Chapter 7: The Conquest of Makkah
"When comes the Help of Allah and Victory..."
As stated earlier, two of the tribes of Makkah had entered the Truce of Hudaibiya, the Khuza'a on the side of the Muslims and the Bani Bakr on the side of the Quraish. These two tribes had an old feud dating back to pre?Islamic days, which had lain dormant during the past few years, and it might have been expected that now that they had joined the truce, peace would prevail between them. But this was not to be. The Bani Bakr once again took up the thread of the feud. They organized a night raid on the Khuza'a in which they were secretly assisted by the Quraish, who gave them not only weapons but also a few warriors, among whom were Ikrimah and Safwan bin Umayyah. In this raid twenty of the Khuza'a were killed.
A delegation of the Khuza'a at once rode to Madinah and informed the Prophet of this flagrant breach of the truce. The visitors invoked the alliance between their tribe and the Muslims and asked for help.
Abu Sufyan had not been directly concerned with the assistance given by the Quraish in this raid. He was now seriously alarmed as he had not wished to break the truce; and fearing Muslim retaliation, he travelled to Madinah to negotiate a fresh truce. On arrival at Madinah he first went to see his daughter, Umm Habiba, wife of the Prophet, but she gave him the cold shoulder. He next went to the Prophet and spoke to him, proposing a fresh truce, but the Prophet remained silent and this did more to frighten him and disturb his peace of mind than any threat could have done.
Not knowing just where he stood with the Prophet, Abu Sufyan decided to enlist the aid of the important Companions. He went to Abu Bakr with the request that he talk with the Prophet and urge a fresh truce, but Abu Bakr refused. He next went to Umar who, as warlike as ever, replied, "By Allah, if I had nothing more than an army of ants, I would wage war against you." Abu Sufyan then went to the house of Ali, and there spoke first to Fatimah and then to Ali. "Once the Messenger of Allah has made up his mind," explained Ali, "nothing can dissuade him from his purpose."
"Then what do you advise?" asked Abu Sufyan.
"You are a leader of the Quraish, O Abu Sufyan! Keep peace among men." 1
This advice could be interpreted in many ways, but somehow it gave Abu Sufyan more satisfaction than he had got from the others. Not knowing what else to do, he returned to Makkah. He had achieved nothing.
Soon after the departure of Abu Sufyan, the Prophet ordered immediate preparations for a large?scale operation. His intention was to assemble and move with such speed, and observe such strict secrecy, that the Quraish would not get knowledge of the coming of the Muslims until the Muslims were virtually knocking at their door. Thus the Quraish would not have time to organise another alliance with neighbouring tribes to face the Muslims. While the assembly of forces was in progress, the Prophet came to know that a woman was on her way to Makkah with a letter warning the Makkans of the preparations being made against them. He sent Ali and Zubair in haste after her. These two stalwarts caught up with the woman, found the message and brought back message and messenger to Madinah.
1. 1bn Hisham: Vol. 2, pp. 396-7.
The move of the Muslim army started from Madinah on January 1, 630 (the 10th of Ramadan, 8 Hijri). Many contingents from Muslim tribes had joined the Prophet at Madinah, and other contingents fell in on the way. Thus the Muslim army soon swelled to an all-time high figure of 10,000 warriors. With this force the Prophet arrived at Marr-uz-Zahran, 10 miles north?west of Makkah, without the Quraish having any knowledge of his movement. 1 This was the fastest move the Muslim army had ever accomplished.
Abbas, uncle of the Prophet, had about now made up his mind to join the Muslims and accept the true faith. While the Muslim army was at Juhfa, it met Abbas and his family on their way to Madinah. The conversion of Abbas was received joyfully by the Prophet, with whom the relations of Abbas had always been cordial.
When the Muslims got to Marr-uz-Zahran, Abbas became deeply concerned about the fate of the Makkans. He was afraid that if the Muslims took Makkah by force, the operation would result in the destruction of the Quraish. He therefore set out on the Prophet's mule, with the Prophet's permission, to warn the Quraish of the serious consequences of resistance and persuade them to send envoys of peace to the Muslims. At about this time Abu Sufyan had come out of Makkah to carry out a personal reconnaissance and see if any Muslims were in sight. Abbas and Abu Sufyan met while the former was halfway to Makkah.
"What news do you bring, O Father of Fadhl?" asked Abu Sufyan.
"The Messenger of Allah", replied Abbas, "comes with any army of 10,000 men."
"Then what do you advise us to do?"
"If the Muslims capture Makkah against resistance, they will certainly cut off your head. Come with me to the Prophet, and I shall ask him to spare your life."
Abu Sufyan mounted the mule behind Abbas and, so mounted, they rode to the Muslim camp, arriving there after nightfall. It so happened that on this night Umar was the officer of the guard and was walking around the camp to see that the sentries were vigilant. He was the first to see and recognise the two visitors and exclaimed: "Ah! Abu Sufyan, enemy of Allah! Praise be to Allah that you have come into our camp without a safe conduct." Umar then ran to the tent of the Prophet, and Abbas, guessing Umar's purpose, urged his mule forward. The three of them arrived at the Prophet's tent simultaneously, and a heated argument arose between Umar and Abbas. Umar was asking for permission to cut off the head of Enemy Number One, while Abbas was insisting that he had given protection to Abu Sufyan, and so he could not be harmed until he had been heard. The Prophet dismissed all three of them with instructions to come again in the morning. Abbas took Abu Sufyan to his tent where he spent a sleepless night, wondering what his fate would be.
The following morning, as Abbas and Abu Sufyan were going to the Prophet's tent, the latter saw them coming and remarked, "One comes who intends to become a Muslim but is not a Muslim at heart." As they arrived at the tent, the Prophet asked, "O Abu Sufyan! Do you not know that there is no Allah but Allah?"
"I have now realised it. If other gods in whom I believed had existed, they would certainly have helped me."
"And do you not know that I am the Messenger of Allah?"
This was a terrible moment for Abu Sufyan. He was a proud leader of the Quraish, one of the nobles of the tribe, a descendant of Umayyah. He had always regarded himself as second to none, and in this he was right. He was virtually the ruler of Makkah-a man all Makkans held in respect and reverence. Now he stood like a humble supplicant before the very man whom he had persecuted and fought for years, and for whose destruction he had strained every nerve.
1. Marr-uz-Zahran is a small valley which in its lower portion becomes the Wadi Fatimah and crosses the present Jeddah-Makkah highway about 20 miles from Makkah.
Page 3 and 4 missing
When he withdrew from the engagement with Khalid, Ikrimah hid in the town, and as the Muslims relaxed their vigilance, he slipped out and fled to the Yemen with the intention of taking a boat to Abyssinia. Ikrimah's wife, however, became a Muslim and pleaded her husband's case with the Prophet, who agreed to spare his life. This woman travelled in haste to the Yemen, where she found her husband and brought him back. On arrival at Makkah, Ikrimah went straight to the Prophet and said, "I am one who has erred and now repents. Forgive!" 1 The Prophet accepted his submission, and Ikrimah joined the brotherhood of Islam.
Safwan bin Umayyah, though not on the war criminals' list, feared for his life and fled to Jeddah with the intention of crossing the Red Sea and seeking refuge in Abyssinia. A friend of his, however, asked the Prophet to spare his life and accept his submission. The Prophet had in any case no intention of killing Safwan and let it be known that he would gladly accept the return of Safwan. This friend then went to Jeddah and brought Safwan back. The man submitted to the Prophet, but it was a personal and political submission. As for Islam, he asked the Prophet to allow him two months in which to make up his mind. The Prophet gave him four months.
Of the war criminals actually only three men and two women were killed. The remainder were pardoned, including Hind, who became a Muslim.
Having destroyed the idols in the Kabah, the Prophet sent out small expeditions to the neighbouring settlements where other idols were known to exist in local temples. Khalid was sent to Nakhla to destroy Uzza, the most important of the goddesses. He set out with 30 horsemen. 2
It appears that there were two Uzzas, the real Uzza and a fake. Khalid first located the fake and destroyed it, then returned to the Prophet to report completion of duty. "Did you see anything unusual?" asked the Prophet. "No." "Then you have not destroyed Uzza", said the Prophet. "Go again."
Angry at the mistake that he had made, Khalid once again rode to Nakhla, and this time he found the real Uzza. The custodian of the temple of Uzza had fled for his life, but before forsaking his goddess he had hung a sword around her neck in the hope that she might be able to defend herself. As Khalid entered the temple, he was faced by a naked black woman who stood in his way and wailed. Khalid did not stop to decide whether she was there to seduce him or to protect the idol, but drew his sword and with one powerful stroke cut the woman in two. He then smashed the idol, and returning to Makkah, gave the Prophet an account of what he had seen and done. "Yes," said the Prophet, "that was Uzza; and never again shall she be worshipped in your land." 3
On or about January 20, 630 AH, after the destruction of the idols, occurred the unfortunate incident of the Bani Jazima. The Prophet sent a number of expeditions to the tribes living in the neighbourhood of Makkah to call them to Islam, and instructed the commanders not to fight those who accepted the call. Here again the Prophet's intention was to avoid bloodshed.
The expedition to the area of Tihama, south of Makkah, was commanded by Khalid. It consisted of 350 horsemen from several tribal contingents, the largest number being from the Bani Sulaim, and included a few Ansars and Emigrants. The objective of this force was Yalamlam, about 50 miles from Makkah. (See Map 4.)
When Khalid reached Al Ghumaisa, about 15 miles from Makkah on the way to Yalamlam, he met the tribe of Bani Jazima. The tribesmen saw the Muslims and took up their weapons, at the same time calling, "We have submitted. We have established prayers and built a mosque."
"Then why the weapons?" asked Khalid.
"We have a feud with certain Arab tribes and have to defend ourselves against them."
1. Waqidi: Maghazi, p. 332.
2. There was the Nakhla Valley, now known as Wadi?ul?Yamaniya, through which ran the main route between Makkah and Taif; and there was the Nakhla, at which was the goddess Uzza, and this lay north of the Wadi-ul-Yamaniya. It was about 4 or 5 miles south of the present Bir-ul-Batha.
3. Ibn Sad: p. 657.
"Lay down your arms!" ordered Khalid. "All the people have become Muslims and there is no need for you to carry weapons."
One man from the Bani Jazima now shouted to his comrades: "This is Khalid, son of Al Waleed. Beware of him! After the laying down of arms there will be a binding of hands, and after the binding of hands there will be a severing of heads!" 1
There was an old feud between the clan of Khalid and the Bani Jazima. In pre?Islamic days a small Quraish caravan was returning from the Yemen when it was set upon by the Bani Jazima, who looted the caravan and killed two important individuals-Auf, father of Abdur-Rahman bin Auf, and Fakiha, son of Al Mugheerah, an uncle of Khalid. Abdur-Rahman had later killed the murderer of his father and thus avenged his father's blood, but the death of Fakiha had not been avenged. All this, however, happened during the Ignorance.
The people of the Bani Jazima now began to dispute with the man who was warning them against Khalid. "Do you want to have us slaughtered?" they asked him. "All the tribes have laid down their arms and have become Muslims. The war is over." 2 After a brief argument the tribe laid down its arms.
The cause of what happened next is not clear. Perhaps Khalid reverted momentarily to the tribal vindictiveness of the Ignorance. (He had been a Muslim for only a few months.) On the other hand, perhaps there was an excess of Islamic zeal in the heart of Khalid and he doubted the truth of the declaration of faith by the tribe. As the tribesmen laid down their arms, Khalid ordered his men to tie their hands behind them. He then ordered that all the captives be put to the sword. Luckily only the Bani Sulaim obeyed the order and killed the captives in their hands, whose number is not known. Other tribal contingents refused to carry out the order. There was a strong protest from Abdullah, son of Umar, and Abu Qatadah, but Khalid rejected the protest. Abu Qatadah immediately rode to Makkah and informed the Prophet of what Khalid had done.
The Prophet was horrified. He raised his hands towards heaven and exclaimed: "O Lord! I am not responsible for what Khalid has done." 3 He then sent Ali with a good deal of money to soothe the feelings of the Bani Jazima and pay indemnity for the blood that had been shed. Ali carried out the mission with generosity and did not return until the tribe was fully satisfied.
Khalid was now sent for by the Prophet who demanded an explanation for what he had done. Khalid said that he did not believe that they really were Muslims, that he had the impression that they were deceiving him, and that he believed that he was killing in the way of Allah.
Present with the Prophet was Abdur-Rahman bin Auf. When he heard the explanation of Khalid, he said, "You have committed an act of Ignorance in the days of Islam."
Khalid now thought that he saw a way out of this delicate predicament, and he replied, "But I took revenge for the killing of your father." "You lie!" snapped Abdur-Rahman. "I killed the murderer of my father a long time ago and vindicated the honour of my family. You ordered the slaughter of the Bani Jazima in revenge for the death of your uncle, Fakiha."
This led to a heated argument between the two. And this was a mistake on the part of Khalid, for Abdur-Rahman was one of the Blessed Ten and thus had a position which few could challenge. Before the argument could get out of hand, however, the Prophet intervened and said sternly, "Leave my Companions alone, O Khalid! If you possessed a mountain of gold and spent it in the way of Allah, you would not achieve the status of my Companions." 4 He was referring, of course, to his early Companions, for Khalid too was a Companion.
Thus was Khalid put in his place. He was pardoned; but he learnt the important lesson that he, as a later convert, did not have the same status as the early Companions, especially the Blessed Ten. He was to keep this lesson in mind on many future occasions.
1. Ibn Sad: pp. 659-60; Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 429.
4. Ibn Sad: Vol. 2, p. 431.