Click to View

page 182


Campaign of Tabuk; and other events in the Second Half of the Ninth Year of the Hegira.

October 630, to April 631, A.D.

Gathering of the Roman feudatories on the Syrian border

DURING the summer of the year 630 A.D., a force had been despatched from Medina towards the Syrian frontier; it was directed, apparently, against certain disaffected clans of the Bani Odzra and Bali, who since the operations of Khalid in that quarter were at least nominally the adherents of Mahomet.1 Whether to guard against the recurrence of similar marauding inroads, or in consequence of the rumour of Mahomet's growing power and pretensions, the Roman emperor, who is said to have been then at Hims, directed the feudatory tribes of the border to assemble for its protection. This precautionary measure was magnified by travellers and traders

1 K. Wackidi, 158. See above note, p. 176. The expedition was led by Okhasha ibn Mohsin to al Junab, in the country of the Bani Odzra and Bali, in the 2nd Rabi, or July. No further particulars are given regarding it. In what follows, I assume that there was really some gathering of the Roman allies on the border. at the instigation of the Emperor or his Governor, to justify the reports which reached Medina from Syria ; and I have given the likeliest cause for such preparations, although it will be seen below that when Mahomet did reach the vicinity he found no troops to oppose him.

page 183

arriving from Syria into the assemblage of a great and threatening army. A year's pay, they said, had been advanced by the Emperor, in order that the soldiers might be well furnished for a long campaign; the tribes of the Syrian desert, the Bani Lakhm, Judzam, Amila, and Ghassan, were flocking around the Roman eagles, and the vanguard was already at Balcaa.

Mahomet projects a counter-expedition, Autumn, A.H. IX. A.D. 630

Mahomet at once resolved to meet the danger with the largest force he could collect. His custom at other times had been to conceal to the very last the object of an intended march, or rather by pretending to make preparations for a campaign in some other direction, to lull the suspicions of his enemy.1 But the journey now in contemplation was so distant, and the heat of the season so excessive, that timely warning was deemed necessary in order that the necessities of the way might be foreseen and provided for.

Backwardness of the Bedouins and of some of the Medina citizens

All his adherents and allies, the inhabitants of Mecca as well as the Bedonin Arabs, received from Mahomet an urgent summons to join the army. But the Arabs of the desert and the citizens of Medina showed little inclination to obey the command. The anticipated hardships of the journey, the long-continued drought and overpowering heat, and perhaps the memory of the execution done by the Roman phalanx at Muta, made them loth to

1 Hishami, 392.

page 184

quit the ease and shelter of their homes. Multitudes pleaded inability and other frivolous excuses. These pleas were accepted when tendered by the men of Medina, for Mahomet, conscious of the debt of gratitude he owed their city, always treated them with tenderness. But the Arab tribes were refused permission to remain behind.1

Exemplary zeal of the true believers

On the other hand, extraordinary eagerness pervaded the ranks of all the earnest and faithful Moslems. Tithes poured in from every direction, and many of the chief men at Medina vied with one another in the costliness of their gifts. The contribution of Othman, which surpassed all others, amounted to one thousand diners. From these sources carriage and supplies were provided for the poorer soldiers; though, after every effort, they did not suffice for all who longed to share in the merit or in the spoils, of the campaign. A party for whom Mahomet could make no provision, retired in tears from his presence, and their names are embalmed in tradition under the title of The Weepers.2

1 An exception to such tender treatment is stated by Hishami. Mahomet heard that certain disaffected citizens were assembling in the house of a converted Jew, and were stirring up the people against the expedition to Tabuk. So he sent Talha with a company of men to burn the house over their heads ;-which effectually dispersed the clique: p.198 The Secretary does not give this tradition.

2 K. Wackidi, 184; Hishami, 392.

3 Al Batka-un. The word is the same as that employed in Judges ii.1, 5, where a place is named Bochim, or "Weepers,"

page 185

Arrangements at Medina on Mahomet's departure

At last the army was marshalled and encamped in the outskirts of the city. Abu Bakr was appointed to conduct the prayers in the encampment until the Prophet himself should assume command. Muhammad son of Maslama was placed in charge of the city, and Ali also was left behind to take care of the Prophet's family.1 Abdallah ibn Obey pitched a separate camp for his numerous adherents near the main army; but eventually, as it would appear with the consent of Mahomet, he remained behind. 2

because the children of Israel wept there. The Weepers are praised in Sura, ix. v.94, which alludes to the present occasion.

1 Perhaps the affair of Mary may have induced Mahomet to make special precautions against any outbreak of jealousy among his wives during his absence. A story is told in Hishami, of the "Disaffected" going to Ali and telling him that Mahomet had left him behind because he would be a burden to him on the expedition. Ali, indignant at the reproach, put on his armour and hurried out to the camp at Jorf; there he told his grievance to Mahomet, who said, "They lie: I left thee behind in charge of my family and thine. Art thou not satisfied to be towards me as Aaron was to Moses, excepting only that after me no other Prophet shall arise" (and therefore the dignity is in thy case greater)? On this Ali returned satisfied to Medina. The incident is not related by the Secretary, and it appears like an Abbasside invention to explain why Ali was left behind.

2 There is some doubt as to whether Abdallah stayed behind by permission or not; but v. 45, Sura ix. (which will be quoted below), and the express declaration or the Secretary (K. Wackidi 133 ), that the excuses of the people of Medina were accepted, support the text. Abdallah was probably old and infirm, for he died five or six months afterwards. What was the nature of the pretexts his followers brought forward, does not appear; but they were probably among those so severely handled by Mahomet in the Coran on his return.

page 186

The army marches for Tabuk Rajab, A.H. IX. Sept., Oct., A.D. 630

The army, after all these diminutions, was probably the largest effective force ever before put in motion in Arabia. Its numbers are given, though probably with some exaggeration, at thirty thousand, of whom no less than ten thousand are said to have been cavalry. The march was marked only by the heat and discomfort of the way, and by the want of water.

Valley of Hejer

A curious scene occurred at the valley of Hejer, whose rocky sides were hewn out (according to local tradition) into dwellings, by the rebellious and impious Thamudites. The army having alighted there and drawn water from its refreshing fountains, began to prepare their food, when suddenly a proclamation was made through the ranks that none should drink of the water or use it for their ablutions, that the dough which had been kneaded should be given to the camels, and that no one should go forth alone by night: "Enter not the houses of the transgressors, except with lamentation, lest that overtake you which happened unto them." On the morrow, a plentiful shower of rain, ascribed to the miraculous intervention of the Prophet, compensated for the loss of the wells of Hejer.1

Abdallah's camp is mentioned as not inferior to the other in numbers. This, of course, cannot mean the general camp, which numbered (it is said) thirty thousand men; but the separate encampment or the Ansar or Medina citizens, who formed a comparatively small body.

1 See vol. i. p. cxxxix.; Hishami, 396. The story is not confirmed by the Secretary. Hishami deals greatly in the

page 187

The army halts at Tabuk; and Mahomet opens communications with surrounding tribes

Having reached Tabuk, where there was plenty of shade and water, the army halted. The rumours of the Roman invasion had by this time melted away. There was nothing at the present moment to threaten the border, or engage the attention of Mahomet in that direction. So he contented himself with sending a strong detachment under Khalid to Duma, and with receiving the adhesion of the Jewish and Christian tribes on the shores of the Aelanitic gulph, towards the east of which he was now encamped.

Treaty with John, Christian Prices of Ayla;-

To the chief of these, John, the Christian Prince of Ayla,1 or Acaba, Mahomet addressed a letter, summoning him to submit, on pain of being attacked

marvellous regarding the journey. The tale of two men who, neglecting Mahomet's caution, went out alone, and were maltreated by the evil spirits,- one having his neck wrenched, and the other being carried by the wind to the hills of the Bani Tai, is told by Hishami with his usual gravity. So also the following:- By the way, they came to a trickling fountain, where hardly two or three men could have slaked their thirst Mahomet bade none to touch it before himself. But the prohibition was not attended to. Coming up, he found it empty, and cursed the men who had disobeyed him. Then he took up a little or the water in his hand, and sprinkling the rock, wiped it with his hand and prayed over it. Floods of water immediately gushed forth, with a noise as it. had been thunder, and all drank thereof. Mahomet said, "Whosoever of you shall survive the longest, will hear of this valley being greener with trees and verdure than any other round about ;" - meaning that the great stream now created would be permanent Hishami 401; see also a tradition at p. lxxii. vol. i. note.

1 Malik: prince or king.

page 188

by his great army.1 The Prince, with a cross of gold upon his forehead, hastened to the camp of Mahomet, and bowed himself reverentially in his presence. He was received with kindness, and Bilal was commanded to entertain him hospitably. The following treaty was concluded with him

K. Wackidi, 53 . I have no reason to doubt the genuineness of this letter. It Is as follows: - "To John ibn Rabah and the Chiefs of Aylah. Peace be on you! I praise God for you, beside whom there is no Lord. I will not fight against you until I have written thus unto you. Believe, or else pay tribute. And be obedient unto the Lord and his Prophet, and the messengers of his Prophet. Honour them and clothe them with excellent vestments, not with inferior raiment. Specially clothe Zeid with excellent garments. As long as my messengers are pleased, so likewise am I. Ye know the tribute. If ye desire to have security by sea and by land, obey the Lord and his Apostle, and he will defend you from every claim, whether by Arab or foreigner, saving the claim of the Lord and his Apostle. But if ye oppose and displease them, I will not accept from you a single thing, until I have fought against you and taken captive your little ones and slain the elder. For I am the Apostle of the Lord in truth. Believe in the Lord and in his Prophets, and in the Messiah, son of Mary; verily he is the Word of God: I believe in him that he was a messenger of God. Come then, before trouble reach you. I commend my messengers to you. Give to Harmala three measures of barley. And indeed Harmala hath interceded for you. As for me, if it were not for the Lord and for this (intercession), I would not have sent any message at all unto you, until ye had seen the army. But now, if ye obey my messengers, God will be your protector, and Mahomet, and whosoever belongeth unto him. Now my messengers are Sharahbil and Obey, and Harmala and Horeith ibn Zeid. Unto you is the guarantee of God and of Mahomet his Apostle, and peace be unto you if ye submit. And convey the people of Macna back to their land."

page 189

In the name of God the Gracious and Merciful: - A compact of peace from God, and from Mahomet the Prophet and Apostle of God, granted unto Yuhanna (John) the son of Ritbah, and unto the people of Ayla. For them who remain at home,1 and for those that travel abroad by sea or by land, there is the guarantee of God and the guarantee of Mahomet the Apostle of God, and for all that are with them, whether they belong to Syria, or to Yemen, or to the sea coast. Whoso contraveneth this treaty, his wealth shall not save him; it shall be the fair prize of him that taketh it. Now it shall not be lawful to hinder the men of Ayla from any springs which they have been in the habit of frequenting, nor from any passage they desire to make, whether by sea or by land. This is the writing of Juheim and Sharahbil, by command of the Apostle of God."2

Who was dismissed with honour

In token of his approbation, Mahomet presented John with a mantle of striped Yemen stuff, and dismissed him honourably. The tribute was fixed at three hundred dinars in the year.3

1 I am not quite sure of the proper rendering.

2 K. Wackidi, 57 ; Hishami 400. The treaty is evidently genuine. The variations in the two authors are very slight, consisting only of the transposition of a word or so. The original was no doubt retained as a precious charter of right by the chiefs of Ayla. For the credibility of this species of evidence, see Canon m D. vol.i. p. lxxxi.

3 Ibid. The annual rate was a dinar a head, there being three hundred persons or families in the town. The mantle has been alluded to in a former note, p.179.

page 190

Terms made with the Jews or Mucna Adzruh and Jarba

At the same time deputations from the Jewish settlements of Macna, Adzruh, and Jarba, presented themselves with a tender of submission to the Prophet. To each was given a rescript, specifying the amount of their tribute, and binding them to afford refuge and aid to any Moslem travellers or merchants who might stand in need of their good offices.1

1 As these treaties are genuine and interesting, I give their substance.

First: Rescript given to the Bani Janbah, a Jewish tribe of Macna, and to the people of Macna (now Macna is near Ayla). Your messengers came unto me on their way home. Now when this my letter reacheth you, ye are safe under the guarantee of God and of his Apostle. Verily the Apostle hath forgiven you your faults and all your crimes: and unto you is vouchsafed the protection of God and his Apostle. There shall no oppression be practised against you. Verily the Apostle of God is your protector against all that he defendeth himself from. Now unto the Apostle of God belongeth the cloth that ye make, and every slave amongst you (?), and the cattle, and the arms, excepting what the Apostle or his messenger shall remit. Now after this condition, a fourth of your dates, and a fourth of the fish which ye capture in your rafts and 'a fourth of what your women spin, it will be incumbent upon you to pay: and thereafter ye shall be free from every other tax or demand. And if ye hearken and obey, the Prophet of God will be gracious unto the excellent amongst you, and will pardon the wicked. Now of the Moslems, whoso treateth the people of Macna well, it shall be well for him, and whoso treateth them ill, it shall be ill for him. And there shall no chief be set over you, but one of yourselves, or one of the people of the Prophet. Peace be to you!" K. Wackidi, 53 .

Second. The following despatch was copied by Wackidi, apparently from the original : "In, the name of God, &c. This writing is from Mahomet the Prophet to the people of Adzruh,- to the effect that they are included in the truce of God and in the

page 191

Mahomet returns to Medina, Ramadhan IX. Dec. 630.

Having concluded these matters, Mahomet quitted Tabuk, after having halted there for twenty days, and returned to Medina. He reached home in the beginning of Ramadhan, or December A.D. 630.1

Khalid conquers Duma, and takes the Chief prisoner to Medina

Meanwhile Khalid had been travelling across the desert frown Tabuk to Duma, with four hundred and twenty horses, the flower of the army. So rapidly did he march, and so unexpectedly appear before Duma, that Okeidar,2 the Christian chief, was surprised by him while hunting with his followers a

truce of Mahomet. They are to pay one hundred dinars every year, in Rajab, full weight and good money. And God is their guarantee that they shall behave towards the Moslems, with probity and kindness. And whoever of the Moslems taketh refuge with them from danger and in quest of assistance, in case there should be ground of fear for such Moslems, and they are themselves in security (they are to protect them) until they hear that Mahomet is preparing to set out (for their aid)." K. Wackidi 57. A proof of the authenticity of this document is that "Mahomet" is mentioned throughout by his simple name without either the affix Prophet or Apostle, or the reverential addition, "Prayers and blessings be on him." Such affixes were, in general, later additions by the pious transcriber. Another version of the same treaty is given, addressed to the Jews or both Jarba and Adzruh; but from it is omitted the latter part, regarding aid to be rendered to the Moslems, -- probably as being derogatory to Islam.

1 I may allude here to a miraculous tale by Wackidi regarding the deputation of the B. Fazara, who waited on Mahomet on his way back, and complained of the prevailing drought. He prayed for rain, and it rained without intermission, so that the sky was not seen for six whole days; then again at their entreaty he prayed that they might be relieved from the inundation, and forthwith "the clouds cleared off, as it had been a garment rolled up." K. Wackidi, 58 .

2 Hishami embellislies his story, as usual, with miraculous details. Mahomet foretold to Khalid that he would find Okeidar

page 192

a wild cow. Khalid pursued the party, and after a short struggle, in which Hassan the chiefs brother was killed, took Okeidar captive. his life was spared on condition that the gates of Duma should be at once thrown open. The city was ransomed at two thousand camels, eight hundred sheep, and four hundred suits of mail, and as many stand of arms. With this booty, and carrying with him Okeidar and another brother, Khslid returned to Medina.1

The chief embraces Islam

The Christian chief, wearing a golden cross, and clothed in raiment of velvet which attracted the admiration of the simple citizens of Medina, was brought to the Prophet,2 who pressed him to embrace Islam. The inducements presented by the

hunting the wild cow. it was a moonlight night when Khalid came in view of the Fort. Okeidar, with his family, was on the roof of his castle, when just then a wild cow came and rubbed her horns noisily against the lower gate of the fortress. Okeidar at once saddled his horse and went in pursuit or it, and Khalid surprised him thus engaged - p. 400.

1 I conclude that Khalid marched hack to Medina by the direct route. Duma is spoken or as fifteen days' march from Medina; though Wallen makes it (i.e. Jal al Jawf) not more than nine. See the 24th No. Journal R. Geog. Society, p.15l. The traditional accounts are a good deal confused, so much so as in some places to snake it appear as if Khalid rejoined Mahomet at Tabuk. But the most consistent traditions point to his rejoining him at Medina.

2 They stripped Hassan of his silken or velvet dress, which was lined with gold. The Moslems greatly admired it; whereupon Mahomet said, "I swear by him in whose hand is my life, that the very handkerchiefs of Sad ibn Muadz (the Judge in the tragedy of the Coreitza) in Paradise, are more gorgeous than these

page 193

new religion proved too strong for his faith in Christianity, and he was admitted to the favoured terms of a Moslem ally.1

vestments." A similar speech is attributed to Mahomet, in reference to a silken or velvet dress said to have been presented to him by the Roman Emperor, and which Mahomet sent as a gift to the Najashy. K. Wackidi, 80.

1 Wackidi says, that an old man, a resident of Duma, showed him a letter which the Prophet wrote to Keidar (or Okeidar); and he gives us the following copy, taken by himself from the original: "In the name of God, &C ; - from Mahomet the Prophet of God to Keidar (when he accepted Islam and put away from him the images and idols, by the hand of Khalid, the Sword of God,) regarding Duma of the waters of Jandal and its environs: To Mahomet belongeth the unoccupied land with its streams and fountains, its unenclosed and fallow ground, and the armour, weapons, camels, and forts; and to you belongeth the occupied land with the fruit-bearing date-trees, and springs of water, after payment of the fifth. Your cattle shall not be molested in grazing on the waste lands; that which is ordinarily exempt from tithe (farida) shall not be taxed; the old date-trees shall not be taxed, excepting the tenth thereof: so as that they observe prayer regularly, and pay the tithes faithfully. A true and faithful treaty. God is witness thereto, and all that are present of the Moslems." K. Wacidi 56 . Another treaty is given at p.65 ; at what period it was written does not appear: perhaps later than the above, or it may have been given to some older converts, as the terms seem more favourable. Hamal ibn Sadanah and Haritha ibn Cuta came as ambassadors from the B. Kalb, who chiefly inhabited the territory of Duma. Mahomet gave the former a banner which he carried at Siffin on Muavia's side. He gave to Haritha the following treaty: "The writing of Mahomet, the Apostle of God, to the people or Dumat al Jandal, and its dependencies of the tribes of Kalb, together with Haritha ibn Cuta ; - to me belong the outlying lands and trees; and to you the enclosed date-trees; one tenth shall be taken of those on running water, and one twentieth of those not on running water (i.e. artificially irrigated)," &C

Duma must in former times have enjoyed much greater prosperity

page 194

The malingerers chided in the Coran

When Mahomet returned to Medina, those of his followers Who had remained behind without permission came forward to exculpate themselves. Mahomet reserved his reproaches to be embodied in a special revelation. He thus avoided the odium that would have attached to a personal rebuke proceeding directly from himself, while the admonition came with all the force of a message from Heaven. The ninth Sura, the latest of all in chronological order, abounds with invectives against the disaffected "hypocrites," who still lingered in Medina, generally, and against those in particular who had neglected the order to join the late expedition. The following passages will suffice as examples: -

"O ye that believe! What ailed you, that when it was said unto you, Go forth to war in the ways of God, ye inclined heavily towards the earth? What I do ye prefer the present life before that which is to come?

"If ye go not forth to war, he will punish you with a grievous punishment, and he wilt substitute another people for you: and ye shall not hurt him at all; for God is over all things powerful.

than it does now, as the considerable remains of buildings and works of irrigation show. There are several towns in the vicinity. See Wallin's interesting account of his journey to it (i.e. to Jal al Jawf) quoted above. It was probably one of the outlying towns to which Abdal Rahman came on a former expedition, and married the daughter of its chief.

The mercenary character of Okeidar's conversion led him to revolt after Mahomet's death. What the images and idols spoken of in the above-quoted treaty refer to, whether Christian or heathen, does not appear.

page 195

" - If it had been plunder close at hand, and an easy journey, they had surely followed thee. But the way seemed long unto them. They will swear unto thee by God, If we had been able we had gone forth with you. They destroy their own souls: for God knoweth that they are Liars."

"The Lord pardon thee! wherefore didst thou give them leave, until thou hadst distinguished those that speak the truth, and known the Liars?"1

"If they had gone forth with thee, they had only added weakness to you, and had run to and fro amongst you, stirring up sedition. And amongst you, some had listened to them; for God knoweth the unjust."

"Verily they sought to stir up sedition aforetime; and they disturbed thy affairs until the Truth came, and the command of God was made manifest, although they were averse thereto."2

"Among them there is that saith, Give me leave to remain, and throw me not into temptation. What I have they not fallen into temptation already? Verily, Hell shall compass the Unbelievers round about"3

and the hypocrites

The hypocrites, and the persons who privately scoffed and jested at the true faith, and at those who spent their money in its propagation, are reprobated bitterly. Mahomet might pray for them seventy

1 From this it would appear that Mahomet repented afterwards that he had so easily and indiscriminately accepted the excuses of those to whom he gave permission to remain behind.

2 Alluding to the conduct of the "disaffected" at the battle of Ohod, or perhaps to the affair on the Mustalick expedition.

3 Sura, ix. 39-51. Tradition assigns this last verse to the case of a man who begged Mahomet to excuse him from the campaign, as he feared the attractions of the Greek women. But a great number of the stories belonging to this campaign may be suspected (on the analogy of similar traditions regarding other texts) to have been fabricated to suit the passages of the Coran they were brought to illustrate.

page 196

times; it would avail nothing with God for their pardon -

"They said, Go not forth to war in the heat. Say, the fire or Hell is a fiercer heat, if they understood;

Wherefore they shall laugh little and weep much, for that which they liars wrought."1

Mahomet not to pray for them on their death

These unfaithful followers are never more to be allowed the opportunity of going forth to fight with Mahomet -- "Neither do thou ever pray over any of them that shall die, nor stand over his grave, for they do reject God and his Prophet, and they shall die transgressors."2

The Bedouins specially reprobated.

The Arabs of the desert, who were the chief offenders, because they had stayed away notwithstanding the direct refusal of leave, are censured unsparingly for their disobedience ; -- ignorant, stubborn, unbelieving, fickle,-" they watched but the changes of fortune."3

"Turn from them. They are an abomination. Their resting- place shall be hell-fire, the reward of that which they have wrought."4

1 Sura, ix. 88-86.

2 Ibid. v.86. This is ordinarily applied to Abdallah ibn Obey But I take it to have a wider scope, and to have no personal or special reference to him. He was probably, as before observed, infirm and unfit for the active duties of a campaign by this time.

3 Ibid. v.100. A character sufficiently substantiated by their universal rebellion on the death of Mahomet.

4 Ibid. v.97.

page 197

Such as confessed, more leniently treated.

Those believers who did not dissemble their fault, but honestly confessed it, were the most leniently dealt with: -

"And others have acknowledged their offences; they have mingled a good action with another that is evil. Haply God will be turned unto them, for God is forgiving and merciful."

"Take offerings of their substance, that thou mayst cleanse them and purify them thereby; and pray for them, for thy prayers will restore tranquillity unto them."

"And there are others waiting the command of God, whether he will punish them, or whether he wilt be turned unto them, for God is knowing and wise."1

Kab and his two companions: a man put upon them

The last verse refers to Kab ibn Malik, a poet, who had done good service to Mahomet, and to two other believers, who had incurred his special displeasure. They had no pretext to offer for their absence from the army, and their bad example had encouraged the hesitating and disaffected citizens in their neglect of the Prophet's summons. These could not with any show of justice be reprimanded or punished, if the far more serious offence of those three his professed followers were passed over. A ban was therefore placed upon them. They were cut off from all intercourse with the people, and even with their own wives and families. Fifty days passed thus miserably, and the lives of the three men became a burden to them. At length the heart of Mahomet relented; and, by the delivery of the following revelation, he received them back into his favour : -

1 Sura, 104-108.

page 198

"Verily, God is reconciled unto the Prophet, and unto the Refugees and the men of Medina,1 those who followed him in the hour of difficulty,2 after that the hearts of a part of them had nearly swerved. Thereafter he turned to them, for he is compassionate unto them and merciful."

"And he is likewise reconciled unto the Three ;-those that were left behind, so that the earth became straitened unto them with all its spaciousness, and their souls became straitened within them, and they felt that there was no refuge from- God but by fleeing unto him ; -- then he turned unto them, for God is easy to be reconciled, and merciful."3

Kab received back into favour

After the promulgation of this passage, Kab was again treated by Mahomet as before with kindness and consideration.4

Mahomet destroys a Mosque at Coba

The displeasure of the Prophet was also at this time kindled against a party at Coba, who had built a Mosque there, and desired Mahomet that he would come and consecrate it by praying in it himself. As he was at the moment preparing to start for

1 Muhajerin and Ansars, as before explained.

2 i.e. the journey to Tabuk, hence called in tradition "the campaign of difficulty."

3 Sura, ix. 119, 120.

4 There is a long and tedious account of the affair from Kab himself, in which he admits that he was never better off in his life, than when called on to join the army. He had property at Kheibar besides; and had therefore no excuse for staying behind. Hishami 404. He says that, while under the ban, a Nabathean merchant arrived with a letter to him from the Ghassanide Prince, written on silk, intimating that be had heard how ill Mahomet had used him, and desiring that he would join his court ;-which Kab says was the crisis of his calamity, viz. that he should be suspected of the possibility of treason. it is a groundless story.

page 199

Tabuk, he deferred to comply with their request until his return. Meanwhile he received information that the new Mosque was built with a sectarian and hostile bias, to draw off men from the original Mosque at Coba, and even to afford shelter to certain disaffected persons. On his return from Tabuk, therefore, he not only sent a party to destroy the new edifice, but gave utterance to the following command from the Almighty:-

"There are men who have builded a Mosque with evil purpose, out of unbelief, to make divisions among the Unbelievers, and as a lurking place for him that hath fought against God and his Apostle aforetime.1 Yet they will swear, Verily we intended nothing but good. But God beareth witness that they are Liars. "Stand not up (for prayer) therein for ever. There is a Mosque which from the first day hath been founded upon piety. It is more just that thou shouldest stand up therein;-

Therein are men that love to be purified: for God loveth the Pure."

"What, therefore? Whether is he better that hath builded his foundations upon the fear of God and his good pleasure, or be that hath built his foundations upon the brink of a crumbling bank, to be swept away with him into the fire of Hell: for God doth not guide the race of transgressors."

"The building which they have built shall not cease to be a

1 The biographers do not mention who is here alluded to. The Commentators specify Abu Amir the hermit, whom I have noticed elsewhere: see vol. iii. p. 167. After the battle of Honein he is said to have fled to Syria. There is no evidence to support this conjecture, although not in itself altogether improbable; the passage more probably refers to some other person outwardly a convert, whom Mahomet feared as likely to create a secret combination against him. This description would not apply to Amu Amir.

page 200

cause of doubting inn their hearts, until their hearts be cut in pieces. And God is knowing and wise.

Death of Abdallah ibn Obey.

About two months after the return of Mahomet from Tabuk, Abdallah ibn Obey, the leader of the disaffected citizens at Medina, died. Mahomet had almost uniformly followed the advice given to him on his first arrival in the city, to deal tenderly with this chief. Except on occasion of the rupture which occurred on the march back from the Bani Mustalick, when the Sixty-third Sura was revealed, and one or two other occasions when Abdallah openly took the part of his Jewish confederates, the Prophet was careful to avoid any harsh or humiliating treatment which might have driven him, with his large and influential body of adherents, into open and active opposition. This course was observed to the last. Mahomet prayed over his corpse, thereby professing to recognize Abdallah as having been a faithful Moslem; he walked behind the bier to the grave, and waited there till the ceremonies of the funeral were ended.

The faction of the Disaffected dies out with him.

After Abdallah, there was no one left in the ranks of the disaffected party possessed of power or influence. There was none whom Mahomet needed any longer to treat with delicacy or caution. The faction had died out.2

1 Sura, ix. 109-112.

2 Abdallah ibn Obey, as I have remarked before, is in tradition the impersonation of hypocrisy and disaffection. Most of the

page 201

Mahomet tells his followers that the war shall be carried on by Islam even till Antichrist appears

The campaign to Tabuk was the last expedition undertaken during the Prophet's lifetime. The following curious tradition, if authentic, shews how little the real spirit of Islam, as aggressive and tending necessarily to universal conquest, had yet dawned upon the understanding of the people, although the principles from which such a conclusion was legitimately to be deduced, had long been inculcated by Mahomet. Looking around them, and seeing no enemy remain,-----the Romans even having retired and left them alone in their deserts, the followers of the Prophet began to sell their arms, saying, "The wars for religion now are ended." But when this reached the ears of Mahomet, he forbade it ----"There shall not cease," he said, "from

passages impugning the "Disaffected" are construed to refer to him: e.g. Sura, ix. vv. 82 and 86, --- forbidding Mahomet to pray over, or attend the funeral of; the disobedient malingerer. But tradition here, as elsewhere, evidently makes a scapegoat of Abdallah. The context alludes to great number, who had incurred Mahomet's anger, and some of them much more than Abdallah, for he apparently had received the Prophet's permission to remain behind, however much he may afterwards hare regretted that he had given it. It is evident from his being at the funeral, that Mahomet continued his forbearance to Abdallah till the last. But as the faction of the "Disaffected" broke up soon after Abdullah's death, it was natural for tradition to refer to him the reprehension. directed against the party of which he was the head.

The fact that so few of the names have been preserved of others against whom the rebukes in the passages I have quoted were addressed, may be accounted for by the rapidity with which this party threw off their disaffection, and made a real and hearty profession of the Moslem faith.

page 202

the midst of my people a party engaged in crusades for the truth, even, until Antichrist appear."1

Provision made for the study of theology, not withstanding.

Pointing to this normal state of warfare, is the following passage in the Ninth Sura, which makes provision, notwithstanding this normal state of warfare, for the maintenance of students and teachers of religion:

"It is not necessary that the whole body of Believers should go forth to war. If a certain number from every party go not forth to war, it is that they may give themselves to study in religion, and may admonish their people when they return (from the wars) unto them, so that they may take heed unto themselves."2

1 K Wackidi, 133 .

2 Sura ix. v.124.

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

Click to View