page 61


The Conqunt of Kheibar. 1st and 2nd Jumad, A.H. VII. August and September, A.D. 628.

Ętat 60.

Mahomet resolves on attacking the Jews at Kheibar

On his return from Hodeibia, as I have before related, in the spring of the year 628, Mahomet had promised to those who accompanied him in that pilgrimage the early prospect of a rich and extensive plunder. The summer passed without any enterprise whatever; and his followers began to be impatient for the fulfilment of their expectations. But quiet and peace still prevailed around. Mahomet probably waited for some act of aggression on the part of the Jews of Kheibar (it was the fertile lands and villages of that tribe which he had destined for his followers), or on the part of their allies the Bani Ghatafan, to furnish the excuse for an attack. But no such opportunity offering, he resolved, in the autumn of this year, on a sudden and unprovoked invasion of their territory.1

1 Hishami places this expedition in Moharram (April), or the second month after the pilgrimage to Hodeibia. In another place he mentions Ramadhan, or December, 627, which is evidently wrong. The date given by Wackidi and by his Secretary, which I have followed is (apart from their strong authority) probable,-

page 62

The army marches, 1st Jumad, A.H. VII. August, A.D. 628.

The army marched from Medina, sixteen hundred strong; being about the same number as had followed the Prophet on his pilgrimage to Hodeibia. But the force was greatly more powerful in cavalry: -the number on the present occasion being variously estimated at from one hundred to two hundred.1 The Mussulman horse had never before exceeded thirty. Many of the other inhabitants of Medina, and the Bedouin tribes, who had neglected the Prophet's former summons, would gladly now have joined the tempting expedition; but they were not permitted, and their mortification was great at being left behind. Omm Salma, the same wife who accompanied the Prophet to Hodeibia, was again his companion on the present journey.2

Kheiber surprised

The distance, perhaps one hundred miles, was accomplished in three forced rnarches.3 So quick

(1), because it gives sufficient time after the pilgrimage to Hodeibia for the embassy to travel to Abyssinia and return, as it did at the close of the Kheibar campaign; and (2), because Wackidi distinctly says that Mahomet returned to Medina the following month, namely, the second Jumad (Sep.), and adds that in that month, he warred against Wadi al Cora, on his way back.

1 K. Wackidi, 121 and 122 ½.

2 K. Wackidi, 120 ½.

3 Kheibar is agreed by all the early historians to be eight stages (berid) from Medina. Each stage is said to be twelve Arabian miles (i.e. four parasangs, of each three miles); this would make the whole distance ninety-six Arabian miles; but the Arabian mile is a very uncertain quantity. Burckhardt, on hearsay, makes the distance "four or five days (some say only three) from Medina," p. 463. "Tayma is three days from Kheibar,

page 63

was the movement, the surprise so complete, that the cultivators of Kheibar, issuing forth in the morning to their fields, suddenly found themselves confronted by a great army, aud rushed back to the city in dismay. This rapid approach cut off all hope to the Jews, of timely aid from the Bani Ghatafan.1

The fortresses one by one fell before Mahomet

The rich vale of Kheibar was studded with villages and fortresses, strongly posted on rocks or fall before eminences, which here and there rose from amidst the date groves and fields corn. One by one, before any general opposition could be organized,

and as many from Hedjer, in an easterly direction." Kheibar is six hours off the Hajj route. K..Wackidi, 120 ½ . - These points may help to fix its position.

Burton (ii. 298,) thinks the distance between Kheibar and Medina in Burckhardt's map is too great by two degrees of latitude, and he would reduce it to eighty miles. But he perhaps unduly underrates it, especially when he says that "camels go there easily in three days."

Hishami gives three intermediate stages: - Isn, Sabba, and Raji.

1 The Secretary does not allude to the Bani Ghatafan, but Hishami says that Mahomet took up a position so as to cut off their assistance, p. 332. He adds that the Ghatafan did go forth to aid their allies, but returned on a rumour that their own homes were being attacked. But the fact is, that Mahomet's advent was totally unexpected. So the Secretary: - "When the Moslem army alighted before Kheibar, they did not stir that night, nor did a fowl cackle at them, till the sun arose. Then the Kheibarites opened their fortresses as usual, and went forth to their labours with their cattle, their spades, hoes, and other instruments of husbandry; suddenly they perceived the army in front of them, and fled back into their forts, screaming out,- "It is Mahomet and his hosts!" K. Wackidi, 120 ½.

page 64

these forts were attacked and carried.1 "Kheibar is undone,2" exclaimed Mahomet, as he passed from one stronghold triumphantly to another: "Great is the Lord! Truly when I light upon the coasts of any people, wretched for them is that day!3, From the villages in the valleys pf Natah and Shickk, which were gained with little loss, Mahomet proceeded to the region of Kuteiba. Here the Jews, who had now had time to rally round their chief Kinana (he had succeeded to the command, on the assassination

A general action before the Fort of Camuss

of his grandfather Abul Huckeick, and of Oseir, several months before 4), posted themselves in front of the citadel Camuss, and resolved on a desperate struggle. After some vain attempts to dislodge them, Mahomet planned a grand attack :- "I will

1 The Secretary mentions the following forts in Kheibar :- Al Natah; the fort of Sabs of Naim; the castle of Al Zobeir; Al Shickk; of Obey; and Al Nozar. Also the fortresses in the region of Al Kateiba, Al Camuss, Al Watih, and Salalim; this latter belonged to the family of Abul Huckeick, lately assassinated.

2 A play on the word Kheibar, by inversion

3 The following remarkable prayer, of the genuineness of which, however, there is no sufficient evidence, is given by Hishami, as recited by Mahomet on his advance to the attack :- "O God! Lord of heavens, and of that which they overshadow; Lord of all lands and of what they bear: Lord of the Devils and of those they mislead: Lord of the winds and of that which they drive before them! We beseech thee to grant us whatever good is in this town, its inhabitants, and outskirts: and we implore protection from the evil thereof, from the evil of its inhabitants and of its outskirts. Forward! in the name of the Lord!". p.332.

4 See above, chapter xviii.

page 65

give the Eagle," he said, --- "the great black Flag,----- into the hands of one that loveth the Lord and his Apostle, even as he is beloved of them; he shall gain the victory."1 Next morning the flag was placed in Ali's hands, and the troops advanced. At this moment, a soldier stepped forth from the Jewish line, and challenged his adversaries to single combat:- "I am Marhab," he cried, "as all Kheibar knoweth, - a warrior bristling with arms, when the war fiercely burneth." The first Moslem who answered the challenge, aimed a blow at the Jewish champion with deadly force, but the sword recoiled upon himself, and he fell fatally wounded.2 Marhab repeated his vain-glorious challenge, and then Ali himself advanced saying, -"I am he whom my mother named the Lion,---- like a lion of the howling

1 There had been no great standard like this before. It is said to have been made out of a black dress, or mantle, worn by Ayesha,- a gallant device,- and was called ucab, the "Black Eagle." There were two other smaller banners, held, one by Hobab, the other by Sad ibn Obada, both Citizens. K. Wackidi, 120.

2 The people cried out "Aamir"(that was his name) "hath killed himself: his works are vain" (i. e. because of his suicidal death). "Nay," said Mahomet, "he shall have a double reward!," On the road to Kheibar, this man had recited some martial verses before Mahomet, who thanked him, saying,- "The Lord have mercy on thee!" It is pretended that this mode of blessing from Mahomet, invariably portended an impending martyrdom. The verses, by the way, are the same as those ascribed to Mahomet at the battle of the Ditch. K.Wackidi 122.

page 66

wilderness, I weigh my foes in a gigantic balance."1 The combatants closed, and Ali cleft the head of Marhab in two. The brother of Marhab having The Jews rashly renewed the challenge, Zobeir went forth and beaten back slew him. 2

The Jews beaten back with loss

The Moslem line made now a general advance, and, after a sharp conflict, drove back the enemy. In this battle, Ali performed great feats of prowess. Having lost his shield, he seized the portion of a door, which he wielded effectually in its stead. Tradition, in its expansive process, has transformed this extempore shield into a gigantic beam, and magnified the hero into a second Samson.3 The victory was decisive, for the Jews lost ninety-three

1 That is, "I will make a fearful havoc." The two word. used here for lion by Ali, are Haida and Laith.

2 As Zobeir walked forth to the combat, his mother Safia ran up to Mahomet in alarm, crying out that her son would be killed : - "Not so, my Aunt!" replied Mahomet, "he will slay his fellow, if the Lord will!" Many women went from Medina on this campaign to minister to the wounded. A story, very illustrative or the combined simplicity and coarseness of Arab manners, is given in the conversation of Mahomet with a young woman of the Bani Ghifar, who rode on the same camel, and confided to him certain of her ailments. Hishami, 340.

3 The story is in the ordinary cast of exaggerated tradition. Abu Rafi, Mahomet's servant, went after the battle to see the beam, in company with seven others, who together tried to turn it over, and were unable! Hishami, 385. The Secretary does not give this foolish story.

According to Hishimi, it was not Ali who killed Marhab, but Mohammad ibn Maslama; the latter, he says, was resolved to avenge the death of his brother Mahmood, who had been killed by a millstone cast on him from the walls of the fortress first attacked. Ibid.

page 67

men; while of the Moslems, only nineteen were killed throughout the whole campaign.1

Kinana, the chief, tortured and put to death

After this defeat, the fortress of Camuss surrendered, on condition that the inhabitants were free to leave the country, but that they should give up all their property to the conqueror. With the rest, came forth Kinana, chief of the Jews of Kheibar, and his cousin. Mahomet accused them both of keeping back, in contravention of the compact, a portion of their riches, especially the treasures of the Bani Nadhir, which Kinana had obtained as a marriage portion with his wife, the daughter of the chief of that tribe.2 "Where are the vessels of gold," he asked," which ye' used to lend to the people of Mecca?" They protested that they no longer possessed them. "if ye conceal anything from me," continued Mahomet, "and I should gain knowledge of it, then your lives and the lives of your families shall be at my disposal." They answered that it should be so. A traitorous Jew, having divulged to Mahomet the place in which a part of their wealth was deposited, he sent and fetched it. On the discovery of this attempt at imposition, Kinana

1 The Secretary gives the number of killed at only fifteen; but Hishami (who specifies the names), numbers twenty; and both include Bishr, who was poisoned. Of the killed, four were Refugees.

2 The father of his wife Safia, was Huwey, who it will be remembered was sent into exile with the Bard Nadhir; but he returned with the Coreish to the siege of Medina, and perished in the massacre of the Bard Coreitza.

page 68

was subjected to cruel torture, -- "fire being placed upon his breast till his breath had almost departed," -in the hope that he would confess where the rest of his treasures were concealed. Mahomet then gave command, and the heads of the two chiefs were severed from their bodies.

The marriage of Mahomet with Safia, Kinana's bride.

The scene of torture and bloodshed was hardly ended, when Mahomet sent Bilal to fetch the wife of Kinana, whose beauty was probably well known at Medina.1 Bilal speedily performed his errand. Finding with Safia another damsel, her cousin, he brought them both straight ecross the battlefield strewed with the dead, and close by the corpses of Kinana and his cousin. At the ghastly sight of their headless trunks, the companion of Safia screamed wildly, beating her face, and casting dust upon her head. "Take that she-devil hence;" said Mahomet angrily: but aside he chided Bilal for his want of consideration in bringing the women so near the bodies of their relatives. "Truly," said Bilal, "I did it designedly; I wished to see their grief and anger stirred up." But Mahomet was moved by tenderer emotions; -- turning complacently towards Safia, he cast his mantle around her, in token that she was to be his own, and then made her over to the care of Bilal.

1 I assume this to be the case, because (1) she was the daughter of a chief who had long lived at Medina, and was well known there; and (2), because Mahomet, immediately upon Kinana's execution, sent for her and cast his mantle over her. Indeed he is not free from the suspicion of being influenced in the destruction of Kinana by the desire of obtaining his wife.

page 69

Dihya had also coveted thin Jewish beauty; which, coming to the knowledge of Mahomet, he made him content with the present of her cousin.1

Consummated at Kheiber

Mahomet did not long postpone his nuptials with Safia.2 The wedding feast was celebrated with abundance of dates, curdled milk, and butter. Earth was heaped up into the shape of tables; on these the viands were spread, and the guests ate and were merry. Meanwhile the Prophet had charged a female attendant with the duty of suitably arraying the bride, and making her ready for him. When the feast was ended, the people, prepared for the march; and they watched Mahomet, saying: "We shall see now whether he hath taken her for his

1 I have followed chiefly the Secretary, p. 122; and Hishami, p.836. Borne traditions stats that Safia fell to the lot of Dihya, and that Mahomet purchased her for seven camels from him. K. Wackidi, 128. But the account in the text is the best supported and the most consistent.

2 The interval ii not exactly stated anywhere; but it could not on any supposition have been or long duration. Hishami says, that the marriage took place at Kheibar, or on the way returning from it, p. 889. The tenor of other traditions implies no delay whatever. I do not find any credible tradition intimating Safia's conversion, as is commonly supposed, before her marriage. Under any circumstances, it is clear that the period (three months) prescribed as necessary to intervene before marrying a woman who had previously been the wife of another, was not on this occasion observed by Mahomet. Either such ordinance was not then imposed, or Mahomet exempted himself from its operation.

Omm Suleim was the servant who dressed the hair of Safia, arrayed her in her bridal attire, and carried her to Mahomet. She was mother of Mahomet's servant Anis, a citizen of Medina. Safia's dower was her freedom.

page 70

wife or for a slave girl." And when he called for a screen to hide her from the public gaze, they knew from thence that she was to be his wife. Mahomet then lowered his knee to help her to ascend the camel: after some coy demur, she placed her foot upon his bended knee, and Mahomet (a bridegroom now of sixty years of age) raising her into the litter, conducted her to the bridal tent. In the morning he heard the noise of one rustling against the curtain of the tent. It was Abu Ayub, who had there kept watch a" night with his drawn sword.1 What has brought thee here? asked Mahomet, surprised at the intrusion of his friend: "O Prophet!" he replied, "I bethought me that the damsel is young; it is but as yesterday that she was married to Kinana, whom thou hast slain. And thus, distrusting her, I said to myself, I will watch by the tent and be close at hand, in case she attempt anything against thee." Mahomet blessed him for his careful vigilance, and desired him to depart in peace.2

Safia's dream.

The precaution was unnecessary: for (if tradition speak truly) Safia accommodated herself most readily to the new alliance. It is related that she bore the mark of a bruise upon her eye; when the Prophet asked her tenderly the cause, she told him that while yet Kinana's bride, she saw in a dream as if the moon had fallen from the heavens into

1 The citizen with whom Mahomet lived on his first arrival at Medina.

2 K. Wackidi, 123.

page 71

her lap; and that when she told Kinana, he struck her violently, saying: "What is the dream but that thou covetest this king of the Hejaz, the Prophet, for thy husband!" The mark of the blow was the same which Mahomet saw.

Mahomet partakes of a poisened kid

But all the women of Kheibar were not equally changeable and faithless. The nuptials of Mahomet were damped by the revenge of Zeinab, the sister of the warrior Marhab, who had lost her husband, her father, her brother, and other relatives in the battle.1 She dressed a kid, and having steeped it in a deadly poison, placed it with fair words before Mahomet, at the hour of his evening repast. Graciously accepting the gift, he took the shoulder (the part he loved to eat, and which Zeinab had therefore impregnated most strongly) for himself tore off a choice bone for Bishr who sat next him, and distributed portions to Abu Bakr and his other followers around. Scarcely had he swallowed the first mouthful, when he exclaimed: "Hold! surely this shoulder hath been poisoned;" and he spat forth what was in his mouth. Bishr, who had eaten more than Mahomet, at once changed colour, and stirred neither hand nor foot, until he died.2 Mahomet

1 Her husband was Sallam, and her father Harith, both chief men.

2 Some say that he died on the spot, others, that he lingered for a year, but unable to stir his limbs, or to move from one side to the other.

3 It is a favourite tradition, that Mahomet said, "the shoulder tells me," or "lets me know that it is poisoned." it was natural

page 72

was seized with excruciating pain, and caused himself, and all those who had with him partaken of the dish, to be freely cupped between the shoulders. Zeinab was then summoned, and interrogated as to the motive of her offence: - "Thou hast inflicted;" she replied boldly, "these grievous injuries on my people; thou hast slain my father, and my uncle, and my husband. Therefore I said within myself, if he is a Prophet he will be aware that the shoulder of the kid is poisoned, but if he be a mere pretender, then we shall be rid of him, and the Jews will again prosper." She was put to death.1 The effects

for this tradition to grow up, as it might very easily do unintentionally, from the various forms of expression in telling the story, or being in order to screen the Prophet from the charge of being devoid of prophetical knowledge. Mahomet did not assume for himself the ordinary possession of such knowledge; but tradition soon did so to a great extent for him.

Mahomet at any rate swallowed his first mouthful before he perceived the evil taste.

Bishr said that he perceived the unusual taste at once, but did not stop eating, simply because he did not wish to set Mahomet against the food,- that he wished to die for Mahomet, &c.

1 K. Wackidi, 121,140 ½, 290 ½ ; Hishami, 288. Some say that she was set free upon making this exculpatory statement. But the balance of tradition is decidedly as in the text. Certain traditions state that she was made over to the relatives of Bishr, to be put to death judicially, for having poisoned him. The woman's speech in justification is cast in a rather common traditional type. Still, under the circumstances, it is not so unnatural as the common speeches of this kind are; and, if true, it is a specimen such as we do not often meet with in servile tradition, of undaunted opposition to the Conqueror,--- a contrast to the fickle heartlessness or Safia.

page 73

of the poison were felt by Mahomet to his dying day.1

The remaining fortresses, with Fadak, capitulate

After the victory at Camuss, the only remaining strongholds of Kheibar, namely Watih, and Salalim, were invested; and, seeing no prospect of relief, capitulated. They were thus saved from being sacked; but, like the rest of Kheibar, their lands were subjected to a tax of half the produce. Fadak, a Jewish town, not far from Kheibar, profited by its example, and having tendered a timely submission, was admitted to the same terms.

Wadi al Cora besieged and taken. 2nd Jumad, A.H. VII. Sept. A.D. 628 2

On his march homewards from Kheibar, Mahomet laid siege to the Jewish settlement at Wadi al Cora, which after a resistance of one or two days, surrendered. The authority of Mahomet was thus established over all the Jewish tribes north of Medina.3

Division of the plunder.

The plunder of Kheibar was rich beyond all previous experience. Besides vast stores of dates, oil, honey, and bailey, flocks of sheep and herds of camels,4 the spoil in treasure and jewels was very

1 Hence, the traditionists delight to hold that Mahomet had the merit of a martyr. And the same is also said of Abu Bakr, one of those who also partook of the kid.

2 Wackidi, p. 6.

3 M. C. de Perceval says that the Jews or Tayma also tendered thek submission, iii. 203. This is likely enough, though it is not mentioned by K. Wackidi or Hishami.

4 C. de Perceval, iii. 202. This detail is not given in my authorities, which deal in general terms. Hishimi says, that from the time of Kheibar, slaves became very plentiful among the Moslems, p. 333. I do not find that, excepting the family of

page 74

large. A fifth of the whole was as usual set apart for the use of the Prophet, and for distribution at will among his family and the destitute poor. The remaining four-fifths were sold by outcry, and the proceeds, according to the prescribed rule, divided into one thousand eight hundred shares, being one share for a foot soldier, and three for a horseman.1

The lands, how disposed of.

The villages and lands were disposed of upon another principle. One half was reserved for Mahomet, and constituted thereafter a species of Crown domain; it embraced the tract of Kuteiba and the forts of Watih and Salalim. The other moiety was divided into one thousand eight hundred portions, and allotted by the same rule as the personal booty. A large and permanent source of revenue was thus

Kinana, any mention is mode of slaves taken at Kheibar. But money, which the victors obtained plentifully at Kheibar, could purchase them cheaply in any part of Arabia.

1 K. Wackidi 121. M .C. de Perceval represents the Prophet as taking one half; but this was clearly not the case. He obtained one half of the land, but the personal plunder took its usual course. There is some discrepancy as to the number, and the shares, of the horsemen. All agree that there were one thousand eight hundred shares; but some say that there were only one hundred horse, - each of which obtained three shares, which would make the army one thousand fire hundred strong in foot, with one hundred hone. Others say, there were two hundred horse: of which each obtained two shares; this would make the infantry one thousand four hundred in number ; - in either case, the total strength of both arms to one thousand six hundred. K. Wackidi121, 122 ½.

M.C. de Perceval says that something additional was given to those who had chargers of pure Arab blood. But I do not find notice of this in my authorities.

page 75

secured for all those who had given proof of their faith and loyalty, by accompanying Mahomet to Hodeibia, and the promise made by the Prophet on that expedition was amply redeemed.

Even in those portions of Kheibar which were gained by storm, it was found expedient, in the absence of other cultivators, to leave the Jewish inhabitants in possession, on the condition already specified, of surrendering half the produce. An appraiser was deputed yearly to assess the amount, to realize the rents, and transmit them to Medina 1 This arrangement continued till the Caliphate of Omar, when, there being no scarcity of Moslem husbandmen, the Jews were expatriated, and entire possession taken of their lands.2

1 Abdallah ibn Rawaha first performed this duty, being a sort of arbiter between the Jewish cultivators and Moslem proprietors. Whenever the former charged him with exceeding in his estimate, he would say, "If it seem good unto you, take ye the estimated sum and give us the crop, or give us the estimated sum, and keep ye the crop." The Jews greatly esteemed his justice. He was killed the year following at Muta. Hishami, 343.

2 This is the plain and consistent statement of the Secretary. Advantage was naturally taken by Omar, in carrying out the expatriation of the Jews, of the fact that his son Abdallah had been wounded in his possessions there; but it is distinctly admitted that there was no proof as to who committed the outrage. Omar concluded that it must have been the Jews, simply because it was the second case of the kind. The previous case was the murder of Abdallah ibn Sahal; but here, too, there was no evidence; and therefore Mahomet justly paid the blood money himself.

Two other grounds to justify Omar's expulsion of the Jews

page 76

Special ordinances promulgated at Kheibar.

Some special ordinances were promulgated in this campaign. The flesh of the domestic ass (which the army on their first approach to Kheibar were driven by want of other food to eat) was forbidden, as well as that of all carnivorous animals 1. Some restrictions were laid upon the immediate liberty of cohabitation, heretofore enjoyed in respect of female captives; but of whatever nature they were, it is clear that they did not fetter Mahomet in the marriage contracted with his female captive Safia.2 are given by tradition -(1), Mahomet plainly stipulated that the Jews were to hold possession, pending his pleasure, - they were mere tenants-at-will. (2), Mahomet said on his death-bed that no religion but Islam was to be permitted throughout the Peninsula; I doubt both grounds, and believe that they have been adduced simply from the desire to justify Omar's cruel expulsion of the Jews. Hashami, 344.

1 See the similar rules in the Coran, Sura, v.4; including what is torn, or dieth of itself, &c. There are some curious traditions on this part of the narrative. The soldiers were every where boiling asses flesh in their pots throughout the camp, when the order was given, and forthwith they all overturned their pots. Horseflesh is allowed. K. Wackidi, 122.

2 The subject is one into which, from its nature, I cannot enter with much detail; but as it partly affects the character or Mahomet, in not having himself conformed to a law imposed upon his followers, I may remark that some traditions hold that Mahomet now prescribed that the "istabra," or interval required between divorce and re-marriage, was to be equally observed in the case of women taken in war as in all other cases. The Sonna has fixed this period for slaves at half the interval required for free women; -that is, two months (or possibly a month and a half), before the lapse of which, consorting with female slaves so captured is unlawful. Mahomet evidently did not himself conform to this rule in the case of Safia, as before explained. Some traditions

page 77

The most stringent rules were issued to prevent fraudulent appropriation from the common stock of booty. "No Believer shall sell aught of the spoil, until it has been divided; nor shall he take a beast therefrom, and after riding upon it until it become lean, return it; nor shall he take and wear a garment, and then send it back threadbare." A follower was convicted of plundering two sandal straps; the articles in themselves were insignificant: yet, said the Prophet to the thief "Verily there shall be cut out for thee hereafter two thongs like unto them of fire."1 When the army alighted before Wadi al Cora, Abd al Ghal, a servant of Mahomet, was shot by an arrow; in the act of taking the litter down from one of the camels:-" Welcome to Paradise!" exclaimed the bystanders. "Never!", said Mahomet; "by him in whose hand my life is! Even now his vestment is burning upon him in the fire of Hell; for he pilfered it before Kheibar from amongst the booty."2

make the prohibition delivered on the present occasion to apply to pregnant women only: Hishami; 333; K. Wackidi, 122; but if so, it is not apparent at what later period the farther and more general restriction was introduced.

1 K. Wackidi, 122; and Hishami, 339.

2 Hishami 338. The story is very possibly exaggerated, it being an object among the Mussulmans to make the general right of the army in all the booty taken by it as secure and sacred as possible. But it show. the tendency and spirit of the system, under which a tradition of this nature could be put into the mouth of the Prophet, and as such, gain currency.

page 78

A martyr in Paradise who had never prayed.

As a counterpart to this incident, and showing the certainty of Paradise secured by the mere profession of Islam, I may transcribe the following tradition. Al Aswad, the shepherd of one of the Jews of Kheibar, came over to Mahomet, and declared himself a believer. Abandoning his flock, he straight-way joined the Moslem army and fought in its ranks.1

1 It is said that he asked Mahomet what he was to do with his flock. On the principle that a believer must discharge all his trusts and obligations, even those contracted with idolaters, before joining the standard of Islam, the Prophet desired him to throw a handful of gravel in the faces of the sheep and goats, whereupon they all ran off forthwith to their owner in the fortress.
On the same principle, it is said, 'Ali and other converts first scrupulously discharged the trusts which the Coreish had committed to them, before leaving Mecca to join Mahomet at Medina. And a like principle has been applied by many strict Mahometans in decisive condemnation of the perfidy of the Sepoys in the late Indian rebellion. They were the servants, say they, of the British Government; and (even if then had been grounds for a religious war) ought first, like Ali and Al Aswad, to have discharged their trusts in full, and rendered up, instead of plundering, the arsenals and treasures in their custody.
No doubt the argument and inference are just, but they stand in unhappy contrast with the disregard of other principles of morality shown by Mahomet in his treatment of the Jews, and especially in the perfidious assassinations which he countenanced or ordered.
As a counterpoise to Al Aswad's integrity, I may mention the artifice by which Al Hajaj is said to have recovered his debts. With Mahomet's permission he went to Mecca, and he told the Coreish that Mahomet had been vanquished and, with all his followers, taken prisoner. The Coreish, in ecstasies at the intelligence, paid off all his claims. Before leaving Mecca, he made known to Abbas, on condition of his keeping it secret for three

page 79

He was struck by a stone and killed, before he had yet as a Moslem offered up a single prayer. But he died fighting for the faith, and therefore had secured a Marty's crown. Surrounded by a company of his followers, Mahomet visited the corpse, which had been laid out for him to pray over. When he drew close to the spot, he abruptly stopped and looked another way. '(Why dost thou thus avert thy face!" asked those about him. "Because," said Mahomet, "two black-eyed houries of Paradise, his wives, are with the martyr now; they wipe the dust from off his face, and fondly solace him."1

Mahomet welcomes Jafar and the other Abyssinian exiles

About this period, Mahomet had the pleasure to welcome back his cousin Jafar, Ali's brother, who, with some of the exiles just returned from Abyssinia, went out to meet the army as it came back from Kheibar "I know not," Mahomet said, "which of the two deligliteth me the most, Jafar's arrival, or the conquest of Kheibar." The army cheerfully acceded to his proposal that their newly arrived friends should be admitted to share in the spoil.

days, that he had told a lie, - for that Mahomet had vanquished Kheibar, and married the king's daughter. K. Wackidi, 121; Hisha,i 342. The story is doubtful, however.

1 Hishami, p.541. Neither can I vouch for this story, but like the last, it illustrates the spirit of Islam, and the teaching of Mahomet, under the influence of which such tales grew up.

"Whenever a martyr is slain in battle," so runs the tradition, "his two black-eyed wives, the houries, draw near unto him, wipe the dust from off his face, and say, - 'The Lord cast dust on the face of him who hath cast dust on thine, and slay him who slew thee!'"

page 80

And completes his marriage with Onim Habiba, Autumn, A.H. VII, A.D. 628.

On the return of Mahomet to Medina, he completed the marriage with Omm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sofian which the Najashy had contracted for him in Abyssinia. There were now nine wives, besides two female slaves, in the harem of the Prophet.

Mahomet be witched by the Jews.

Before closing this chapter, which contains the last notice of the Jews of Arabia, I ought to mention the tale of Mahomet's having been bewitched by a Jewish spell. On his return from Hodeibia, the Jews who still remained at Medina (ostensibly converted, but hypocrites and enemies at heart,) bribed a sorcerer named Labid and his daughters. to bewitch Mahomet. This they did by secretly procuring hairs combed from the Prophet's head, and tying eleven knots with them on the branch of a male palm, which was then put at the bottom of a well, with a large stone over it. The enchantment took effect: Mahomet began to pine away,—to fancy he had done things which in reality he never had done, to lose his appetite, and to neglect his wives. At last, Gabriel told him the secret of his ailment. The well was emptied, and the knots untied. Immediately the spell broke, and the Prophet was relieved.

The cxii. And cxiv. Suras

I must confess myself unable to decide what portion of the tale is true, or whether it has any foundation at all in fact. The common tradition is, that the two last Suras in the Coran were revealed on this occasion, containing a charm against all spells and

page 81

incantations; and, that during the recitation of the eleven verses which they contain, the knots unravelled themselves one by one till the whole were unloosed, and the charm dissolved. The hundred and thirteenth Sura is as follows:

"Say - I flee for Refuge to the Lord of the Daybreak, - from the evil of that which he hath created; and from the evil of the darkness when it overshadoweth; and from the evil of the Women that blow upon the knots; and from the evil of the envious when he envieth."

Consideration as to the credibility of the tale

The story may possibly have grown out of the penultimate verse of this Sura, in which Mahomet prays to be delivered "from the evil of the women blowing upon knots."1 Or, on the other hand, it may be founded on suspicions actually entertained by Mahomet against the Jews, of sorcery by the tying of knots, and other forms of incantation; and these suspicions may have led to the composition of the Sura.

Its credibility partly sustained

The latter alternative is supported by the consideration that Mahomet was by nature superstitious, and that he had already suspected the Jews of bewitching the Moslem women into barrenness. On the present occasion, he is said to have caused the well into which the mysterious knots had been cast to be dug up, and another sunk in its place. On his return from visiting the spot, he told Ayesha that "the date-trees in the garden were like devils' heads,

1 Compare Ezekiel, ziii. 18, to end.

page 82

and the water of the well dark as a decoction of Henna." She inquired whether the incident might with propriety be spoken of; he replied that it would be better that she should not divulge it, lest it might cause the evil of witchcraft to spread amongst his people.

The sorcerer allowed to escape

Some traditions say that the sorcerer was put to death; but the more reliable account is, that Mahomet let him go free, but turned with aversion from him.1

1 The Secretary, p. 140, has a profusion of traditions on the subject. The story, upon the whole, is given with great consistency. Some say that it was Labid's sisters who assisted him; and that it was two Angels who revealed the plot to Mahomet.

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