Syed Ameer Ali.

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occasionally, but confining his efforts mainly to the strangers
who congregated in Mecca and its vicinity during the season
of the annual pilgrimage, hoping, as Tabari expresses it, to find
among them some who would believe in him, and carry the
truth to their people.

One day, whilst thus sadly but yet hopefully working among
these half-traders, half-pilgrims, he came upon a group of six
men from the distant city of Yathrib conversing together.
He asked them to sit down and listen to him ; and they sat
down and listened. Struck by his earnestness and the truth
of his words, they became his proselytes (620 a.c.) ; 2 and
returning to their city, they spread the news, with lightning
rapidity, that a Prophet had risen among the Arabs who was
to call them to God, and put an end to their dissensions, which
had lasted for centuries.

The next year these Yathribites returned, and brought six
more of their fellow-citizens as deputies from the two principal
tribes who occupied that city. 3

On the self-same spot which had witnessed the conversion
of the former six, the new-comers gave in their adhesion to

1 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 279, 280 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. pp. 70, 71.

2 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 286, 287 ; Tabari (Zotenberg's transl.), vol. ii. p. 438.
a Aus and Khazraj.


Mohammed. This is called the first Pledge of 'Akaba, from the
name of the hill on which the conference was held. 1

The pledge they took was as follows : " We will not associate
anything with God ; we will not steal, nor commit adultery,
nor fornication ; we will not kill our children ; we will abstain
from calumny and slander ; we will obey the Prophet in
everything that is right ; and we will be faithful to him in weal
and in sorrow." 2

After the pledge, they returned home with a disciple of
Mohammed to teach them the fundamental doctrines of the
new religion, which rapidly spread among the inhabitants of

The interval which elapsed between the first and second
pledge is remarkable as one of the most critical periods of
Mohammed's Mission. The sublime trust of Mohammed in
God, and the grandeur of his character, never stand forth
more prominently than at this period. He was sad at the
sight of his people so sternly wedded to idolatry ; 3 but his
sorrow was assuaged by the hope that the truth would in the
end prevail. 4 He might not live to see it ; 5 but as surely
as darkness flies before the rays of the sun, so surely falsehood
will vanish before truth. 6 Regarding this epoch, a few words
of unconscious admiration escape even the lips of Muir :
"Mahomet, thus holding his people at bay, waiting, in the
still expectation of victory, to outward appearance defenceless,
and with his little band, as it were, in the lion's mouth, yet
trusting in His Almighty power whose messenger he believed
himself to be, resolute and unmoved — presents a spectacle of
sublimity paralleled only in the sacred records by such scenes
as that of the prophet of Israel, when he complained to his
Master, ' I, even I only, am left.' " 7

1 In the history of Islam, this pledge is also called the " Pledge of Women,"
in contradistinction to the second pledge, in which the deputies of Yathrib
took an oath to assist the Moslems, even by arms against the attacks and
outrages of their enemies.

2 Ibn-Hisham, p. 289 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol ii. pp. 73, 74.

3 Koran, sura vi. ver. 107.

4 Koran, sura xl. ver. 78, xliii. ver. 40, etc.

5 Koran, sura xxi. ver. 18.

6 Koran, sura xvii. ver. 18. ' Life of Mahomet, vol ii. p. 228.


This period of anxious waiting is also remarkable for that
notable Vision of the Ascension which has furnished worlds
of golden dreams for the imaginative genius of poets and
traditionists. They have woven beautiful and gorgeous
legends round the simple words of the Koran : " Praise be
to Him who carried His servant by night from the sacred
temple to the temple that is more remote, whose precincts
We have blessed, that We might show him some of our signs !
for He is the Hearer, the Seer." " And again : " And remember
we said to thee, Verily, thy Lord is round about mankind ;
We ordained the Vision which We showed thee." * In spite
of the beautiful garb in which the traditionists have dressed
this incident, "it is still a grand vision full of glorious
imagery, fraught with deep meaning." 2

The following year (622 a.c), the Yathribites who had adopted
the new religion repaired to Mecca, to the number of seventy-
five, in company with their idolatrous brethren, to invite the
Prophet to their city ; 3 but the idolaters had no knowledge
ot the intention of their companions.

In the stillness of night, 4 when all hostile elements appeared
slumbering, these pioneers of the new faith met under the hill
which had witnessed the first pledge. Mohammed appeared
among them, accompanied by his uncle Abbas, who, though
not a convert, yet took a warm interest in the progress of
Islam. He opened the conference, and vividly described to
the Yathribites the risk they incurred by adopting Islam and
inviting its Teacher to their city. They replied with one

1 Koran, chap. xvii. ver. i. " All that Mohammedans must believe res-
pecting the Meraj is, that the Prophet saw himself, in a vision, transported
from Mecca to Jerusalem, and that in such vision he really beheld some of
the greatest signs of his Lord. It must be evident to the reader that the
visions also of a prophet are a mode of divine inspiration." — Syed Ahmed
Khan, Ess. xi. p. 34. Muir says that " the earliest authorities point only to
a vision, not to a real bodily journey," vol. ii. p. 221, note. Compare the early
traditions given by Ibn-Hisham, p. 267, which support this view. It may, I
think, be fairly asked why Christians, who believe in the bodily resurrection
and bodily ascension of Jesus and of Elijah, should look upon those Moslems
who believe in the bodily ascension of Mohammed as less rational than them-
selves ?

2 Stanley Lane- Poole, Introd. to the Selections from the Koran, p. lvi.

3 Ibn-Hisham, p. 296 ; al-Halabi, Insdn nl-'Uy&n, vol. i. p. 389.

4 In the night of the first and second day of the Tashrik, the period of
three days which follow immediately the celebration of the rites of the


voice, that they adopted the religion fully conscious of the
dangers that surrounded them. " Speak, O Prophet of God,"
said they, " and exact any pledge for thyself and thy Lord."
The Prophet began, as was his wont, by reciting several passages
of the Koran ; he then invited all present to the service of
God, and dwelt upon the blessings of the new dispensation. 1
The former pledge was repeated, that they would worship
none but God ; that they would observe the precepts of Islam ;
that they would obey Mohammed in all that was right, and
defend him and his, even as they would their women and
children. 2 " And," said they, "if we die in the cause of God,
what shall be our return ? " " Happiness hereafter," was the
reply. 3 " But," said they, " thou wilt not leave us in the
hour of prosperity to return to thy people ? " The Prophet
smiled and said : " Nay never ; your blood is my blood ; lam
yours, you are mine." " Give us then thy hand " ; and each
one placing his hand on that of the Prophet, swore allegiance
to him and his God. Scarcely had the compact been concluded,
when the voice of a Meccan, who had been watching this
scene from a distance, came floating on the night air, striking
a sudden panic into the self-denying hearts there assembled.
The firm words of Mohammed restored their presence of mind.

Mohammed then selected twelve men from among them —
men of position, pointed out to him by the voice of the people
— as his delegates (Nakibs). i Thus was concluded the second
Pledge of 'Akaba.

The Meccan spy had, already spread the news of this confer-
ence through the city. Astounded at the temerity of Moham-
med and his followers, the Koreish proceeded in a body to the
caravan of the Yathribites to demand the men who had entered
into the pledge with him. Finding no clue, however, as to
the persons who had taken part at the meeting, they allowed
the caravan to depart unmolested. But this apparent modera-

1 Ibn-Hisham, p. 296 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 76. 2 Ibid.

3 Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 77.

4 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 297-300. Seventy- five people, men and women, took
part in this Pledge. This event occurred in the month of Zu'1-Hijja, and the
Prophet stopped at Mecca throughout the remainder of this month, and
Muharram and Safar. In Rabi I. he left for Medina ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii.
p. 78.


tion on the part of the Koreish formed only a prelude to a
furious persecution of Mohammed and his disciples. The
position of the latter became every day more and more perilous.
The Prophet, fearing a general massacre, advised his followers
to seek immediate safety at Yathrib ; whereupon about one
hundred families silently disappeared by twos and threes from
Mecca and proceeded to Yathrib, where they were received
with enthusiasm. Entire quarters of the city thus became
deserted ; and 'Otba, the son of Rab'ia, at the sight of these
vacant abodes, once so full of life, " sighed heavily," and
recited the old verse : " Every dwelling-place, even if it has
been blessed ever so long, will one day become a prey to
unhappiness and bitter wind " ; " And," he sorrowfully
added, " all this is the work of the son of our brother, who has
scattered our assemblies, ruined our affairs, and created
dissension amongst us." 1

As it was with Jesus, so it was with Mohammed ; only with
this difference, that in one case the Teacher himself says :
" Think not that I came to send peace on earth ; I came not
to send peace, but a sword : for I am come to set a man at
variance against his father, and the daughter against her
mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." 2
In Mohammed's case it was one of his most persevering oppon-
ents who accused him of creating dissension in families.

Throughout this period, when the storm was at its height
and might at any moment have burst over his head, Mohammed
never quailed. All his disciples had left for Yathrib ; alone
he remained bravely at his post, with the devoted Ali and the
venerable Abu Bakr.

Meanwhile the clouds were gathering fast. Fearful of the
escape of the Prophet, an assembly of the Koreish met in all
despatch in the town-hall (Dar un-Nadwa), and some chiefs
of other clans were invited to attend. The matter had become
one of life and death. Stormy was the meeting, for fear had
entered their hearts. Imprisonment for life, expulsion from
the city, each was debated in turn. Assassination was then
proposed ; but assassination by one man would have exposed
him and his family to the vengeance of blood. The difficulty

1 Ibn-Hisham, p. 316. 2 Matt. x. 34, 35.


was at last solved by Abu Jahl, 1 who suggested that a number
of courageous men, chosen from different families, should
sheathe their swords simultaneously in Mohammed's bosom, in
order that the responsibility of the deed might rest upon all,
and the relations of Mohammed might consequently be unable
to avenge it. This proposal was accepted, and a number of
noble youths were selected for the sanguinary deed. As the
night advanced, the assassins posted themselves round the
Prophet's dwelling. Thus they watched all night long, waiting
to murder him when he should leave his house in the early
dawn, peeping now and then through a hole in the door to
make sure that he still lay on his bed. But, meanwhile, the
instinct of self-preservation, the instinct which had often led
the great Prophet of Nazareth to evade his enemies, 2 had
warned Mohammed of the danger. In order to keep the
attention of the assassins fixed upon the bed, he put his own
green garment upon the devoted and faithful Ali, bade him
lie on his bed, 3 " and escaped, as David had escaped, through
the windows." He repaired to the house of Abu Bakr, and
they fled together unobserved from the inhospitable city of
their birth. They lay hid for several days in a cavern of
Mount Thaur, a hill to the south of Mecca. 4

The fury of the Koreish was now unbounded. The news
that the would-be assassins had returned unsuccessful, and
Mohammed had escaped, aroused their whole energy. Horsemen

1 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 323-325 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 79 ; the Koran, sura
viii. ver. 30. According to Ibn-Hisham, this proposal of Abu Jahl, one of
the Koreish, was seconded by a stranger, in the guise of a venerable Sheikh
from Najd whom tradition has resolved into Satan himself. Abu Jahl was
one of the bitterest enemies of the Prophet. His real name was 'Amr and he
was surnamed, for his sagacity, Abu'l Hikam (" father of wisdom," in the
plural). Owing to his fanaticism and bigotry, which prevented his perceiving
any good in the new Teachings, Mohammed called him instead Abu Jahl
(" father of ignorance "). Ignorance has in all ages posed as the champion
of orthodoxy. Abu Jahl has thus become a type. It is to this fact Hakim
Sanai, the great mystical poet, refers in the following couplet : —

" Ahmed-i-Mursal nishista kai rawa ddrad Khirad.

Dil asir-i-sirat-i-Bu Jahl-i-Kdfir ddshlan."
" Ahmed the Prophet is sitting (in your midst), how can reason allow
" The heart to become captive of the qualities of Bu-Jahl the unbeliever."

2 Comp. Milman, Hist, of Christianity, vol. i. p. 253.

3 Ibn-Hisham, p. 325 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 80.

1 See Desvergers' note (57) to his Abulfeda, p. 116.


scoured the country. A price was set upon Mohammed's
head. 1 Once or twice the danger approached so near that the
heart of old Abu Bakr quaked with fear. " We are but two,"
said he. " Nay," said Mohammed, " we are three, God is
with us ; " and He was with them. After three days the
Koreish slackened their efforts. All this time Mohammed
and his companion were sustained by food brought to them
at night by a daughter of Abu Bakr. 2 On the evening of the
third day the fugitives left the cavern, and, procuring with
great difficulty two camels, endeavoured to reach Yathrib by
unfrequented paths. But even here the way was full of
danger. The heavy price set upon Mohammed's head had
brought out many horsemen from Mecca, and they were still
diligently seeking for the helpless wanderer. One, a wild and
fierce warrior, actually caught sight of the fugitives and
pursued them. Again the heart of Abu Bakr misgave him,
and he cried, " We are lost." " Be not afraid," said the
Prophet, " God will protect us." As the idolater overtook
Mohammed, his horse reared and fell. Struck with sudden
awe, he entreated the forgiveness of the man whom he was
pursuing and asked for an attestation of his pardon. This
was given to him on a piece of bone by Abu Bakr. 3

The fugitives continued their journey without further
molestation and after three days' journeying reached the
territories of Yathrib. It was a hot day in June, 622 of the
Christian era, when Mohammed alighted from his camel upon
the soil which was thenceforth to become his home and his
refuge. A Jew watching on a tower first espied him, 4 and
thus were the words of the Koran fulfilled : " They, to whom
the Scriptures have been given, recognise him as they do their
own children." 5 Mohammed and his companion rested for a
few days 6 at a village called Koba, 7 situated only two miles
to the south of Yathrib, and remarkable for its beauty and

1 Of a hundred camels, Ibn-Hisham, p. 328 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 81.

2 Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 81.

3 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 331, 332 ; Ibn ul-Athir, ibid.

4 Ibn-Hisham,. p. 330. 5 Koran, sura vi. ver. 20.

6 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Ibn-Hisham, p. 335 ;
Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 83.

7 See Desvergers' Abulfeda, p. 116, note 59.


fertility. Here he was joined by Ali, who had been severely
maltreated by the idolaters after their disappointment at
Mohammed's escape. 1 Ali fled from Mecca and journeyed
on foot, hiding himself in the daytime and travelling only at
night, lest he should fall into the hands of the Koreish. 2

The Bani 'Amr bin-'Auf, to whom the village belonged,
invited the Prophet to prolong his stay amongst them.
But his duty lay before him ; and he proceeded towards
Yathrib, attended by a numerous body of his disciples. He
entered the city on the morning of a Friday, 16th of Rabi
I., corresponding (according to M. Caussin de Perceval) with
the 2nd of July 622. 3

Thus was accomplished the Hijrat, called in European annals
" the flight of Mohammed," from which dates the Mohammedan

Note i to Chapter II

The " Hegira," or the era of the Hijrat, was instituted
seventeen years later by the second Caliph. The commence-
ment, however, is not laid at the real time of the departure
from Mecca, which happened on the 4th of Rabi I., but on the
first day of the first lunar month of the year, viz. Muharram
— which day, in the year when the era was established, fell
on the 15th of July.

But though Omar instituted the official era, the custom of
referring to events as happening before or after the Hijrat
originated, according to some traditions, with the Prophet
himself ; this event naturally marking the greatest crisis in
the history of his Mission. — Comp. al-Halabi, Insdn-ul-'Uyun,
in loco.

Note 2 to Chapter II

The twelve Moslem months are ; Muharram (the sacred
month), Safar (the month of departure), Rabi I. (first month

1 Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 80.

2 Ibid. vol. ii. 82.

3 Caussin de Perceval, vol. iii. pp. 17-20; Ibn-Hisham, p. 335.

S.I. D


of the spring), Rabi II. (second month of the spring), Jumadi
I. (first dry month), Jumadi II. (second dry month), Rajab
{respected, called often Rajab ul-Murajjab), Sha'ban (the month
of the budding of trees), Ramazan (month of heat), Shawwal
(month of junction), Zu'1-Ka'da (month of truce, rest, or
relaxation), Zu'l Hijja (month of pilgrimage). The ancient
Arabs observed the lunar year of 354 days, 8 hours, 48 seconds,
divided into twelve months of 29 and 30 days alternately.
In order to make them agree with the solar year of their neigh-
bours, the Greeks and the Romans, and also in order to make
the months fall in the right season, they added a month every
third year. This intercalation was called Nasi ; and although
it was not perfectly exact, it served to maintain a sort of
correlation between the denomination of the months and the
seasons. Since the suppression of the Nasi, on account of the
orgies and various heathen rites observed in the intercalary
years, the names of the months have no relation to the seasons.


FEW Musulmans of the present day understand the
full import of the mystical verses quoted at the
head of this chapter, but all appreciate the deep
devotion to the grand Seer implied in those words. And
this devotion is not one which has) twined itself round a
mythical ideal, or has grown with the lapse of time. From
the moment of his advent into Yathrib he stands in the
full blaze of day — the grandest of figures upon whom the
light of history has ever shone. The minutest details of
his life are carefully noted and handed down to posterity,
to become crystallised, often against the spirit of his own
Teachings, which aimed at the perpetual growth of the
human race. We have seen this wonderful man as an orphan
child who had never known a father's love, bereft in infancy
of a mother's care, his early life so full of pathos, growing up
from a thoughtful childhood to a still more thoughtful youth.
His youth as pure and true as his boyhood ; his manhood as
austere and devout as his youth. His ear ever open to the
sorrows and sufferings of the weak and the poor ; his heart
ever full of sympathy and tenderness towards all God's creatures.
He walks so humbly and so purely, that men turn round and


point, there goes al-Amin, the true, the upright, the trusty.
A faithful friend, a devoted husband ; a thinker intent on the
mysteries of life and death, on the responsibilities of human
actions, the end and aim of human existence, — he sets himself
to the task of reclaiming and reforming a nation, nay, a world,
with only one loving heart to comfort and solace him. Baffled,
he never falters ; beaten, he never despairs. He struggles
on with indomitable spirit to achieve the work assigned to him.
His purity and nobleness of character, his intense and earnest
belief in God's mercy, bring round him ultimately many a
devoted heart ; and when the moment of the severest trial
comes, like the faithful mariner, he remains steadfast at his
post until all his followers are safe, and then betakes himself
to the hospitable shore : such we have seen him. We shall
see him now the king of men, the ruler of human hearts, chief,
lawyer, and supreme magistrate, and yet without any self-
exaltation, lowly and humble. His history henceforth is
merged in the history of the commonwealth of which he was
the centre. Henceforth the Preacher who with his own
hands mended his clothes, and often went without bread, was
mightier than the mightiest sovereigns of the earth.

" Mohammed had shown men what he was ; the nobility
of his character, his strong friendship, his endurance and
courage, above all, his earnestness and fiery enthusiasm for
the truth he came to preach — these things had revealed the
hero ; the master whom it was alike impossible to disobey
and impossible not to love. Henceforward it is only a question
of time. As the men of Medina come to know Mohammed,
they too will devote themselves to him body and soul ; and
the enthusiasm will catch fire and spread among the tribes,
till all Arabia is at the feet of the Prophet of the one God.
' No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a cloak
of his own clouting.' He had the gift of influencing men, and
he had the nobility only to influence them for good."

Medina, the " illuminated " x — the city of many names —
is situated about eleven days' journey to the north of Mecca.
Now a walled city of considerable strength, in those days it
was completely open and exposed to outside attacks until the

1 Munawwarih.


Prophet made the famous moat as a defence against the
Koreishites. The city is said to have been established by an
'Amalekite chief, whose name it bore until the advent of the
Prophet. In early times Yathrib l and its environs were
inhabited by the 'Amalekites ; these are said to have been
overwhelmed and destroyed by successive colonies of Jews,
who, flying before Babylonian and Greek and Roman perse-
cutors or avengers, entered Arabia and established themselves
in the northern part of Hijaz. The most important of these
colonies were the Bani-Nazir at Khaibar, the Bani-Kuraizha
at Fidak, the Bani-Kainuka'a near Medina itself. Living in
fortified cantons, they had domineered over the neighbouring
Arab tribes, until the establishment of two Kahtanite tribes,
Aus and Khazraj at Yathrib. These two tribes, who yielded
at first some sort of obedience to the Jews, were able to reduce
them to a state of clientage. Before long, however, they
commenced quarrelling among themselves, and it was only
about the time when the Prophet announced his Mission at
Mecca that, after long years of decimating warfare, they had
succeeded in patching up a peace.

Such was the political condition of Yathrib when the Prophet
made his appearance among the. Yathribites. With his
advent a new era dawned upon the city.

The two tribes of Aus and Khazraj, forgetting their inveterate
and mortal feuds in the brotherhood of the Faith, rallied round
the standard of Islam and formed the nucleus of the Moslem
commonwealth. The old divisions were effaced, and the honor-
able designation of Ansdr (Helpers) became the common title
of all who had helped Islam in its hour of trial. The faithful
band who had forsaken their beloved birthplace, and every tie of
home, received the name of Muhdjirin (Emigrants or Exiles).

In order to unite the Ansdr and the Muhdjirin in closer
bonds, the Prophet established a brotherhood between them,
which linked them together in sorrow and in happiness.

Yathrib changed its ancient name, and was henceforth
styled Medinat un-Nabt, the City of the Prophet, or shortly,
Medina, the city par excellence.

1 With a Ci* (pronounced by the Arabs like th in thin, by all non-Arabs

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