Islam, My Islam


In the aftermath of the Battle of Bade, the Prophet ceased dressing his hair in the Jewish manner and was advised by the archangel Gabriel to change the direction of the qibla (the prostrations in prayer) from Jerusalem to Mecca. He seized on a relatively minor incident to bring hostilities with the Banu Qainoqa (one of the Jewish tribes of Medina) to a head, laying siege to their fortresses. When the other two Jewish tribes refused to come to their aid, they were easily overcome and banished by the Prophet (after he had seized their property—including the weapons whose crafting had been their livelihood—and distributed it among the faithful). He made the offer that they could remain in Medmã and have their property restored to them if they would profess Islam. Not for the last time in the history of the Muslim faith, the Jews—to a man—declined the offer.


When one of the two remaining tribes, the Banu Nadhir, were also banished they “were permitted to take only their naked bodies and the ancient faith of their fathers into banishment.” In their case only two members of the entire numerous tribe professed Islam and were richly rewarded by the Prophet.


In November 624, Muhammad sent his adopted son, Zaid, into the desert together with one hundred soldiers in order that they might attack a caravan and secure its wealth. Zaid was singularly successful and at Qarada, not far from Mecca, he attacked the autumn caravan of the Koreish. The merchants fled and the entire caravan fell into the hands of the Muslims. Gold and silver in the amount of two hundred thousand dollars was secured by the pious and the sum, after one fifth had been given to the Prophet, was divided among the faithful.’


Muhammad’s prestige among the tribes of the desert was unlimited. At first it had been feared that all Mecca would appear at the gates of Medina to seek vengeance. Month after month passed and nothing stirred in the direction of the Kqaba. Apparently one could plunder the Meccan caravans without fear of retribution.


At the expiration of five months after this robbery had occurred, a stranger rode through the streets of Medina and requested to be brought before the Prophet. It was a messenger from his Uncle Abbas, the leader of the Hashim. The sly banker, who was fully informed as to all which took place in Mecca, wished to assure his own future and had sent an important message to his nephew who had gradually risen to power


Abu Sofyan, accompanied by three thousand warriors, was on his way to Medina.


The great robbery was to be followed by a great revenge.


Three thousand warriors was, to say the least, an unheard-of size of force in the Arab world--—and the fact that they were led by Abu Sofyan, the undisputed leader of the Koreish (upon the death of Abu Djal) indicated the seriousness of the threat. The faithful gathered in the courtyard of the mosque, where Muhammad told them of his dream:


“I saw myself” he told them, “clad in an invulnerable coat of mail. My sword was broken at the hilt, but nevertheless I was able to kill a ram.” “What does this dream signify?” asked the faithful “We must remain in the city, “ replied the Prophet. “She is our coat of mail and though pooily armed we can defeat the enemy.”


But the faithful, who were accustomed to success and victory, were not at all pleased with the plan. “Why should we allow our fields to be destroyed?” they asked. “Why should we not confront the enemy as is worthy of men? Does not God safeguard our weapons?” The enthusiasm of his men was so great that the Prophet was forced to accede to their demands. Having prayed, he put on his coat of mail and reviewed his army in the great square of Medina.


A thousand Muslim warriors departed that night for Mt. Ohod to meet the Koreish.


When the faithful saw the superior forces of the Koreish, they said, ‘The messenger of God war right, we would do better to defend ourselves within the city.” Then Muhammad arose and declared, “When the messenger of God has put on his coat of mail, he will not take it off”


When the morning dawned, Abdallah ben Obajy, the leader of the munaflqun. and three hundred of his hypocrites arose; ben Obayy said, “The Prophet has acted upon the advice of children; we cannot follow him. “And they left the army and returned to Medina.


On the morning of the next day, three thousand Meccans confronted the seven hundred faithful. On this occasion the army of Mecca was again unorganized and without discipline. For this teason it had brozght Hind and many other fashionable Koreishite ladies áloizg to encourage their warriors. The women called out for revenge and were more bloodthirsty than the men.


Their songs were to the effect that f the soldiers were this time to take refuge again in flight they would not be permitted to rest at the sides of their wives.


Mt. Ohod ended as a defeat for Muhammad and the Muslims. On the cusp of victory, they had begun looting the camp of the Koreish warriors only to have the Koreish army rallied by Kahlid ben el Walid’s cavalry and the Muslims themselves put to flight—barely able to hold their ground before the tent of the Prophet. The Muslim cause seemed lost.


A miracle happened. Instead of following the enemy with his victorious army, instead of pressing on to Medina and destroying Islam for all times, Abu Soan remained on Mt. Ohod [and] declared that he would return in a year to complete his victory.


The Meccan women fell upon the bodies of the fallen Muslims like a horde of wild hyena. The Oriental intoxication of victory began. Lips, ears, noses and the privates were cut off from the bodies. Hind, the wife ofAbu Sofyan, even tore the liver out of the corpse of Hamza and ate it before the eyes of the astonished Meccans. Then she climbed on lop of Mt. Ohod and cried out into the darkness, “We have paid you back f’r the day of Badr I could no longer endure the pain caused by the loss of my father my brother and my son. My heart has been lightened. Hamza healed my heart when I tore the liver out of his body.”


In the aftermath of the Battle of Mt. Ohod, the Hypocrites and the Banu Nadhir entered into a conspiracy against the Prophet which came to nothing. It was at this point, as mentioned earlier, that the Banu Nadhir were exiled from Medina.


That left only the Banu Qoraidha, of the original three Jewish tribes in Medina.


Piety and a hunger for booty now dominated life in Medina, the two bound inextricably together. The infidels had been exiled and the military strength which had failed against the Meccan army proved more than sufficient to impoverish the surrounding nomadic Bedouin tribes. The Word of God now superseded the Arab blood loyalty which had sheltered Muhammad in Mecca. Piety and booty. Di1ributing looted goods to the faithful solidified their faith and attracted converts. The pious city of the Prophet slowly began to change and become more worldly and affluent.


And so it came about that a series of precepts which were born of the need of the hour were established and were destined to place the minor Babylon under the yoke of stricter motxi4r. These laws were always revealed at a propitious moment. This assured to Muhammad the consent of the sensible ones.


When, for example, one of the faithful was carried away by a suddenly awakened lust for gambling and lost his entire fortune, which he had earned on the battle fields, to some infidel, Muhammad assembled the faithful, told them of the sad incident and then forbade all gambling for the future. On another occasion, when one of the faithful appeared at prayer completely intoxicated and disturbed the Prophet in his sermon, Muhammad forbade the use of alcohol.  In this manner Muhammad arranged the4fe of his city. The laws, which were to assure these regulations, remained for all times and ruled the life of the Muslims. Later they formed the entire spiritual picture of Islam. V


As for Muhammad…


Neither power nor wealth changed the Prophet True, each campaign and each battle brought him in one-fifth of the booty, for it was his prayers and not the courage of the soldiers which brought about victories, but even that one-fifth was distributed among the poor or used to reward the particularly pious and courageous.


He did not change his own manner of living. As in the earlier times of his poverty, deprivations and persecution, the Prophet arose at the break of day, cleaned the courtyard, mended his own clothes and said his morning prayers. When pious students arrived, he spoke to them about the faith, alms were distributed and future campaign discussed. Daily the Prophet in his worn-out clothes held court in the yard of the mosque and rendered his decisions as the, highest authority in matters both worldly and spiritual.


It is worth noting, I think, particularly in this day and age when so much is made—by bloodthirsty Arabs and deluded “Muslims”—of the more militant suras in the Koran that, by this point, the characteristics of the sums changed dramatically. At this point the Koran…


…no longer contained flaming threats and avowals, now it merely revealed laws. The wind of the law was clear and objective. Unchanged were the power of the expression, the force of the iron sentences, unchanged the visits of the Archangel who brought the words of God to Muhammad in short, terse verses. In time the Archangel became a daily manifestation for Muhammad He• appeared, visible to the Prophet alone, in assemblies, in the house, or on a ride through the desert. Sometimes the angel assumed the form of a man, that of a friend of the Prophets, Dahki ci Kelbi. The Prophet recognized the Archangel in every form, he spoke with him, received his commands and revealed the laws in glowing verses to the pious faithful.


Meanwhile, the newly-exiled Banu Nadhir tribe had sought and found asylum and protection in the prosperous colony of Khaibar, a group of oases owned and controlled by Jews who were described as noble and courageous warriors. By all accounts, they were more than glad to have the Banu Nadhir as guests and gave them land and palms, built houses for them and promised them protection. For, as first emerges at this point in the biography of Muhammad, the Banu Nadhir were direct descendants of Aaron, the older brother of Moses and the first High Priest of the Jewish people.


(I think it worth noting, as an aside, that DNA “imaging” has proven that the genuine descendants of Aaron—those with ancient links to the Aaronic priesthood—even today, have the “purest” DNA of any yet discovered, more points of commonality, etc.)


Needless to say, if you want to really irritate a colony of noble and courageous Jewish warriors in seventh century Arabia, treating descendants of Aaron with a profound level of disrespect is a good place to start.


The inhabitants of Khaibar sent out messengers in all directions, to all the Jewish tribes as well as to others with whom they were friendly. They spread the news of the treacherous master of Medina, who had come to the city as a guest, had begged shelter and protection and had then exiled his hosts, robbed them of their possessions, and broken the pacts which he himself had proposed to them.


When you just, you know, write it out cold, like that, the Jews have a point, no?


The Arabs, Bedouins and Jews listened attentively, nodded their heads, and blamed the Prophet for his conduct. But when the messengers began to speak of revenge and war they shrugged their shoulders and said: “We are poor simple Bedouins. Why should we be concerned with your trouble? If 1ve are to risk our lives, our camels and our horses, then promise us a portion of the booty and pay us a part of that portion in advance.” The hatred of the pious people of Khaibar was so great that they pledged their ‘date crops and sacrificed their money in order, to secure the aid of the people of the desert.


But the Khaibar weren’t content with just themselves and their Jewish allies and the Bedouins of neighbouring tribes. And so it was


...a holy Jew, Khoyray, and with him Kinana ben Khakayk, Handja ibn Kais and the hanif Abu Amir, mounted their horses and rode to Mecca. Upon their arrival, they went to Abu Sofyan and said, “0 Abu Sofyan, your faith is better than the faith of Muhammad, anJ your sword is stronger than his. Let us fight together against Muhammad for we hate him as much as you do. “And Abu Sofyan concluded an alliance with the Jews. ..From that moment on gold poured into the desert. The tribes arose and swore by all their old

gods that they would destroy Muhammad.


It was an enormous army that set forth for Medina. Abu Sofyan led ten thousand men.


Meanwhile, in Medina


Muhammad heard of the approach of the large army through his followers who were secretly distributed throughout the desert. The news struck terror in the hearts of the people of Medina. They forgot the beaut4ful slaves and thought no longer of the forbidden or permitted pleasures of life. They thought only of the great army which was larger then all of the previous Arabian armies put together Experienced warriors, great bandits, even Muhammad himself were frightened. Muhammad knew that the city of God could not be vanquished but at the same time he thought of his own words: “First tie your camel to a tree and then entrust it to Gods care.” But where the tree was to which the camel was to be tied Muhammad did not know. All the means of war, all the defence methods which were known to the Arabs would, be powerless against the gigantic army. It would be impossible to confront the enemy in open battle. One could fight in the narrow streets or seek shelter in the fortresses, but none of these means seemed to indicate salvation. Looking down from the fortresses, the city of Medina was entirely unprotected. There were no walls of fortification and one could only depend upon the natural protection of the hillsides, rocks, and precipices. Three sides of the city were protected in this fashion, but on the fourth side Medina lay wide open and bare to the enemy attack. Obviously the army could have approached the city from the fourth side and no one knew how the city could defend itself Fear, anguish and desperation reigned in Medina.


The “tree” to which Medina’s “camel” needed to be tied came in the unexpected form of a Persian slave named Selman who had lived both in Persia and in Byzantium, and who had seen, first-hand, the army of the Emperor of Byzantium march in Iran, had watched the Zoroasirians besiege the ramparts of the Roman Empire. As he listened to Muhammad’s plan for the defence of Medina, he inquired if the plan was the Word of God or Muhammad’s own. It was a distinction the Prophet was never shy in acknowledging and about which he never lacked absolute clarity. In this case, the plan was entirely his own. Given that, Selman suggested digging a ditch—or, rather, The Ditch—from one of Medina’s sheltering hills to another: straight across the only road leading into Medina. With everyone working day and night, this was accomplished and the scene was set for the Battle of The Ditch.


Slowly and confidently the army often thousand made its approach. Soon it saw the fortresses of Medina and began to tremble with delight at the thought of victory and plunder Abu Sofj’an rode ahead and examined the ground, when suddenly, from a distance, he saw something strange and confusing When he had come closer he saw a wide ditch.


As if petrified he stood in front of the ditch. He was obviously shaken by the enemy move. Behind its leader, the army often thousand stared as well and was equally puzzled How was one to cross the ditch?


The soldiers looked at one another, shook their heads and were speechless. A ditch had never before been provided for in Arabian warfare. The army was hypnotized by the ditch just like a chicken by a chalk line.


Still indecisive, the tents were put up... what were ten thousand to do against a ditch? For them war meant fighting in an open field. Anything else was incomprehensible.

Day after day, Jews, Meccans and Bedouins appeared at the edge of the ditch. They hurled insults at the army of the pious with all their might “What sort of warriors are you, “ they thundered, “if you hide behind a ditch? Is this a war worthy of the Arabs? Did our fathers or our grandfathers fight like this? You are cowardly dogs and no Arabs! Come over here and show us what you can do!”


The Muslims didn’t budge.

Now and again, a daring pagan attempted to climb over the ditch. They permitted him to cross only to kill him with much pride and ceremony. The days passed by with insults and the exchange of an occasional arrow. It was soon obvious that the huge army was filled with discontent, and there were good reasons for this. Confident of a swift and certain victory, Abu Sofyan had not hurried his campaign. He had waited until the pilgrims had left Mecca at the expiration of the Month of the Pilgrimage and until the harvest had been gathered in the fields of Medina. Now, when the siege had begun, he soon realized that the harvest was out of his reach and safely stored in Medina. The army of the ten thousand which had counted on the crops was without provisions. The Bedouins, who had gone to war at considerable expense in the hope of quick and rich rewards, were forced to see their camels grow thin and they themselves wasting their time. The previous enthusiasm began to cool considerably.


Abu Sof’an, facing a debacle.


..determined to ally himself with the last of the Jewish tribes in Medina, the Banu Qoraidha who lived in a large fortress outside of the city. The Qoraidha, who were subjects of Muhammad, readily agreed to break their oath since the Prophet had broken his against the two other Jewish tribes of Medina, and they promised to attack Muhammad’s army from the rear Thereupon Aim Sofyan gave orders to prepare for the attack. The preparations lasted for days. When they had been completed, it happened that the day of the attack was a Saturday. The Banu Qoraidha and all the other Jewish tribes of the army declared that they could not possibly break the centuries- old laws of their fathers and take upon themselves the sin of fighting on a Sabbath. When Abu Soj5.’an tried to move the Jews to participate in the attack the Jews of Khaibar announced that, in their opinion, the whole campaign was a failure and that they for one had no desire of calling down the wrath of the Prophet upon their brothers in Medina by participating in the attack. Other tribes, who apparently had been influenced by Muhammad’s secret agents, became equally disinterested. Conditions continued as they were for a few more days, a few skirmishes took place, and then the Bedouins were fed up.


One day, heavy clouds covered the heavens, rain began to fall in torrents and a violent hurricane from the desert upset the tents of the nomads. The Bedouins attributed this to Muhammad’s magical power They had no desire to, nor could they, fight against magic, particularly the magic of a coward. There was nothing for Abu Sofyan to do but withdraw with honour. He wrote a letter to Muhammad; accused him of cowardice and treachery against the old established traditions of war and swore that at the proper time he would return to take bloody vengeance. Then he got. On his camel and gave orders for the return march.


This took place on 15 April 627.


If the fate of the Banu Nadhir had seemed more arduous than that of the Banu Qainoqa, the fate of the Banu Qorhaida—now abandoned by Abu Sofyan and his army often thousand—would make the fate of both their former tribes-mates seem like a tea party by comparison. Muhammad the bloodthirsty Arab was about to supersede Muhammad the Messenger of God for the last time:


Now the hour had come for the last Jewish tribe in Medina, the Banu Qoraidha. Muhammad had learned of their negotiations with the army of the Koreish and he was determined to settle with them. On the day on which Abu Sofyan gave up the siege of Medina, Muhammad and his soldiers marched to the fortress of the Qoraidha. Another siege began.


The Jews were unable to make any armed resistance. They had retreated to their stronghold and waited for what was to come. At the end of twenty-five days they surrendered unconditionally to the Prophet. They had hoped that they would be permitted to leave the city, as in the case of their brother tribes. But the Prophet was not at all inclined to be merciful. It was only upon the request of the Aws, who had long been friendly with the Qoraidha, that he decided to place the decision in the hands of an arbiter The role was entrusted to a pious member of the Aws tribe, Sad ben Moadh.


Sad ben Moadh was a fat, full-blooded man given to choleric outbursts He passed for a friend of the Jews. He had been injured in a skirmish which had taken place behind the ditch and now lay gravely wounded. The wound pained him and Sad knew that his days were numbered. Because of their alliance with the Koreish, he felt that the Jews alone were responsible for his death. With great care, the heavy, mortally wounded Sad was carried out of his tent, placed upon a donkey and surrounded with pillows. In this fashion he was led to the place where the decision was to be given. When he arrived, he demanded that the parties concerned agree unconditionally to his terms. The Jews were the first to swear and they did so gladly. Sad was an old friend upon whom they could



The dying man propped himself up in his saddle and delivered his judgment: “All the men of the Banu Qoraidha are to be executed and the women and children sold into slavery. “Muhammad did not protest against the verdict. It was exactly in accordance with his wishes. On the other hand he promised mercy to those who would become converted to Islam.


On the morning of the next day a deep grave was dug in the marketplace. The old cruel Orient was to intoxicate itself with blood in the center of the city of Medina. Islam showed its claws. One by one, the Jews were brought to the market place in chains, made to stand at the edge of the grave, and decapitated. Although the Jews of Medina bad not known how to live courageously, they did know how to die bravely. Not a single one of the Banu ‘Qoraidha betrayed his faith in order to save his life. They died silently and courageously. They saw their brothers being slain before their eyes and knew that their own heads were soon to follow:


Soon the grave was full. Blood ran over the marketplace. The Prophet and the leaders of Islam stood at one side. They watched the executions and said nothing. Worlds are born in blood.  The day drew to a close and still Jews were brought to the place in chains. Soon it was night and the Prophet gave orders for torches to be brought so that the faithful could see the blood of the enemy being shed on the marketplace. In the middle of the blood-covered city, his face strangely lighted by the burning torches, stood Muhammad, the master, the messenger of God.


Among the Qoraidha there was a Jew named Zobayr who had once saved the life of the great Moslem warrior Thabit. Thabit recognized him among those condemned to death. “You were good to me and saved my life, 0 Zobayr,” Thabit said to the Jew. “I will now reward the good which you did tome. “He went to the Prophet and begged for Zobayr’s life and asked that his family be permitted to retain their possessions. Since Thabit belonged to the tribe of the Aws and was a mighty warrior as well as a pious Muslim, Muhammad granted his request. Overjoyed, the warrior ran to Zobayr and brought him the good news. But the Jew said, “Lead me to the place of execution for I would like to follow my brothers who died there and those who are about to die. I do not wish to have my life spared by the blood-thirsty man who has slain all around me. The pail of my life has run empty and I am impatient to be reunited with my friends. “Having spoken, the old Jew went to the place of execution where he was decapitated by Au, for the cousin and the son- in-law of the Prophet acted as executioner on that bloody day. Zobayr the Jew was not forgotten by later generations. His actions were considered as exemplary of martyrdom by the Arab people and all the faithful. Among the people of the desert his memory its’ honoured to this day for Islam was the first faith in which theologians and the church fathers were permitted to praise and admire the heroism of people not of their own faith.


This was the end of the Jews of Medina. Their faults had not been numerous. They protected themselves as well as they could, sought peace and were afraid of the power of the enemy. They had invented cruel jokes at the expense of the Prophet, sung impudent songs about him, listened to him only to contradict, and adhered rigidly to the faith which they brought with them from their old home. It was that which brought about their destruction. The Prophet could no longer tolerate their presence in the city where the word of Allah and his prophet reigned supreme. The Banu Qoraidha knew how to die courageously. Much of their cowardice in lfe was compensated by their death.


Medina, the city of the Prophet, was now the unified city of the faith where, no longer touched by the rude ridicule of the unbelievers, Muhammad could govern the great community of the Moslems.


In the aftermath of the Battle of The Ditch and the subsequent slaughter of the Banu Qoraidha—with the last of the immediate impediments to his absolute rule over Medina-now removed, Muhammad came recognize what he—evidently-—saw as the largest impediment to the wider acceptance of Islam.


Something lay between the hearts of the people and the words of the Prophet. This something was Mecca. Mecca had been conquered, beaten, and humbled, and still it remained the queen of the desert, the greatest among all the cities. The heart of the desert still throbbed for the holy city of Mecca.


What was Muhammad for Mecca? A despot who, in a treacherous and sly manner had assumed power in the distant province of Medina. Due to his astute cowardice, he had succeeded in defying the punitive expeditions of the Meccans and forcing his erroneous doctrines upon the city by means of brutal terror. Consequently they allowed him to remain in his desert oasis and did not bother with him any more than they did with the other local rulers who had come into power by chance. However, he made himself unpleasantly noticeable through his constant campaigns, which disturbed the peace of the country, harmed trade; and endangered the caravans. One had to be doubly careful and to increase the price of the wares to cover the risk This was Mecca s opinion of the ruler of Medina.


But the opinions of the Bedouins, the opinion of the simple people of the desert, was even worse. For them, Muhammad was covered with a dark and unremovable stain. He was a pariah, a man from whom his own tribe, his own city, his own family, had turned away. And the city was not an urimportan1 colony, the tribe was not an unimportant, unknown tribe; the city was Mecca, the queen of cities, and the tribe was the Koreish, the noblest tribe of Arabia. His native city had banished the Prophet, had vomited him out, consequently, thought the Bedouins, there must be something wrong about his teaching, about his person. The respect for the great, holy city of the Kaaba was probably the only spiritual property which was ineradicably planted in the souls of the Bedouins. For centuries it had been the Bedouins custom to make pilgrimages to the Kaaba, and for centuries Mecca had been the central point of the world. He was accustomed to do that which Mecca did, and to condemn that which Mecca condemned Now a man had come who fought Mecca and this man wooed the heart of the Bedouins. The Bedouins regarded him with distrust.


It was at this point that, either on his own or through the inspiration of God or the archangel Gabriel (the distinction, to me, is an important one upon which—again, to me—the future of Islam as it is practiced in the present day would hinge), Muhammad made a conscious choice to fuse Mecca and Islam into one entity insofar as he was capable of doing so, by announcing to the faithful of Medina—in the year 628—that he and fifteen hundred of his most devout followers would make the haij from Medina to

Mecca in that year.


‘It was a master stroke. The heretic who had violated the sacred months, who had fought the holiest of cities for years, now appeared as a contrite penitent and directed his steps towards the gates of the proud city which had once expelled him,


Only the holiest, the most fanatic of his followers, accompanied him. The adventurous, the war-like robbers, remained in Medina, for a holy pilgrimage which gave no promise of booty had no interest for them.


When word arrived in Mecca that Muhammad and fifteen hundred men were on their way from Medina, an army was quickly raised and led by Khalid ben al Walid to intercept the Prophet. To the Meccans’ surprise they found—with the prescribed sacrificial animals—only fifteen hundred holy pilgrims, unarmed and humbly asking permission to enter the Sanctuary.


Permission was denied and—to the amazement of his followers—the Prophet accepted this. He remained at the oasis of Hodaibiya (appropriately lying half inside and half outside the sacred precincts) ‘requesting only that a representative of the Koreish be sent to negotiate peace. After some delay, Soheil bin Arm, a minor Koreish functionary, was sent. The treaty they negotiated—between the Koreish and “Muhammad bin Abdallah (Soheil wouldn’t permit him to describe himself in the document as “the Messenger of God”)—specified:


War shall not be waged for ten years between them. During this time the members of both parties are not to be endangered by each other. They may not fight one another If any member of the Koreish goes over to Muhammad, then Muhammad is obligated to return him to the Koreish. On the other hand, f one of Muhammad’s followers goes over to the Koreish, then these are not obligated to return him. An honest understanding is to exist between both parties which excludes robbery and thief. The tribes of the country are to be permitted to join Muhammad or the Koreish at their own discretion. This year Muhammad may neither enter the sanctuary nor the holy’ city of Mecca. In the next year, Muhammad and his people may come unarmed to Mecca and, in the absence of the Koreish, perform their worship.”


The pilgrims, as a compromise, sacrificed their animals at the oasis and then turned back to Medina. As Omar later said, “Only a miracle prevented the Muslims from deserting the Prophet on the Day of Hodaibiya,” so great was their shame at Muhammad’s humility and deference before the Koreish’s minor functionary.


Muhammad alone knew that the signing of the treaty spelled the end of the Koreish’s hold over Mecca.


In the two years which followed the signing of the treaty, more men were converted to Islam than had been, the case since the beginning of the Prophet’s mission.


The many tribes of Arabia made use of their—now contractually-sanctioned—right to declare themselves openly for or against Muhammad. Long caravans appeared at Medina, made their confession of faith and received the blessing of tl Prophet. Muhammad carried out the terms of the treaty to the letter. So much so, that it was finally the Koreish who begged him not to take it too literally:


Abu Busir of the tribe of the Taqif who lived in Mecca one day discovered the desire for adventure and the love of God within himself and fled to Medina. The Meccans learned of this and sent two warriors to Medina with the request that Abu Busir be returned to them in accordance with the terms of the treaty. Without hesitation, Muhammad granted their request and surrendered the fugitive. On the way, however the captive managed to slay one of his guards and to escape into the desert. By means of begging and robbing, he lived in the desert where he was joined by others who, like him, had fled from Mecca and had been surrendered by the Prophet.


The slaves and the poor of the city of Mecca now fled in greater numbers to Medina where there was no poverty or slavery for the faithful Under the leadership of Abu Busir, they made up a dangerous company of about seventy men. This band now sought out the great caravan route between Mecca and Syria as its arena and since its members were poor and had nothing to lose, they fell upon the great caravans in the name of Allah, robbed the property of the Meccans and spread fear and terror about them. The Meccans saw that they were being robbed of the fruits of their treaty. Once again the trade of Mecca was endangered. Abu Busir was both brave and sly, he knew how to hide in the rugged mountains and defied his pursuers. Muhammad merely shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and declared that he could do nothing against the free Muslims who, according to the treaty, were not permitted to belong to his community. Finally, in order to restore peace in the desert, the Meccans were forced to ask Muhammad to revise the treaty of Hodaibiya and to take up the refugees officially in his community. To this Muhammad agreed, and from that day on the attacks and pillages ceased.


Now certain that he was fated to be the absolute ruler of the entire Arabian Peninsula, Muhammad set his sights on the countries and empires in his immediate vicinity, dispatching six messengers to the six greatest rulers of the neighbouring lands: The Emperor of Byzantium, the Emperor of Iran, the King of Abyssinia, the Governor of Egypt, the King of Hira and the Duke of Yamana. The new sense of inevitability which accompanied this awareness of his imminent preeminence over alt he surveyed brought about a resurgence of statesmanlike softening in the prophet’s approach to warfare. He publicly declared:


“Do not use trickery or treachery in the field. Do not kill children.” “When in combat with the army of the enemy, do not oppress the peaceful inhabitants of the enemy country. Spare the feeble among the women and be compassionate to the sucklings and the sick Do not destroy the houses of the inhabitants and do not damage their gardens, fields, and palm trees.”


If I wasn’t certain that it was a waste of time, I’d like to send an engraved copy of that to Yasser Arafat, along with a copy of Abu Bakr’s instructions to the Muslim commander of the faithful when, during his reign as Caliph, he sent them against the Christian Empire of Byzantium:


“Do not oppress the people and do not excite them unnecessarily. Only do that which is good and right and success will reward you. When you meet an enemy, then fight him courageously, but if you win the battle do not kill women or children, spare the fields and the houses for men have erected them. If you conclude a treaty, then keep it. In the land of the Christians you will meet pious men on your way, who serve God in the churches and convents. Do not harm them and do not destroy the churches and convents.”


Even when settling his score against the Khaibar, the colony which had united Jews and the Koreish in the Battle of The Ditch, Muhammad—this time—only conquered them militarily, seized their lands and (after extracting from them a promise of half their income for the Muslim State treasury) gave them back all of their property. A Draconian measure, to be sure, but in light of the fate of the Banu Qoraidha, the Jews of Khaibar probably figured that half of their income wasn’t such a bad deal, all things considered. The universal (universal in the Arabian Peninsula, anyway) Muslim State was largely financed in this fashion after 62k: on prohibitive taxes levied against Jews and Christians and other non-Muslims.


On the one hand, they paid a lot more tax, on the other hand they weren’t required to serve in the army of the faithful. You know: take it or take it (nothing new for the Jews there). “I guess we’ll take it.”


There still remained the (now) minor problem of the Koreish, which Muhammad addressed in three stages. First, after his treaty-protected hajj in the year 629 (he and his followers were granted three days within the Sanctuary on their own), the Prophet married Maimuna bint Hares, the favourite aunt of Khalid ben al Walid, the brilliant Koreish cavalry commander who had handed Muhammad Islam’s Only military defeat at Badr. Khalid’s best friend, in turn, was Amr ben el Asi, the only other military commander who posed a threat to Muhammad and Islam.


Together with his new Uncle-in-Law, Muhammad, Khalid and his friend Amr rode out of the city of Mecca, united in blood fellowship and (consequently) unshakeable allies.


Second, Muhammad waited for a pretext to break the Treaty of Hodaibiya, which came when a handful of Meccans attacked some Muslim allies in the desert. Insignificant in itself, but it allowed Muhammad to announce his military campaign against Mecca.


Now it was the Koreish who were isolated, the historical tide and momentum having turned against them. Small wonder that the Koreish decided to send someone higher than a mere functionary for this particular set of negotiations. Or, rather, “negotiations”. The Koreish elected to send their leader this time: Abu Sofyan.


…The rich banker thought that his peaceful appearance in Medina would suffice to reawaken the former respect for the house of the Ommaya in the breasts of Muhammad and all the fugitives. A handshake, a courteous smile, a few pleasant words would surely be sufficient. Abu Sofran felt like a noble lord who, in temporary embarrassment, had to turn to a simple peasant for aid.


Having arrived in Medina, Abu Sofyan was kept waiting uneasily for hours before he was led into the presence of Muhammad. The Prophet sat in the courtyard of the mosque. He hardly returned the greeting of the fashionable Ommaya.


Sofyan began to make a long speech, suggested that the friendship between Medina and Mecca be augmented, excused himself in the name of the city for the painful hostile occurrence and declared himself ready to revise the treaty of Hodaibiya, or what was more, even to accede to some of the Prophet’s demands.


The Prophet looked at Abu Sofran for a time, slowly arose and, without saying a word, left the mosque.


Abu Sofyan began to realize that the name of the Ommaya was not a welcome one in Medina.


Heavy at heart, Abu Sofyan decided to continue his labours. He had enough friends and blood relatives in Medina. They were surely calmer than the obstinate prophet. They would in all probability be more receptive to sensible words.


Abu Sofyan now ran from one person to another, knocked on every door recalled old friendships and relationships, but on all sides he met with a cool reception. His own daughter, who now belonged to the harem of the Prophet, showed him, “the unclean idolater “the door Abu Bakr his one-time friend and equal, had no word left for him. But Omar told him abruptly and frankly: “By God, f I had nothing but a few ants to command, I would never cease fighting you. “Even Ali, who could never deny anyone anything, rejected him, saying: “Muhammad has come to a decision and we can do nothing about it.” There was no room for doubt in Abu Sofyan’s mind as to what that decision might be. He saddled his camel and rode to Mecca. When, exhausted from his trip, he had returned home and had told his wife, Hind, the results of his mission, she listened to him quietly. But when he wished to lay down beside her, she pushed him out of bed with her fret crying: “I will not share my bed with a coward.”


Fear and confusion reigned in Mecca. The merchants were split up into numerous parties. They tried to convince themselves that Muhammad was not as yet ready that he had no intention of marching against Mecca, and that, above all else, he would not dare touch the holy Kaaba. They were still discussing and pondering in this fashion when Muhammad had already taken up his position behind the hills near Mecca.


Ten thousand marched through the desert and their leader was the messenger of God.


The army traveled through uninhabited, empty places and yet the Prophet would not permit them to light afire, to beat a drum or to sing pious songs. Noiselessly, silently, like a train of shadows, the ten thousand moved through the desert.


Halfway, Muhammad spied a rider behind a hilltop. Filled with amazement, Muhammad recognized his uncle, El Abbas [who] knelt down and became converted to Islam. El Abbas had delayed long enough until God had finally made him see clearly as to his nephew mission. For this reason Muhammad despised him thoroughly. “You are the last of the emigrants, “he said ironically.


Unmoved, he marched forward until he could finally see the square sanctuary of the Kaaba in the distance. For the first time, the army of the Prophet came to a halt, bivouac fires were lighted, for now everyone in Mecca was to know: the army of the Prophet lies at the door.


Humbly Abu Sofyan rode to the camp of the prophet. The first to recognize him was Omar. Omar took hold of him by the collar dragged him into the presence of Muhammad and cried: “Q messenger of God, here is Abu Sofyan who, not protected by any treaty has fallen into our hands through the help of God. Permit me to slit his throat.” Muhammad gave orders that Abu Sofyan was to be kept safely and brought before him again on the next day.


When he had again appeared before the Prophet, he was received with the words: “Woe to you, Abu Soj5’an, do you not realize that there is no god but God?” The proud member of the Ommaya fell at the feet of Muhammad and said: “0 Muhammad, you are dearer to me than father and mother. How mild, how gentle, how noble you are! I really believe that God is the only god for otherwise the others might have been of some help.” “Woe to you, Abu Sofyan,” Muhammad replied, “do you not acknowledge that lam the messenger of God?” This was decidedly too much for old Abu Sofyan: to be called upon to acknowledge Muhammad publicly. Again the Ommaya fell on his knees and spoke: “0 Muhammad, you are dearer to me than all which I possess, I love you more than father and mother but as far as your being a prophet is concerned, my spirit is not convinced of that.”


Omar who stood next to the Prophet, cried out: “There is no better argument than the sword to convince stubborn unbelievers. “ Thereupon he drew his sword form its sheath, turned to Abu Sofyan and said: “Accept the truth or I will sever your head from your body.” Then Abu Sofyan knelt down, became converted to Islam, and recited the act offaith: “Achadou an Ia illah ii Allah, achadou anna Muhammadon Rasul Allah” (I believe that there is no god but God, I believe that Muhammad is His Messenger).


Abu Sofran hurried back to Mecca, assembled the Koreish, and told them what he had seen and experienced. The fashionable bankers were depressed. Only Hind, who had been present at the assembly, arose and with her face distorted with anger snatched her husband’s beard and cried: “Kill this dirty, useless worm who brings shame upon us.” Only a few of the Koreish were inclined to fight.


The rest joyfully accepted the terms of peace which Abu Sofyan had brought them from Muhammad. The terms were: “Muhammad will occupy the city of Mecca for all time. But the Koreish who remain peacefully in their houses when the Prophet makes his entrance may be sure of their lives.”


On the next day, the triumphal march into Mecca began. Only a small company of heathen led by the son of Abu Jahi offered any resistance, and they were conquered with ease. The way to Mecca, the way to the most brilliant of the cities, to the favourite treasure of Allah, was open. The Medinese had begun to celebrate their victory, and the ansari Sad ben Abada shouted out: “Today is the day of the battle, today the sanctuary will be defiled.”


No one doubted but that the day of the great revenge had come, that the richest among the cities of Arabia was to be pillaged, that the enemies of the Prophet were to be destroyed, and that with this, the great act of the combining of all Arabia would be complete. But Muhammad and the oldest among the mohajirun thought dy7erently. They themselves had come from Mecca. Their love

belonged to the city. Every stone, every street, every corner of Mecca was familiar to them and dear because of their many memories. Suddenly they all felt that they were Koreishites again, and the pride of the ancient race awakened in them. Never had the noble city of Mecca been pillaged by strangers, and not even now was a strange army to leave the city laden with plunder In the long years of their exile the mohajirun had retained something which no emigration before or after them had retained, their love for their native city.


With wise forethought, Muhammad had only permitted the mohajirun, Meccans by birth, to lead the army on that day. On the day following that in which the enemy had been conquered the messenger of God put on the robes of a pilgrim, mounted a snow-white camel and, accompanied by Abu Bakr rode towards Mecca. When he had reached the outskirts of the city, the first rays of

the sun began to appear. They surrounded Muhammad’s head like a halo. The streets of Mecca lay dead and empty of men. The inhabitants had hidden in their houses in fear No one knew the plans of the Prophet. No one knew f he would spare the fortresses.


Muhammad rode through the streets of Mecca. To his right rose the house of Khadya in which he had spent the happiest years of his life. Unseeing he rode past it. He rode straight ahead to the great courtyard of the Kaaba. And there Muhammad performed the deed for which he had once left home, family, and the holy courtyard of the Kaaba itself Seven times he circled the Kaaba, seven times he reverently touched the holy stone with his staff And then there happened to Muhammad, the messenger of God, the greatest event of his entire life. He got down from his camel, and with his head held high he began to break the idols of stone and wood with his staff The Muslims followed his example. Soon the mighty Hobal, the three moon virgins, and all the three hundred and sixty idols lay in the dust. The deed, which Muhammad had announced years before, had been accomplished.


As is usual, the newly made converts were the most active against the old gods. Khalid ben el Walid and Amr ben el Asi raced with their riders through the entire sanctuary. They forced their way into the temples and the sacred fields of the Arabs, smashed the statues of the gods, and killed the few priests who still resisted. Soon nowhere in Mecca nor in any other portion of the sacred territory was a single idol to be found. Even the statues of Abraham and Ishmael were destroyed, and the picture of the Virgin Mary as well, out of “respect for their sanctity, “as Muhammad said. An artfully carved wooden dove was broken with Muhammad’s own hands.


The signal to commence the pillage did not follow the destruction of the gods as had been expected. Their property was not taken from the Koreish, afact which displeased even some of the mohajirun. When they had been driven out of Mecca, their property had been seized by the Meccans. Now after the final siege, they felt they were at least entitled to the return of their confiscated properly. But Muhammad forbade that as well. He himself did not demand the return of any of his former property. He did not enter into the house of Khadya. During his entire stay in Mecca he lived in a tent.


Middle East.