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405
MAHOMET

Jerusalem, recorded in Acts xv.; which were observed by few if any Christian sects. The prohibition of wine, which was enacted in A.H. 3, is said to have been occasioned by the riotous conduct of one of his followers when under the influence of liquor; Palgrave saw in it (perhaps with justice) a deliberate attempt to prevent harmony between Moslems and Christians, in whose most sacred rite wine is used. The Fast of Ramadan, in which food both liquid and solid is forbidden from sunrise to sunset, is said to be a pagan or semi-pagan institution; its importance for military training and discipline is not likely to have been overlooked by the Prophet. When the direction of prayer was altered, it is probable that Mahomet already intended to introduce into his system the whole of the pagan pilgrimage with its antique ceremonial (with, of course, a new interpretation); before this he is supposed to have aimed at the abolition of the Ka'ba and all that appertained to it.

The difference between religious and civil law has never been recognized by Islamic jurists, whose manuals deal equally with the law of contract and the amount of the body to be washed before prayer; the Prophet's ordinances on both subjects were suggested by the occasion in each case, and it would seem that the opinions of trusted advisers were regularly heard before a revelation was issued. Even when this had been done the ordinance might be cancelled by an abrogating revelation; it being “easy for Allah” to substitute for a text already revealed another that was better or at least as good.

As Islam began to spread outside the limits of Medina both conversion to Islam and persistence therein were reduced to simple tests; the pronunciation of the double formula of belief in Allah and Mahomet was sufficient to indicate conversion, whilst payment of an income-tax, called by the Jewish names for alms (zakāt and ṣadaqah), was evidence of loyalty. This income tax, of which the definite assessment perhaps belongs to a later period, was for the support of necessitous converts—an element in the community whose presence accounts for the mode in which the development of the Islamic state proceeded.

The industries in which the Meccan Refugees had been engaged were not of a sort which they could exercise at Medina,First Campaigns of Mahomet. where the palm took the place of the camel as the basis of society. Moreover the Prophet seems to have given some disastrous advice on the subject of palmiculture, and thereby to have accentuated the poverty of the place. He had, therefore, to find some fresh source of revenue in order to deal with this difficulty, and one of the Helpers is said to have suggested the plan which he adopted, viz. of attacking the Meccan caravans. With this view he organized a series of expeditions, taking the lead himself sometimes, while at others he gave it to one of his veteran followers; and at first only Refugees took part in them. The leaders of the caravans, however, were expert in evading attacks of this sort, which were doubtless regularly attempted by the desert tribes; and in the first year of his despotism Mahomet did not score a single success of the kind intended. The attempts were not wholly fruitless; for while on the one hand he accustomed his followers to campaigning, on the other he made a series of agreements with the chieftains of the tribes through whose territory the caravans ordinarily passed. Finding continued failure intolerable, he resolved to take advantage of his power to bind and to loose by sending an expedition of seven men under his cousin 'Abdallah b. Jaḥsh to attack a caravan at the beginning of the sacred month Rajab, when, as raiding during such a season was unknown, success was practically certain. The commander on this, the Nakhlah raid, was given sealed orders, to be opened after two days' march; the men were then to be given the option of retiring, if they disapproved. Of this no one seems definitely to have availed himself, and the raid ended successfully, for considerable booty was captured, while of the four persons who escorted the caravan two were made prisoners, one escaped, and one, 'Amr b. al-Ḥaḍrami, was killed; he was the first person slain fighting against an Islamic force. The violation of the sacred month seems to have caused considerable scandal in Arabia, but led to no serious consequence; on the other hand the shedding of blood created a feud between the people of Mecca and the Refugees, with whom the Meccans long declined to identify the people of Medina. The fact that the man who had been killed was a client, not a citizen, made no difference. The circumstance that booty had been actually acquired appears to have helped the Prophet's cause very considerably.

Both these consequences, the Meccan desire to avenge the blood that had been shed and the anxiety of the Medinese to take part in a successful raid,Attack on Meccan Caravans. manifested themselves a few months later, when an expedition was organized by Mahomet to attack a caravan returning from Syria, which had escaped him the previous year. Many desired to take part in the raid, and finally some 300 persons were selected, including a large number of “Helpers.” The leader of the caravan learned somehow that an attack was being organized by Mahomet on a large scale, and sent to Mecca for aid, while hurrying home by forced marches. This is the first historical appearance of Abū Sofiān (the leader of the caravan), who now for some years played the part of president in the Meccan opposition to Mahomet, and whose son was destined to found the second Mahommedan dynasty (see Caliphate, B). The day before the battle to be fought at Badr, near the point where the northern road leaves the coast to turn eastwards to Mecca, the Moslem army learned that the Meccan succour (some 1000 strong) was near, but that the caravan had escaped. The Meccans, it is asserted, would have returned home now that their object was secured, but the patrons of the man who had been killed in the former raid were compelled to strike for vengeance.

The battle (Ramadan 19, A.H. 2, usually made to synchronize with March 17, 624) ended in a complete victory for Mahomet, whose followers killed seventy of the enemy and took seventy prisoners—if we may trust what seem to be round numbers; it was attributed by him to divine co-operation, taking the form of an illusion wrought on the enemy, and the despatch of a regiment of angels to the assistance of the Believers, while on the other hand the treachery of the Devil did mischief to the Meccans. The popular tradition attributed it to the prowess of some of Mahomet's followers, especially his uncle Ḥamza and his cousin Ali. In the narratives which have come down and which seem to be authentic the result is amply accounted for by the excellence of the Moslem discipline and the complete absence of any on the Meccan side. Mahomet himself is said to have fainted at the first sight of blood, and to have remained during the battle in a hut built for him to which swift camels were tied, to be used in case of a defeat; yet these accounts make him responsible for the tactics, whilst assigning the credit for the strategy to one Ḥobab b. al-Mondhir. Several of Mahomet's old enemies and friends of Meccan days perished on this occasion; notably one Abu Jahl, his uncle, but represented as an implacable enemy; another hostile uncle, Abu Lahab, who is cursed in the Koran, was not present but died shortly after the battle.

The day is called in the Koran by a Syriac expression the “Day of Deliverance,” and both for internal and external politics it was of incalculable advantage to Islam. The booty and the ransoms of the prisoners provided the means for dealing with distress; the story of supernatural aid soothed the feelings of the defeated Meccans and had a tendency to disarm resistance elsewhere; whilst Mahomet in the popularity acquired by his victory was able to strike forcibly at his enemies in Medina. One of the sequels to the victory was a series of assassinations whereby critics of his actions were removed.

The defeat at Badr naturally led to efforts on the part of the Meccans to avenge their dead and besides to secure the commerce, by which they lived,The Taking of Mecca. from an enemy who was gradually getting all the seaboard that lay between Jeddah and Yanbo within his sphere of influence; and the year after Badr (A.H. 3) Abū Sofiān was able to lead a force said to be three times as great as that which had been defeated, and so numbering some 3000 men, against Medina itself; part of it was under Khālid b. al-Walid, one of the greatest of Arab captains, afterwards conqueror of Syria. It is said that Mahomet's plan was to remain in Medina itself, and leave it to the