page 63



Hostilities between Medina and Mecca.
A.H. I. & II. - A.D. 623.

Repose at Medina for the first six months

THE first six months of Mahomet's residence at Medina were undisturbed either by alarms from without, or by hostile counsels at home. No vindictive measures were planned by the citizens of Mecca. He who had for more than ten years kept the city in continual excitement, broken up their old political parties, and introduced a new faction of his own, was now gone forth with all his adherents, and his absence afforded immediate relief. The current of events, long diverted and troubled by his designs, now returned, to flow peaceably, for a while, in its ancient channel.

Hostilities contemplated by Mahomet from the first

The thoughts of Mahomet, indeed, from the day of his flight, were not thoughts of peace. He had threatened that condign vengeance should overtake the enemies of his Revelation, - a vengeance not postponed to a future life, but immediate and overwhelming even in the present world. He now occupied a position where he might become the agent for executing the divine justice, and at the same time might triumphantly impose the true religion on those who had rejected it. Hostility to the Coreish

page 64

lay as a seed germinating in his heart; it wanted only a favourable opportunity to spring up.

but deferred from motives of policy

But the opportunity did not at once present itself. The people of Medina were pledged only to defend the Prophet from attack, not to join him in any aggressive steps against the Coreish1. He must take time to gain their affections, and to secure their hearty co-operation in offensive measures against his enemies. His followers from Mecca were too few to measure arms with the Coreish. They were also, like himself at present occupied in providing dwelling-places for their families. In fulfilling this domestic obligation, in establishing friendly relations with the citizens of Medina and the Jewish tribes, in organizing civil and religious institutions for his followers, now fast assuming the position of an independent society, and in riveting the hold of his

June to Nov. A.D. 622.

theocratic government upon their minds, the autumn of the first year passed away.

Expeditions against Coreishite caravans, by Hamza

The earliest indications of hostility against the Coreish were of a petty and marauding character.

Dec. A.D. 622

In Ramadhan, seven months after his arrival, Mahomet despatched his uncle Hamza, at the head of thirty Refugees, to surprise a Meccan caravan returning from Syria under the guidance of Abu Jahl. This caravan, guarded

1 "Mahomet did not send the Medina converts on any hostile expedition against the Coreish, until they had warred with him at Badr; and the reason is that they had pledged themselves to protect him only at their homes." K. Wackidi, 48.

page 65

by some 300 of the Coreish, was overtaken near the sea-shore, between Mecca and Medina, in the territory of the Bani Joheina. A chief of that tribe, being a confederate of both, interposed between the two parties, who were already drawn up prepared for an encounter. Hamza retired to Medina, and Abu Jahl proceeded onwards to Mecca2.

Obeida ibn al Shawwal A.H. I. Jan. A.D. 623

About a month later, a party double the strength of the first, was sent under command of Obeida, son of Harith3, in pursuit of another caravan protected by Abu Sofian with 200 men. The Coreish were surprised while their camels were grazing by a fountain in the valley of Rabigh;4 but beyond the discharge of arrows from a distance, no hostilities were attempted. Obeida is distinguished in tradition as “he who shot the

2 K. Wackidi; 98; Hishami, 207; Tabari, 225. There is, as usual, much rivalry as to which of the expeditions has the honour of being the first; and who was the first to have a banner presented to him by Mahomet. Some traditions give the preference to Obeida; others say that Obeida and Hamza were simultaneously despatched; others, again, make both expeditions to follow that of Mahomet himself to Abwa in the following June, and hold that, during the first twelve months after Mahomet's arrival, there was no expedition despatched from Medina. In the Chronology of the Campaigns I have uniformly followed the Secretary of Wackidi. See also pp. 2-7 of the History of Muhammad's Campaigns, by Wackidi, published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, under the editorship of M. A. Von Kremer: Calcutta, 1856. I shall quote this valuable work simply as Wackidi.

3 He was a cousin of Mahomet. See Table, vol. i. p. cclxx.- Harith having been the prophet's uncle.

4 One of the stages on the road to Mecca.

page 66

first arrow for Islam." Two followers of Mahomet, who were with the Coreishite convoy, fled from it and joined the party of Obeida5.

and Sad, son of Abu Wackkas

After the lapse of another month, a third expedition started under the youthful Sad6, with twenty followers, in the same direction. He was desired to proceed as far as Kharrar, a valley on the road to Mecca, and to lie in wait for a caravan expected to pass that way. Like most of the subsequent marauding parties intended to effect a surprise, they marched by night and lay in concealment during the day. Notwithstanding this precaution, when they reached their destination on the fifth morning, they found that the caravan had passed a day before, and they returned empty-handed to Medina7.

A standard presented by Mahomet to each Leader

These excursions occurred in the winter and spring of the year 623 A.D. On each occasion, Mahomet mounted a white banner on a staff or lance, and presented it to the leader, on his departure. The names of those who carried the standard, as well as the names of the leaders, are carefully recorded in tradition in these and in all other expeditions of importance.

5 Wackidi does not mention this latter circumstance, only Hishami. The names of the deserters are Micdad and Otba, both of Coreishite blood. Micdad carried the standard in the next expedition under Sad. Wackidid, 2; K. Wackidi 98 ½ ; Hishami 207; Tabari, 226.

6 See vol. ii. p.108. He was now only from twenty to twenty-five years of age.

7 Wackidi and K. Wackidi, as before; Hishami, 209.

page 67

Three expeditions conducted by Mahomet himself;-

In the summer and autumn of the same year, Mahomet led in person three somewhat larger, though equally unsuccessful parties.


(June, A.D. 623) The first set out in Safar, nearly twelve months after his arrival, and was directed to Abwa8, the spot where his mother lay buried, in pursuit of a Coreishite caravan. The prey was missed; but something was gained in a friendly treaty concluded with the Bani Dhamra, a tribe connected with Mecca. The treaty was committed to writing, and was the first that Mahomet entered into with any foreign tribe9. He returned, after fifteen days' absence, to Medina.

Bowat : I Rabi A.H. I, July A.D. 623

In the succeeding month, the Prophet again marched, at the head of 200 followers, including some of the citizens of Medina10, to Bowat, a place

8 Vol. i. 27. The expedition is also said by some to have been directed to Waddan, which Wackidi states to be six Arabian miles from Abwa.

9 K. Wackidi, 98 ½. The provisions are noted only generally:— "that neither party would levy war against the other, nor help their enemies." The version quoted by Weil, binding the Bani Dhamra to fight for the Faith, &c. is evidently anticipatory and apocryphal. It is not given by the Secretary of Wackidi in his Chapter of Treaties. The Bani Dhamra was a tribe descended from Kinana. See Table, vol. i. p. cxcv.; Hishami 206; Tabari, 227; Wackidi, 7. The latter mentions the Treaty as entered into at Bowat, i.e. in the next expedition.

10 This shows Mahomet's advancing influence over the citizens. There must have been many of them in this expedition, as the Refugees, who were nearly all present at Badr five or six months after, numbered then only 83.

page 68

on the caravan route four stages south-west of Medina11. A rich burden, laden on 2,500 camels, under the escort of Omeya ibn Khalf12, with 100 armed men, was to proceed by that road. But it eluded pursuit, and passed on in safety. Shortly after their return, some of the camels and flocks of Medina, while feeding in a plain a few miles from

(Kurz ibn Jabir commits a raid near Medina.)

the city13, were fallen upon by Kurz ibn Jabir, a marauding chieftain, and carried off. Mahomet pursued him nearly to Badr, but he made good his escape14.

and Osheira, 2nd Jumad, A.H. I, Oct. 623, A.D.

Two or three months elapsed before Mahomet set out on his third expedition. Volunteers were invited, and from 150 to 200 followers joined the party. They had between them only thirty camels, which they rode upon by turns. At Osheira, distant nine stages in the direction of Yenbo, they expected to waylay another rich caravan which Abu Sofian was conducting towards Syria, and of

11 It is described as in the territory of the Joheina, in the vicinity of the hill Radhwa, near Dzu Khusheib. For that hill, see Burton, i. 328, 358. It is one day's journey from Yenbo.

12 He, was one of the chief opponents of Mahomet, and persecutor of Bilal. He was killed at Badr.

13 Near Al Jamma, a hill about three Arabian miles from the city, by the valley Ackick, towards Jorf. K. Wackidi, 99; Tabari, 232.

14 To Safwan, a valley near Badr. Kurz was a Fihrite, i.e. of Coreishite stock; and was probably one of the Tzowahir, or Coreish of the desert: vol. i. p. ccii. He must have been converted shortly after to Islam, as we find him (A.H. VI.) heading a Moslem expedition against an inroad of the Urnee banditti, very similar to his own. K. Wackidi, 118.

page 69

the departure of which from Mecca tidings had been received. But it had passed before they reached the spot. It was the same caravan which, on its return from Syria, gave occasion to the famous action of Badr.

Mahomet concludes an alliance with two tribes

In this excursion, the Prophet entered into an alliance with the Bani Mudlij --- a tribe inhabiting the vicinity of Osheira - and with certain of the Bani Dhamra,, their adherents. He was thus gradually extending his political connections15.

Mahomet calls Ali, Abu Torab

An instance of the pleasantry in which the Prophet sometimes indulged, is here recorded. Ali had fallen asleep on the dusty ground, in the shade of a palm grove. Mahomet espied him lying thus, all soiled with the dust; and, pushing him with his foot, called out, "Ho! Abu Torab! (Father of the Dust!) is it thou? Abu Torab, sit up!" Ali, half-ashamed, sat up; and the sobriquet ever after clung to him16.

His standard bearers

On each of these expeditions, Mahomet appointed a standard-bearer to carry his white banner. Hamza, Sad, and Ali had successively this honour.

15 K. Wackidi, 99; Wackidi, 3; Hishami, 208. The Bani Mudlij are a tribe of the B. Kinana, connected with the Coreish. Weil, 97. The B. Dhamra were probably another branch or offshoot of the tribe of that name notified just before, p. 67.

16 Hishami and Tabari add that on this occasion Mahomet prophesied to Ali the manner in which he would be assassinated. Tabari adds a different tradition, --- that Ali had been rolling on the dusty floor of the great Mosque at Medina, after coming out or Fatima's house, when he got this name: - Weil says, after a quarrel with her. Mohammad, p. 97, note 128.

page 70

Representatives left at Median during his absence

Whenever the Prophet left Medina to proceed to a distance, he named a representative to exercise authority over those who were left behind, and to lead the public prayers during his absence. The first person selected for the office was one of the twelve "Leaders," Sad ibn Obada, or the Khazraj tribe. The next who received this token of confidence was Sad ibn Muadz, of the Bani Aus17; so carefully was Mahomet minded to distribute his favours between these two jealous tribes. On the third occasion, his friend Zeid was honoured with the post.

Affair of Nakhla, Rajab A.H. II, Nov. A.D. 623

In November and December, Mahomet did not himself quit but he sent forth Abdallah ibn Jahsh18, with seven other Refugees19, on an expedition which was attended with more serious results than any of the preceding. As he bade farewell to Abdallah, the Prophet placed in his hands a closed packet of instructions, and charged him not to open it till he entered the valley of Mallal, two days' march on the road to Mecca. On reaching

17 In illustration of this man's influence, see vol. ii. 219, note.

18 He was a maternal cousin of Mahomet: vol. ii. 110. Obeida ibn al Harith (leader in the former expedition to Rabigh) was the person first nominated to the command; but he wept at the prospect or again leaving Mahomet, who thereupon appointed Abdallah in his place. Wackidi, 8. Tabari (240) tells the same story of Obeida ibn al Jarrah - apparently a mistake.

19 The names are Abu Hodzeifa (v.ii.110), Amir ibn Rabia, Wackidi, Okkasha, Khalid son or Al Bokeir (ii. 119), Sad son of Abu Wackkas (ii. 103), and Otba ibn Ghazwan. Wackidi, ii. There are variations; some give as many as twelve or thirteen names.

page 71

the appointed spot, Abdallah broke open the letter, and read it aloud to his comrades in these terms:- Go forward to Nakhla, in the name of the Lord, and with his blessing! Yet force not any of thy followers against his inclination. Proceed with those that accompany thee willingly. And when thou hast arrived at the valley of Nakhla, there lie in wait for the caravans of the Coreish20. Nakhla is a valley to the east of Mecca, about half-way to Tayif21; and the mercantile traffic with the south all passed that way. Watched and pursued in their commerce with Syria, that towards the south would be more securely and more busily prosecuted by the people of Mecca; for the route lay far removed from the vicinity of their enemy. Mahomet had, no doubt, intimation that some rich ventures, lightly guarded, were shortly expected at Mecca by this route; and by his sealed instructions, he effectually provided against intelligence and alarm being conveyed to the Coreish.

20 A literal translation from Wackidi, p. 8. His Secretary, whose account of this affair is curt and unsatisfactory, omits the letter altogether. Hishami and Tabari, following Ibn Isha; insert at the close of the order this clause : --- "and bring me intelligence of their affairs." Weil (p.99) has ably shown this to be a spurious addition. Besides being quite out of place, it does not agree with the speech of Abdallah (as given by the same authorities) on opening the letter, viz. : --- "Let anyone that coveteth martyrdom come on with me". This speech itself is equally spurious, for the idea of martyrdom in battle did not spring up till after Badr. The addition is also inconsistent with the council of war held by Abdallah just before he attacked the caravan.

21 See its position, vol. ii. 203, note.

page 72

One or the Coreish killed, and the caravan, with two of the escort, carried off

Having read the order, Abdallah told his comrades that any who wished was at liberty to go back:- "As for myself"; he added, "I will go forward and fulfil the command of the Prophet." All joined in the same determination, and proceeded onwards. Two of them fell behind in search of their camel, which had strayed, and lost the party22. The remaining six, having reached Nakhla, waited there. In a short time a caravan laden with wine, raisins, and leather, came up. It was guarded by four Coreishites, who, seeing the strangers, were alarmed, and halted. To disarm their apprehensions, one of Abdallah's party shaved his head, in token that they were returning from the lesser pilgrimage; for this was one of the months in which that ceremony was ordinarily performed23. The men of the caravan were at once reassured, and turning their camels adrift to pasture, began to prepare food for themselves. Meanwhile, Abdallah and his comrades debated the propriety of an attack during the sacred month of Rajab24; and thus they spoke one to another: "If we should defer the attack this night, they will surely move off; and entering the holy territory, escape us; but if we should fight against

22 By some accounts they took advantage of the option given by Mahomet to go back, and turned aside from Bahran of the Bani Suleim. Wackidi, p.8. The going astray of their camel may have been invented to cover what in after days appeared a discreditable lukewarmness.

23 Vol. i. ccv.

24 Ibid. ccvi.

page 73

them now, it is unlawful, for we shall be transgressing the sacred month." At last, they overcame their scruples. Wackid, one of their number, advanced; and discharging an arrow, killed a man of the convoy, Amr ibn al Hadhrami, on the spot. All then rushed upon the caravan, and securing two of the Coreish, Othman and Al Hakam, led them off prisoners, with the spoil, to Medina. Nowfal, the brother of Othman, leaped on his horse and escaped to Mecca; but too late to give the alarm for a pursuit.

Mahomet at first disclaims the responsibility of the attack

On Abdallah reaching Medina he acquainted Mahomet with all that had passed. The Prophet, who had probably not expected the party to reach Nakhla till after the close of Rajab, appeared displeased, and said:-"I never commanded thee to fight in the sacred month." So he put the booty aside, pending further orders, and kept the prisoners in bonds. Abdallah and his comrades were ashamed and grieved; the people also reproached them with what they had done. But Mahomet was unwilling to discourage his followers; and, shortly

Then promulgates a Revelation approving it

after, a revelation was given forth, justifying hostilities during the sacred month for the propagation of the faith, as a lesser evil than Idolatry and opposition to the religion of Islam:-

"They will ask thee concerning the Sacred Months, whether they may war therein. SAY:- Warring therein is grievous; but to obstruct the way of God, and to deny him, and hinder men from the Holy Temple, and expel his people from thence, is more

page 74

grievous with God. Tempting (to Idolatry) is more grievous than killing. They will not leave off to fight against you until they turn you from your faith, if that were ill their power; but whosoever amongst you shall turn back from his faith and die an Unbeliever,- verily their Works are rendered of no effect in this Life and in the next. These are the Dwellers in Hell, - for ever therein. But they that believe, and they who emigrate for the sake of their faith, and strive earnestly25 in the way of God, - let them hope in the mercy of God: for God is forgiving and merciful."26 After promulgating this verse, Mahomet gave over the booty to the captors, who, after presenting a fifth of it to Mahomet, divided the remainder among themselves27.

Prisoners ransomed

The relatives of the two prisoners now sent a deputation from Mecca for their ransom. Sad and Otba, who wandered from Abdallah's party, had

25 The word (Jihad) is the same as that subsequently used for a religious war; but it had not yet probably acquired its fixed application. It was employed in its general sense before the Hegira, and probably up to the battle of Badr.

26 Sura, ii.217. The passage follows immediately after a command to war against the infidels; and it contains a reference to the Meccans fighting, while as yet they had hardly fought at all. I should therefore have placed this verse after the battle of Badr, had it not been for reasons given in a note following. Either the story is altogether untrue, that Mahomet placed an interdict on the booty till this verse was revealed (which is possible), or the verse was given out at the time indicated in the text. The latter part of the verse is said to have been revealed in favour of Abdallah and his comrades, who earnestly coveted a spiritual reward.

27 Abdallah's descendants make much of this act, as an anticipation on his part of the Divine command for setting apart a fifth for the Prophet. Others say that the booty was not divided till after the battle of Badr, i.e. till the order had issued that a fifth of the spoil was always to be reserved for the Prophet. The proportion set aside for an Arab chief used previously to be a fourth. Wackidi, 10. See also vol. i. ccxxi. note.

page 75

not yet returned. Mahomet was apprehensive for their safety, and refused to ransom the captives till he was assured that no foul play had been used towards them: - "if ye have killed my two men," he said, "verily, I ; will put yours also to death." But, soon after, they made their appearance, and Mahomet accepted the proffered ransom, - forty ounces of silver for each28. Al Hakam, however, continued at Medina, and embraced Islam29.

Importance of this expedition

The Arabian writers rightly attach much importance to this expedition. "This was," says Ibn Hisham, " the first booty that the Mussulmans obtained; the first captives they seized; the first life they took." Abdallah is said to have been called in this expedition Amir al Mominin, - an appellation - "Commander of the Faithful" - assumed in after days by the Caliphs30.

28 The silver owekea, or ounce, is said to have been equal to forty dirhams.

29 He was one of those killed at Bir Mauna, A.H. IV. He was a Maula, or freed-man, of Hisham ibn al Mughira (Othman and Nowfal were grandsons of Mughira, to whose family the caravan would seem to have belonged). The sudden conversion of Hakam is remarkable, and might throw suspicion of collusion on him.

30 I, have given what appears the most consistent narrative of this expedition; but there are some difficulties and discrepancies: First, - as to the period of the expedition: Some say it was undertaken at the close of the 2nd Jumad (October) and beginning of Rajab; hence Abdallah is represented as addressing Mahomet on his return: "We attacked the party by day, and in the evening we saw the new moon of Rajab, and we know not whether we attacked them in Rajab or on the last day of the 2nd Jumad." Wackidi, 8. This, however, originates evidently in the desire

page 76

Growing hostility of Mahomet and his followers towards there countrymen

It was now a year and a half since Mahomet and his followers bad taken refuge in Medina. Their

to remove the scandal of the treacherous attack having been made during the sacred month. The expedition is almost always spoken of as having been undertaken in Rajab, and was evidently despatched from Medina near the close of that month and the beginning of the next (Shaban, or December).

Second, -- as to the period of the distribution of the booty and ransom of the prisoners : - According to some accounts the interdict was continued upon the booty until after the battle of Badr, when Mahomet (being now strong enough to defy public opinion at Mecca on the subject) promulgated the passage justifying the transaction, and the distribution of the spoil. The terms of that passage, as I remarked above, might justify this view; but then the like argument would apply to the ransoming or the prisoners, which would hare been equally unlawful as the appropriation of the booty. Yet the prisoners were clearly ransomed shortly after the return of the expedition (since Sad and Otba had not come back when the deputation arrived from Mecca), and not after Badr, i.e. two months later. if, indeed, we could imagine that the deputation retired to Mecca, re infecta, and that a second party came to ransom the prisoners after Badr, then it might be held that both prisoners and booty were kept in abeyance till that time, when the revelation was promulgated; but this seems inconsistent with the natural tenor of the narrative it is still a possible explanation that Mahomet (not questioning what had been done) distributed the spoil, and accepted ransom, for the prisoners a once; and, subsequently, perceiving the great scandal he had occasioned by countenancing a violation of the sacred month, produced after Badr the revelation sanctioning it. But this, though not otherwise unlikely, runs counter to tradition; and, on the whole, I prefer the narrative as I have given it in the text.

As a proof how anxious the Moslems are to relieve their Prophet from the stigma of sanctioning this irreligious attack, I may note that Zohri and Orwa bold that Mahomet first disallowed the transaction altogether, and paid blood-money (diyat) for the slain man Amr; but Wackidi (p.9) decides that this was not the case. K. Wackidi, 499; Wackidi, 8; Hishami,209; Tabari, 234.

page 77

attitude towards Mecca was becoming daily more hostile. Latterly, no opportunity had been lost of threatening the numerous caravans which passed through the Hejaz. On the regular and uninterrupted march of these to Syria, the prosperity of Mecca entirely depended; for the traffic with Yemen and Abyssinia was of a subordinate character. Even towards Yemen and Tayif it now appeared, from the last attack, that their enemy would allow them no security. This attack had also shown them that Mahomet and his followers would respect neither life nor the universally admitted inviolability of the sacred months. Blood had been shed, foully and sacrilegiously, and was yet unavenged.

Forbearance of the Coreish

Still there was no hostile response from Mecca. Though followers of the Prophet were known to be there, no cruelties were perpetrated on them, or reprisals attempted by the Coreish. But the breach was widening-the enmity becoming deeper seated: blood could be washed out by blood alone.

Divine command to fight against the Coreish

At Medina, on the other hand, the prospect of a mortal conflict with their enemies was steadily contemplated, and openly spoken of by Mahomet and his adherents. At what period the Divine command to fight against the Unbelievers of Mecca was promulgated, it is, perhaps, impossible to determine. The repeated attack of the caravans had been gradually paving the way for it; and when given forth, it was probably no more than an embodiment of the earnest desire of Mahomet and his

page 78

follower's for revenge, and of the people of Medina generally for the plunder of the rich merchandise which passed to and fro in tempting proximity to their city. The following are the earliest passages on the subject : ---

"Bear good tidings unto the Righteous. Truly the Lord will keep back the Enemy from those who believe, for God loveth not the perfidious Unbeliever. Permission is granted unto those who take up arms for that they have been injuriously entreated; and verily the Lord is Mighty for the assistance of those who have been driven from their homes without just cause, - for no other reason than that they said, God is our Lord. And truly if it were not that God holdeth back mankind, one part of them by means of another part, Monasteries, and Churches, aud Places of prayer and of worship31, wherein the name of the Lord is frequently commemorated, would be demolished. And God will surely assist them that assist him. For God is Mighty and Glorious32."

"And fight in the way of God with them that fight against you: but transgress not, for God loveth not the transgressors. Kill them wheresoever ye find them; and expel them from that out of which they have expelled you: for temptation (to idolatry) is more grievous than killing. Yet fight not against them beside the Holy Temple, until they fight with you thereat.

"Fight, therefore, until there be no temptation (to idolatry), and the Religion be God's. And if they leave off, then let there be no hostility, excepting against the Oppressors33."

"War is ordained for you, even though it be irksome unto you. Perchance ye dislike that which is good for you, and love that which is evil for you. But God knoweth, and ye know not."

31 i.e. Synagogues and Mosques.

32 Sura, xxii. 41, 42. It is for the most part a Meccan Sura; but this passage was probably inserted in it after Mahomet's arrival at Medina. Vol. ii. 266, note.

33 Sura, ii; 191-194.

page 79

Fighting prescribed on religious grounds

Thus war, upon grounds professedly religious, was established as an ordinance of Islam. Hostilities, indeed, were justified by the "expulsion" of the believers from Mecca. But the main and true issue of the warfare was not disguised to be the victory of Islam. They were to fight "until the religion became the Lord's alone."

The fearful reproved

Although the general bearing of the Believers The fearful was, like that of their Prophet, defiant and daring, yet there were also timorous men amongst them, who needed reproof and encouragement. They were thus addressed : -

"The Believers say, - If a Sura were revealed (commanding war, we should fight); and now when a plain Sura is revealed, and fighting is mentioned therein, thou seest those in whose heart is an infirmity, looking towards thee with the look of one over-shadowed with death. But Obedience had been better for them, and propriety of speech. Wherefore, when the command is established, if they give credit unto God, it shall be better for them34."

Paradise promised to the slain

For those that fall in battle, Paradise is guaranteed :----

"They who have gone into Exile for the cause of God, and then have been slain, or have died, WE shall certainly nourish these with an excellent provision: For God is the best Provider. He will surely grant unto them an Entrance such as they will approve: For God is Knowing and Gracious."

The cause not dependent on their efforts

Yet the Believer was not to imagine the success of Islam as dependent on his feeble efforts. God could accomplish the work equally well without

34 Sura, xlvii. 21.

page 80

him. Thus after the fierce exhortation to "strike off the heads of the Unbelievers, to make great slaughter amongst them, and bind them fast in bonds;" the Prophet adds: ----

"This do. If the Lord willed, he could surely himself take vengeance on them: but (He bath ordained fighting for the Faith) in order that he may prove some of you by others. They that are killed in the way of God, He will not suffer their works to perish. He will guide them, and dispose their hearts aright. He will lead them into the Paradise whereof he hath told them35."

Believers to contribute towards expenditure.

Furthermore, the true Believer was expected not only to fight: he was to contribute of his substance towards the expenses of the war:-

"What hath befallen you that ye contribute not (of your substance) in the cause of God? and to God belongeth the inheritance of the Heavens and of the Earth. Those of you that contribute before the victory36, and fight, shall not be placed on the same level, but shall have a rank superior over those who contribute after it and fight37. Who is he that leadeth unto the Lord a goodly loan? He shall double the same, and he shall have an honourable recompense38."

"He doth not ask you for (all) your substance. Had he asked you for (the whole of) it, and importunately pressed you, ye had become grudging, and it had stirred up your ill-will. But ye are they who are called on to contribute a part of the same in the

35 Sura, xlvii. 5-7.

36 Al Fath; the "decision" of God against the idolators, and in favour of Islam, i.e. the victory of the latter. The term came subsequently to be applied par excellence to the taking of Mecca - the great crisis, prior to which alone there was a peculiar merit in fighting for and supporting Islam. The commentators construe the word in this meaning; but the idea in Mahomet's mind at that moment had no such distinct anticipative sense.

37 Here is introduced this verse:- "But to all God hath promised an excellent reward:" introduced probably at a later period to soothe the minds of those who came over then.

page 81

cause of God, and there be some of you that grudge; but whoever grudgeth, be verily grudgeth against his own soul. God needeth nothing, but ye are needy. If ye turn back, he will substitute in your room a people other than you, and they shall not be like unto you."

And somewhat later:--

"Prepare against them what force ye can, of your ability, and troops of horse, that ye may thereby strike terror into the enemy of God and your enemy, and into others besides them; ye know them not, but God knoweth them. And what thing soever ye contribute in the cause of God, it shall be made good unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly."

These commands addressed to the citizens of Medina also

These passages were all promulgated within two or three years after Mahomet's arrival in Medina. They are no longer adaressed to the Refugees only, but to the men of Medina also.

The campaign of Badr the first occasion on which they joined in large numbers.

The first occasion on which the citizens of Medina came forward in any considerable number to the aid of Mahomet, was on the field of Badr;-- and there, probably, more from the anticipation of sharing in the spoils of a richly-laden caravan, than with any idea of fighting for the Faith, or of revenging the wrongs of the Moslems. The result was, nevertheless, equally important to Mahomet.

But the battle of Badr, deserving separate notice, will be reserved for another chapter.

The Life of Mahomet, Volume III [Table of Contents]