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EARLY CHRISTIANITY

of the Kaaba, was at this time the venerable Abdolmotalleb Ibn Hasjemi, the grandfather of Muhammed. When the Koreish were informed of the approach of Abrahah, the reports of the numbers of his army and the terrible animals on which they were carried, struck them with consternation, and all hope of resistance vanished. In the negotiations which preceded his advance to the city, a third part of the wealth of Hedjaz was offered as a ransom for the Kaaba, but the king was still inflexible. Abdolmotalleb desired an audience of Abrahah, and was admitted to his presence, and treated with all the respect his age, his beauty, and his dignity deserved. Abrahah descended from his throne, and seated himself by his side. But the prince of Mecca came only to solicit the return of his camels, which had been taken among the plunder collected by the Christian soldiers. Abrahah expressed his surprise that the guardian of Mecca should think of his private property, amidst the evils that threatened his city. "The temple of Mecca, O king," answered Abdolmotalleb, "has its own lord, who will doubtlessly defend it, as he has defended it before. But I alone am the lord of my own camels." His camels were restored to him.[1]

On the nearer approach of Abrahah, the Koreish, and all the inhabitants of Mecca, led by Abdolmotalleb, unable to defend their city, took refuse on the neighbouring mountains, which overhung the narrow

  1. Nuweir, p. 88. Tabeir, p. 122.