Click to View


rather than with Muhammad. This annoyed the Prophet and he thus reproached them:—

Hast thou not observed those to whom a part of the Scriptures have been given, they believe in al-Jibt and at-Taghut and say of the infidels, 'these are guided in a better path than those who hold the faith.' Sura An-Nisa' (iv) 54.

As the siege progressed some of the Muslims became disheartened. The account of it is given in Sura Al-Ahzab (xxxiii) and its terrors are thus depicted:—

When they assailed you from above you and from below you, and when your eyes became distracted, and your hearts came up into your throat, and ye thought divers thoughts of God,
Then were the faithful tried, and with strong quaking did they quake. Sura Al-Ahzab (xxxiii) 10-11.

Muhammad now seemed weak and helpless, and the people, doubting his promise of divine aid, wished to retire from the outer defensive works into the city. They were rebuked in a revelation recorded in the same Sura thus:—

When the disaffected and the diseased of heart said, 'God and His Apostle have made us but a cheating promise'.
And when a party of them said, 'O men of Yathrib (Madina)! This is no place of safety for you here; therefore return into the city.' And another party of you asked the Prophet's leave to return, saying, Our houses are left defenceless.' No! they were not left defenceless but their sole thought was to flee away:
Say, flight shall not profit you. Sura Al-Ahzab (xxxiii) 12-14, 17.



The Quraish suddenly raised the siege and then retired. 'This was the best and also the last chance given to the Meccans and Jews of breaking Muhammad's power. It was utterly wasted, partly for want of physical courage, but chiefly because there was no man with brains in command.'1 The Prophet in order to encourage his followers then said, as if from God:—

And God drove back the infidels in their wrath! they won no advantage. Sura Al-Ahzab (xxxiii) 25.

The position of Muhammad as a chieftain was now strong, and he assumed a position of superiority, calling for special and reverential intercourse:—

Address not the Apostle as ye address one another.2 Sura An-Nur (xxiv) 63.

The Quraish had been beaten in one battle and had failed in a siege. The victory of Uhud they had not followed up. A large number of Arab tribes had been by persuasion or force drawn to the acceptance of Islam. The Jews by banishment and slaughter had been reduced to impotence. Mecca, however, still remained proudly aloof from the one man in Arabia who was a conqueror and a ruler of men. All these long years Muhammad had suffered persecution and reproach at the hands of the Quraish: the day of retribution was drawing near. The mind of the Prophet turned towards the sacred city, for, until his influence was supreme there, he could not expect to be the sole ruler in Arabia.3

1 Margoliouth, Mohammed, p. 326.
2 This is an idea borrowed from the Jews. See Rodwell, Qur'an, p. 582, note 2.
3 Sura Al-Hajj (xxii), called that of 'The Pilgrimage,' is a very composite one and many of its verses belong to the later Meccan
[Footnote continued onto next page]

Click to View