By the year 628 A.D., some six long years had passed since the Muslims emigrated from Mecca. They were getting nostalgic and wanted to visit their homes. Also, many of the Muslims had not performed the pilgrimage since they left Mecca. Then one night the Holy Prophet dreamed that he was entering the Ka’ba and its key was in his hand. He told of this dream to his Companions and invited them to perform the “Umrah” or the Informal Pilgrimage. In February 628 A.D., the Holy Prophet left for Mecca in the company of 1,500 Muslims. It was the month of Dhul Qadah, one of the four sacred months when war was unlawful throughout Arabia (the three other sacred months were: Rajab, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram).
When the Quraysh learned of the approach of the Muslims, they started making preparations for a confrontation and told the Muslims that they will not be allowed to enter Mecca and perform the pilgrimage.
The Muslims camped outside Mecca, in a place called Hudaybiya. The Holy Prophet dispatched Uthman as messenger to the Quraysh to inform them of the Muslims’ intentions of only performing the pilgrimage. At that time a rumour spread out that Uthman had been murdered by the Quraysh and caused a great deal of commotion among the Muslims. Realizing the sensitivity of the occasion and the potential for an armed conflict with the Quraysh, the Holy Prophet sat down under a tree and asked his followers to offer an oath of allegiance to him. They all submitted to it one by one declaring their resolve to fight to the bitter end for the cause of Islam. This oath of the Muslims at the hands of the Prophet is known as “Bay’ate Ridhwan”, or the Pledge of Acceptance.
The Quraysh became alarmed at this display of solidarity by the Muslims and decided to come to terms with them. Suhayl bin Amr and two other representatives of the Quraysh came to confer with the Holy Prophet. When an agreement was finally reached, the Holy Prophet asked Ali to write down the terms as he began to dictate them.
The Prophet started his dictation with the invocation Bismillah ar Rahman ar Raheem in the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. At this Suhayl bin Amr objected saying that they did not know what Rahman was and, instead, proposed to write Bismika Allahumma, In Thy Name, O God. Some of the Prophet’s Companions objected to this but the Prophet said to write it down.
The Holy Prophet then continued to dictate: “These are the terms of the truce between Muhammad, the Messenger of God and Suhayl the son of Amr”. Suhayl protested again saying, “If we knew that you were the Messenger of God we would not be stopping you from performing the pilgrimage neither would we have fought with you; so write Muhammad the son of Abdullah.” Ali by this time had already written the words Messenger of God. The Prophet asked him to strike them out and write in their place “the son of Abdullah”.
This treaty between the Muslims and the Meccans is known as the Treaty of Hudaybia and according to its terms:
- There was to be no fighting for a period of ten years.
- Any one who wished to join the Prophet’s side was free to do so and any one who wished to join the Meccans, was free to do so.
- If a young man from among the Quraysh joined the Prophet, he would be returned to his parents or guardians. If a young man from among the Muslims joined the Quraysh, he would not be returned.
- That year, the Muslims will go back without performing the pilgrimage.
- Next year, the Prophet and his followers could enter Mecca for a period of three days and perform the pilgrimage. During this period the Quraysh would withdraw from the city.
- When the Muslims entered Mecca next year, they would be unarmed.
On the surface the Treaty of Hudaybia appeared humiliating for the Muslims and Omar could not contain his feelings. He went to the Holy Prophet and Said:
“Are you not God’s Prophet?” to which the Prophet replied “Yes”.
“Are we not in the right and our enemies in the wrong?” asked Omar. To this the Prophet replied “Yes”.
“Then why do we yield in such low fashion?” Omar asked again.
The Prophet replied: “I am God’s Messenger and I will not disobey Him. He will give me the victory”.
“But didn’t you tell us”, Omar persisted, “that we should go to the Ka’ba and perform the pilgrimage?”
“Yes” replied the Prophet, “but did I tell you it would have to be this year?”
The Treaty of Hudaybia gave the Muslims much needed peace and calm in which to concentrate their efforts on the spread of Islam. Great warriors like Khalid bin Walid and Arm bin A’s, embraced Islam after the treaty of Hudaybiya. The success of Islam after the treaty can be recognized from the fact that at the time of the treaty there were only 1,500 men with the Holy Prophet, but two years later, at the time of the conquest of Mecca, they were ten thousand.
THE HOLY PROPHET SENDS LETTERS TO VARIOUS KINGS
On returning to Medinah after the treaty of Hudaybiya, the Holy Prophet sent envoys to various kings and rulers. Each envoy carried a letter from the Prophet, inviting the ruler to accept Islam. These envoys were sent to:
- Heraclius, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
- Chosroes Pervez, the Emperor of Iran
- Negus (Najashi), the King of Abyssinia
- Muqauqis, the ruler of Egypt
- Mundhir Taimi, the chief of Bahrain
- Al Harith bin Abi Shimr, the Ghassanid Prince of Damascus
- Hawdah bin Ali, the chief of Yamamah
- King of Oman
The Prophet also wrote such letters to the chiefs of many other tribes around Arabia such as:
- Chief of Banu Nahd, a tribe of Yemen
- Chief of Hamadaan, another tribe of Yemen
- Chief of Banu Alim
- Chief of Hadrami tribe
The Letter to Heraclius
The letter addressed to Heraclius was delivered to him while the Emperor was visiting Syria. The envoy carrying the letter was called to the King’s court and the letter was read to the King by an interpreter. The King wanted to know if an Arab caravan was visiting Syria so that he could question an Arab about this Arabian Prophet. It so happened that Abu Sufyan, an enemy of the Prophet, was in town and was taken to the King’s court. The conversation that took place between the King and Abu Sufyan has been recorded in the books of Hadith, as follows:
King: What sort of family does this Prophet come from?
A.S.: He comes of a noble family and is one of my relations.
King: Have any Arabs before him made similar claims?
King: Did your people ever find him telling a lie before this?
King: Has there been a king or ruler among his forefathers?
King: Who are his followers? Rich or the poor people?
A.S.: Mostly poor, humble and young people.
King: Are their numbers increasing or decreasing?
King: Do his followers ever go back to their old beliefs?
King: Has he ever broken a pledge?
King: What does he teach?
A.S.: He teaches that we should worship One God and not set up equals to Him. He preaches against the worshiping of idols. He wants us to speak the truth and give up all evil and corrupt practices. He tells us to be good to one another, keep our promises and discharge our trusts.
King: It seems to me that his claim to prophethood is true. I was half expecting his appearance in our time but I did not know that he was going to be an Arab. If what you have told me is true, then I think his influence and his rule will definitely spread over these lands.
The Letter to Chosroes Pervez
The letter sent to Chosroes, the Emperor of Iran, got a different kind of reception. The Emperor ordered an interpreter to read the letter to him. On listening to the contents, the Emperor flew into a rage and tore the letter into pieces. When the Prophet’s envoy reported this incident back to him, the Holy Prophet said:
“What Chosroes has done to our letter, God will do to his Empire”
Chosroes even issued orders for the arrest of the Prophet. The Emperor was soon murdered by his own son who cancelled the orders for the Prophet’s arrest. The Kingdom of Iran fell in a few years in front of the Muslim forces sent out during the reign of Omar, the second Khalifah of the Holy Prophet.
The Letter to Negus
The letter sent to Negus, King of Abyssinia, received an honourable reception. The King showed great respect for the letter and ordered an ivory box for it, saying:
“While this letter is safe, my Kingdom is safe”
The Letter to Muqauqis
When the Prophet’s letter was received by Muqauqis, the Christian ruler of Egypt, he questioned the envoy regarding the Holy Prophet. Muqauqis did not accept Islam but, very diplomatically, he wrote a letter to the Holy Prophet in reply sending with it presents of gold, two Egyptian girls, garments of Egyptian linen and a mule.
The Letter to Mundhir
The envoy carrying the letter to Mundhir, Chief of Bahrain, was the most successful of all envoys sent out by the Holy Prophet. When Mundhir received the Prophet’s letter, he and many of his friends and followers accepted Islam. The Chief also wrote to the Holy Prophet for further instructions for his people.
THE CONQUEST OF KHYBER
Five months after returning from Hudaybiya, the Prophet learned of the rebellion of the Jews of Khyber. Since the expulsion of the Jews from Medinah, many had settled down in Khyber and continued their nefarious activities against the Muslims. They instigated and aroused against Islam the Christian tribes settled on the southern frontier of the Roman Empire, the Arab tribes around Medinah and even Chosroes of Iran.
In August 628 A.D., the Prophet marched towards Khyber with 1,600 of his followers. At Khyber, a number of small forts fell one after the other and, after a heavy contest, their main fortress, al Qamus, was also captured. The Jews being helpless, asked for the Prophet’s pardon. He not only forgave them but also returned their land and properties with complete freedom to practice their faith. A fixed land tax, however, was imposed upon them.
Some 18 Muslims were killed in this Battle while the Jews lost 93 men.
THE THREE DAY PILGRIMAGE
Next year, in 629 A.D., Prophet Muhammad visited Mecca according to the terms of the treaty of Hudaybiya. Many Muslims accompanied him this time to perform the pilgrimage. When the Quraysh learned of the Prophet’s approach, they, too, left the city according to the agreement. The Holy Prophet and his followers performed the Umrah or the Lesser Pilgrimage and after three days, returned to Medinah.
BATTLE OF MUTAH
On return from his three day pilgrimage, the Prophet learned that the Christian tribes on the Syrian border were becoming hostile. The Prophet, therefore, sent a letter with an envoy to the Ghassanid Prince at Damascus, complaining about these hostilities. The Ghassanid Prince ruled that area in the name of Rome. While on his way the envoy was intercepted and murdered at Mutah by a Christian chieftain named Shurahbil.
To put an end to these continuing hostilities, the Prophet raised a force of 3,000 men and dispatched it towards Syria under the command of Zayd bin Harith, the freed slave and adopted son of the Holy Prophet. The Byzantine army, it is estimated, was close to one hundred thousand strong.
The Muslim army marched away in September 629 A.D. and covered over six hundred miles to reach Mutah. It was the largest and most arduous expedition ever undertaken by the Muslims and the first one against the Christians. When the Muslims saw the size of the Christian army, they wanted to send word back to Medinah for reinforcement. However, the distance to Medinah was too great and the Muslim leaders decided to fight with whatever soldiers they had.
As the battle started, Zayd, the commander of the Muslim forces, was killed and the flag and command passed on to Jafar bin Abu Talib. Soon after, Jafar also fell and the command passed to Abdullah bin Rawah, as the Holy Prophet had instructed. Soon, Abdullah bin Rawah also fell. At this point Khalid bin Walid picked up the flag of the Muslim army and continued fighting till evening came.
Next, day, Khalid bin Walid took his exhausted army and the battle continued for a while. The Muslims, however, were grossly outnumbered and continuing the fighting any longer would have been suicidal. Khalid bin Walid, therefore, gathered the leftover of his army, executed a retreat and returned to Medinah. The Muslims at Medinah chided the returning army and scolded them for not fighting till their death. The Prophet, however, defended the army’s action and praised Khalid bin Walid for his bravery giving him the title of Saif Allah the sword of God.
Because of the timely retreat of the Muslim army, not very many people were killed in this battle.
THE CONQUEST OF MECCA
In the treaty of Hudaybiya it was agreed that any tribe wanting to join the Muslims or the Quraysh was free to do so. As a result, the Khuza tribe joined the Muslims while the Banu Bakr entered into an alliance with the Meccans.
Some two years after the treaty, the Banu Bakr tribe, with the help of the Quraysh, raided the Khuza tribe by night and killed a number of their men. The Khuza tribe sent a deputation of about forty men to the Holy Prophet, demanding help and justice. The Prophet sent a peace mission to the Quraysh proposing that:
(a) the Quraysh pay proper compensation to the Khuza tribe, or
(b) the Quraysh cut off all relations with the Banu Bakr, or
(c) the Quraysh declare the treaty of Hudaybiya as null and void.
The Quraysh neither wanted to pay compensation nor break away their relationship with the aggressor tribe of Banu Bakr. They, therefore, accepted the third alternative. With the agreement now dissolved between the Muslims and the Meccans, the Prophet realized that there was no other way to render justice except by fighting the Quraysh. In January 630 A.D., the Prophet advanced towards Mecca with an army of ten thousand men. This was the largest force Medinah had ever seen. On reaching Mecca, the Muslim army camped outside the city.
Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraysh, came out during the night with two companions to see the Muslim camp. He was astounded at the size of the Muslim army and could hardly contain his amazement. The Muslim ranks which numbered about three hundred at the battle of Badr a few years ago had now swollen to nearly ten thousand.
While Abu Sufyan and his companions were scouting around, they were captured by the Muslim guards and brought in front of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet not only pardoned his lifelong enemy but also allowed him to spend the night in the Muslim camp. Abu Sufyan was amazed at the discipline of the Muslims and their love for the Holy Prophet. Abu Sufyan made a remark at the time that:
“I have seen great courts. I have seen the courts of Chosroes and that of Kaiser, but I have never seen any people so devoted to their leader as the Muslims are to their Prophet.”
By sunrise, Abu Sufyan and his companions had accepted Islam. They, however, were concerned about the fate of Mecca and asked the Holy Prophet as to what would the Muslims do to the Meccans. The Prophet replied:
“These people have been very cruel. They have gone back on the peace they signed at Hudaybiya and attacked the Khuza tribe. They have made war in a place which had been made sacred by God”
Abu Sufyan and his companions asked the Holy Prophet for forgiveness and enquired if the Meccans could have peace if they did not draw their swords. The Prophet replied:
“Everyone who stays indoors will have peace. Whoever takes shelter in the house of Abu Sufyan will have peace. Whoever enters the Sacred Mosque will have peace. Those who lay their arms will have peace.”
In the morning, Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca with this message while the Muslim army started marching into the city. The Holy Prophet gave strict orders to his generals not to permit any fighting unless the enemy fought first.
The Prophet went straight to the Ka ‘ba and performed the circuit seven times. Then he ordered that the Ka ‘ba be cleared of all idols and paintings. The idols were broken and the walls of the Ka ‘ba cleansed of all pictures. After this, the Holy Prophet went inside the Ka ‘ba and said his Prayer there.
The Holy Prophet then addressed the Meccans and told them that they will not be called to account. Ikrimah, the son of Abu Jahal, was in the process of escaping to Abyssinia when he learned of this general amnesty. He could not believe his ears and had to ask the Holy Prophet himself, who replied, “Yes, I have forgiven you”. Utbah and Mu’attib, the two surviving sons of Abu Lahab, were afraid to appear before the Prophet. Utbah had divorced Ruqayyah, the Prophet’s daughter, under pressure from his father. The Holy Prophet took Abu
Lahab’s sons by their hands and walked to the wall of the Ka ‘ba where he prayed for a long time. On returning he said, “I asked my Lord to give me these two sons of my uncle, and He has given them to me”.
Both these sons embraced Islam. All historians agree that in the history of conquests there has never been a more triumphant entry than this one. Hardly any blood was shed and all the enemies were pardoned. The Muslims had been tortured in this city and were eventually driven out of it. The residents of this city had not let the Muslims live in peace even in Medinah and had waged many battles against them. But on this day, when the enemy lay helpless, defeated and at the mercy of the Muslims, a general forgiveness was declared and no revenge was taken. Such examples of greatness are truly rare in the history of conquests.
BATTLE OF HUNAYN
Immediately after the conquest of Mecca, the Muslims had to fight the Hawazin and Thaqif tribes which dwelt in the area east of Mecca. These two tribes invited a number of other tribes in the area to join them in battle against the Muslims.
This battle between the Muslims and the Hawazin and allied tribes was fought in the valley of Hunayn. When the Muslim army entered the valley, the enemy archers rained arrows from the surrounding cliffs where they lay hidden. The beasts of the Muslim army took fright and ran in spite of the riders. There was a time when the Prophet was left with only a handful of companions. When his companions tried to stop him from going ahead, he scorned the proposal and said:
“I am a Prophet, it is no lie; Yet I am the son of Abdul Muttalib.”
At this moment the thunderous voice of Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, rang out in the valley telling the Muslims that their Prophet had stood his ground and was calling for help. The Muslims then gathered together and drove the enemy from the battle field.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE BOOTY AND THE ANSAR’S UNHAPPINESS
The victory at Hunayn gave the Muslims their largest spoils of war. These spoils consisted of camels, goats and silver and were divided into five equal portions. Four of these portions were distributed among the Muslim army and one portion was reserved for the Muslim Treasury to be used as the Holy Prophet saw fit.
From this fifth portion, the Holy Prophet gave generously to some of the newly converted leaders of the Quraysh such as Abu Sufyan, Muawiah, Harith bin Harith, Harith bin Hisham, Suhayl bin Amr and some others, all of whom had been staunch opponents of Islam before the conquest of Mecca.
The Ansar felt left out and grieved at this act of generosity towards the new converts and some of them gave voice to their feelings. When the Holy Prophet learned of their resentment, he asked for them to be assembled. When they had all gathered in front of him, the Prophet addressed them:
“O Ansar! It has been reported to me that you do not approve of my distribution of the booty. Is it not true that when I came to you, you were languishing in misguidance and error, and God guided you to the truth through me? And is it not true that I found you in a state of poverty, and God made you affluent? And is it not true that I found you enemy one of another, and God reconciled your hearts?
After listening to each sentence of the admonition, the Ansar would say, “Indeed! God and His Prophet have been very generous.” The Holy Prophet then continued:
“Why don’t you say this O Ansar, ‘It was you, Muhammad, who were under our obligation. Did you not come to us vanquished and defeated, and we came to your rescue? Did you not come to us exiled and rejected, and we gave you shelter? Did you not come to us in want and need, and we came to your help?
“Had you replied to me in these words, you would have said nothing but the truth and I would have agreed with you. O Ansar, are you angry because I gave away some goods to those whom I sought to win to Islam? Because I considered that their faith could be confirmed by material goods, whereas I considered yours to be based on solid conviction?
“Does this not satisfy you, O Ansar, that when other people return home loaded with goods and camels, you will return home with the Prophet of God? By Him Who controls Muhammad’s soul, there is no people to whom I love to belong more than the Ansar.”
The Holy Prophet said these words in great love and affection for the men of Ansar who had pledged their unswerving loyalty and allegiance to him, and had helped him at the most critical stage in his mission.
When the Ansar heard these words of great affection and sincerity from the Prophet’s mouth, they burst into tears and they all shouted with one voice, “We want only Muhammad, the Prophet of God.”
CAMPAIGN OF TABUK
In the summer of year 630 A.D., rumours spread out in Medinah that the Byzantine army was gathering in the southern part of Syria, ready to attack Medinah. Later events showed that these rumours were cleverly spread by the hypocrites in Medinah who wanted to provoke the Muslims against the Roman Empire.
The previous encounter with the Byzantine forces at Mutah was still fresh in the minds of the Muslims who showed some reluctance in joining this campaign. The Prophet finally prepared an army of thirty thousand men and marched towards Syria. After reaching Tabuk, the Prophet stayed there a few days and not finding any signs of the enemy, returned to Medinah. The journey took the Muslim army about two and a half months and was the last campaign undertaken by the Holy Prophet in his life.
After his return from. Tabuk, a large number of deputations from various tribes and states came to Medinah to offer their allegiance to the Prophet. They came from Oman, Hadramawt, Harridan, Kindah, Bahrain, Yamamah and many other provinces of Arabia. In fact so remarkable was the movement of these deputations towards Medinah that the ninth year of the Hijrah is known as the “Year of Deputations”