Syed Ameer Ali.

The spirit of Islâm : a history of the evolution and ideals of Islâm online

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the Prophet, and he cried, raising his hands towards heaven,
" O Lord ! I am innocent of what Khalid has done." He
immediately despatched Ali to make every possible reparation
to the Bani Jazima for the outrage committed on them. This
was a mission congenial to Ali's nature, and he executed it
faithfully. He made careful inquiries as to the number of
persons killed by Khalid, their status, and the losses incurred
by their families, and paid the Diyat strictly. When every loss
was made good, he distributed the remainder of the money he
had brought among the kinsmen of the victims and other
members of the tribe, gladdening every heart, says the
chronicler, by his gentleness and benevolence. Carrying with
him the blessings of the whole people, he returned to the
Prophet, who overwhelmed him with thanks and praises. 4

The formidable Bedouin tribes, the Hawazin, the Thakif, 5
and various others who pastured their flocks on the territories

1 Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 292 ; Caussin de Perceval, vol. iii. p. 234.

2 Koran, sura ex.; comp. Zamakhshari (the Kashsh&f), Egypt, ed., pt. ii.
pp. 490, 491. The verse is given at the head of Chapter IX. post.

3 With a j {zdl) .

4 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 834, 835 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 195 ; Tabari, vol. iii.
p. 141.

5 With a o

S.I. G


bordering Mecca, and some of whom possessed strongly-
fortified towns like Tayef, unwilling to render obedience to the
Moslems without resistance, formed a league, with the intention
of overwhelming Mohammed before he could make prepara-
tions to repulse their attack. His vigilance, however, dis-
appointed them. After a well-contested battle fought near
Hunain, a deep and narrow defile about ten miles to the
north-east of Mecca, 1 the idolaters were defeated with great
loss. 2 Separating their forces, one body of the enemy, con-
sisting principally of the Thakif, took refuge in their city of
Tayef, which only eight or nine years before had driven the
Prophet from within its walls with insults ; the rest fled to a
fortified camp in the valley of the Autas. This was forced,
and the families of the Hawazin, with all their worldly effects, —
their flocks and herds, — fell into the hands of the Moslems.
Tayef was then besieged, but after a few days Mohammed
raised the siege, well knowing that the pressure of circum-
stances would soon force the Tayefites to submit without
bloodshed. Returning to the place where the captured
Hawazin were left for safety, he found a deputation from this
powerful tribe awaiting his return to solicit the restoration of
their families. Aware of the sensitiveness of the Arab nature
regarding their rights, Mohammed replied to the Bedouin
deputies that he could not force his people to abandon all the
fruits of their victory, and that they must at least forfeit their
effects if they would regain their families. To this they
consented, and the following day, when Mohammed was
offering the mid-day prayers, 3 with his disciples ranged behind
him, they came and repeated the request : " We supplicate the
Prophet to intercede with the Moslems, and the Moslems to
intercede with the Prophet, to restore us our women and
children." Mohammed replied to the deputies, " My own
share in the captives, and that of the children of Abd ul-

1 Caussin de Perceval, vol. iii. p. 248 ; in the Kdmus, Hunain is merely
said to be on the road from Mecca to Tayef. In the Mu'jam ul-Bulddn the
distance between Mecca and Hunain (lying to the south of Zu'l Majaz) is
given as three nights' journey ; vol. ii. p. 35.

2 This battle is referred to in the Koran, sura ix. vers. 25, 26 ; Ibn-Hisham,
p. 840 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. pp. 200, 201.

3 Tabari says morning prayer, vol. iii. p. 155.


Muttalib, I give you back at once." His disciples, catching
his spirit, instantaneously followed his example, and six
thousand people were in a moment set free. 1 This generosity
won the hearts of many of the Thakif, 2 who tendered their
allegiance, and became earnest Moslems. The incident which
followed after the distribution of the forfeited flocks and herds
of the Hawazin, shows not only the hold the Prophet had over
the hearts of the Medinites, and the devotion he inspired them
with, but it also proves that at no period of his career had he
any material reward to offer to his disciples. In the division
of the spoil a larger proportion fell to the share of the newly-
converted Meccans than to the people of Medina. Some of
the Ansar looked upon this as an act of partiality, and their
discontent reaching the ear of the Prophet, he ordered them to
be assembled. He then addressed them in these words : "Ye
Ansar, I have learnt the discourse ye hold among yourselves.
When I came amongst you, you were wandering in darkness,
and the Lord gave you the right direction ; you were suffering,
and He made you happy ; at enmity amongst yourselves, and
He has filled your hearts with brotherly love and concord.
Was it not so, tell me ? " " Indeed, it is even as thou sayest,"
was the reply ; "to the Lord and His Prophet belong bene-
volence and grace." " Nay, by the Lord," continued the
Prophet, " but ye might have answered, and answered truly,
for I would have testified to its truth myself. ' Thou earnest to
us rejected as an impostor, and we believed in thee ; thou earnest
as a helpless fugitive, and we assisted thee : poor, and an outcast,
and we gave thee an asylum ; comfortless, and we solaced thee.'
Ye Ansar, v/hy disturb your hearts because of the things of this
life ? Are ye not satisfied that others should obtain the flocks
and the camels, while ye go back unto your homes with me in
your midst ? By Him who holds my life in His hands, I shall
never abandon you. If all mankind went one way and the

1 Ibn-Hisham, p. 876 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 206 ; Tabari, vol. iii. p. 155.

2 The people of Tayef were so called. The story told by Muir (vol. iv.
p. 149), as a curious illustration of the Prophet's mode of life, is apocryphal.
It must be remembered, firstly, that the division of the booty had not taken
place, and consequently the Prophet could not have given away as gift part
of his own share ; but this he had promised to the deputies before the
division to restore to the Hawazin. The story is a fabrication, and utterly


Ansar another, verily I would join the Ansar. The Lord be
favourable unto them, and bless them, and their children,
and their children's children ! " At these words, says the
chronicler, they all wept until the tears ran down upon their
beards. And they all cried with one voice, " Yea, Prophet of
God, we are well satisfied with our share." Thereupon they
retired happy and contented. 1

Mohammed soon after returned to Medina.

1 Ibn-Hishani, p. 886 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 208 ; Abulfeda, p. 82.


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BAnat Suad.

THE ninth year of the Hegira was noted for the embassies
which flocked into Medina to render homage to the
Prophet of Islam. The cloud which so long had rested
over this land, with its wild chivalry, its blood-feuds, and its
heathenism, is now lifted for ever. The age
of barbarism is past. . 9 a.h. 20th

_, r , , _ , • -, , , r r April 630 to 9th

The conquest of Mecca decided the fate of April 631 a. c.
idolatry in Arabia. The people, who still
regarded with veneration those beautiful moon-goddesses,
Manat, Lat, and 'Uzza, and their peculiar cult, were pain-
fully awakened by the fall of its stronghold. Among the
wild denizens of the desert the moral effect of the submis-
sion of the Meccans was great. Deputations began to arrive


from all' sides- to tender the allegiance and adherence of
tribes hitherto most inimical to the Moslems. 1 The principal
companions of the Prophet, and the leading citizens of Medina,
at his request, received these envoys in their houses, and enter-
tained them with the time-honoured hospitality of the Arabs.
On departure, they always received an ample sum for the
expenses of the road, with some additional presents, corre-
sponding to their rank. A written treaty, guaranteeing the
privileges of the tribe, was often granted, and a teacher in-
variably accompanied the departing guests to instruct the
newly-converted people in the duties of Islam, and to see that
every remnant of idolatry was obliterated from their midst.

Whilst thus engaged in consolidating the tribes of Arabia
under the new gospel, the great Seer was alive to the dangers
which threatened the new confederation from outside.

The Byzantines seem about this time to have indulged in
those dreams of Arabian conquests which had, once before,
induced the founder of the Roman Empire to despatch expedi-
tions into that country. 2 Heraclius had returned to his
dominions elated by his victories over the Persians. His
political vision could not have been blind to the strange events
which were taking place in Arabia, and he had probably not
forgotten the repulse of his lieutenants, at the head of a large
army, by a handful of Arabs. During his stay in Syria he had
directed his feudatories to collect an overwhelming force for
the invasion of Arabia. The news of these preparations was
soon brought to Medina, and caused some consternation among
the Moslems. If the report was true it meant a serious danger
to the Islamic commonwealth. Volunteers were summoned
from all quarters to repel the threatened attack. Unfor-
tunately, a severe drought had lately afflicted Hijaz and Najd ;
the date crops had been ruined, and the beasts of burden had
died in large numbers ; and the country people at large were
unwilling to engage at this juncture on an expedition far from
their homes. To some, the time of the year seemed unseason-
able ; whilst the intensity of the heat, the hardships of the
journey and the marvellous stories regarding the power of the

1 Ibn-Hisham, p. 934 et seq. ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 219.

2 I allude to the expedition of /Elius Gallus under Augustus.


Byzantine empire added largely to the fears of the timorous.
Many applied to be exempted from service ; and the Prophet
acceded to the prayers of those who were either too weak or
too poor to take up arms or leave their homes, and such others
as had no one besides themselves to look after their families. 1

The unwillingness of the lukewarm was aggravated by the
machinations of the Mundfikin, who spared no endeavours to
fan it into discontent. 2 The example, however, of the principal
disciples and other sincere followers of the Faith, infused
vitality into the hearts of the timorous, and shamed the back-
sliders into enthusiasm which soon spread among the people.
Contributions poured in from all sides. Abu Bakr offered all he
possessed towards the expenses of the expedition ; Osman
equipped and supplied at his own expense a large body of
volunteers, and the other prominent and affluent Moslems were
equally generous. The women brought their ornaments and
jewelleries and besought the Prophet to accept the same for
the needs of the State. A sufficient force was eventually
collected, 3 and accompanied by the Prophet the volunteers
marched towards the frontier.

During his absence from Medina the Prophet left Ali in
charge of the city. The Mundfikin, with Abdullah ibn-Ubayy,
had proceeded with the army as far as "the Mount of Farewell," 4
but they quietly fell back from there and returned to the city.
Here they spread the report that the Prophet had not taken
his cousin with him as he was apprehensive of the dangers of
the expedition. Stung by the malicious rumour, Ali seized his
arms and hastened after the army. Overtaking the troops, he
told the Prophet what he had heard. Mohammed pronounced

1 These were called the al-Bakkaun, the Weepers, as they were distressed
by their inability to join in the sacred enterprise of repelling a dangerous
enemy. — Ibn-Hisham, p. 791 ; al-Halabi, Insdn ul-'Uy-un, vol. iii. p. 75.

2 The machinations of the Disaffected are censured in Sura IX, v. 82. These
secret conspirators had for their rendezvous the house of a Jew named
Suwailim near the suburb of Jasum. This house was ultimately rased to
the ground. It was at this time that the great Teacher made the prophecy
that there will always be Mundfikin in Islam to thwart the endeavours of the
true followers of the Faith to do good to their people.

3 It was called the Jaish-ttl-'usra, " the army of distress," owing to the
difficulties with which it was collected ; Ibn-Hisham, p. 795.

1 Tftiniat-ul-Wadu' with a o % , Mn'jam ul-Bitldan, vol. i. p. 937.


it to be a base calumny. " I have appointed thee my Vice-
gerent (Khalifa) and left thee in my stead. Return then to
thy post, and be my deputy over my people and thine. O Ali,
art thou not content that thou art to me what Aaron was to
Moses." l Ali accordingly returned to Medina.

The sufferings of the troops from heat and thirst were
intense. After a long and painful march they reached Tabuk,
a place situated midway between Medina and Damascus, 2
where they halted. Here they learnt to their amazement, and
perhaps to their relief, that the apprehended attack was a
Grecian dream, and that the emperor had his hands full at
home. Finding, therefore, nothing at the moment to threaten
the safety of the Medinite commonwealth, the Prophet ordered
the Moslems to retrace their steps. 3 After a sojourn of twenty
days at Tabtik, where they found abundance of water for them-
selves and forage for their famished beasts of burden, the
Moslems returned to Medina in the month of Ramazan. 4

The Prophet's return to Medina was signalised by the arrival
of a deputation from the refractory and hard-hearted idolaters
of Tayef, the very people who had driven the poor Preacher
from their midst with insults and violence. 'Orwa, the Tayefite
chief, who had been to Mecca after the Hudaibiya incident as
the Koreishite envoy, was so impressed with the words of the
Teacher and his kindness, that shortly after the accomplish-
ment of his mission he had come to the Prophet and embraced
his religion. Though repeatedly warned by Mohammed of the
dangers he ran among the bigoted of his city, he hastened back
to Tayef to proclaim his abjuration of idolatry, and to invite

Ibn-Hisham * c y~>* er* Oj)l* &>UJ ^v* ^Q m] y U ^y Kjf

p- 897.

According to the Shiahs, the Prophet distinctly indicated in these words
that Ali should be his successor.

2 Caussin de Perceval, vol. iii. pp. 285, 286.

3 Ibn-Hisham, p. 904 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 215 ; Abulfeda, p. 85.

4 According to C. de Perceval, middle of December 630 a.c. Chapter iv.
of the Koran treats vividly of these events. At Tabuk Mohammed received
the submission of manv of the neighbouring chiefs ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii.
p. 215.


his fellow-citizens to share in the blessings imparted by the
new Faith. Arriving in the evening, he made public his
conversion and called upon the people to join him. The
following morning he again addressed them ; but his words
roused the priests and worshippers of 'Uzza into frenzy, and
they literally stoned him to death. With his dying breath he
said he had offered up his blood unto his Master for the good of
his people, and he thanked God for the honour of martyrdom,
and as a last wish prayed his friends to bury him by the side
of the Moslems who had fallen at Hunain. 1 The dying words
of 'Orwa had a greater effect upon his compatriots than all his
endeavours whilst living. The martyr's blood blossomed into
faith in the hearts of his murderers. Seized with sudden
compunction, perhaps also wearying of their hostility with the
tribes of the desert, the Tayefites sent the deputation to which
we have referred above, to pray for forgiveness and permission
to enter the circle of Islam. They begged, however, for a short
respite for their idols. First they asked two years, then one
year, and then six months, but all to no purpose. The grace of
one month might surely be conceded, they argued as a last
appeal. Mohammed was immovable. Islam and the idols
could not exist together. They then begged for exemption
from the daily prayers. Mohammed replied that without
devotion religion could be nothing. 2 Sorrowfully, at last, they
submitted to all that was required of them. They were
excused, however, from destroying the idols with their own
hands, and the notorious Abu Sufian, the son of Harb, the
father of the well-known Mu'awiyah, the Judas Iscariot of
Islam, one of those who have been stigmatised as the Muallafat
ul-Kulub (the nominal believers) — for they had adopted the
Faith from policy, — and Mughira, the nephew of 'Orwa, were
selected for that work. They executed their commission
amidst uproarious cries of despair and grief from the women of
Tayef. 3

1 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 914, 915 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 216.

2 Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 217.

3 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 917, 918 ; Tabari, vol. iii. pp. 161-163. The great number
of deputations received by Mohammed in the ninth year has led to its being
called the "Year of Deputations"; (ivuftid, pi. of wafad). The principal
adhesions which followed immediately upon the conversion of the Thakif


The tribe of Tay had about this time proved recalcitrant,
and their disaffection was fostered by the idolatrous priesthood.
A small force was despatched under Ali to reduce them to
obedience and to destroy their idols. 'Adi, the son of the
famous Hatim, whose generosity and munificence have been
sung by poets and minstrels throughout the Eastern world,
was the chief of his tribe. On the approach of Ali he fled to
Syria ; but his sister, with some of his principal clansmen, fell
into the hands of the Moslems. They were conducted, with
every mark of respect and sympathy, to Medina. Mohammed
at once set the daughter of Hatim and her people at liberty,
and bestowed on them many valuable gifts. She proceeded to
Syria, and told her brother of the nobleness of Mohammed.
Touched by gratitude, 'Adi hastened to Medina to throw
himself at the feet of the Prophet, and eventually embraced
Islam. Returning to his people, he persuaded them to abjure
idolatry ; and the Bani-Tay, once so wedded to fetishism,
became thenceforth devoted followers of the religion of
Mohammed. 1

Another notable conversion which took place about the same
time as that of the Bani-Tay is deserving of more than passing
notice. Ka'b ibn-Zuhair, a distinguished poet of the tribe of
Mozayna, had placed himself under the ban by trying to incite
hostilities against the Moslems. His brother was a Moslem

were of the Himyarite princes of Yemen, of Mahra, of Oman, of the country
of the Bahrain, and of the tribes domiciled in Yemama.

1 Ibn-Hisham, pp. 948, 949 ; Ibn ul-Athir, vol. ii. p. 218 ; Ins&n nl-'Uydn,
vol. iii. p. 234. The conversion of 'Adi occurred in Rabi II. of the ninth year
(July- August, 630 a.c), and accordingly, ought to have been placed before
the expedition to Tabuk. But I have followed the order of the Arab historians.
When the daughter of Hatim, whose name was Sufana, came before the
Prophet, she addressed him in the following words : " Apostle of God, my
father is dead ; my brother, my only relation, fled into the mountains on the
approach of the Moslems. I cannot ransom myself ; it is thy generosity
which I implore for my deliverance. My father was an illustrious man, the
prince of his tribe, a man who ransomed prisoners, protected the honour of
women, nourished the poor, consoled the afflicted, never rejected any demand.
I am Sufana, daughter of Hatim." " Thy father," answered Mohammed,
'had the virtues of a Musulman ; if it were permitted to me to invoke the
mercy of God on any one whose life was passed in idolatry, I would pray to
God for mercy for the soul of Hatim." Then addressing the Moslems around
him, he said : " The daughter of Hatim is free, her father was a generous and
humane man ; God loves and rewards the merciful." And with Sufana, all
her people were set at liberty. The Persian poet Sa'di has some beautiful
lines in the Bostdn concerning this touching episode.


and had counselled him strongly to renounce idolatry and
embrace Islam. Ka'b, following the advice of his brother,
came secretly to Medina, and proceeded to the mosque where
Mohammed was wont to preach. There he saw a man sur-
rounded by Arabs listening to his words with the greatest
veneration. He at once recognised the Prophet, and penetrat-
ing into the circle, said aloud, " Apostle of God, if I should
bring before thee Ka'b as a Musulman, would you pardon
him ? " " Yes," answered Mohammed. "It is I who am
Ka'b, the son of Zuhair." Several people around the Prophet
wanted leave to put him to death. " No," said the Prophet,
" I have given him grace." Ka'b then begged permission to
recite a Kasida x (poem) which has always been considered a
masterpiece of Arabic poetry. When he came to the lines 2
quoted at the head of this chapter, the Prophet bestowed on
the poet his own mantle, which was afterwards sold by his
family to Mu'awiyah for 40,000 dirhems, and, after passing into
the hands of the Ommeyades and Abbasides, is now in the
possession of the Ottoman Caliphs. 3

Hitherto no prohibition had issued against the heathens
entering the Kaaba, or performing their old idolatrous rites
within its sacred precincts. It was now decided to put an end
to this anomalous state, and remove once for all any possibility

1 Called the Kasida of Banal Su'ad from the opening words of the poem,
which begins with the prologue usual in Arabic Kasidas. The poet tells
his grief at the departure of Su'ad (his beloved) ; she has left him, his heart
is drooping, distracted and unhappy, following her train like a captive in
chains. He praises her beauty, her sweet soft voice, her bright laughter, her
winsome smile. The theme suddenly changes, and the poet reaches the
climax when he bursts forth into a song of praise of his great subject. The
language throughout is sonorous and virile — a quality often wanting in the
poems of later times, and the rhythmical swing and cadence are maintained,
with extraordinary evenness, up to the last.

2 " The Prophet is the torch which has lighted up the world ; he is the
sword of God for destroying ungodliness."

3 Called the Khirkai-sharif (the Holy Mantle) which is taken out as the
national standard in times of great emergency. The Kasida of Bdnat Su'ad,
which is sometimes also called the Kasidat-ul-Burda (the Kasida of the
Mantle), is different from the Kasidat-ul-Burda of Abu Abdullah Mohammed
ibn-Sa'id, who flourished in the reign of Malik Zahir, which opens with the
following lines : —

gn u*« ^ ^ u*j J^; . £ ^. ^ Jg j^

For translation see Appendix.


of a relapse into idolatry on the part of those upon whom the
new and pure creed hung somewhat lightly. Accordingly,
towards the end of this year, during the month of pilgrimage,
Ali was commissioned to read a proclamation to the assembled
multitudes, on the day of the great Sacrifice (Yeum-un-Nahr),
which should strike straight at the heart of idolatry and the
immoralities attendant upon it : "No idolater shall, after this
year, perform the pilgrimage ; no one shall make the circuit
(of the temple) naked ; x whoever hath a treaty with the
Prophet, it shall continue binding till its termination ; for the
rest, four months are allowed to every man to return to his
territories ; after that there will exist no obligation on the
Prophet, except towards those with whom treaties have been
concluded." 2

This " Declaration of Discharge," as it is styled by Moslem
writers, was a manifestation of far-sighted wisdom on the part
of the Prophet. It was impossible for the state of society and
morals which then existed to continue ; the idolaters mixing
year after year with the Moslem pilgrims, if allowed to perform
the lascivious and degrading ceremonies of their cult, would
soon have undone what Mohammed had so laboriously
accomplished. History had already seen another gifted, yet
uncultured, branch of the same stock as the Arabs, settling
amongst idolaters ; their leaders had tried to preserve the
worship of Jehovah by wholesale butcheries of the worshippers
of Baal. They had failed miserably. The Israelites had not

Online LibrarySyed Ameer AliThe spirit of Islâm : a history of the evolution and ideals of Islâm → online text (page 16 of 55)