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the time was on a pilgrimage from Edessa to Jeru-
salem, as a thanksgiving for his victory) received the
despatch with much more courtesy, but probably
threw it aside, as " the production of some harmless
fanatic". ^

' Muir, iv. 53.


Egypt and Syria had for centuries been portions of
the Roman Empire, but, though professing the Chris-
tian faith, they had adopted a form of it " aUen from
the standard of Roman and Byzantine orthodoxy." ^
In both provinces the Nestorian and Jacobite heresies
had taken deep root, and other elements of discord
there were, which rendered their loyalty to the cen-
tral power weak, and ready to be broken at the ap-
proach of the first resolute invader.

On the arrival of the envoys, Muckonckas, the
Roman governor of Egypt, treated them with honour,
and sent as presents to the prophet a white mule and
two Coptic girls. Of the latter, the fair features and
curling hair of Mary captivated the heart of Mahomet,
and she became his concubine. In Syria, the em-
bassy was treated with contempt by the Christian
Prince of Ghassan. In Yemen, which before this
time had become a dependency of the Persian Court,
better success awaited his ambassadors. The gover-
nor, Badsan, who then resided at Sana, freed from
his allegiance by the death of Chosroes, signified his
adhesion to the prophet. The messengers to the
Court of Axum in Abyssinia were well received, a
favourable answer returned, and the remaining exiles
brought back to Medina.-

In the autumn of the year (A.D, 628) he set
on foot an expedition against Kheibar, a town 100
miles to the north of Medina, inhabited chiefly by

' Freeman, "The Saracens," p. 20.

- Among these was Om-Habiba, a widow, the daughter of his
arch-enemy, Abu Sofian. She became Mahomet's tenth wife
on his return from Kheibar


Jews, whose wealth and rich domains promised an
abundant harvest of plunder. One by one their
fortified villages fell into his hands, and driven at
last to extremities they were obliged to give up their
citadel — Camuss. Kinana, their chief, was tortured
to disclose his wealth, and then beheaded ; and
the dark suspicion rests upon the prophet, that the
well-known beauty of Safia,^ Kinana's recently mar-
ried wife, was the secret cause of her husband's
execution. Immediately after his death she was
summoned to the prophet's presence, who " cast his
mantle round her," and she became his ninth wife.
While still at Kheibar Mahomet narrowly escaped
being poisoned. A dish of kid had been prepared
for him, and though he had eaten only a mouthful
before he perceived that it had been tampered with,
he felt the effects of the poison to his dying day.

The advent of the holy month, Dzul-Caada, of
the next year (Feb. 629), was eagerly expected by
Mahomet and his followers, for then, according to
the terms of the truce of Hodeibia, they might,
without molestation, visit the holy city, and spend
three days in the performance of the accustomed
rites. The number of the faithful swelled on the
approach to nearly 2,000 men ; and the Coreish
thought it best to retire with their forces to the
heights overlooking the valley. Seated on his camel

^ Sura xliv. 11, is supposed to be directed against his other
wives for their mockery of Safia, the Jewess. Mahomet was
much attached to her, and bid her retort that " Aaron was her
father, Moses her uncle, and Mahomet her husband" (Sale's
"Koran," p. 418, note).


Al Caswa, Avhich eight years before had borne him in
his flight from the cave of Thaur a hunted fugitive,
the prophet, now surrounded by joyous crowds of
disciples, the companions of his exile, approached
and saluted the holy shrine. Eagerly did he press
forward to the Kaaba, touched with his staff the
Black Stone, seven times made the circuit of the holy
house, seven times journeyed between Safa and
Marwa, sacrificed the victims, and fulfilled all the
ceremonies of the lesser pilgrimage. ^

While at Mecca he negotiated an alliance with
Meimuna, his eleventh and last wife. His mar-
riage gained him two most important converts —
Khalid, the " Sword of God," who before this had
turned the tide of battle at Ohod ; and Amru,
destined afterwards to carry to foreign lands the
victorious standards of Islam.

The services of these two important converts
were quickly utilized. An envoy of Mahomet to the
Christian Prince of Bostra, in Syria, having been
slain by the chief of Muta — a village to the south-
east of the Dead Sea — a force of 3,000 men under
his adopted son Zeid, was sent (Sept. A.D. 629) to
exact retribution, and to call the offending tribe to
the faith. On the northward m.arch, though they
learnt that an overwhelming force of Arabs and
Romans — the latter of whom met the Moslems for the
first time — was assembling to oppose them, they
resolved resolutely to push forward. The result was

^ Conf. Muir, iv. chap. xxii. ; Irving, chap, xxvii. For Kaaba
conf. Suras ii. i iy-121, xxii. 27-30 ; for Safa and Marvva, Sura ii.


their disastrous defeat and repulse. Zeid and Jafar, a
brother of Ali, fell defending the white banner of the
prophet. Khalid, by a series of manoeuvres, succeeded
in drawing off the army and conducting it without
further loss to Medina. A month later, however, Amru
marched unopposed through the lands of the hostile
tribes, received their submission, and restored the
prestige of Islam on the Syrian frontier. Mahomet
deeply felt the loss of Zeid and Jafar, and exhibited
the tenderest sympathy for their widows and orphans.

The defeat at Muta was followed, in the south,
by events of the greatest moment to Mahomet
Certain smouldering hostilities between tribes in-
habiting the neighbourhood of Mecca broke forth
about the end of the year. These were judged to be
infractions of the treaty (some of these tribes being
in league with the Coreish), and were eagerly seized
upon by Mahomet as justifying those designs upon
Mecca which the success of his arms and the do-
minion he possessed over numberless tribes in the
north, in the Hejaz, and Najd, now made it easy for
him to carry out.

Having therefore, determined to attack his native
city, he announced his intention to his followers,
and directed his allies among the Bedouin tribes
to join him on the march to Mecca. Although
he took every precaution to prevent his preparations
becoming known, the news reached the ears of the
Coreish, who sent Abu Sofian to deprecate his anger
and to induce him to abandon his purpose. Humilia-
tion and failure were the only result of this mission.

On the ist January, A.D. 630, Mahomet's march


commenced, and after eight days through unfre-
quented roads and defiles, the army, swelled to the
number of 10,000 men, halted and lighted their camp-
fires on the heights of Marr-al-Tzahran, a day's march
from the sacred city. The prophet had been joined
on his march by his uncle Abbas, and on the night of
his arrival Abu Sofian again presented himself and
besought an interview. On the morrow it was granted.
" Has the time not yet come, O Abu Sofian," cried
Mahomet, " for thee to acknowledge that there is but
one God, and that I am his Apostle ?" He answered
that his heart still felt some hesitancy ; but seeing the
threatening sword of Abbas, and knowing that Mecca
was at the mercy of the prophet, he repeated the
prescribed formula of belief, and was sent to prepare
the city for his approach.

The Moslems made their entry from four differ-
ent quarters, and, with the exception of the de-
tachment under the command of Khalid, met with
no opposition. Seated on Al Caswa, and in the pil-
grim garb, the prophet entered the city repeating
verses of the Koran. Having approached the Kaaba,
he touched the Black Stone and made the seven pre-
scribed circuits. The custody of the key (Hijaba) he
continued in the family of Othman, a descendant of
Abd-al-Dar, and the cup of the well in that of Abbas,
in whose family it remains to this day. Without
delay orders went forth to sweep away all the idola-
trous relics from the Holy House, and Hobal and its
fellows were thrown down and destroyed.

The conduct of Mahomet in the treatment of
his native home was marked with much generosity


and good sense, and places his character in a very
favourable light. Some three or four persons only
and those guilty of crime, were put to death, and
then a general amnesty was proclaimed. Ikrema, son
of Abu Jahl, and the fury Hind both experienced his
lenity. Parties were sent out to destroy the idols
around ; and in the valley of Nakhla, the grove of
Al Ozza and its weird priestess were destroyed by

Another circumstance should be mentioned, as
reflecting much credit on the conduct of Mahomet
at this time. A number of the Beni Judzima, a tribe
professing Islam, had fallen into the hands of Khalid.
and having on a former occasion plundered and slain
his uncle, he revenged himself by ordering the execu-
tion of some of the prisoners. Mahomet, on hearing
of the circumstance, called Heaven to witness that he
was innocent of the crime, and forthwith sent Ali to
make recompense for the murders and to restore the
booty. Aroused, it may be, at the news of this un-
provoked and wanton slaughter, the great tribe of the
Hawazin, in alliance with the Beni Thackif, whose
stronghold was at Tayif, the Beni Sad, and other tribes,
entered into a league to resist the power which threat-
ened to overwhelm the whole peninsula. Assembling
with their families and flocks and herds at Autas, a
valley between Mecca and Tayif, they encountered
the forces sent against them in the narrow defile of
Honein (February, A.D. 630). By the sudden-
ness of the attack they caused a panic among
the Moslems, whose flight was ^vith difficulty stopped

' W, Irving, p. 154.



by the voice and example of Abbas. The result
of the conflict, however, was the defeat of the
confederate tribes and the capture of their wives,
children, and cattle. Mahomet then advanced to
attack the strong fortress of Tayif. Once before, it
will be remembered, he had visited this idolatrous
city and been driven from its walls, and now again
the strength of its fortifications and its ample resources
enabled it to defy all his efforts. After two weeks the
siege was raised ; and having performed the ceremo-
nies of the Lesser Pilgrimage, he returned to Medina
(March, 630).

In the distribution of the booty which had been
taken, much dissatisfaction was felt. But here, again,
the tact and good feeling of the prophet enabled
him to silence all disaffection, and to prevail on the
army to release the prisoners, at the intercession of
the Beni Sad, among whom his childhood had been
spent. The victory of Honein and the boastful con-
fidence of the Moslems is alluded to in the Koran,
thus : " God hath assisted you in many engagements,
and at the battle of Honein, when ye pleased your-
selves with your multitude, but it was no manner of
advantage unto you, — then did ye retreat and turn
your backs. Afterwards God sent His security
(Shechina) upon His apostle and upon the faithful,
and sent down troops of angels which ye saw not "
(Sura ix. 25, 26).

On his return from the conquest of Mecca, Ma-
homet, then in his sixtieth year, v/as gladdened by
the l)irth of a son by his concubine Mary the Copt.
This child of his old age was doubly precious, as,


with the exception of his daughter Fatima and her
children, all his other descendants were dead. But
from the day of its birth domestic quarrels troubled
the peace of his harem. His other wives, jealous of
the good fortune of Mary, who was a slave, murmured
at the preference shoAvn her, and their whispered
complaints soon found occasion for open expression.
Entering unexpectedly one day into her private room,
Haphsa there surprised Mahomet with Mary, and her
indignant feelings found vent in such bitter reproaches
and threats of disclosure as induced him to promise
that for the future he would separate from the
favourite. Discovering that Haphsa, contrary to her
promise, had made the circumstance Imown to Ayesha,
he separated from them, and soon was granted a
divine message, in which Heaven was made to ad-
minister a rebuke to his wives, and threaten them
with divorce, and to state that the Lord can easily
provide the prophet with other wives who would
prove better, more pious, and more submissive to his
will.i This especial revelation effectually extricated
Mahomet from his domestic embroilment, was piously
submitted to by his ^vives, accepted by his followers,
and is to this day regularly read by the faithful as
the word of God !

The conquest of Mecca was followed by the
gradual submission of Arabia and the acknowledg-
ment of the spiritual and temporal supremacy of
the prophet throughout the entire Peninsula. In-
deed, in the complex system which he had estab-
lished, the spiritual and secular functions were

• Sura Ixvi. 1-15.
N 2


intimately blended and involved in each other, and
whilst in his humble home at Medina he retained
still the simple manners of his earlier years, which at
his time of life he had probably no inclination to alter,
he exercised all those regal and sacerdotal powers
which the victorious arms of his lieutenants, or the
voluntary submission of the most distant provinces of
Arabia, had caused to be universally acknowledged.
Tax collectors were appointed to receive the pre-
scribed offerings or tithes, which generally amounted
to " a tenth part of the increase." ^

The city of Tayif, as we have above seen, trust-
ing to its natural strength, constituted itself a centre
of disaffection ; but at last driven to extremities,
and seeing that all the neighbouring tribes had one
by one submitted, its Chief, after a vain attempt to
obtain some relaxation in the rules of Islam, con-
sented to the destruction of the adored idol Lat,
and adopted the new faith.

It was during the time of the next yearly
pilgrimage^ (March, 631), that Mahomet issued an
important command, the cro\\Tiing stone of the
system he had raised, which shows at once the power
he wielded and the strong hold his doctrines had
already taken throughout Arabia. Refusing to be pre-
sent himself during the ceremonies of the pilgrimage,
he commissioned Ali to announce to the assembled
multitudes in the valley of Mina, that at the expira-
tion of the four sacred months the prophet would

' Muir, iv. 171.

' For a detailed account of the ceremonies of the pilgrimage,
vide Burton, vol. iii. chap, xxviii.


hold himself absolved from every obligation or league
with idolaters ; that after that year no unbeliever
would be allowed to perform the pilgrimage, or to
visit the holy places ; and further, he gave direction
that either within or without the sacred territory war
was to be waged with them, that they were to be
killed, besieged, and laid in wait for " wheresoever
found." He ordains, however, that if they repent
and pay the legal alms they are to be dismissed
freely ; ^ but as regards '• those unto whom the
Scriptures have been delivered" (Jews and Christians,
&c.) "they are to be fought against until they pay
tribute by right of subjection, and are reduced low." ^

Such, then, is the declared mission of Islam,
arrived at by slow though inevitable steps, and now
imprinted unchangeably upon its banners. The Jews
and Christians, and perhaps the Magians, — " people
of the book " — are to be tolerated, but held in subjec-
tion, and under tribute ; ^ but for the rest, the sword is
not to be sheathed till they are exterminated or submit
to the faith which is to become " superior to every
other religion." '''

About the middle of the year (A.U. 631) a
heavy grief fell upon Mahomet in the death of his
little son Ibrahim, then about 15 months old. He
fondly trusted that this child might be destined to
transmit his name to posterity ; but now these hopes
were frustrated, ana with a broken heart he followed

' Koran, sura ix. 1-5.

' Sura ix. 29.

^ For its amount, zuW^ Muii, iv. p. 215, note.

* Koran, sura ix. 35.


the beloved remains to the cemetery of El Bakia.^
No spot more sacred than this is visited by the devout
pilgrim to Medina. There lie, with the exception of
Khadija, all the prophet's wives, the " Mothers of the
Faithful," as they one by one passed away. There in
his untimely grave lies Othman, the third Caliph ;
and there is seen the sepulchre of Abbas, the
ancestor of those mighty princes who, on the ruin of
the house of Omeya, held high state in Baghdad. There
are the tombs of Halima the prophet's nurse, of three
of his daughters, and of the murdered Hasan, his
grandson, and there are interred many of the pious
dead who are accounted martyrs, princes, and imams
in the calendar of Islam. In this ground, then, the
little Ibrahim found his last resting-place.

Few incidents in the life of the prophet, illus-
trative of the growth of Islam remain, which need
claim our attention. I have endeavoured in what
has already been written to give the reader a clear
and accurate account of the manner in which his
religion was begun, developed, and consummated ;
and how in all its wonderful growth it took so deep
a colouring from the love, the hatred, and the ambi-
tion of Mahomet himself. And it has seemed to me
that in showing its intimate association with his own
story, I should best present a life-like picture of the
mighty spiritual empire which claims him as its

For a full account of "El Bakia," vide Burton's " El Mec-
cah and El Medinah," ii. 301. Fatima is buried in the Hujrah
of the mosque at Medina. Halima's intercession with Ma-
homet, for his good offices, is invoked at her tomb.


As the approaching shadows of death begin to
fall across his path, it is pleasing to notice from
many circumstances that the natural magnanimity of
his character more distinctly asserts itself, and forms
a bright and pleasing contrast with the unscrupulous
deeds of his earlier career at Medina. Though
abating nothing of his exalted pretension to be the
very apostle of God, though claiming for Islam a
universal supremacy which was to brook no opposi-
tion, and submit to no diminution, he yet exhibits a
calm submission to the will of God, and a perfect
reliance on His unmerited mercy for admission to the
Paradise of the Faithful.^

On the return of the sacred month (March A.D.
632), Mahomet, accompanied by all his wives,
selected his victims, assumed the pilgrim garb, and set
out, on what is called " The Valedictory Pilgrimage "
to the holy places, from which every trace of the old
superstition had been removed, and which, in accor-
dance with his orders of the previous year, no
idolater was to visit. Approaching the Kaaba by
the gate of the Beni Sheyba, he carefully performed
all the ceremonies of the " Omra " or " L-esser
Pilgrimage," and then proceeded to consummate
those of the greater. On the 8th of the holy month
Dzul-Hijja, he rode to the Wadi Mina, some three
miles east of Mecca, and rested there for the night.
Next day passing Mosdalifa, the midway station, he
reached in the evening the valley in which stands the
granite hill of Arafat. From the "summit he spoke
to the pilgrims regarding its sacred precincts, an-
' B. Smith, " Mohammed," p. 103.


nounced to them the perfecting of their religion,"
offered up the prescribed prayers, and hurried back
to MosdaHfa for the night. On the loth proceeding
to Mina, he cast the accustomed stones, slew the
victims brought for sacrifice,^ had his head shaved
and his nails pared, ordering the hair, &c., to be
burnt; and the ceremonies ended, laid aside the
pilgrim garb. At Mina, during his three days' stay,
he preached to the pilgrims, called them to witness
that he had faithfully fulfilled his mission, and urged
them not to depart from the exact observances of the
religion which he had appointed. ^ Returning to
Mecca, he again went through the ceremonies of the
Omra, made the circuit of the temple, drank of the
well Zem Zem, prayed in the Kaaba, and thus, having
rigorously performed all the ceremonies, that his
example might serve as a model for all succeeding
time, he returned to Medina.^

The excitement and fatigue of his journey to
the holy places told sensibly on his health, which
for some time had shown indications of increasing
infirmity. In the death of Ibrahim he had received
a blow which weighed down his spirit ; the poison of
Kheibar still rankled in his veins, afflicted him at
times with excruciating pam, and bowed him to the

' Called "The Ransom."

* At Mina, Mahomet directed that the months of pilgrimage
should be fixed according to the lunar year.

^ Conf. Muir, iv. 235 et seq. Also Burton, vol. iii., for de-
tails of the pilgrimages. See also •* Chambers's Miscellany,"
vol. X. No. 148, which gives a condensed account of Burckhardt's
visit to Mecca.


grave. His life had been a hard and a stirring one,
and now the important affairs of his spiritual and
temporal kingdom, and the cares of his large domestic
circle, denied him that quiet and seclusion for which
he longed. 1

It was about the end of May (A.D. 632) that
he was attacked with a violent fever, which, though
abating at times, was the beginning of his last illness.
During the course of the malady, one sleepless night,
he paid a visit to the cemetery of El Bakia, there
remained long in prayer for forgiveness, and for the
dead, whose quiet rest he envied, and to whose
peaceful state he asserted himself to be hastening.
The fever continued for some seven or eight days,
and left him but little strength once more to address
his followers in the mosque. To them tradition
makes him to have announced his approaching dis-
solution, and to have told the weeping crowd that
from the free choice of life and death, offered him by
Heaven, he had selected " to depart and to be near
his Lord"; and then commending the refugees of
Mecca to the Medina converts, he returned to the

' During the year the pretensions of two impostors (among
others) claiming the possession of prophetic powers caused him
trouble and anxiety. One of these, Maseilama, found his pro-
posals "to divide the earth " indignantly rejected by Mahomet,
and himself stigmatized as a liar. He and his followers were
crushed in the Caliphate of Abu Bekr. The other, Aswad,
an Arab of wealth and influence, revolted and overran Najram,
took the town of Sana in Yemen, and subdued the whole penin-
sula from the Ilejaz to the Persian Gulf. His career was sud-
denly brought to an end by assassination, about the time of
Mahomet's death.


room of Ayesha. His illness increasing he deputed
Abu Bekr to lead the public prayers, and this was
generally understood to intimate, that in the event of
his death, he designed him for his successor.

About the 8th of June he had regained suffi-
cient strength to make a final visit to the mosque.
Viewing with joy the devotion of his followers, who,
on the news of his illness had assembled in crowds,
he proclaimed that he had made lawful to them only
what God approved, that each one of them must work
out his own acceptance with God, inasmuch as he him-
self had no power to save them ; and after discharging
some small claims, he returned exhausted and faint-
ing to Ayesha's room. With his head on her lap he
prayed for assistance in his last agonies, and for
admission to the companionship of God. Ayesha
tried in every way to soothe the sufferings of his last
moments. Ejaculatory words at intervals escaped
his lips, "Eternity of Paradise!" — "Pardon!" —
"The glorious associates on high!" — and then all was
still. The prophet of Mecca was dead.^

' Minute details of the death-bed utterances of Mahomet will
be found in the larger works of his life. Nearly all rest on
tradition subsequently collected, and are more or less open to
the suspicion of having been invented, or coloured by the rival
sacerdotal and political factions which in a few years convulsed
the Caliphate,— Omeyades, Alides, Abbassides, and the party
of Ayesha ; Shias and Sunnis seeking by the prophet's utter-
ances to support their political pretensions. Conf. Muir, iv.

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