Conflicts

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), after arriving in Madinah, first formed an alliance with the Jews. Next, he approached all the nearby tribes and tried to persuade them to make an alliance or at least enter into a no war pact. Many did. Thus the small group evicted from Makkah assumed strategic importance. The Makkans who had earlier planned to kill the Prophet, were now determined to annihilate this nascent community of Islam. Having failed in all other ways they decided on a military solution. A heavily armed Makkan force marched towards Madinah in the second year after Hijrah, on the pretext of protecting their trade caravan. The Prophet, despite his community’s small number and lack of arms, decided to face their threat boldly. On the 17th of Ramadan, at a place called Badr, the two forces met and fought a battle in which 313 Muslims defeated the 1,000-strong Makkan army. Seventy of the Makkan chiefs who had been most active and vehement in persecuting the Muslims were killed; many others were taken prisoner, later to be released for ransom. For the first time, prisoners of war were treated humanely and kindly; they were fed and housed in the same way as their captors ate and lived.

In the third year after Hijrah, a 3,000-strong Makkan force again marched on Madinah, both to avenge the defeat at Badr and to make another attempt to defeat the Muslims. The two sides met just outside Madinah near the Uhud Mountain. The initial Muslim victory was, however, reversed; the Muslim contingent posted to protect the rear, violated the Prophet’s (pbuh) instructions and abandoned its position. The Quraysh attacked from behind, and victory was turned into defeat. The Makkans, however, failed to pursue their advantage and clinch victory.

The Makkans now planned to make a final assault on Madinah to settle the matter once and for all. All Bedouin tribes, Jews, and Munafiqeen (group of people) within Madinah joined forces with them. In the fifth year after Hijrah, 24,000 of them advanced on Madinah. It was impossible to fight them on the open battlefield, or defend Madinah which was without walls. The Muslims therefore defended themselves by digging ditches all round Madinah. After laying siege to Madinah for 25 days, due to inner dissension, lack of supplies, cold weather and high winds, the Makkan army was forced to withdraw. This was the turning point in the history of confrontation with the Makkans. Madinah was never to be attacked again.

The next year, the sixth after Hijrah, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and 1,400 Companions journeyed to Makkah to perform umrah, the lesser Pilgrimage, in accordance with several traditions of the time. They were unarmed. The Quraysh chiefs, against all established and accepted traditions, refused them admission. However, the Quraysh were now so low in morale and strength that they had to sign a peace treaty with the Prophet, the Hudaybiyah Treaty. Though the terms appeared highly unfavourable, even humiliating, for the Muslims, they made tremendous gains by virtue of this Treaty. They, who were driven out of Makkah and attacked thrice, were now recognized as an equal force, to be treated respectfully, taken seriously. Peace provided an opportunity for the wavering and the neutral, even the hostile, to witness Islam at first hand, and many sensed the imminent victory of Islam. The result was that many Makkans and Arab tribes either embraced Islam or made peace with the Prophet.

As soon as the Hudaybiyah Treaty was signed, the Prophet sent letters to various neighbouring Arab and non-Arab rulers, including Chosroes of Persia and Heraclitus of Rome. He invited them to Islam, and assured them that he did not covet their kingdoms or riches. They could retain both, they should surrender themselves to serve and worship the One God. The Quraysh, however, soon broke the Treaty of Hudaybiyah. It was, thus, time to deal with their continuing hostility; it was now time to march to Makkah.

There was so much dread and fear everywhere that Hatib, one of the most trusted followers of the Prophet secretly despatched a female messenger with a letter to Makkah containing intimation of the intended attack. The Prophet received news from the heavens of Hatib’s action and sent some companions with instructions to go after her. They overtook the messenger, and discovered the letter carefully hidden in her hair locks. The Prophet summoned Hatib and asked him what had induced him to this act. He replied,

"O Messenger of Allâh, I have no affinity of blood with Quraish; there is only a kind of friendly relationship between them and myself. My family is at Makkah and there is no one to look after it or to offer protection to it. My position stands in striking contrast to that of the refugees whose families are secure due to their blood ties with Quraish. I felt that since I am not related to them, I should, for the safety of my children, earn their gratitude by doing good to them. I swear by Allâh that I have not done this act as treachery, nor have I forsaken Islam. I was prompted only by the considerations I have just explained."

Companions were deeply upset by his actions, but the Prophet accepted his excuse and granted him pardon, then addressed the companions saying: "How do you know that he is a hypocrite? Allâh is likely to look favourably on him…. Turning then, to Hatib, he said: "Do as you please, for I have forgiven you."

The Muslims then marched on in a state of fasting until they reached a place called Al-Qadeed where water was available. There they broke fast and resumed their movement. The Quraishites were quite unaware of the development of affairs, but the Prophet did not like to take them by surprise. He, therefore, ordered his men to kindle fire on all sides for cooking purposes. The idea behind this was that Quraish should be afforded full opportunity to assess the situation in which they were pitchforked correctly, and should not endanger their lives by leaping blindly in the battlefield

Under the prevailing compelling circumstances, Abu Sufyan (Qurayshi enemy) went in the company of ‘Abbas seeking the Prophet’s audience. The Muslims were furious to see Abu Sufyan due to the relentless persecution towards the Muslims. The Prophet addressed Abu Sufyan saying: "Woe to you! Isn’t it time for you to bear witness to the Oneness of Allâh and Prophethood of Muhammad?" Here, the archenemy of Islam began to beseech the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the most earnest words that testify to the Prophet’s generosity and mild temper begging for pardon and forgiveness, and professing wholeheartedly the new faith.

On request by ‘Abbas, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), in the context of the general amnesty he proclaimed, gave Abu Sufyan, who had a liking for bragging, a special privilege, saying:

 "He who takes refuge in Abu Sufyan’s house is safe; whosoever confines himself to his house, the inmates thereof shall be in safety, and he who enters the Sacred Mosque is safe."

On the morning of Tuesday the 17th of Ramadan, 8 A.H., they bagan entering makkah. Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah carried the flag of the Helpers. When he passed by Abu Sufyan, he said

 "Today will witness the great fight, you cannot seek sanctuary at Al-Ka‘bah. Today you will witness the humiliation of Quraish." Abu Sufyan complained about this to the Prophet who got angry and said:

 "Nay, today Al-Ka‘bah will be sanctified, and Quraish honoured," and quickly ordered that Sa‘d should be stripped off the flag.

Al-‘Abbas urged Abu Sufyan to hasten into Makkah and warn the Quraishites against any aggressive behaviour towards the Muslims. There in Makkah, he shouted at the top of his voice and warned against any hostilities advising them to seek safety in his house. His wife got indignant and tugged at his moustache cursing him and abusing his cowardly stance. The people within Makkah mocked Abu Sufyan and dispersed in different directions, some into their houses, others into the Holy Sanctuary while some undisciplined reckless ruffians led by ‘Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl, Safwan bin Omaiyah and Suhail bin ‘Amr encamped themselves in a place called Khandamah, with a murderous intent in their minds.

The Prophet, on his part, was quite modestly and calmly drawing the final touches for the military breakthrough. The Muslim battalions marched out each in its already drawn route to fulfil the missions they were supposed to carry out. Khalid bin Al-Waleed worked his way into the heart of the town quite successively killing twelve of the ruffians and sustaining two martyrs. He, in the company of the Helpers and Emigrants, got up and proceeded towards Al-Ka‘bah, the Sacred House, which is an emblem of the Oneness and Supremacy of Allâh. It was unfortunately infested with idols that numbered 360. He knocked them down with his bow while reciting the verse of the Noble Qur’ân:

"And Say: ‘Truth (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) has come and Batil (falsehood) has vanished. Surely! Batil is ever bound to vanish.’" [Al-Qur'an 17:81]

He then started the usual circumambulation on his ride. He then entered the sacred hall to face the wall opposite the door and there again performed devout prostrations, and went around acclaiming Allâh’s Greatness and Oneness. Shortly afterwards, he returned to the door-way and standing upon its elevated step, gazed in thankfulness on the thronging multitude below and delivered the following celebrated address:

"There is no god but Allâh Alone. He has no associates. He made good His Promise that He held to His slave and helped him and defeated all the Confederates along….

"O people of Quraish! surely Allâh has abolished from you all pride of the pre-Islamic era and all conceit in your ancestry, (because) all men are descended from Adam, and Adam was made out of clay."

He then recited to them the verse:

"O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you near Allâh is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e. pious and righteous persons (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden), and love Allâh much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Aware." [Al-Qur'an 49:13]

He further added:

"O you people of Quraish! What do you think of the treatment that I am about to accord to you?"

They replied:

"O noble brother and son of noble brother! We expect nothing but goodness from you."

Upon this he said:

"I speak to you in the same words as Yusuf (the Prophet Joseph) spoke unto his brothers: He said: "No reproach on you this day,"  go your way, for you are freed ones." [Al Qur'an 12:92]

When time for prayer approached, Bilal (the freed African slave) ascended Al-Ka‘bah and called for prayer. In the same context of magnanimity peculiar to Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), two chiefs of Quraish were pardoned once they had embraced Islam. They were Safwan bin Omaiyah and Fudalah bin ‘Umair. The latter had attempted to assassinate the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) while circumambulating in the Holy Sanctuary. The Prophet’s matchless tolerance and broad-mindedness instigated by his mission as ‘A mercy to all people’, converted a terrible hypocrite into a faithful devout believer.

On the second day of the great conquest, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) stood up and addressed the people in matters relating to the holy status of Makkah. After entertaining Allâh’s praise, he proclaimed that Makkah was a holy land and would remain so till the Day of Judgement. No bloodshed was allowed therein. Ibn ‘Abbas [R] narrated: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

 "Allâh has made Makkah, a sanctuary, so it was a sanctuary before me and will continue to be a sanctuary after me. It was made legal for me (i.e. I was allowed to fight in it) for a few hours of a day. It is not allowed to uproot its shrubs or to cut its trees, or to chase (or disturb) its game, or to pick up its fallen things except by a person who would announce that (what has found) publicly." Al-‘Abbas said: "O Allâh’s Messenger! Except the lemon grass (for it is used) by our goldsmiths and for our homes." The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) then said: "Except the lemon grass."

After having delivered his address, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) rode to a small hill, Safa, not far from Al-Ka‘bah. Turning his face towards the Sacred House, amidst a vast admiring and devotional multitude, he raised his hand in fervent prayer to Allâh. The citizens of Madinah who had gathered round him entertained fear, as Allâh had given him victory over his native city, he might choose to stay here. He insisted on explanation of their fear and so they spoke openly. He immediately dispelled their fears and assured them that he had lived with them and would die with them.

The Messenger of Allâh (Allah bless him and give him peace) stayed in Makkah for 19 days. During that period he used to define the way to Islam, guide people to the orthodox path.

The fall of Makkah witnessed unparalleled acts of mercy, forgiveness and generosity. Not a single drop of blood was shed. Everybody who remained indoors was granted security of life and property. The Prophet forgave all who had been his bitterest foes all his life, who had persecuted him and planned to kill him, who had driven him out of Makkah, and who had marched thrice to Madinah to defeat the Muslims. 

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