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Prophet was riding ; this observation led to an alter-
cation between their respective followers, which the
Prophet succeeded in appeasing. These Hypocrites,
as they are called by an Abyssinian name in the
Koran, otherwise " those in whose hearts is sickness,"
were destined for long to be a thorn in the Prophet's
side. Professedly acknowledging his mission and
consequent authority, they were ever thwarting his
plans, intriguing with his foes, and calling attention
to the inconsistency of his Koran. To Mohammed
however the world consisted of only two classes,
those who acknowledged his mission and those who
rejected it ; and though he gave vent to his feelings
on the subject of the Hypocrites in the Koran, he
was confident that the illogicality of their position
must of itself lead them to become either open foes
or loyal friends. He therefore put up with many an
affront from them, and lived to see their leader left
without supporters.

The " Hypocrites M had probably no preconceived
notion of what a prophet should be like. But the
Jews had, and it is certain that Mohammed wished to
conciliate the Jews as far as was possible ; one of the
problems which he had to face was whether he

* Bokhari, ii., 165.

226 Mohammed

should or should not identify his system with Juda-
ism : and it seems likely that he was inclined to do
this. Arriving at Kuba on their Day of Atone-
ment, he adopted it as a fast day, and even sent or-
ders to the tribe Aslam, when it was converted, to
keep it * (what the Jews can have thought of this
not knowing of the Day of Atonement we can con-
jecture) ; and the task of determining the day on
which it should be kept was confided to a Jew. f
Picking up the piece of information that the Jews
expected prophets to come from Syria, he even
started on a journey thither, but saw difficulties in
the way of executing this, and so desisted. \ When
a Jewish funeral passed, the Prophet and his follow-
ers stood up till it was out of sight. § A Jew, says
Anas Ibn Malik (the Prophet's servant), invited him
to a meal of barley-bread and rancid fat, and he
accepted the offer. || Pedantry prevented the Jews
from seeing that the sign of a true prophet — or at
least the best substitute for one — was the possession
of a will and intellect capable of introducing order
and tranquillity at Yathrib. Had the Jews been
prepared to give him the title Prophet, they might
have had him for their disciple. If the Old and New
Testaments are .trustworthy, even prophets who
could produce the most authentic credentials had
little chance with the Jews : hence Mohammed,
who had none that the Jews would recognise, had

* Isabah, iii., 1259.

f Tabarani ap. Mahmoud Effendi, Le Calendrier Arabe % p. 25.

\ Baidawi on Surah xvii., 76.

%Musnad, iii., 295, etc.

H Ibid., 211.

The Migration 227

no chance with them. The Rabbis probably ex-
pected that a prophet should be able to speak
Hebrew, and finding him unable to do that, some
vented their opinions of his prophetic cla m some-
what freely. Others addressed him questions of no
great difficulty (e. g t what were the nine signs given
to Moses?), and finding his answers hopelessly
wrong, courteously expressed themselves satisfied,
but excused themselves from acknowledging him on
the ground that their Messiah must be of the seed
of David. * In the assemblies at which the Call was
discussed he had to put up with serious personal
affronts from them, and such meetings were apt to
lead to rioting and violence, f

The biographer Ibn Ishak produces a contract,
made shortly after his arrival, in which the modus
vivendi at Medinah is laid down. Wellhausen, who
has acutely analysed its contents, throws no doubt
on its being the work of the Prophet, but finds some
difficulty in its never being cited during the many
disputes that arose between Mohammed and the
Jews, and also in the fact that there is no record of
any formalities attending its introduction such as
might have been executed. One placed in Moham-
med's position would not, however, have entered into
a treaty ; it is even somewhat surprising that he
should have given a rescript, except in the form of
a divine revelation. But the Prophet displayed so
much caution that he was perhaps unwilling to put
into the mouth of God concessions the withdrawal

* Musnad, iv., 240.
\Bokhari, iv., 4.

228 Mohammed

of which he may have contemplated from the first.
The purpose of the document is to arrange for the
relations of the different communities inhabiting
Medinah. Blood-money and ransoms were to be in-
cumbent on the respective tribes as before, but Mos-
lems of all tribes are recommended to help in such
cases, in order to prevent any of their number being
too heavily embarrassed. Protection is promised to
the Jews so long as they give no cause for offence.
In the case of general warfare each tribe is to pay
its own expenses. Only the people of Meccah are
excluded from the possibility of friendly relations.

It is not certain whether the contract was made
at this time or somewhat later. In any case the
position of the Jews was one of some difficulty. It
was not forgotten that the sources of information
about prophets, revelations, angels, etc., to both
Meccans and Medinese were Jews, and that Mo-
hammed had relied on Jewish witnesses. The Jews
of Medinah, then, by the mere fact that they were
not with Mohammed, were against him. For if they
did not welcome the Messiah, either they or the
Messiah must deserve reprehension. Moreover, the
envy of many of them was doubtless aroused by
the reflection that Mohammed's power had been
won by his use of their Bible ; of which he had not
a beginner's knowledge as compared with them.
Their efforts lay therefore in the direction of dis-
crediting him before his followers from Meccah and

A Jew of the tribe Kuraizah is said to have
taken the trouble to translate a portion of the Old

The Migration 229

Testament into Arabic, in the hope of ruining the
Prophet's reputation. He brought his version to
Omar, perhaps expecting that this formidable per-
sonage's eyes might be opened thereby. But Omar
would not read the book without asking the Pro-
phet's permission, which naturally was not granted.*
" If Moses himself were to come to life," he added,
"you would have no right to follow him and aban-
don me."f Others tried the plan of joining the
Moslems for a time, and then returning, alleging
that they had found some reason for dissatisfaction :
hoping thereby to make it easier for others to retire.
A few of the Jews, as might be expected, perma-
nently joined the newcomers. Abdallah, son of
Salam, of the tribe Kainuka, was the most cele-
brated : he is said to have advised Mohammed to
ask for his character from his brethren before they
knew of his apostacy ; and having given him a glow-
ing testimonial, they were greatly embarrassed when
they learnt what had happened. Mohammed, en-
chanted with this accession, told him he was already
in Paradise — a compliment which he bestowed on no
other person. J His two nephews followed his ex-
ample, and four other Jews, Asad § and Usaid, sons
of Ka'b, Tha'labah, son of Kais, and Yasin, 1 son of
Yamin, made up the seven converts to Islam from
the Jewish community.!" More than one of these

*Isabah, ii., 699 ; Musttad, iii., 387.
f Musnad, iv. , 266.
\Isabah, i., 169.
§ The name means Lion (Lttwe).
I Perhaps a Benjamin who took the name Yasin.
Tf Isabah, ii., 231.

230 Mohammed

appropriated to himself the text of the Koran in
which the testimony of a member of the Children of
Israel is cited.* Probably all did not join at once.
The Jews are said to have submitted a case of adul-
tery to him for judgment, and to have expressed ex-
treme dissatisfaction when he ordered the culprits
to be stoned. Mohammed declared his ruling to be
in accordance with the Law of Moses — as, indeed, it
appears to be ; but when the Law was produced, the
passage could not be found, which Mohammed sup-
posed to be due to fraud. In another f case he or-
dered a Jew to be stoned for having robbed and
murdered a believing slave girl. Nine months;):
after his arrival a serious misfortune befell him in
the death of the Jew-hater § As'ad, son of Zurarah,
who had done so much to promote the Flight. The
Prophet tried to heal him by cauterisation, but
thereby either accelerated or, at least, did not pre-
vent his death. The Jews naturally jeered. || Their
prophets had tried less painful remedies, and suc-
ceeded. A yet worse misfortune befell the Prophet
when from ignorance of palmiculture he forbade the
fertilisation of the female palms : when a plantation
became sterile in consequence he had to confess to
having spoken without book. T

Disputes, leading to violence, broke out between
the Jews and Mohammed's fanatical followers.

* IsabaA, iii., 968.
f Musnad, iii., 163.
\ Ibn ScCd II., ii. 141.
§ Wakidi{W.), 414.
I Tabari, i., 1260.
*§ Musnad, iv., 138 ; Ibn Sa'd II. r ii., 140.

The Migration 231

Even the traditions show that in these disputes the
Jews scored in argument. Abu Bakr came to beg
money of them, quoting the words of the Koran :
" Who will lend God a good loan ? " " If God wants
a loan," replied Pinchas, son of Azariah, " He must
be in distressed circumstances " ; — forgetting that in
the Old Testament men are advised to " lend unto
the Lord." The repartee was answered by a blow;
instead of returning it the Jew went to whine before
Mohammed and (apparently) denied having said
anything. The Angel Gabriel came to Abu Bakr's
rescue, * confirming his account of the atrocity — and,
indeed, Abu Bakr was not likely to have invented it
himself — and raking up the old charge against the
Jews of killing the prophets. The same charge
served as an answer to those pious Israelites who,
looking over their sacred books, discovered how in
Elijah's time it had been generally agreed that a
prophet could prove himself one by offering a sacri-
fice, which heavenly fire would devour. " If that be
so," Mohammed was divinely authorised to reply,
" why did you kill the prophets ? "

It is asserted that the Jews attempted to deal
with Mohammed by those magic processes in which
they were supposed to be adepts. A page-boy had
access to the hair on his comb, and the possession of
this would give the sorcerer command over the per-
son to whom it belonged. The waxen image, the
knots, and the needles were all tried. Labid, son of
Al-A'sam is given as the name of the sorcerer who
undertook, for a small remuneration, to bewitch the

* Surah, in., 177.

232 Mohammed

Prophet. It is possible that this expedient was not
tried till after the latter had, by his actions, mani-
fested his intention to exterminate the Jewish com-
munity ; but even shortly after his arrival the Jews
boasted that by their magic they had produced
barrenness among the Moslem women * ; and with
plausibility, if it be true that the first child born to
the Moslems of Medinah appeared fourteen months
after the Prophet's arrival.f A few months were
sufficient to produce mutual contempt and dislike.
Jewish schoolboys could refute the pretensions of
the Koran ; Jewish chieftains might with impunity
be cuffed by the followers of Mohammed. The
Jews, too, professed disgust at a prophet whose
chief concern was his harem — though their studies
in the Old Testament should have shown them that
this was not incongruous. Mohammed got an idea
that the Jews were always plotting to murder him,
and, in a saying that is probably genuine, declared
that whenever a Moslem sat with a Jew, the latter
was thinking how he could kill the former J; while
the Jews, with more obvious justice, asserted the con-
verse. § In tales that were afterwards invented early
harbingers of Islam warn the Prophet's grandfather
or the youthful Prophet himself against the hostility
of the Jews. There were indeed many causes for
collision as we have seen ; and want of cleanliness in
the Jewish habitations further offended the Pro-

* Tabari, i., 1264, 3.
f Isabah, iii., 1151.
\ Jahiz, Bayan, i., 165.
§ Talm. Bab. Erubin.

The Migration 233

phet,* who, in those matters, was somewhat fastidi-
ous. Yet, doubtless, the Prophet's ultimate deter-
mination to destroy the Jews was due to his secret
recognition of their superior knowledge of matters
on which he claimed authority. That knowledge
was dangerous to him but useless to the Jews. The
Jewish learning was sufficient to irritate, but not of
a sort which gave its holders any power of self-
defence ; for to their sorceries it is improbable that
the more respectable members of the community
attached any importance save under the influence
of despair. Failing in courage, they might, by well
directed study, have rendered themselves more than
a match for a man who did not even know that the
year was determined by the relations between the
earth and the sun. But the study of their Talmud
was valueless for any practical purpose.

One other visitor deserves mention, the " Christian,"
Abu 'Amir — an influential Medinese chieftain who
is said to have discarded paganism before Moham-
med's missionaries came. It was not to be expected
that Mohammed would find favour with such a man
and the interview was stormy. He himself, with his
following, left Medinah, and made many an abortive
attempt to injure Mohammed. Perhaps it occurred
to him that, if what Yathrib wanted was a teacher
of monotheism, he could and should have filled the

* Ibn DuraiJ, 315.



A FEW months at Medinah found the Prophet
at the end of his resources. Fresh arrivals from
Meccah, such as Mikdad, son of 'Amr, who
has already been mentioned, found none of the Help-
ers ready to receive them.* Many of the Refugees
had no shelter but the Mosque, had not sufficient
clothing for decency, and went almost without food.
Mohammed had to teach that what was enough for
two was enough for three or even for four.f One date
per day, eked out with some of the herbs on which
camels browse, counted as a man's rations, \ and one
garment had to serve for two wearers. How parsi-
monious the Prophet was compelled to be is shown
by the fact that when, seven months after his arrival,
he married Ayeshah, there was no wedding feast.
Since her father, the faithful Abu Bakr, provided
the bridegroom with the indispensable gift to the
bride, perhaps this ill-assorted union (for as such we
must characterise the marriage of a man of fifty-three
to a child of nine, dragged from her swing and her

* Musnad, vi., 4.
f Muslim, ii., 148.
\ Ibid., no.


The Battle of Badr 235

toys) was accelerated by the desire to obtain some
ready money.

• It had originally been arranged that the Refugees
should assist the Helpers in their field-work*; but
knowing nothing of palmiculture, f they could only
perform the most menial services; thus some % liter-
ally hewed wood and drew water; some§ were
employed in watering palms, carrying skins on their
backs ; and AH at least on one occasion earned
sixteen dates by filling buckets with water, and
emptying them over mould for brick-making at the
rate of a date a bucket ; which hardly earned meal
he shared with the Prophet. || The Refugees found
rather more prospect of earning money by retail
trading ; thus Abu Bakr sold clothes in the marketer ;
Othman, son of 'Affan,** became a fruiterer, buying
dates of the Banu Kainuka, and selling them at a
higher price ; Abd al- Rahman, son of 'Auf, set up as
a milkman ff ; Omar too spent much of his time bar-
gaining in the market \% ; and others §§ got the name
of " the hucksters," altered by Mohammed to " the
Merchants." The date-growing industry had how-
ever been severely hit by the Prophet's orders for-
bidding artificial fertilisation, and prohibiting loans

* Bokhari, ii., 174.

f Tabari, Comm., xxviii., 27.

\ Mustiad, iii., 137.

%/bid , i., 8.

|| Ibid., 135 ; Tiraz aUMajalis, 157.

^ Ibn Sa'd, iii., 130.

** Afusnad, i., 62.

\\Ibn Sa'd //., ii., 77.

XX Afusnad, iv., 400.

%%/bid.,6 t 7.

236 Mohammed

on the security of the prospective produce. The
mischief caused by the former of these measures
seems sufficient to account for much in the sequel.
It produced artificial scarcity at a time when plenty
was specially required. One or two of the Refugees
appear to have attempted to carry on foreign trade
in the style of Meccah, and we shall presently meet
Ali starting, though unsuccessfully, in business of
this sort. Omar too appears to have had trade con-
nections with Persia.*

It must be admitted that the Prophet shared to
the full the misery of his followers : and indeed, as
he refused to employ the Alms for his private needs,
he had no source of revenue. Like some other great
rulers, he connected taxation with unpopularity ;
and the notion which is familiar from the Gospel,
that independent citizens do not pay taxes, was cer-
tainly current in Medinah. Hence, when casual and
private generosity failed, he was content to starve.
Charitable persons used to invite the Prophet, see-
ing his face pinched with hunger, f Months used to
pass, said Ayeshah, without any fire being lighted
in their dwelling, their food* being dates and
water.J His daughter Fatimah was stinted, and
after her marriage the little recorded of her con-
sists mainly of complaints about the misery of
her lot.§ When presents of food were sent to the
Prophet, he would share it with the " people of the

* Musnad, iii., 347.
f Tirmidhi, i., 203.
\ Musnad, vi., 71.
§E.g M Musnad, v., 26,

The Battle of Badr 237

Shed," the homeless Moslems who were compelled
to seek refuge in the Mosque, — where in the course
of time a sort of hospital was started by a woman
called Ku'aibah, daughter of 'Utbah.* Miracles by
which multitudes were fed or a small quantity of
provisions was made to last indefinitely were indeed
ascribed to him by the fancy of later generations:
but it is evident that, welcome as these powers
would have been, he neither possessed them nor let
it be supposed that he did. Oppressed with this
grinding poverty, starved, naked, and frozen, the True
Believers naturally felt some resentment against the
Jews, from whom nothing was to be had without
security, who were merciless about the recovery of
debts, f and who were enjoying opulence (as it
seemed) as the result of their skill in industries of
various sorts, of their thrift and their business
capacity. Bitter reproaches on their meanness were
consequently heard from the Prophet's mouth and in-
deed produced in revelations. Nor did a request for a
loan of raiment addressed to " Halik, the Christian "
meet with a more favourable response. % Among
the people of Medinah some pious women, § as
might be expected, placed large portions of their
possessions at the Prophet's disposal. Some of
these undertook to provide for a fixed number of
individuals, but it became evident that some new
source of revenue must be discovered.

* Wakidi (IV.), 215.
fCf. Musnad, ill. » 423.
J Musnad, iii., 244.
% Muslim, ii., 379.

238 Mohammed

One mode of acquiring a living is open to the
very poorest, when there is impunity ; and that is
robbery. We do not know whether the Prophet
when he fled to Medinah foresaw that he would
assume the character of robber-chief ; but his at-
taching to himself the robbers of the tribe Aslam,
and the provision in the contract which has been
quoted, excluding the Meccans from all friendly
relations, make it likely that even then he expected
to have to fall back on plundering their caravans.
Having been with these caravans himself so often, he
had the most special knowledge of the best mode of
attacking them. The idea however of utilising the
position of Medinah for attacking the caravans is said
to have first occurred to one of the converts of Medi-
nah, who visited the Ka'bah shortly after the Flight.*
Mohammed's experience had moreover taught him
to regard the fighting powers of the Meccans as of
poor quality. The view that the Kuraish were
cowards \ was held by many in Arabia — not without
justice, as the sequel will show, — and the manner in
which they had dealt with Mohammed must have
enforced this fact on his mind.J Their treatment of
himself had displayed a degree of cowardice and im-
becility which could not fail to be rightly gauged by a
man who could estimate his fellows with precision
after a single interview. But besides this like many
exiles he had a passionate desire to wipe out the

* Musnad, i. , 400.

\Jahiz, Opuscuta, 61.

% He is credited with the assertion, " the strength of a Kurashite
is equal to that of two men " ; but its import is doubtful. Musnad %
iv., 83.

The Battle of Badr 239

insult to which he had been subjected, in being
forced to quit his native town. The people who
had driven him out were those on whom he wished
to force his authority ; whom he wished to see
repenting in dust and ashes of their insolence. If
the Kuraish had been afraid to shed his blood, he
was not afraid to shed theirs. A fresh relationship
had been substituted for tribal kinship. When he
first announced his new policy, some of the more
earnest of his followers were shocked at the idea of
fighting, remembering how at Meccah they had
been told to return good for evil * ; but their scruples
were silenced by a revelation ; and other revelations
were required to comfort those Refugees who act-
ually missed the society of their unbelieving friends.f
About the time of Ayeshah's wedding the first of
these expeditions took place ; and though they were
repeated continually, some months passed before
they led to any brilliant result. According to the
contract only Refugees took part in them : and they
did not at first possess the familiar acquaintance
with the region which is indispensable to a brigand.
Either they arrived on the scene too late, or some-
thing occurred to render their efforts unsuccess-
ful. These attempts, however, taught the Prophet
something about the capacity of his followers,
and brought him into relations with the surround-
ing tribes. And even the failures impressed on the
Refugees the necessity of earning their living by the

* Wahidi, 24.

\ Talari, fetr/*-, »«i 4ft.

240 Mohammed

The first commanders employed by the Prophet
were his uncle Hamzah, and his cousin 'Ubaidah,
son of Harith. Hamzah was sent to waylay a cara-
van returning in the spring from Syria. The spot
chosen was in the territory of the tribe Juhainah,
where the road into the interior of Arabia passes
near the sea, and is crossed by a wady called Ts.
The Meccans, as peaceful merchants, had secured
the protection of the tribes through whose lands
their caravans passed, and the head of the Juhainah,
Majdi, son of 'Amr, discharged his duty manfully in
seeing that the caravan was not attacked in his land.
On the only other occasion when he figures in
history * he is performing a similar duty\ Hamzah
with his thirty men could not deal with both Kuraish
and Juhainah, and went home.

A few weeks later, 'Ubaidah, son of Harith, was
sent with a larger party to waylay a caravan at
Rabigh, also near the seashore, midway between
Medinah and Mecca. Sa'd, son of Abu Wakkas,
one of the party, shot an arrow ; but the leader
appears to have been wanting in courage, and the
Meccans were not at present disposed to fight their
former brethren, whose attempts they probably

To Sa'd, son of Abu Wakkas, not unnaturally the
next expedition was entrusted (May, 623). He was
to catch a caravan at a place called Kharrar, near
where the pilgrim roads from Syria and Egypt
meet, five days from Medinah. He arrived a day
too late.

*Agh t iv., 22.

The Battle of Badr 24 1

During the sacred months nothing was attempted ;
but near the middle of the following August (Safar)
Mohammed made another endeavour, heading the
expedition himself. This was to a place called Wad-
dan, an emporium in the days of Ezekiel, but at this
time of no account. The caravan escaped him, but
he made some sort of covenant with the head of the
Banu Damrah, in whose territory Waddan then lay.

The notice of this event is so meagre that we have
no knowledge of the process by which Mohammed
accomplished this small success. It is so worded as
to make it appear that the Prophet made a feint of
attacking the Banu Damrah themselves, and spared
them on condition of their entering an offensive
and defensive alliance; while the contract, as it is

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthMohammed and the rise of Islam → online text (page 16 of 32)