The Treaty of Hudaibiya
The Treaty of Hudaibiya is very significant. The Quran when mentioning its significance refers to it as the ‘victory’ because now Muhammad’s political status was recognised and he was seen as an equal independent power. It included a ten year truce which would afford opportunity and time for the new religion to expand, and in the following two years of the treaty Islam’s numbers greatly increased.
The Muhajiren now longed to revisit the familiar scenes and join in the solemn rites of the Ka’aba. Muhammad had indeed insisted that the familiar old ways still had an indispensable element of the new religion. While he had denounced the idolatry of the Qurraish, and challenged the rights of the leaders to be the guardians of the Temple he had also upbraided them for obstructing the approach of pious worshippers (Al-Anfal 8:34, 35). Yet something more than this was needed to exhibit his attachment to the ancestral creed and observances of the Qurraish. While meditating on these things, Muhammad had a vision in the night. He dreamt that he entered Mecca followed by his people in peaceful security and that he made the circuit of the Ka’aba, slew the sacrifices and completed all the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. The dream was communicated to his followers, and every one longed for its realisation. It foretold nothing of fighting or conquest; the entrance was to be quiet and unopposed.
In the sacred month of Dzul Cada when war was unlawful throughout Arabia Muhammad and his followers purposed to perform the ‘Umra or Lesser Pilgrimage. Dressed in the peaceful garb of pilgrims they could approach the Ka’aba and the Qurraish would be bound be every pledge of national faith to leave them unmolested. Muhammad invited the people of Medina and other Arab tribes with whom had entered into friendly relations. Few responded as there would be no booty on this ocassion and most alleged that their occupations and families prevented them from leaving home. Muhammad later reprimand severely the Arab tribes which neglected the summons to the pilgrimage and they were forbidden to join the true believers in any marauding excursions whatever (Al-Fath 48:11,18).
Muhammad entered his house, bathed himself, and put on the two pieces of cloth which constitute the pilgrim garb. He then mounted his camel, Al Caswa and led the cavalcade of 1500 hundred men. At Dzul Huleifa seventy camels were prepared for sacrifice, their heads were turned towards Mecca and customary ornaments were hung about their necks. As they proceded a troop of 20 horsemen marched in advance to give notice of any danger. The pilgrims carried no arms but such as were allowed by custom to the traveller, namely each a sheathed sword, with perhaps a bow and quiver filled with arrows.
News of Muhammad’s approach reached Mecca which filled the Qurraish with apprehension. The citizens of Mecca, perhaps not without reason, suspected treachery and arming themselves occupied a position on the Medina road. One of Muhammad’s spies brought the news to the Prophet that the main high road was blocked. They turned off this road and marched through rugged land until they reached the open space called Hudaibiya, on the verge of the sacred territory which encircles Mecca. The wells were choked with sand and had little or no water Muhammad, therefore, taking an arrow from his quiver desired one of his followers to descend a well, and with it dig and scrape away the obstructing sand, soon an abundance of water accumulated. The Traditions magnify this event into a water miracle.
The Qurraish no sooner learned that the pilgrims had taken this direction, then fell back on the city for its defence and began sending deputations to ascertain the real intentions of Muhammad. The Prophet declared that he had only one design and that was ‘to perform the pilgrimage of the Holy house, and whosoever hindereth us therefrom, we shall fight against them.’ Negotiations then began resulting in the treaty called ‘The Pledge of the Tree’. This settlement secured a ten year truce in which on the one hand the safety of the Syrian caravans was secured while on the other hand, free liberty was given to converts to pass over to the Muslim side. The treaty was ratified with witnesses and a copy of this important document was given to Soheil and his comrades while Muhammad kept the original.
Victorious significance of the Treaty of Hudaibiya
The pilgrims were disappointed at the imperfect fulfilment of the pilgrimage and crestfallen at the abortive result of their long journey but in truth a great step had been gained by Muhammad. His political status, as an equal and independent power, was acknowledged by the treaty: the ten year truce would afford opportunity and time for the new religion to expand, and to force its claims upon the conviction of the Qurraish. The treaty also most importantly accorded Muhammad and his people to visit Mecca in the following year, and then for three days to occupy the city undisturbed. A revelation was accordingly produced to raise the drooping spirits of the pilgrims. Standing on his camel Muhammad announced the words found in the Quran: “Verily We have granted thee a manifest Victory: That Allah may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow; fulfil His favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way” (Al-Fath 48:1, 2).
The biographer Az-Zuhri said that there was no previous victory in Islam, greater than this. On all other occasions there was fighting but here war was laid aside, tranquillity and peace restored and in the two years that followed greater numbers entered the faith. As evidence of this Ibn Hisham adds: ‘whereas Muhammad went forth to Hudaibiya with only fourteen hundred men, he was followed two years later, in the attack on Mecca with ten thousand.’
Pretext and preparation for advance upon Mecca
The truce of Hudaibiya had been now nearly two years in force, when an alleged infraction of its terms by the Qurraish against another tribe afforded Muhammad a fair pretext for the grand object of his ambition of Mecca. A deputation of 40 men from the injured tribe spread the wrongs done to them before Muhammad and pleaded that the treacherous murderers might be avenged. The Qurraish, aware of this deputation, were thrown into alarm. They despatched Abu Sofian to Medina in the hope of renewing and extending the compact of peace but the mission was unsatisfactory. They perceived that they were in an evil plight but they did not suspect that Muhammad had any immediate designs against them.
Muhammad had resolved to make a grand attack upon his native city, but he had kept his own council secret even from his closest friends as long as it was possible. Meanwhile he summoned his allies amongst the Bedouin tribes to join him at Medina, or to meet him at certain convenient points, on the road to Mecca. At last he ordered his followers in the city to arm themselves, announced his intentions and enjoined on all the urgent command that no hint regarding his hostile designs should in any way reach Mecca.
The largest force Medina had ever seen set out. The tents of the Bedouin auxiliaries darkened the plain for miles around, and several important tribes fell in with Muhammad on the line of march. Two of these, the Mozeina and Suleim, contributed each a thousand soldiers. Muhammad headed between eight and ten thousand men. On the seventh or eighth day the army encamped, one stage away from Mecca at Marr al Tzaharan and at night they lit their fires so that ten thousand fires blazed on the tops of Marr al Tzaharan.
The Conversion of Abu Sofian
Tradition informs us that Abu Sofian visited Muhammad’s camp and repeated the formula of belief in Allah and in his Prophet in response to the challenge of Abbas: ‘Believe and testify forthwith the creed of Islam, or else thy neck shall be in danger!’ Muhammad seeing his long term antagonist now a suppliant believer at his feet said ‘Haste thee to Mecca! Haste thee to the city: no one that taketh refuge in the house of Abu Sofian shall be harmed this day. And Hearken! Speak unto the people, that whoever closeth the door of his house, the inmates thereof shall escape in safety.’ Abu Sofian returned to Mecca assuring them that if they entered the house of Abu Sofian, or shut their doors or entered into the Holy House they would be safe so the people fled in all directions to their houses, and to the Kaa’ba.
The army converges on Mecca
The army was now in full march on Mecca, had any general opposition been organised against Muhammad it would have occurred when he reached the plain of Dzu Towa, near the city, yet no army appeared in sight. The forces of Muhammad were wisely distributed in order to resist any opposition. Only Khalid’s column experienced opposition as he faced the bitterest of Muhammad’s enemies. Muhammad showed concern that an encounter had taken place and said to Khalid, ‘ Did I not strictly command that there should be no fighting?’
Muhammad worships at the Ka’aba and destroys its idols
Muhammad descended into the valley and assuring himself that Mecca was now wholly at his will having seated himself again on Al Caswa proceeded to the Ka’aba, reverently saluted with his staff the sacred stone, and made the seven circuits of the temple. Then, pointing with the staff one by one to the numerous idols placed around, he commanded that they should be hewn down. “Truth has (now) arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is bound to perish” exclaimed Muhammad, in words of Al-Isra 17:81, as Hubal, the tutelary diety of Mecca fell with a crash to the ground. Tradition says that there were 360 idols ranged round the Ka’aba, and that as Muhammad pointed to each one in succession with his staff, reciting this verse, the idol of its own accord fell forwards on its face.
Muhammad’s attachment to Mecca
Having destroyed the images he then obliterated the pictures of Abraham and of the angels which (it is said) covered the walls of the Ka’aba. Muhammad desired Bilal to sound the call for prayer from the top of the Ka’aba, and worship was performed, and has been daily ever since at the holy Shrine according to the ritual of the great Mosque of Medina.
He won the hearts of the inhabitants by his passionate declaration to their city: He said: ‘Thou art the choicest portion of the earth unto me and the most loveable thereof. If I had not been cast forth from thy borders I never had forsaken thee!’ The men of Medina now began to fear that, as the Lord had given him victory over his native city, he would return to his home. Muhammad overheard them conversing and calling them around him assured them that he would never quit Medina: ‘God forbid it’, he said ‘where ye live there I shall live, and there too shall I die.’
The General Amnesty
From the general amnesty extended to the citizens of Mecca, Muhammad excluded ten or twelve persons. Of these, however, only four were actually put to death. Huweirith was put to death by Ali; two renegade Muslims who, having shed blood at Medina had fled to Mecca and renounced Islam were slain; and also a singing girl who had been in the habit of annoying the Prophet by abusive verses.
The conduct of Muhammad on the conquest of Mecca was marked by singular magnanimity and moderation. It was indeed for his own interest to forgive the past and to cast into oblivion all its slights and injuries. Muhammad had his reward, for the whole population of his native city at once gave in their adhesion and espoused his cause with alacrity and apparent devotion. Within a few weeks we find two thousand of the Meccan citizens fighting faithfully by his side.
Resistance to Islam and the Battle of Honein
Although the city of Mecca had cheerfully accepted his authority, all its inhabitants had not yet embraced the new religion, nor formerly acknowledged his prophetical claim. Muhammad now had to deal with a new threat so he had to withdraw from Mecca after little more than a fortnight’s stay. Modaz ibn Jabal, a young citizen of Medina, well skilled in the Quran and in all questions of religious practice, was left behind to instruct the citizens of Mecca in the tenets and requirements of Islam.
The new threat came from the great Bedouin stock of the Bani Hawazin who occupied the ranges and slopes of the hill country to the south and east of Mecca. They felt their only chance of safety lay in an early offensive movement so they sent an urgent summons to all the branches of the Hawazin race, in order to check Muhammad’s scheme of conquest and universal supremacy. They appointed a rendezvous at Autas, a valley in the mountain range north-east of Tayif, where they began rapidly to assemble.
Muhammad marched out of Mecca at the head of 12,000 men now swelled by the additional 2,000 auxiliaries from Mecca and the Battle of Honein was a total success to the Muslims. 6,000 prisoners were taken; and the spoil included 24,000 camels, 40,000 sheep and goats and 4,000 thousand ounces of silver. During the first part of the battle Muhammad’s army were surprised and driven back; yet they rallied and their success is recorded in the Quran (At-Taubah 9:25-27)
Muhammad’s last campaign
The campaign to Tabuk was the last expedition undertaken during the Prophet’s lifetime. It was conducted in 630 in response to rumours of a Roman invasion as disaffected clans, nominally Muslim, gathered on the Syrian frontier. Having reached Tabuk they found that the rumours of the invasion had melted away and there was no threat at the present time to the border. He therefore contented himself with sending a strong detachment under Khalid to Duma, where he accepted treaties from the Jewish and Christian tribes on the shores of the Atlantic Gulf, towards the east of which he was encamped. Muhammad’s authority was now unquestioned northwards to the Syrian confine and in the south as far as the still resistant Taif.
Tradition relates that the followers of Muhammad seeing no enemy remaining, began to sell their arms, saying: ‘The wars for religion now are ended.’ However, Muhammad saw into the future and when he heard their proposal he forbade it saying: ‘There shall not cease from the midst of my people a party engaged in fighting for the truth, even until Antichrist appear.
The annihilation of idolatry
Following the fall of Mecca Muhammad sent out groups into the adjoining areas to destroy the idolatrous shrines and secure the submission of the surrounding tribes. Khalid demolished the fame of Al Uzza at Nakhla, the famous goddess of the Meccan tribes; Amru broke in pieces Suwa, an image adored by the Bani Hodzeil; and Manat, the divinity worshipped at Qudeid, was destroyed by a band of citizens of Medina who had formerly been especially devoted to its service.
The sacred season of pilgrimage now again drew near and Muhammad had up to the present abstained from being present because the great masses of pilgrims were heathens, and idolatrous practices mingled with the holy rites. He resolved that A. H. 9 should be the last time in which the pilgrimage was dishonoured by unworthy customs. He was now strong enough to banish heathenism entirely and forever from his native city.
Towards the close of the pilgrimage, on the great day of sacrifice, at the place of casting stones near Mina, Muhammad committed to Ali a revelation (At-Taubah 9:2-6) which was to be read aloud to those idolaters with whom a treaty had not been entered. Having recited it Ali continued: ‘I have been commanded to declare unto you that no unbeliever shall enter Paradise. No idolater shall after this year perform the pilgrimage; and no one shall make the circuit of the Holy house naked. Whosoever hath a treaty with the Prophet; it shall be respected till its termination. Four months are permitted to every tribe to return to their territories in security. After that the obligation of the Prophet ceaseth.’
This passage completed the system of Muhammad so far as concerned its relations with idolatrous tribes and races. The few cases of truce excepted, uncompromising warfare was declared against them all. No trace of idolatry was to survive within the expanding circle of the influence of Islam. And as Islam was the universal faith intended for all mankind, so its mission was now plainly set forth to be absolute annihilation of idolatry throughout the world.
More and More tribes submit to Islam
Now, in A.H. 9 and 10, from all quarters of Arabia a stream of submissive embassies flowed towards Medina. Many of the chiefs and princes of Yemen and Mahra of Oman, Bahrein, and Yemama, had signified by letter or by embassy their conversion to Islam and submission to the Prophet.
The Farewell Pilgrimage
The idolatrous influences associated with the pilgrimage had now been cleared away and now, in A.H. 10 Muhammad resolved to go to perform the Greater pilgrimage, something he had not done since his flight from Mecca.
His example of the performance of the pilgrimage has been closely imitated by all pilgrims to the present day. Reaching Arafat, an abrupt conical hill, about two hundred feet high, in the middle of the valley he stood erect on his camel and said: ‘The entire valley of Arafat is the holy station for pilgrimage, excepting only the vale of Urana.’ After he had bowed himself in prayer, and recited certain passages of the Quran, regarding the ceremonies of pilgrimage, and concluded with the verse: ‘This day have I perfected your religion unto you, and fulfilled my mercy upon you, and appointed Islam for you to be your religion.’
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