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AD 622-630 - The Prophet Muhammed in Madinah

Portrait of the Prophet Muhammed The Muslims set out secretly in little parties for al-Madinah, where the numbers soon reached to about one hundred and fifty, counting women and children. The day of his flight, or Hijrah, marks the Muhammadan era, or Hegira. The date of the flight was the 20th of June, AD 622. The flight to al-Madinah changes the scene, and with it the character of the portions of, the Qur'un revealed there. He who at Makkah is the admonisher and persuader, at al-Madinah is the legislator and the warrior, and the verses of the Qur'iin assume a more didactic tone. Poetry makes way for prose, and he openly assumes the office of a public warner and prophet. Here at al-Madinah there was no opposition to Muhammad and his doctrines; but, nevertheless, an undercurrent of disaffection prevailed. These disaffected citizens, the mundfiqun, or "hypocrites," as they are called, continued to be the objects of bitter denunciation in the Quran until near the close of the Prophet's career.

Shortly afterwards he celebrated his nuptials with Ayishah, who, though she had been three years affianced, was but a girl of ten years. Thus, at the age of fifty-three, a new phase commenced in the life of Muhammad. Hitherto limiting himself to a single wife, he had shunned the indulgence, but he now surrounds himself with the cares and discord, of polygamy. The unity of his family was now broken, never again to be restored. Thenceforward his love was to be claimed, his attentions shared by a plurality of wives, and his days .spent between their houses, for Muhammad had no separate apartments of his own.

In the second year of the Hijrah, Muhammad commenced hostilities against the Quraish, and the first pitched battle took place at Badr. With an army of 305 followers, of whom two-thirds were citizens of al-Madinah, Muhammad routed a force three times that number. What part Mahomet himself took in the battle is not clear. It was at Badr that "the Prophet" first drew the sword in the -assertion of his claim as a commissioned apostle of the Most High God, and the victory is attributed in the Qur'an to the direct intervention of the Almighty. On his return to al-Madinah, Muhammad found his position much strengthened, and from this time the Qur'an assumes a rude dictatorial tone. He who at one time only spoke as a searcher after truth, now demands unhesitating obedience from the whole country of Arabia.

The Jews, however, were still unimpressed and were slow to acknowledge Muhammad, although ho claimed to be but the teacher of the creed of Abraham. Muhammad sought but a plausible excuse for a rupture with the sons of Israel, and an opportunity soon presented itself. A Muslim girl was insulted by a youth a a Jewish tribe, and, taking advantage of tie circumstance, the whole tribe was attacked, proscribed, and banished. Their houses and lands were confiscated and divided amongst the Faithful. In the course of the same year, Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, a Jew, was assassinated because he annoyed the Muslims with his verses.

Muhammad being threatened by combined contingents of the Quraisb, the Banu Ghatfan and the Jewish tribes of Nazir and Quraizah, who advanced upon al-Madinah with an army of 12,000 men, he, at the advice of a Persian named Salman, caused a trench to be dug round the city, and then issued forth to defend it at the head of 3,000 Muslims. This engagement is known in Muslim history as the "Battle of the Ditch." Special reference is made to this event in the Qur'an, Surah zxxiil 9, where the success of the Muslims is attributed to the intervention of God, "who sent a blast and a host that were not seen."

The next expedition was against the Jewish tribe, the Banu Quraigah, when Muhammad led an army of three thousand men with thirty-six horse. The Jews sustained a siege of some twenty-five days, but were at last compelled to capitulate. Their fate was left to the decision of the Prophet's companion, Sa'd, whose-sentence was that the male captives should be slain; the female'captives and children sold into slavery, and the spoils divided amongst the army. The Prophet commended the cruel judgment of Sa'd, as a decision according to the judgment of God, given on high from the seven heavens-; and about 700 captives were deliberately beheaded, in parties in the presence of Muhammad. One of the female captives, Rihanah, whose husband and male relatives had perished in the massacre, the Prophet reserved for himself. This cruel massacre of the Banu Quraizah is commended in the xxxmrd Surah of the Qur'an, versa 26.

Muhammad's numerous marriages (four being the legal numberSurah iv. 3) were likely to excite the jea)ousy and opposition of less favoured Muslims, bnt an additional chapter of the Qur'an avoided complications, and allowed the- " Prophet of God" greater liberty in this respect! See Surah xxxiii. 49: "0 Prophet, we have allowed thee thy wives whom thou hast dowered, and the slaves whom thy right hand possesseth and any believing woman who has given herself up to the Prophet, if the Prophet desireth to wed her; a privilege for thee above the rest of the Faithful."

It was during the year AH 6, that Muhammad conceived the idea of addressing foreign sovereigns and princes, and of inviting them to embrace Islam. His letter to the Emperor Heraclius has been handed down by Ibn 'Abbas (Misfikat, book xvii. ch. civ.), a.nd is as follows: "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Muhammad, who is the servant of God, and His Apostle, to Haraql, the Qaisar of Rum. Peace be on whoever has gone on the straight road. After this I say, Verily, I call you to Islam. Embrace Islam, and God will reward you twofold. If you turn away from the offer of Islam, then on you be the sins of your people. 0 people of the Book (i.e. Christians), come towards a creed which is fit both for us and for you. It is this, to worship none but God, and not to associate anything with God, and not to call others God. Therefore, O ye people of the Book, if ye refuse, beware: We are Muslims, and our religion is Islam. (Seal) "the-Apostle of God."

In the Muharram of AH 7, Muhammad assembled a force of 1,600 men, and marched against Khaibar, a fertile district inhabited by the Jews, and situated about six days' march to the north-east of al-Madinah. A famous -Jewish warrior named Marhab, now presented himself, and challenged 'All to single Combat. The challenge was accepted, and 'Ali, armed with his famous sword "Zu'1-Fiqar," given to him by the Prophet, cleft the head of his adversary in twain, and secured a victory. In a few days all the fortresses of the district were taken, and Khaibar was subjugated to Islam. Amongst the female captives was Safiyah, the widow of the chief Kinanah, who had fallen at Qamus. One of Muhammad's followers begged her for himself, but the Prophet, struck with hfer beauty, threw his mantle over her, and took her to his harim. The booty taken at Khaibar was very considerable, and in order to secure the district to Muslim rule, the Jews of the district were exiled to the banks of the Jordan. It was during the Khaibar expedition that Muhammad instituted Mut'ah, a temporary marriage, to meet the demands of his army. This is an institution still observed by the Shi'ahs, but said by the Sunnis to have been later abolished by Muhammad. The subjugation of the Jewish districts of Fadak, Wadi 1-Qura and Tannah, on the confines of Syria, followed that of Khaibar.

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Page last modified: 26-10-2011 18:39:57 ZULU