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who, in the chilly atmosphere of Medina, sighed for a
return to their warmer home at Mecca. In the winter
of A.D. 622-23, and during the ensuing year, various
plundering expeditions, under Hamza, Obeida, and
the prophet himself, left Medina, chiefly with the
object of intercepting the caravan trade between
Mecca and Syria ; and though few prisoners and

It was about this time that the "Kibla," as above related,
was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca.


little booty were taken, the Coreish had reason to
know that they could no longer reckon on immunity
from molestation in their future mercantile expedi-

In November 623 an expedition of eight of the
" Fugitives " was sent to lie in wait in the valley of
Nakhia ; and within one of the four sacred months
surprised a Meccan convoy. One man was killed,
two of tlie Coreish taken prisoners, and the camels
with their loads carried off to Medina. " This was
the first booty the Mussulmans obtained, the first
captives they seized, the first life they took " ; ' and
though the attack had been made in the holy month
Rajab, which even the Pagan Arabs respected, a
convenient revelation justified the supposed desecra-
tion, and established that to kill the unbelievers is
less grievous than idolatry, and to war in the sacred
months than to obstruct the way to the holy temple.-

Thus as regards the idolaters the scabbard was
thrown away from the aggressive sword of Islam,
all former words of forbearance cast to the winds.
To this period may probably be attributed the
Divine command, " to fight against the idolaters
until the religion be the Lord's alone" ;■' the fearful
are reproved, war encouraged, nay commanded,
though it be irksome ; and Paradise guaranteed as
the reward of those who fall in the fight.* We shall
find, at a later period, how this command was ex-
tended to regulate the treatment of Christians and

' Muir, iii. 75. ' Conf. Sura ii. 214.

•* Sura ii. 189. ■* Sura xlvii. 4-7.


■ The affair at Nakhla Avas followed by the cele-
brated battle of Badr. In January 624, on the
return journey of the Meccan caravan from Syria,
Mahomet determined to attempt its capture, and
for this purpose set out from Medina with 305 of
the " Fugitives " and " Ansar," and encamped by the
fountains. Though Abu-Sofian succeeded by forced
marches in placing his convoy beyond danger, it was
settled that a body of troops, numbering about 950,
which, under Abu-Jahl, had been sent from Mecca to
his assistance, should advance and measure swords
with the Moslems. The battle began with a series of
single combats, in which Hamza — the Lion of God —
Ali and Obeida encountered and slew Otba, Walid,
and Shuiba. The engagement then became general,
" the army of the Faithful was borne forward by an
enthusiasm which the Coreish were unable to with-
stand " ; 1 their line, notwithstanding their superior
number, began to waver, and the retreat quickly
became an ignominious flight. Forty-nine of the
Meccans perished, and an equal number were taken
prisoners : on the side of Mahomet fourteen fell.

Of the prisoners some were slain on the field, and
others afterwards put to death in cold blood ; for
we learn that on the evening of the battle, in the
valley of Otheil, Mahomet sanctioned the slaughter
of Nadr ; and two days after that of one Ocba, for
the comforting sight of whose blood he returned
thanks to Heaven. A justification of these unwar-
rantable deeds was subsequently vouchsafed, and is

' Muir, iii. 105.


found in the Koran. ^ A dispute regarding the distri-
bution of the booty necessitated an especial revela-
tion, which established the principle that one-fifth
part was to be " for God and his Apostle," and the
remainder distributed equally between " those who had
fought and those who had stayed under the ensigns." ^

Such was the memorable battle of Badr, in-
significant, jierh.aps, in the numbers engaged, but
stupendous in its ultimate results. The prophet had
drawn the sword, and submitted the proof and justi-
fication of his claims to its capricious decision, for on
its victory or defeat the cause of Islam was to stand
or fall.3

On his return to Medina, Mahomet found his
I)Osition much strengthened, and he assumed a dicta-
torial tone Avhich demanded unhesitating obedience.
We can hardly doubt, too, that the sight of the
spoils and the prisoners, whose money ransom was
permitted, provided his disciples with proofs of the
divinity of Islam as convincing as the laboured argu-
ments and measured cadences of the Koran. With
the Jews it was different. They were unimpressed with
the validity of such mundane reasoning, refused to
relinquish the faith of their fathers, and still ridiculed
the prophet; and so the angry feelings of the two

' Sura viii. 68-76.

" Sale's note, "Koran," sura viii. p. 139. Also conf. i Sam.
XXX. 20-25. The prophet's fifth part was the " Sadacat," "for
himself and his family, the orphans, the poor, and the traveller "
(Sura viii. 5).

* The victory is attributed to the direct assistance of God, and
it is intimated that 3,000 angels fought for the Moslems (Sura
iii. 13, 119).


sects grew more and more intense ; secret assassi-
nations, stimulated by Mahomet, struck them with
an undefined terror, showed the dangerous brink on
which they stood, and convinced them that a plausible
excuse only was wanted for open rupture.

This soon presented itself. An Arab girl, the
wife of a convert, was insulted by a youth of the
Beni-Cainucaa, one of the chief Jewish tribes in
Medina ; bloodshed followed, and taking advantage
of this circumstance, the whole tribe was attacked,
proscribed, and banished. Their lands, houses, and
goods were confiscated, and divided among the
victors. In the course of the same year (A.D. 624)
one Kab-ibn-Ashraff, a Jew who had annoyed the
Moslems with his verses, was at Mahomet's instiga-
tion assassinated under circumstances of the blackest
treachery.^ In his domestic relations Mahomet had
to mourn the death of his daughter Rockeya. During
the winter months he married his fourth wife, Haphsa,
the daughter of Omar; and in January, A.D. 625,
was born his grandson Hasan, the son of Fatima
and Ali.

At Mecca the tidings of the disastrous defeat
at Badr aroused the bitterest feelings of anger, and
passionate cries for vengeance arose on every side,
and in particular from Hind, the wife of Abu Sofian,
whose father, brother, and uncle had fallen. On the
opening of the year 625 alarming rumours of an
attack on Medina reached the ears of the Prophet,
and soon the news was sent him by his uncle Abbas
that a force of 3,000 men had taken the northern

■ Conf. Muir, iii. 143.


route. In ten days the Meccan army reached Dzul-
Hahfa, four miles south of Medina, and thence
striking to the north, encamped to the west of Ohod,
an isolated mountain, some three miles north-east
of the city, and there began to ravage the fields. On
the side of the Moslems, it was at first decided to
await the attack within the city ; but bolder counsels
prevailed, and Mahomet, clad in armour, led out his
army of i,ooo men, and halted for the night. At
early da^vn he advanced on Ohod, and occupied the
sloping ground at the western side, where his rear
was protected by its rising spurs. Here he was aban-
doned by Abdallah, chief of the " Hypocrites," with
300 of his followers.

Of the Meccan army, the right was commanded
by Khalid, in after days so valiant a champion
of the faith he now sought to destroy, the centre,
by Abu Sofian, and the left by Ikrema, the son of
Abu Jahl, whose death at Badr he thirsted to avenge.
The standard was borne by Talha, who had inherited
the privilege from his ancestor Abd-al-Dar. The
battle, as seems to have been usual at the time, began
with a succession of single combats, in which Hamza
and Ali slew their opponents, and the engagement then
became general. The Meccans were carried away
before the fierce onslaught of th.e Moslems ; but the
latter pressing too hotly, the fortune of the day was
entirely changed by Khalid. The prophet, who had
vainly attempted to check the fugitives, was twice
wounded and fell, but succeeded in reaching a place
of safety among the ravines of Ohod. Seventy-four
of the Moslems lay dead on the field ; and among



Others the gallant Hamza, who had been brought
lifeless to the ground by a wild negro, whom the fury
Hind had, by the promise of freedom, thus engaged
to satisfy her revenge. After the fight she gloated
over the body of her victim, tore out the heart, and
gnawed it with her teeth ! On the evening of the
battle the Coreish retreated, and Mahomet, after
burying the dead, amidst the wailing of distress,
began the homeward march. I have before made
mention of the revelation which came to still the
murmurs of those who had lost relatives at Ohod.

During the year 625 various expeditions were
sent abroad to propagate the faith and to check
hostile movements among neighbouring tribes ; and
in these murder and treachery play an important
part. From certain political complications Mahomet
continued, without any adequate reason, to pick a
quarrel with the Jewish tribe of the Beni Nadhir,
whose stronghold, Zohara, lay a few miles to the
south of Medina. Refusing to listen to any explana-
tion, he bid them, in the name of the Lord, go forth
from their homes on pain of death. They were obliged
to obey his stern mandate and give up their houses
and lands, which were forthwith divided among the
" Fugitives." The Koran contains a song of praise to
God, in which the Prophet records his thankfulness
for having been enabled successfully to accomplish
the spoliation and banishment of this unoffending

I return to the domestic affairs of the prophet.

^ Conf. Sura lix. 1-8 ei seq. ; Muir, iii. 208 ; W. Irving, chap,
xxi. ; and Sale's notes, ad loc.


In December, 625, he married his fifth wife, Zeinab,
daughter of Khozeima, whose husband had fallen at
Badr. In January, 626, a sixth, Om-Salma, widow of
one of the heroes of Ohod; and six months later
(June), Zeinab-bint-Jahsh, the divorced wife of his
adopted son Zeid On a certain day, Mahomet
entering unexpectedly the house of Zeid, had a
momentary glimpse of the charms of his beautiful
wife, and uttered a cry of passionate admiration.
The circumstance was reported, and the disciple, by
an immediate divorce, enabled the prophet to add a
new bride to his harem.

By these marriages — for he had then six living
wives — the legal number allowed to the Faithful^
had been overstepped, and, moreover, his alliance
A\ith the wafe of his adopted son was considered highly
improper, if not incestuous. But Mahomet had an
easy and effectual method of silencing present
scandal and avoiding further complication by an
additional Sura to the Koran; thus: "O Prophet,
we have allowed thee wives — and also the slaves
which thy right hand possesseth — and any other be-
lieving woman, if she give herself, and the Prophet
desireth to take her to wife. This is a peculiar privi-
lege granted thee above the rest of the believers "
(Sura xxxiii. 49— 51). It is impossible to avoid won-
dering at the strange credulity of his followers, who,
with seemingly undiminished faith, allowed ' him the
aid of inspiration as a pander to his personal predi-

Regarding the fair Zeinab, it was laid down
' Sura iv. 3.
M 2


that she was joined to the prophet by the will of
Heaven, to show that believers commit no sin in
' marrying the wives of their adopted sons." i The
special revelation given forth to sanction this mar-
riage is, by the ablest writer on the subject,^ justly
stigmatized as an act of " impious effrontery " ; and
another author is obliged to confess that his relaxation
of the marriage rules in his own favour "is the greatest
stain, and an indelible one, on his memory." ^

In the same chapter^ certain rules are laid down
regarding the conduct to be observed by visitors.
Guests and strangers are not to enter his habitations
uninvited; they are to use no familiarity, but are
quickly to depart ; they are to speak to his wives
" from behind a curtain " ; are to give the apostle of
God no uneasiness in these particulars ; and, above
all, are forbidden " to marry his wives after him at
any time, — verily that would be an enormity in the
sight of God."

An expedition (December, 626) to the wells of
Muraisi, north of Jiddah, on the seashore, resulted in
the defeat of the Beni-Mustalick and the capture of a

• Sura xxxiii. 37. Zeinab boasted to the other wives of the
prophet that /ler marriage alone had been ratified in Heaven.
Zeid is the only "companion" mentioned byname in the Koran
(Kasimirski, p. 347). - Muir, iii. 230.

^ Bosworth Smith, " Mohammed," p. 88. Mr. Smith thinks
Mahomet "may have justified himself to his own mind by the
Ethiopian marriage not condemned in the case of Moses." He
appears to assume that this was a second wife of Moses ; but
there is no proof of this, or that Zipporah is not identical with
the "Cushite woman" (Forster, " Geog. of Arabia," vol. i.
o. 12). ■• Sura xxxiii. 53.


large number of persons. Among the captives was
Juweiria, the beautiful daughter of the chief, who, on
a question of her ransom, appealed to the prophet,
was viewed with eyes of desire, and, after embracing
the faith, became his eighth wife.

The expedition is memorable for the adventure
which, for a time, compromised the reputation of
Ayesha. By accident she was left behind on the
return journey to Medina. On the arrival of the con-
voy, she was found absent from her litter, but soon
after appeared seated on the camel of one Safwan.
Scandal was soon busy in putting the worst con-
struction on her conduct. The prophet was distressed
at the misadventure which had befallen his best beloved
wife, and for a month forsook her society ; after which
a revelation established her innocence and restored
her to his arms. This circumstance gave rise to the
Moslem law regarding adultery, which necessitates
the production of four witnesses to substantiate the
charge against "women of reputation," and further
directs that they who make a folse accusation of this
kind are to be beaten with fourscore stripes.^ If
convicted, the Koran lays down that wives '• are to
be imprisoned in a separate apartment till death re-
lease them."- By the Sunnah, the punishment,
according to a supposed abrogated passage, was
directed to be death by stoning.^ In Egypt, the
usual punishment of the offence is drowning. The

' Sura xxiv. 4. Mahomet consulted Ali about Ayesha. At
first he seemed inclined to suspect her chastity. She never
forgave him. ' Sura iv. 19.

' Conf. Sale, P. D., sec. 3. Comp. St. Jolin viii. 4-1 1.


legislation of the Koran in this particular, and as
regards murder, theft, mutilation, &c., owing to its
cruelty, inconsistency, and inadequacy, has, in many
particulars, been neglected, if not altogether set
aside, in the more advanced countries where Islam
prevails.! Fornication is forbidden, is declared to
be wickedness and an evil way,^ and is to be
punished, in either sex, by 100 stripes. Marriage
with a harlot is forbidden to true believers.^ But
however salutary Mahomet may have considered these
regulations, the almost unlimited licence in marriage
and divorce enables offenders to set them at defiance.^

The opening of the year 627 (March) saw the
prophet threatened with a formidable danger. Abu
Sofian, the chief of Mecca, had engaged a number of
Bedouin tribes to assist him in making a united attack
on the rising power, and had advanced on Medina with
some ten thousand men. The Moslems intrenched
and fortified their city, and were content to repel the
attack from behind their walls. During a fruitless
siege of fifteen days, mutual jealousy and disaffection
paralyzed the efforts of the besiegers. A terrific
storm which fell on their camp hastened their retreat,
and filled them with the apprehension that the very
elements were leagued on the side of the apostle of

Then follows a crime memorable for its atro-

' FiV/i? Monier Williams, "Indian Wisdom," p. 273. Code
of Manu. ' Sura xvii. 34.

' Sura xxiv. 3.

* Vide Lane, " Modern Egyptians," ii. 98, and note. See
also i. 141, 409, If/ se^.


city and for the view it affords us of the sanguinary-
principles which, at this time, regulated Mahomet's
conduct. On the arrival of the confederates they had
found means to win over the Beni Coreitza, a Jewish
tribci whose possessions lay exposed to attack, and
who had indeed entered into terms of alliance with
Mahomet, but whose compact with him "was of a
weak and precarious nature." Though their defection,
which amounted to little more than neutrality, at
such a critical moment, might have warranted Ma-
homet in expelling them from their possessions it by no
means justified the slaughter which followed. On the
retreat of Abu Sofian they were besieged, reduced to
extremity, and had to surrender at discretion. Their
fate was left to the decision of a chief of the Beni
Aws, and by him the men were adjudged to death,
and the women and children to slavery. In com-
panies of five or six the horror-stricken Jews, to the
number of some 800, were led out, and, in Mahomet's
presence, butchered in cold blood ! One shudders at
the recital of this horrible transaction, and at the
picture of the man, who, unmoved to pity, nay more,
with fierce denunciation,^ could witness the awful
carnage to its end — a deed in its atrocity comparable
to the Massacre at Melos,^ and to the act of that
sanguinary \vrctch who directed the blood-bath of

Yet in the Koran this accursed slaughter is ap-
plauded, attributed to divine interposition, and pro-
nounced consonant with the love and compassion

' Muir, iii. 277. * Thucydides, v. 116,


of the All-merciful I^ Muir justly remarks that "the
butchery of the Coreitza leaves a dark stain of infamy
on the character of Mahomet." ^ Among the cap-
tives was a Jewess (Rihana), whose charms had
caught his eye. Refusing the position of a wife, she
became his slave and concubine, on his return from
the spot where he had just witnessed the bleeding
corpse of her husband, and the destruction of all her
male relatives !

The truth is that Mahomet had by this time
become deeply, nay irreconcilably hostile to the Jews
of Medina. At first indeed he had availed himself
of their aid in establishing himself in their midst, but
now, when success enabled him to slight their assist-
ance, he threw them contemptuously aside, and
eagerly availed himself of any plausible excuse for
their destruction. In addition, his dark suspicions
were aroused that a lingering illness which troubled
him was due to certain " Enchantments " they had
directed against him. The 113th Sura is a short
prayer to God for deliverance from " the mischief of
the night when it cometh on, and from the mischief
of women blowing on knots, &c."2 We may gather

' Sura xxxiii. 22-27; and Sale's note; W. Irving, p. 116.

^ Muir, iii. 284. Bosworth Smith (Mohammed, p. 90) calls
this act, "in all its accessories, one of cold-blooded and in-
human atrocity."

* In accordance with their prophet's belief in magic, incanta-
tions, &c., the use of charms and amulets is universal among
Mahometans, to counteract the influence of enchantments, dis-
ease, the evil eye, &c. Of these charms, the most potent is a
copy of the Koran ; but the Faithful, as a rule, content them-
selves with certain verses only, invoking God's protection against


from this prayer some knowledge of the superstitious
fears, and that dread of the Unseen, which formed
so curious a feature in the complex character of

I pass over the remaining events of the year
(A.D. 627), which are a repetition of the usual expe-
ditions for plunder, for dispersing robber bands, or for
repelling the encroachments of other tribes for pas-
turage. During this time, we know, assassinations
were deliberately planned by Mahomet, and the
perpetrators blessed and rewarded; and we also
meet with instances at this period of the barbarous
mutilation of captives. On this head the Koran
directs " that the enemies of God and of his
Apostle shall be slain, or crucified, or have their
hands and feet cut off, or be banished the land." '
Theft is to be punished thus : " If a man or a woman
steal, cut off their hands." ^ The law of " life for life,
eye for eye," and that wounds are to be punished with
the like,^ is retained in full force. Thus, then, we
have the Jewish law of retaliation — abolished by the
Christian dispensation '^ — revived in the Koran, and

the devil. Of these, Suras xii. 64, xv. 7, xxxvii. 7 maybe noted.
The first of these is as follows : — " God is the best protector."
The texts are written out and enclosed in amulets, and worn
on the neck or arm. Bits of the " Kiswa," or silken covering
of the Kaaba, which is renewed annually, are considered very

' Sura V. 37. * Sura v. 42. ^ y^^^ y ^g

* St. Matthew V. 38, 39. Conf. Lane, "Modern Lg>'ptians,"
i. 146 : "At El Medinah justice is administered in perfect con-
formity with the Shariat, or Holy Law." (Burton, ii. p. 281,
note.) See also Sale, "Koran," sura v. p. 87, note.


express sanction given to the barbarous practice of

The recurrence of the holy month, Dzul-Caada,
of the next year (Feb. 628), recalled to the mind of
Mahomet and of his followers thoughts of the cus-
tomary pilgrimage, and of their homes at Mecca,
from which they had been excluded for six years. To
gratify the wishes of his disciples, and to remind them
that the ceremonies of the Kaaba, apart from idolatry,
were included in their faith, he determined to lead
his followers to the holy shrine. Numbering some
1,500 men they left Medina, but, when within two
days' march of Mecca, their advance was checked by
the Coreish, and Mahomet, turning to the west from
Osfan, encamped at Al Hodeibia, on the border of
the "Sacred territory."^ At this spot, a treaty, called
" the truce of Hodeibia," was concluded, which sti-
pulated that all hostilities should cease for ten years,
and that for the future the Moslems should have the
privilege, unmolested, of pa)dng a yearly visit of three
days to the holy shrine. After sacrificing the victims,
Mahomet returned to Medina.

As about this period (A.D. 628) Mahomet sent
embassies to certain foreign sovereigns, inviting them
and their subjects to embrace Islam, it may be well
to consider the political condition, at the time, of
the countries bordering on Arabia.

The royal dynasty of Persia belonged to the race
of the Sassanidae, of whom the most illustrious,
Chosroes, surnamed Nushirvan, reigned at the time of

' The "sacred territory" (Haram) extends to a distance of
some seven to ten miles round Mecca.


Mahomet's birth. After the fall of the Emperor
Alexander, Persia had been subject in succession to
the Macedonian kings of Syria — the Seleucidos — and
to the Parthian monarchs ; but, after six centuries of
bondage, the foreign yoke was broken, and Persia
became subject to kings of indigenous birth.

Their religion was the Magian creed of Zoroaster,
which, though acknowledging only the two great
opposing powers of light and darkness, of good and
evil, of Ormuzd and Ahriman, had fallen from its
original purity, and the sacred fire had become the
visible symbol of idolatrous worship.

Chosroes — called also Khosru Parviz — the Persian
King, to avenge the murder (A.D. 602) of his
friend Maurice, Emperor of Constantinople, attacked
the tyrant Phokas, v;ho had seated himself on the
throne, and continued the war against the Byzantine
empire for more than twenty years. Heraclius,
son of the Exarch of Africa, deposed and slew
Phokas ; and after a variety of fortunes totally
overthrew the Persians in the decisive victory of
Nineveh (A.D. 627). Chosroes was soon after mur-
dered by his son and successor Siroes (Feb. 62 S).

To Siroes and Heraclius ambassadors were sent
by Mahomet. The former on receipt of the pro-
phet's letter tore it to pieces ; the latter (who at

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