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thropist is due in the main to the inventions of
Abu Hurairah, the first Traditionalist. His method
was adopted by many Moslems in later ages, and
has probably done far more good than evil : but the
honour of inventing it appears to belong to this in-
genious convert.

The return of the Prophet from Hudaibiyah was
marked by a slight success, illustrating the degree of
courage and competence which might now be ex-
pected from a Moslem fighter. The story may be
told in the words of the chief actor, who is likely
indeed to have exaggerated his achievement, but
perhaps has not seriously misrepresented the facts. *

" We reached Medinah," said Salamah, son of Al-Akwa',
"after Hudaibiyah with the Prophet. Rubah, the
Prophet's slave, and I took the Prophet's camels out to
pasture, and I also led the horse of Talhah, son of
Ubaidallah. At dead of night a raid was made on the
camels by Abd al-Rahman,f son of 'Uyainah, who
killed the herdsman, and proceeded to lift the camels
with the aid of some men mounted on horses. I
bade Rubah mount the horse, ride it to its owner
Talhah, and inform the Prophet of the raid on his
camels. Mounting a hill, and turning my face towards
Medinah, I proceeded to shout ' Raid ! ' three times ; I
then went after the raiders with my sword and my



* Musnad, iv., 52, 53. Others give the event a different date,
f This name, which could only have belonged to a Moslem, is
incorrect.



354 Mohammed

arrows, and proceeded to shoot them down and wound
their horses. The ground was here covered with trees,
and whenever a horseman turned upon me, I sat down
at the foot of a tree, and shot at the horse under him,
crying out my name. When the ravine became narrow,
I got on the top of the hill, and hurled stones down on
them. This went on till I had got every camel that
belonged to the Prophet behind my back, in safety.
This continued till they had aimed thirty lances at me,
and thrown down thirty cloaks, to lighten the burden
on their horses. On each one of these I threw a stone.
Near midday reinforcements were brought them by
'Uyainah, son of Badr, of the tribe Fazarah ; the
enemy were in a narrow ravine, and I on the mount-
ain above. 'Uyainah asked them who I was, and they
replied that I had been giving them great trouble and
had rescued from them all their plunder. 'Uyainah
said that I must certainly have some reinforcements
behind me, or else I should have let them alone. Four
men then at his command climbed the mountain to
attack me. When I had told them who I was, I also
assured them that not one of them could come up with
me or outrun me if I followed him. One of them re-
plied, ' I think otherwise,' but at that moment I saw
some of the Prophet's horsemen entering the wood.
The first were Al-Akhram of the tribe Asad, followed
by Abu-Katadah, the Prophet's best horseman, followed
by Al-Mikdad. The enemy immediately turned their
backs and fled. I ran down the hill, and seizing Al-
Akhram's rein, bade him be careful, as the enemy
might cut him off. He had better wait, I said, till the
Prophet and the rest of his followers had come up.
1 Salamah,' he replied, * if you believe in God and the
last day, and know that the Garden is real and the Fire



Steps towards the Taking of Meccah 355

real, then do not stand between me and martyrdom.'
So I let go his rein, and he galloped up to Abd al-
Rahman, son of 'Uyainah, who turned upon him, and
the two exchanged sword-thrusts, in which Al-Akhram
was killed, and Abd al-Rahman's horse disabled. Abd
al- Rahman leapt on Al-Akhram's horse, but was im-
mediately attacked by Abu Katadah, and this time Abd
al- Rahman was killed, and Abu Katadah's horse dis-
abled. Abu Katadah leapt on Al-Akhram's horse, but
meanwhile I ran on far in front of my friends, and drove
the enemy by my arrows from a well at which they had
intended watering, called Dhu Karad, and seized two
of their horses which I brought to the Prophet, who had
now come up with five hundred men. I then begged
the Prophet for a hundred men, promising to overtake
and annihilate the whole of the enemy with them.
But before I could start, news reached the Prophet that
they had rested in the Ghatafan country, where a chief
had slaughtered a camel to entertain them ; but finding
the flesh of the camel, when flayed, to be ashy in colour,
they had been alarmed by the omen, and fled hurriedly
to their homes. The Prophet thereupon assigned me a
foot-soldier's as well as a horseman's share of the spoil,
and set me on his camel behind him, as we returned to
Medinah."

Each time the Prophet had failed, or scored an in-
complete success, he compensated for it by an attack
on the Jews ; the policy had served too well to be
abandoned after the unsatisfactory affair of Hudai-
biyah, and therefore a raid on the Jews of Khaibar
was speedily planned.* Khaibar was famous as the
richest village in the Hijaz ; it would appear from its

♦Muharram, a.h. 7, identified with June, A.D. 628.



356 Mohammed

name (Hebrew, "community ") to have been origin-
ally a Jewish settlement ; it is divided from Medinah
by about a hundred miles chiefly of harrak, or lava-
formation.* Rarely visited by Europeans, it was
the residence of the great explorer Doughty for some
months in the year 1877. The oasis at the edge of
which it is situated is luxuriantly fertile, and was
skilfully cultivated by the Jews. But the place was
also well fortified ; many names of fortresses are
mentioned by Ibn Ishak ; some parts of the old forti-
fications remaining to this day. The Hisn, or citadel
rock of basalt, stands solitary in the Wadi Zeydieh ;
and upon its southern skirt is built the clay village.
The length of the walled platform is two hundred
paces, and the breadth ninety. Mohammed by this
time knew the Jews too well to fear that there would
be any difficulty in storming their fortifications, how-
ever strong. Following the principle of his raid
after Uhud, he only permitted those to accompany
him who had shared the expedition to Hudaibiyah.
The route which he followed required three days;
the names of the places at which he rested are pre-
served by the biographers but seem otherwise to be
unknown.

Abdallah Ibn Ubayy (whose name the Jews must by
this time have heard with curses) is said to have sent
word to the inhabitants of Khaibar of the coming
storm ; and the Jews, from whom this could scarcely
have been concealed in any case, sent to the Ghatafan
tribes, whose home was in their neighbourhood, re-
questing their aid. Mohammed, whose guides were

* Doughty, i., 73.



Steps towards the Taking of Meccah 357

skilful men of the tribe Ashja', succeeded in finding
his way between the Ghatafan and Khaibar, and, by
a feigned attack on the possessions of the former,
averting the danger of a confederation. It would
seem that cordial assistance was rarely extended to
the Israelites, who, as has been seen, regularly aban-
doned each other to destruction.

The Prophet's prayer on the occasion of this raid
is faithfully recorded. His God had by this time ac-
quired the chief attributes of the Roman Laverna
or goddess of gain ; and he prayed that rich booty
might be accorded them. Indeed it is probable that
he had already pledged God's word for the success
of the expedition ; when he published his revelation
about Hudaibiyah, God had promised them much
plunder, and was giving this (*. e., Khaibar) at once.
This raid on a town so distant as one hundred miles
from Medinah, in the opposite direction to that which
his previous raids had taken, shows that he already
contemplated the conquest of Arabia, if not of the
world.

Wakidi has given a long account of the siege, and
the Jews appear to have defended themselves better
than might have been expected. Some accounts
protract it for a couple of months, during the first of
which the Jews are supposed to have been aided by
their Arab allies; who, however, took the opportun-
ity of quitting on a rumour reaching them that their
homes were attacked. The Jewish forts held out
well — over one called Sa'b many lives were lost.
Some of the Khaibar Jews even won respect for
their fighting powers ; one Marhab, before he died,



358 Mohammed

killed the brother of the assassin Mohammed, son of
Maslamah, to perish afterwards by that assassin's
hand ; not, it would seem, in fair fight, but when
Khaibar had surrendered, the prisoner was handed
over to Mohammed Ibn Maslamah, and slain by
him *

As time went on, the Moslem army was near
having to retire for want of food. However, there
were traitors among the Jews of Khaibar, and with
their assistance some forts were stormed ; and other
traitors even revealed to the Moslems the place
where siege machinery was hidden and instructed
the enemy in its use.f Presently Mohammed be-
thought him of the plan which presently became
a prominent institution of Islam. To kill or banish
the industrious inhabitants of Khaibar would not
be good policy, since it was not desirable that the
Moslems, who would constantly be wanted for active
service, should be settled so far from Medinah.
Moreover their skill as cultivators would not equal
that of the former owners of the soil. So he deci-
ded to leave the Jews in occupation, on payment of
half their produce, estimated by Abdallah, son of
Rawahah4 at two hundred thousand wasks of dates.
These Jews of Khaibar were then to be the first
dhimmis, or members of a subject caste, whose lives
were to be guaranteed, but whose earnings were to
go to support the True Believers. Later on the fanatic
Omar drove out the poor cultivators whom the Pro-



* Isabah, iii., 788.
f Wakidi ( fV.), 269.
\Musnad, iii., 367.



Steps towards the Taking of Meccah 359

phet had spared. Meanwhile the Jews, though they
retained their lives and lands, forfeited their goods
— all save their Rolls of the Law. How else could
Allah's pledge be redeemed ? The dhimmis or sub-
ject races derived their name from the relation of
client to patron, which, as we have seen, was of
great consequence in Arabia ; the client being ordi-
narily a man who, for some reason or other, put
himself under the protection of a tribe not his own,
which, doubtless for some consideration, defended
him from his enemies. Thus the Moslems under-
took to protect and fight for the non-Moslem races
who acknowledged their supremacy, though they
rejected their Prophet. Severe penalties were
threatened against Moslems who killed members of
those protected communities.* His recognition of
the principle that a money payment would serve
instead of a religious test shows us how little of a
fanatic the Prophet was at heart.

The taking of Khaibar was marked by two events
which, though of no permanent importance, make
the scene vivid. Huyayy, son of Akhtab, had been
the Prophet's most earnest adversary among the
Jews, and had been assassinated, as has been seen,
by Mohammed's order. His daughter "Safiyyah,"f
was married to Kinanah, grandson of one Abu'l-
Hukaik, like her father one of the Nadirites who
had taken refuge at Khaibar. The Prophet's greed



* Musnad, iv., 237, etc.

f This word means " titbit," i. e., an article specially selected by
the conqueror out of the booty. It is unlikely to have been the
woman's real name.






360 Mohammed

was excited by the thought of some rich silver vessels
which Safiyyah's father had owned, and which had
been the glory of his house. The family were told
to bring out all their possessions and conceal nothing,
under pain of execution. Those vessels they were
as anxious to save as was the Prophet to rob them :
they concealed them, and vowed that they had been
sold or melted down long before. The angel Gabriel
revealed to the Prophet where they were — not a
difficult thing to reveal, as we know from I Promessi
Sposi: the practised pillager knows what are the pos-
sibilities of concealment in the case of a besieged
house ; he knows the secrets which are revealed by
the newly upturned soil, the disordered brickwork,
the cobwebs or dust that have been cleared away.
Some precious things had been concealed perhaps
when Medinah was besieged ; and men act in these
matters instinctively or uniformly, like ants. But
the production of the cups meant death to the
men, and captivity to the women.* Safiyyah was
invited to accept Islam and become the bride of
the murderer of her father, her husband, and her
brothers, of the treacherous enemy who had all but
exterminated her race, and she accepted the offer.
Some Moslems paid her the compliment of thinking
she meant to play a Judith's part, but they did her
more than justice. Just as the Jewish tribes had

* So Wakidi ; but Wakidi ( W.) and Ibn Ishak make another Jew-
betray the hiding-place ; after which Kinanah is tortured by Al-
Zubair, and killed by Mohammed, son of Maslamah. The Kurds
still endeavour to wrench treasure out of their captives by similar
means. In Musnad, iii., 123, the story of Safiyyah is told in a
manner that is inconsistent with the above.



Steps towards the Taking of Meccah 36 1

each played for its own hand, careless of the fate of
the others, so to this woman a share in the harem of
the conqueror made up for the loss of father, hus-
band, brethren, and religion. So Beckwourth found
that a few hours were sufficient to reconcile the
American squaws to captivity. Dragged from the
blood-baths in which their husbands, fathers, and
brothers perished, they in a little time became
cheerful and even merry.*

Another Jewess, Zainab, the wife of Sallam, son
of Mishkam, who figures as a partisan of Mo-
hammed, tried with partial success a plan which
others had attempted — to fail entirely. She found
out what joint was the Prophet's favourite food, and
cooked it for him, richly seasoned with poison. The
Prophet's guest, Bishr, son of Al-Bara, took some
and swallowed it ; and presently died in convulsions.
The Prophet bethought him in time of the enemies
who bring gifts ; and spued the morsel before it
passed down his throat, and had his shoulder bled
at once, as a means of excreting the poison. f But
when three years after he died of fever, he thought
it was Zainab's poison still working within him,
and among his other honours could claim that of
martyrdom.

When the Moslems came to apportion their spoils
they found that the conquest of Khaibar surpassed
every other benefit that God had conferred on their
Prophet. The leader's.one fifth enabled him to enrich
his wives and his concubines, his daughters and their

* Autobiography, pp., 147, 180, 296, 297.
\ Isabah, iv., 400.



362 Mohammed

offspring, his friends and acquaintance, down to the
servants. Eighteen hundred lots were portioned out
for the fourteen hundred fighters ; the two hundred
horsemen got, according to custom, treble lots. To
one flatterer, Lukaim the 'Absite, as a reward for
some felicitous verses, all the sheep of Khaibar
were assigned. Moreover there was no fear of
this wealth melting away as the former booty had
melted ; for the Jews remained to till the land
which became the property of the robbers. The
news of the victory alarmed the neighbouring settle-
ment of Fadak: its people sent to the Prophet half
their produce, ere he came and took away their all :
and he accepted it, for thus the whole profit fell to
him, since it had been won without sword or lance.
The rich Wadi al-Kura, the chief oasis of the Hijaz,
also after a brief struggle fell into his hands ; and
the Jews of Taima accepted the same conditions as
the others.*

The taking of Khaibar marks the stage at which
Islam became a menace to the whole world. True,
Mohammed had now for six years lived by robbery
and brigandage : but in plundering the Meccans
he could plead that he had been driven from his
home and possessions : and with the Jewish tribes of
Medinah he had in each case some outrage, real or
pretended, to avenge. But the people of Khaibar,
all that distance from Medinah, had certainly done
him and his followers no wrong: for their leaving
unavenged the murder of one of their number by his
emissary was no act of aggression. Ali, when told

* Wakidi{W.\ 292.



Steps towards the Taking of Meccah 363

to lead the forces against them, had to enquire
for what he was fighting : and was told that he
must compel them to adopt the formulae of Islam.*
Khaibar was attacked because there was booty to
be acquired there, and the plea for attacking it was
that its inhabitants were not Moslems. That plea
would cover attacks on the whole world outside Medi-
nah and its neighbourhood : and on leaving Khaibar
the Prophet seemed to see the world already in his
grasp. This was a great advance from the early
days of Medinah, when the Jews were to be tolerated
as equals, and even idolators to be left unmolested,
so long as they manifested no open hostility. Now
the fact that a community was idolatrous, or Jewish,
or anything but Mohammedan, warranted a murder-
ous attack upon it : the passion for fresh conquests
dominated the Prophet as it dominated an Alex-
ander before him or a Napoleon after him.

He was joined at Khaibar by the Abyssinian re-
fugees, and declared the arrival of some of them to be
more welcome to him than even the taking of Khai-
bar. There were sixteen men and about the same
number of women, for whom the Abyssinian mon-
arch had provided two vessels : we suppose that
after the massacre of the Kuraizah the Prophet had
sent for them, having no lack of land to offer them ;
forwarding as a present to the Abyssinian King
a silken jubbah — a robe which had been presented
him by a monkf — perhaps out of respect for the

* Muslim , ii., 237. On the other hand in WakidVs narrative the
people of Khaibar are made out to have been planning attacks on
Medinah.

f Musnad, iii. 3.37,



364 Mohammed

man who had massacred so many Jews. Of the
Abyssinian refugees not a few had ended their lives
in exile : one had turned Christian, telling his fellows
that his eyes were fully opened, while theirs were
still half closed. Until his death the Abyssinian
King maintained friendly relations with Moham-
med : but the well-meant hospitality of the Chris-
tian won no favour for his co-religionists when
the process of rapine had reached Christian fron-
tiers. Perhaps a man would never rise high un-
less he turned away each ladder whereby he had
ascended : others coming after might overtake him.
When the homily which had originally won the
Christian's favour was incorporated in the Koran,
fresh texts were inserted, condemning the Christian
theory of their Master's nature in no ambiguous
terms. The doctrine of the Son of God was branded
as a blasphemy sufficient to cause an earthquake or
general convulsion of the universe. Hence Christ-
ians might with impunity be plundered. And in-
deed a Christian living at Medinah was summoned
to adopt Islam on pain of forfeiting half his goods.*
About the time of the campaign of Khaibar he
published his programme of world-conquest by send-
ing letters to the rulers of whose fame he had heard.
Being told that such letters must be sealed, he had a
seal of silver made, with the words " Mohammed the
Prophet of God " inscribed thereon on an Abyssin-
ian stone.f This seal is said to have adorned the
finger of his three successors, till the last of them let

* Isabah, i., 482.
f Muslim, ii., 158.



JfrjiJU leuJ t ^ai-U ^^ Jl/ i l4 )^

,jb ^ t tTHLk^A ......




LETTER OF THE PROPHET TO THE "MUKAUKIS," DISCOVERED BY
M. ETIENNE BARTHE*LEMY; BELIEVED BY SEVERAL SCHOLARS
TO BE THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT REFERRED TO IN THE TEXT.
From the "Hilal," Nov., 1904.



Steps towards the Taking of Meccah 365

it drop into a well. Learning further that douceurs
should be given to foreign ambassadors, he started a
state chest, reserving part of the tribute from Khai-
bar for this and other extraordinary expenditure.*
The following is a specimen of those letters — accord-
ing to the tradition f :

In the name of Allah the Rahman, the Merciful.
From the Apostle of Allah to the Mukaukis, chief of
the Copts. Peace be upon him who follows the guid-
ance. Next, I summon thee with the appeal of Islam:
become a Moslem and thou shalt be safe. God shall
give thee thy reward twofold. But if thou decline then
on thee is the guilt of the Copts. O ye people of the
Book, come unto an equal arrangement between us and
you, that we should serve none save God, associating
nothing with Him, and not taking one another for Lords
besides God. And if ye decline, then bear witness that
we are Moslems.

How many of his letters ever reached their de-
stination we know not. Arabic and Greek J writers
agree in making 628 the year in which Mohammed's
letter reached Heraclius, though the following year
would agree better with the tradition that he received
it in Emesa, or at Jerusalem, whither he had gone on
pilgrimage to give thanks for his great victories ; and
both give fabulous accounts of the result. Yet the
story told by the Arabs, if it be false, contains no

* Afusnad, iv., 37.

f Husn aLMuhadarah, i., 47 (new ed.). The document of which
a facsimile is given contains this text. If Dr. Butler's theory be
correct (see below) it must certainly be spurious.

X Muralt, Essai de Chronologie Byzantine, gives the date as April,
628. Cp. also Drapeyron, L EmpSreur Heraclius, Paris, 1869.



366 Mohammed

chronological errors. Heraclius, according to this
account, receiving the letter of Mohammed at the
hands of the handsome Dihyah, in whose form the
angel Gabriel was accustomed to appear,* asked
whether any of the Prophet's countrymen could be
found in Syria. It was the time of truce between
Meccans and Moslems : hence Abu Sufyan, son of
Al-Harith, f was quite near at Gaza. He was sum-
moned to the presence of the Emperor to explain
the conduct of his kinsman : and gave answers
which, without any intention on Abu Sufyan's part,
effected the Emperor's conversion, which only fear of
his subjects forced him to conceal. This story, vari-
ously embellished, is supposed to go back to Abu
Sufyan himself, who was deeply impressed by the
terror which Mohammed's name inspired in the Em-
peror of the Greeks : of the ultimate success of Islam
he now became convinced. What elements of truth
lie hid in this anecdote it is hard to discover. The
coincidence of Abu Sufyan being in Syria, which
is likely to be historical, was sufficient to produce
the fabrication of his being summoned to give an
account of his famous countryman. Had he really
been summoned, he could scarcely have lost the
opportunity of endeavouring to obtain help for Mec-
cah against the dangerous exile ; of pointing out the
menace to the neighbouring provinces which was
contained in the rise of the Moslem power. And in-



* Isabah, i., 973.

fSo Wakidi {W.), 329, n. In the story Abu Sufyan is repre-
sented as a near relation of Mohammed, which does not suit the
more famous Abu Sufyan so well.



Steps towards the Taking of Mecca h 367

deed according to one story * Abu Sufyan accused
the Prophet before Heraclius, but his charge was an-
swered by a poet named A'sha of Kais. Probably
the missive in an unknown tongue was thought un-
worthy of the monarch's notice. How many luna-
tics in our time worry royal personages with their
inspirations ! Or, if its reception was really favour-
able, we know of one tie between Mohammed and
the Emperor which may have secured it. To He-
raclius, fresh from a massacre of Jews, came the
news of a Prophet in Arabia who had slaughtered
six hundred Jews in one day ; who, having ruined
their settlements at Medinah, had just brought deso-
lation on their greatest and most flourishing colony,
killing the men and making the women concubines.
His claims to a divine mission might seem plausible,
till for Jews Christians came to be substituted.

Another letter was sent to the Persian King, —
according to the tradition, — whom Heraclius had de-
feated, and who was presently to be slain by his own
son. The date of this King's death is given with
great appearance of precision f — Tuesday, the tenth
of Jumada I of the year 7 \ : some three months after
Khaibar had been taken. The Persian King is re-
presented as treating the Prophet's message far other-
wise than Heraclius : he tore it in pieces, and sent
to the governor of Yemen to bring him the slave
who dared to send such a letter to his suzerain.

* Aghani, xv., 58.

f Diyarbekri, ii., 39.

\ The true date was Feb. 29, A.D. 628 (Noldeke, Sas., 432 ; Ger-
land, Persische FeUzilge des Kaiser s Herakldos). The above is



Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthMohammed and the rise of Islam → online text (page 24 of 32)