishes to make a treaty with Mecca may do so.

The Khuz`a clan jumped up and said, We have made a treaty with Muhammad, and the Bakr clan jumped up and said, We have made a treaty with Mecca. Return this year and do not enter Mecca. Next year we will vacate the city for you and you can enter with your companions and stay there three days, with your arms and horsemen and swords in their sheaths and nothing more.

While the Messenger of God and Suhayl were writing the treaty, Ab-Jandal ibn-Suhayl came walking in irons, having escaped to the Messenger of God. The companions of the Messenger of God had come without any doubt that they would conquer Mecca because of the vision (Q 48:27) that the Messenger of God had seen. When they saw him negotiating for peace and a withdrawal and the restrictions on himself that the Messenger of God was accepting, they were amazed and very depressed. When Suhayl saw Ab-Jandal, he got up and struck him in the face, took him by the collar and said, Muhammad, was our agreement not concluded before this man came? He said, You are right. Suhayl then began to pull his son roughly by the collar and drag him away to return him to Mecca. Ab-Jandal was crying at the top of his voice, Muslim people, am I going to be returned to the polytheists who will seduce me from my religion? This made the men even more dejected, and the Messenger of God said, Ab-Jandal, be brave and control yourself. God will provide you and those oppressed with you with an opportunity to escape. We have just made a treaty with these people and given each other our word before God that we will not deal falsely with one another. Then `Umar got up and walked along with Ab-Jandal saying, Be brave; they are only polytheists and only have dog blood, and he brought the hilt of his sword close to him, hoping that he would take the sword and strike his father with it, but the man spared his father and so the matter ended.

When the Messenger of God finished the document he called as witnesses representatives of the Muslims and of the polytheists, including Ab-Bakr, `Umar, `Abdarrahmn ibn-`Awf, `Abdallh ibn-Suhayl, Sa`d ibn-ab-Waqqs Mahmd ibn-Maslama, Mikraz ibn-Hafs who was a polytheist at that time, and `Al who wrote the document.

The Messenger of God was camped in profane country, but did salt inside the consecrated territory. When he finished with the treaty he slaughtered the offering animals, sat down and shaved his head... When the men saw what he did they also slaughtered animals and shaved their heads. (2:316-19)

The Muslims were much disappointed at Muhammads concessions to the Meccans, and many showed it by not shaving their heads but only cutting their hair. They did not appreciate the long term advantage of the cease-fire. It meant that Muhammad could concentrate on his policy winning the nomads to his side without interference from the Meccans. Even so, he was under heavy pressure to minimize unfavourable applications of the treaty, as the following section shows.

11.4 Another version of Hudaybiyya

Examination of Qurn 48:1-10,18-29 and other Hdth material led Furrukh B. Ali to question the previous version of events offered by Ibn-Ihq.[1] According to him, Muhammad first had a dream (Q 48:27) that he would be able to make the `umra unopposed. At al-Hudaybiyya he realized he would meet resistance, from the Meccans, and so decided to negotiate with them. When it seemed the Meccans had murdered `Uthmn, Muhammad called his men to make the Pledge of Good Pleasure. But the Meccans agreed to give the Muslims three days to make the `umra, during which time no Meccan could join Muhammad but any Muslim would be allowed to stay behind in Mecca. The Muslims accordingly performed the `umra with the right to do so in subsequent years under the same conditions. The treaty did not include a ten-year truce. Thus the following incident and Muhammads ultimatatum to Mecca in 629 were not inhibited by the treaty.

11.5 Muslim exceptions to the treaty

After an exegesis of Srat al-Fath (48), which has to do with these events, Ibn-Ishq gives examples of how Muhammad utilized loopholes to condone violations of the spirit of the treaty and repudiated its application to women:

When the Messenger of God arrived in Medina, Ab-Basr `Utba, one of those imprisoned in Mecca, came to him. Azhar ibn-`Abdu`awf and Akhnas ibn-Sharq wrote to the Messenger of God about him and sent a man of the `mir clan with a client of theirs. The two came to the Messenger of God with the letter, and the Messenger of God said, Ab-Basr, We have given those people the treaty you know of. In our religion treachery is not good. God will give you and the oppressed who are with you relief and an escape. Go back to your people. He said, Messenger of God, will you return me to the polytheists who will seduce me from my religion? He said, Ab-Basr, go back. God will give you and the oppressed with you relief and an escape.

So he went with them as far as Dh-l-Hulayfa, where he sat against a wall with his companions. Ab-Basr said, Is your sword sharp, `mir brother? When he said Yes, Ab-Basr said that he would like to look at it. Look at it if you want to, was the reply. Then Ab-Basr unsheathed it and gave him a blow that killed him. The client who was with them ran to the Messenger of God, who was sitting in the mosque. When he saw him coming he said, Woe to you. What is the matter? He said, Your companion killed my companion. And by God, Ab-Basr came up right behind wearing a sword, stopped in front of the Messenger of God and said, You have fulfilled your obligation of protection and God has removed it from you. You handed me over to the enemy and I have protected myself in my religion so as not to be seduced or compromised. The Messenger of God said, Woe is his mother. He would have started a war if there were others with him.

Then Ab-Basr went off until he camped at al-`s in the region of Dh-l-Marwa near the sea shore, on the road by which the Meccans used to travel to Syria. The Muslims who were confined in Mecca heard what the Messenger of God said about Ab-Basr, and about seventy of them went out to join Ab-Basr at `s. They harassed the Meccans, killing any they captured and attacking every caravan that passed. Finally the Meccans wrote to the Messenger of God begging him by the ties of kinship to bring them under his care, since they had no use for them. So the Messenger of God took and brought them to Medina. (2:323-4)

Umm Kulthm bint-`Uqba migrated to the Messenger of God during this time. Her two brothers `Umra and al-Wald came to the Messenger of God asking him to return her to them according to the treaty which existed between him and Mecca at al-Hudaybiyya, but he did not do so, since God refused. (2:325-6)

Qurn 60:10-11 was then promulgated to ratify this policy of not returning Muslim women escapees.

11.6 The conquest of Khaybar and marriage to Safiyya (n.10)

The attack on Khaybar was justified, in Muhammads eyes, simply on the basis that they were non-Muslim and had refused his warnings or preachings although we can see here an echo of post-Muhammadan legislation on jihd:

When the Messenger of God raided a people he waited until morning. If he heard the call for prayer he held back, but if he did not hear it he attacked. We rode with him... and met the workers of Khaybar coming out in the morning with their spades and baskets. When they saw the Messenger of God and his army they cried, Muhammad and his army and turned back fleeing. The Messenger of God shouted, Allhu akbar Khaybar is destroyed. When we camp in a peoples square it is a bad morning for those who have been warned. (2:329-30)

In the case of Khaybar Muhammad had additional reason for attacking. Not only were the Muslims hungry for booty and success, having been disappointed at Hudaybiyya, but Khaybar was the last base of Jewish power in the ijz. These Jews had considerable influence on the tribes in the region. For instance they were allies of his enemies the Ghaafn. It served Muhammads strategy to eliminate Jewish power once and for all and then work freely on winning the Arab tribes.

When the Ghatafn heard that the Messenger of God had camped against Khaybar they gathered together and went out to help the Jews against him. But after a days journey they heard a rumour about the property and families back home and thought that the enemy had attacked them; so they rushed back and left the Messenger of God deal with Khaybar.

Khaybar had a number of forts or castles, which Muhammad took at an over-all cost of nearly 20 men.

The Messenger of God seized one property after another and conquered the forts one by one. The first to be conquered was the fort of N`im, where Mahmd ibn-Maslama was killed by a millstone which was thrown on him from the fort. Next was al-Qam, the fort of the Ab-l-Huqayq clan. The Messenger of God took captives from it, among them Safiyya bint-Huyayy, the wife of Kanna ibn-ar-Rab`, and two women cousins of hers. The Messenger of God chose Safiyya for himself.

Diya ibn-al-Kalb had asked the Messenger of God for Safiyya, and when he chose her for himself he gave him the two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims. (2:330-1)

Later Ibn-Ishq gives another version of how Muhammad chose Safiyya:

When the Messenger of God had conquered al-Qams, the fort of the Ab-l-Huqayq clan, Safiyya bint-Huyayy was brought to the Messenger of God with another woman. Bill was leading them past some of the Jews who were killed and when the other woman saw them she shrieked and slapped her face and poured dust on her head. When the Messenger of God saw her he said, Get this she-devil out of my sight. He ordered Safiyya to be put behind him and threw his mantle over her so that the Muslims would know that the Messenger of God had chosen her for himself.

He then said to Bill, Dont you have any compassion? You should not have brought these women past their dead husbands. Now Safiyya had seen in a dream when she was the bride of Kinna ibn-ar-Rab` that the moon fell on her lap. She told this dream to her husband and he said, This only means that you desire the king of the Hijz, Muhammad. He then hit her in the face so hard that he gave her a black eye. When she was brought to the Messenger of God she still had a trace of it, and when he asked the cause she told him this story. (2:336)

Ibn-Ishq later adds that Safiyya was beautified and brought to Muhammad, and he spent the night with her in his tent. Unknown to Muhammad, Ab-Ayyb spent the night guarding the tent. Asked to explain why, he said, I was afraid for you with this woman. You killed her father, her husband and her people and only now she gave up unbelief. So I was afraid of what she might do to you. Muhammad answered, God protect Ab-Ayyb as he protected me this night. (2:339-40)

11.7 The conquest continues

Then the Messenger of God began taking the (rest of) the forts and properties one by one.

Men of the Sahm clan of Aslam game to the Messenger of God and said, By God, we have fought and got no booty. There was nothing he had to give them, so he prayed, God, you know their condition, that they have not much strength, and I have nothing to give them. So open for them the mightiest and wealthiest fort, with the best food. The next day God conquered the fort of as-Sa`b ibn-Mu`dh, which contained the richest food in Khaybar.

When the Messenger of God had conquered some of the forts and properties he came to the forts of al-Wath and of as-Sullam, the last to be taken, and besieged them for about ten days. (2:332)

11.8 Al-Aswad the shepherd

Al-Aswad, a hired servant of one of the Jews of Khaybar, came with his flock of sheep to the Messenger of God while he was besieging one of the forts and asked him to explain Islam to him. He did so, and the shepherd became a Muslim, since the Messenger of God never thought anyone too insignificant to call to Islam.

Al-Aswad then told the Messenger of God who he was and asked what to do with the flock of sheep. The Messenger of God told him to hit them in the face and they would return to their owner. So al-Aswad took a handful of pebbles and threw them at their faces, saying, Go back to your owner. By God, I will not shepherd you again. They went off together as if someone were driving them and entered a fort. Then he advanced on the fort with the Muslims and was hit by a stone and killed, even though he had never performed salt. He was brought to the Messenger of God and laid behind him and covered with his shepherds cloak. The Messenger of God, before many of his companions, turned to him and then turned away. Asked why, he said, He is now with two wives of his from the dark-eyed Hrs. (cf. Q 44:54, 52:20, 55:72, 56:22)

When a martyr is slain, two wives of his from the dark-eyed Hrs pet him, wipe the dust from his face and say, May God put dust on the face of the man who did so to you, and kill the man who killed you (2:344-5)

11.9 Conditions ofsurrender

The Messenger of God besieged the people of Khaybar in their forts of al-Wath and as-Sallam until they know they were lost and asked him to let them go and spare their lives, and he did so. He had taken possession of all the property of ash-Shaqq, Natt and al-Katba along with their forts, but not of the first mentioned forts. When the people of Fadak heard what they did, they sent word to the Messenger of God, asking him likewise to let them go and spare their lives, letting him take their property, and he agreed... When the people of Khaybar surrendered under these conditions they asked the Messenger of God to employ them on the properties with a half share of the produce, saying We know better about it than you and are better farmers. So the Messenger of God made a treaty with them that they should take half the produce, with the proviso that if we wish to expel you we will expel you. The people of Fadak made a similar treaty with Muhammad. So Khaybar became the prey of the Muslims, while Fadak was the personal property of the Messenger of God, since the Muslims had not captured it with horses and camels. (2:337)

11.10 Regulations about booty

The Messenger of Gods prohibition of eating domestic donkeys meat came to us while the pots were boiling with it; so we overturned them. The Messenger of God prohibited four things that day: having sex with captive women who are pregnant, eating domestic donkeys, eating any carnivorous animal, and selling booty before it is divided. (2:331)

Kinna ibn-ar-Rab`, who had custody of the treasure of the Nadr clan, was brought to the Messenger of God, who asked him about it. But he denied knowing its whereabouts. But a Jewish man came to the Messenger of God and told him that he saw Kinna going around a certain ruin all morning. So The Messenger of God said to Kinna, Do you realize that if we find the treasure with you we will kill you? He said, Yes. So the Messenger of God ordered the ruin to be dug, and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest, he refused to produce it, so the Messenger of God ordered az-Zubayr ibn-al-`Awwm, Torture him until you extract what he has. So az-Zubayr kindled fire with flint and steel on his chest until he nearly died. Then the Messenger of God handed him over to Muhammad ibn-Maslama who cut his head off in revenge for his brother Mahmd ibn-Maslama. (2:336-7)

11.11 Attempted poisoning and departure

When the Messenger of God had rested, Zaynab bint-al-Hrith, the wife of Sallm ibn-Mishkam, prepared a roasted lamb for him, having asked which part of the lamb he preferred. The Messenger of God said, The shoulder. So she put much poison in it and poisoned the whole lamb, then brought and put it before him. He tasted a piece of the shoulder without swallowing it. Bishr ibn-al-Bar was with him, but swallowed his piece. The Messenger of God spat out his own saying, This bone tells me that it is poisoned. He called for her and she confessed. He asked her, What brought you to do this? She said, You know what you have done to my people. I said, If he is a king I will be rid of him, but if he is a prophet he will be informed of it. So he spared her, but Bishr died of what he ate. (2:337-8)

When we left Khaybar to go to Wd al-Qur, we camped in the evening as the sun was setting. The Messenger of God was with a boy given to him by Rif`a ibn-Zayd. By God, he was lying on the saddle of the Messenger of God when a stray arrow hit and killed him. We congratulated him on Paradise, but the Messenger of God said, No way By Him in whose hand is the life of Muhammad, his cloak is burning on him now in the Fire. He stole in from the booty of the Muslims at the battle of Khaybar. One of the Companions heard him and said, I took two sandal thongs. He said, Two similar thongs of the Fire will be cut for you. (2:338-9)

11.12 Al-Hajjj ibn-`Il deceives the Meccans

When Khaybar was conquered, al-Hajjj ibn-`Il spoke to the Messenger of God, I have money with my wife Umm-Shayba in Mecca.., but it is deposited with several Meccan traders. Let me go get it. After getting permission from the Messenger of God, he said, But I cannot avoid telling lies. He said, Go ahead. So, says al-Hajjj, I went to Mecca and at the al-Bayd pass found some Meccans looking for news and asking about the campaign of the Messenger of God, since they heard he had marched against Khaybar, which they knew was the principal town of the Hijz in agriculture, fortifications and population. They were eager for news and were asking passing riders. When they saw me, not knowing of my Islam, they said, Al-Hajjj ibn-`Il⑔ He must have news. Tell us, for we have heard that the highway robber has marched against Khaybar.. I said, I know of that, and I have news that will please you. They came up next to my camel saying, Tell us, Hajjj. I said, He has suffered such a defeat as you have never heard of, and his companions have been killed in such numbers as you have never heard, and Muhammad himself has been captured. The Khaybar people said, Let us not kill him, but sent him to Mecca and let them kill him among themselves in revenge for what he did to their men.

So they ran into Mecca shouting the news that Muhammad would shortly be brought to them to be killed. Then he said, Help me to gather my money in Mecca from my creditors, since I want to go to Khaybar and buy up some of Muhammads companions before the merchants get there.

They went and gathered my money faster than I could imagine. I went to my wife and asked for the money I had left with her so I could buy slaves in Khaybar before the traders got there.

When al-`Abbs ibn-`Abdalmuttalib heard the news, he came up to me while I was in one of the traders tents and said, What is the news that you brought? I said, Can you keep secret what I tell you? He said, Yes. I said, Wait for me until I meet you privately, because I am collecting my money, as you can see. So he went off until I finished. When I had all the money that was mine in Mecca and was ready to go, I met al-`Abbs and said, Keep my secret for three days, for I am afraid of being pursued. Then tell whatever you like. He said, Go ahead. I said, By God I left your nephew the bridegroom of the daughter of their king, meaning Safiyya bint-Huyayy. Khaybar has been conquered and all its property has fallen to Muhammad and his companions. He said, What are you saying, Hajjj? I said, By God, keep this quiet. I have become a Muslim and I only came to collect my money, since I was afraid I might lose it. After three days tell the news as you like.

On the third day al-` Abbs put on a robe, perfumed himself, took a staff, went to the Ka`ba and went around it. When the people saw him, they said, This is a sign of courage in severe misfortune. He answered, By no means. By God by whom you swear, Muhammad has conquered Khaybar and is the bridegroom of the daughter of its king. All its property belongs to him and his companions. They said, Who told you this news? He said, The same one who brought you your news. He came here as a Muslim to collect his money, and went away to join Muhammad and his companions and stay with him. They said, Servants of God, the enemy of God has escaped. If we had known we would have dealt with him. Soon the true news was confirmed. (2:345-7)

Ibn-Ishq here gives the later history of Khaybar, telling stories of some conflicts between the Muslims and the Jews and how the caliph `Umar expelled the Jews, justifying his action by the words Muhammad is alleged to have said while he was dying: Two religions shall not remain together in the peninsula of the Arabs. (2:353)

11.13 The return of some Emigrants from Ethiopia

Muhammad sent `Amr ibn-Umayya ad-Damr to Ethiopia to call back those who had left during the persecution in Mecca. Two boatloads of people returned, with 16 men together with some women and children.

Of those who migrated to Ethiopia.. and the Emperor did not send on the two boats to the Messenger of God.. were, from the Umayya clan, `Ubaydallh ibn-Jash with his wife Ramla Umm-Habba bint-ab-Sufyn, and his daughter Habba bint-`Ubaydallh.. He went as an Emigrant with the Muslims, but when he came to Ethiopia he became a Christian and left Islam. He died there as a Christian. The Messenger of God took his wife after him (n.11)..

When `Ubaydallh ibn-Jahsh passed the Muslim companions of the Messenger of God he used to say, Our eyes are opened, but yours are veiled, that is, we can see clearly, but you are only trying to see, and cannot see clearly yet. When a puppy dog wants to open its eyes to see it flutters its eyes first. He used this example to mean, We have already opened our eyes and can see, but your eyes are not yet opened to see, but you are only trying to see. (2:362-3)

Besides these who stayed, thirty-three other men together with women remained in Ethiopia, some of them dying there and others returning later.

11.14 Messages to surrounding kings

According to the quotation of Ibn-Ishq found in at-Tabar, The Messenger of God sent out some of his companions to the kings of the Arabs and non-Arabs, calling them to Islam. (T 2:645 = 1560) The Arab kingdoms mentioned are al-Yamma, al-Barayn and `Umn. Non-Arab rulers are the Muqawqis, ruler of Alexandria, Caesar Heraclius of the Roman empire, the Emperor of Ethiopia and Chosroes of Persia.

The Muqawqis gave the Messenger of God four slave girls, one of whom was Mriya (n.12), the mother of Ibrhm, son of the Messenger of God. (T 2:645 = 1561) The Muqawqis (= the Caucasian) was Cyrus, who was both Patriarch and Governor of Egypt from 631 and handed the city over to the Muslims in 641. In 627, the year of this event, Persian officials were just beginning to withdraw from Egypt. We are not sure whom the ambassadors met in Alexandria who gave Muhammad the slave girls. These girls may have been delivered much earlier, since Muhammad gave one to the poet Hassn ibn-Thbit after the trial of `’isha. (2:306)

This account goes on to tell of pretentious incredible conversations of the ambassadors with these kings, making them seem greatly impressed with the message of Islam and interested in conversion. (T 2:651-7 = 1657-75; cf. II 2:606-8) It is possible that Muhammad contacted these kings to get them to recognize Muhammads community as the leading power in Arabia and forestall any Meccan appeal for help. Beyond that, the stories only show the desire of later Muslims to present Islam as a universal religion or to justify the invasion of Persia and Byzantium on the basis that they were called to Islam and refused.

11.15 Muhammads `umra (March 629); marriage to Maymna (n.13)

When the Messenger of God returned from Khaybar to Medina he stayed there nine months, from Rab` I to Shawwl, sending out raiding parties and expeditions. Then in Dh-l-Qa`da, the month the polytheists had turned him back, he set out to fulfil the `umra pilgrimage which he had intended but could not made the previous year.

The Muslims who were excluded with him went out to do the `umra with him in the year 7. When the Meccans heard of this they vacated the city, telling themselves that Muhammad and his followers were in dire need and destitute.

They lined up at the assembly house to look at him and his companions, and when he entered the Mosque he drew his cloak under his right arm and over his left shoulder, leaving his right shoulder exposed.. Then he venerated the corner stone and jogged around to the opposite side of the shrine, venerated the Yamn corner, and then the black stone, jogging around the shrine three times this way and walking the remaining times... (2:370-1)

The Messenger of God stayed three days in Mecca. On the third day Huwaytib ibn-`Abdal`azz came with a group of Meccans to evict Muhammad from Mecca. They said to him, Your time is up. Leave us now. The Prophet said, What if we were to stay and prepare a wedding feast for you and invite you to eat with us? They said, We do not need your food. Get out. So the Messenger of God left Mecca, putting his client Ab-Rfi` in charge of Maymna until they came to Sarf. Before returning to Medina, the Messenger of God had his first marital intercourse with her. (2:372)

When the Messenger of God married Maymna bint-al-Hrith, al-`Abbs ibn-`Abdalmuttalib (Muhammads uncle) gave her in marriage, donating for the Messenger of God the dower of 400 dirhams. Previously she was the wife of Ab-Ruhm bint-`Abdal`uzz. It is said that she gave herself to the Prophet because the Prophets proposal came to her while she was on her camel, and she said, The camel and what is on it belongs to God and his Messenger. So God revealed the Qurn verse (33:50): Prophet, we have made legitimate for you... a believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet wishes to marry her. - This privilege is not for the other believers... (Ibn-Hishm 2:646)

11.16 The raid on Muta (Sept. 629)

This was the Muslims first engagement with the Byzantines:

The Messenger of God remained in Medina.. until Jumda I when he sent to Syria those who met disaster at Muta.. He put Zayd ibn-Hritha in command and said, If Zayd is killed, then Ja`far ibn-ab-Tlib is in charge; after him `Abdallh ibn-Rawha. The expedition of 3,000 men prepared to start... (2:373)

They went as far as Ma`n in Syria, where they heard that Heraclius had camped at Mab in the Balq region with 100,000 Greeks joined by another 100,000 of the Lakhm, Judhm, al-Qayn, Bahr and Bal tribes.. When the Muslims heard that they stayed at Ma` n for two nights thinking about what to do. They said, Let us write to the Messenger of God, telling him of the number of the enemy. Either he will give us reinforcements or give us some order which we will obey.

`Abdallh ibn-Rawha encouraged them saying, By God, what you dislike is what you came seeking, martyrdom. We are not fighting with numbers or power or multitude but with this religion with which God has honoured us. Forward! Victory or martyrdom awaits us, and either one is good. The men said, By God, Ibn-Rawha is right... (2:375)

They went forward to the borders of al-Balq, where a Greek and Arab force of Heraclius met them in a village called Mashrif. The enemy advanced and the Muslims withdrew to a village called Muta, where the armies met... As they fought, Zayd ibn-Hritha fought holding the standard of the Messenger of God until he bled to death from spear wounds. Ja`far took the standard and when the battle was fierce jumped from his horse, cut its legs and fought the enemy until he was killed... (2:377-8)

Then Thbit ibn-Aqram took the standard and said, Muslim people, choose one of you as leader. They wanted to choose him, but he refused. So they chose Khlid ibn-al-Wald. When he took the standard he kept the enemy off and avoided them. As he retreated so did the enemy, and he returned with his men. (2:379-80)

When they got near Medina, the Messenger of God came on his horse with the Muslims to meet them, with boys running alongside. He said, Take the boys and give me Ja`fars son. So they gave him `Abdallh and he carried him in front of him. But the people began throwing dust at the army saying, Runaways, you fled in the way of God But the Messenger of God said, They are not runaways, but come-agains if God wills. (2:382)

But Muhammad could not dispel the sense of shame over the returning army:

Umm-Salama, the wife of the Prophet, said to the wife of Salama ibn-Hishm, Why do I not see Salama at salt with the Messenger of God and the Muslims? She answered, By God, he cannot go out, otherwise people will shout at him, Runaways, you fled in the way of God. So he stays in his house and does not come out. (2:383)

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Early Islam

Chapter 12



[1]Furrukh Ali, in Al-Hudaybiya: al alternative version, The Muslim World, 71 (1981), pp.47-62.