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406
MAHOMET

Meccan commander to discover some way of taking the place; but that his hand was forced by his more ardent followers. Others, however, assign this advice to Abdallah b. Ubayy, and make the Prophet anxious to fight from the first. A battle was in consequence fought under Mt Uḥud (or Ohod), north-west of Medina, wherein Khālid succeeded in inflicting a severe defeat on Mahomet's forces; his uncle Ḥamza, hero of Badr, was killed on this occasion. Fortunately for the Moslems, the Meccans considered that they had finished their task when they discovered that they had killed a number of the former equal to those who had fallen at Badr on their own side; instead therefore of pursuing their victory they went home. The immediate effect on Arabia appears to have been to dissipate the illusion that the Prophet could count on supernatural assistance in his wars; and we hear of some blows being dealt him from outside. Meanwhile his relations towards the Medinese Jews had grown more and more hostile, and these are credited with doing their best to rouse the Meccans to a sense of the danger which threatened them in the continuance of the Prophet's power, and in general to stir up hostility against him in Arabia. Whether this part was played by them or not, in the fifth year of the Prophet's stay at Medina a fresh invasion of the territory took place by a vast confederate force of Meccans with their allies, the tribes Fazarah, Asad, Murrah, &c., to the number, it is said, of 10,000. This time the intention of the leaders was undoubtedly to stamp out Islam. For the first time in Arab warfare Mahomet resorted to the expedient of defending his city by a trench, called by a Persian name, and suggested by a Persian convert. But he also employed agents to sow dissension among the confederates, and succeeded with this no less than with the other expedient. After a brief stay, and scarcely striking a blow, the confederacy dispersed, leaving the Jews who still remained in Medina to the summary vengeance of the Prophet. The want of records written from the Meccan standpoint renders the abortiveness of this last attempt at storming the Prophet's stronghold scarcely intelligible.

From this time, however, the road towards the eventual taking of Mecca became easy, and we are told that such was the importance attached to that city throughout Arabia that its acquisition meant for the Prophet the acquisition of the whole peninsula. The next year (A.H. 6) he deemed it advisable to make a truce with the Meccans (the Truce of Ḥodaibiyah), whereby he secured for his followers the right of performing the pilgrimage in the following year; on this occasion he even consented to forgo his title “Prophet of Allah,” when the Meccans refused to sign a deed in which it was employed, greatly to the scandal of his more earnest followers, including Omar; they were however too deeply committed to Islam to be able to defy the Prophet. When the pilgrimage was performed (A.H. 7), Mahomet not only won important converts in the persons of Khāalid and the no less able 'Amr b. al-'Aṣ, but in general impressed the population with the idea that his was the winning side. An excuse was easily found for invading Mecca itself in the following year, when Abu Sofiān took the opportunity of embracing Islam before it was too late. Very little resistance was now made by the Meccans, whose chiefs were already in Mahomet's camp, and Mahomet used his victory with great moderation; his proscription list was finally reduced to two. The theory that all offences were cancelled by conversion was loyally observed. Moreover the Prophet incurred the displeasure of his Medinese friends by the anxiety which he displayed to soothe the feelings of his former enemies and antagonists. The Medinese, however, prevailed upon him to maintain their city as his political capital, while making Mecca the religious centre of his system; and this arrangement accounts perhaps more than anything else for the persistence of the system amid so many dynastic changes.

In the main he appears to have introduced little alteration into the government of Mecca, and it is said that he even declined to retaliate on those who had confiscated the possessions of the Refugees. Even the Ka'ba was left in the keeping of its former custodian, though of course its interior as well as its precincts were cleansed of all that could offend monotheists. In the following year the pilgrimage was for the first time conducted by a Moslem official, Abū Bekr. A proclamation was made on that occasion, forbidding idolaters in future to take part in the pilgrimage, and giving all Arabs who were not as yet converted four months' grace before force was to be brought to bear upon them. In the following year Mahomet conducted the Pilgrimage himself. This solemn occasion (the “Farewell Pilgrimage”) was also employed for the delivery of an important proclamation, wherein the Prophet declared that God had completed their religion. The principle whereon he specially insisted was the brotherhood of Islam; but there is some difficulty in nucleating the original sermon from later additions.

It would seem that Mahomet's enterprise originally comprised the conversion of Mecca only, and that he thought of himself as sent to his fellow-citizens only,Conquest of Arabia. as had been the case with earlier prophets, whose message was for their “brethren.” His views took a somewhat different direction after his brief exile to Ṭāif, and the conquest of Arabia was in a way forced upon him in the course of his struggle with the Meccans. It is not indeed perfectly clear by what process he arrived at the resolution to exclude paganism from Arabia; at first he appears to have tolerated it at Medina, and in some of his earlier contracts with neighbouring tribes he is represented as allowing it, though some of our texts make him reserve to himself the right of enforcing Islam if he chose; only the Meccans were at first, according to the most authentic documents, excluded from all truce or treaty. At the battle of Badr he appears to have formulated the rule that no one might fight on his side who had not embraced Islam; and when once he had won fame as a successful campaigner, those who wished to share his adventures had to pass the Islamic test. After the battle of Uhud (Ohod) we hear of a tribe demanding missionaries to instruct them in Islamic principles; and though in the case recorded the demand was treacherous, the idea of sending missionaries appears not to have been unfamiliar even then, albeit the number sent (70), if rightly recorded, implies that the Prophet suspected the good faith of the applicants. After the taking of Mecca, whereby the chief sanctuary at any rate of north Arabia had been cleared of all idolatrous associations, and consecrated to monotheism, paganism in general was conscious of being attacked; and the city had scarcely been brought under the new régime before the Prophet had to face a confederation of tribes called Hawāzin and Thaqīf. The battle which ensued, known as the Day of Honain, was near ending disastrously for Islam; some of Mahomet's sturdiest followers fled; hut the terrible danger of a defeat in the neighbourhood of recently conquered Mecca roused the Prophet and Ali to heroism, and they saved the day. Emissaries were now sent far and wide demanding the destruction of idols, and only Ṭāif appears to have made any considerable resistance; against this place for the first time the Prophet made use of siege artillery, such as was employed by the Byzantines; though compelled by the bravery of the inhabitants to raise the siege, he was afterwards able to take the city by capitulation. It has been observed that here only do we read of much attachment to the old deities; in most places they were discarded with few regrets when once their impotence had been found out. After the taking of Mecca and the victory of Honain there appears to have been a general desire, extending even to the extreme south of Arabia, to make the best terms with the conqueror so soon as possible; iconoclasm became general. Flatterers of various kinds, including poets, came to seek the favour of the sovereign; and a mock war of words appears to have been substituted by some tribes for more serious fighting, to terminate in surrender. For warfare of his sort Mahomet had a powerful helper in the poet Ḥāssan b. Thābit, for whose effusions a pulpit was erected in the Medina mosque, and whose verses were said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit; though, as has been seen, Mahomet was not himself able to judge of their artistic merit. It was not, however, found easy to enforce the payment of the alms on these new converts; and this taxation caused an almost general revolt so soon as Mahomet's death had been ascertained.