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Pilgrimage to Mecca

Dzul Cada A.H. VII-February, A.D. 629.

Expeditions undertaken in the autumn and winter of A.H. VII, A.D. 628

AFTER returning from Kheibar, Mahomet passed the rest of the autumn and the winter at Medina. Five or six expeditions were, during this period, despatched, under command of different Moslem chiefs, in various directions. Beyond the chastisement and plunder of some offending tribes, and an occasional reverse, they were not attended by any political results. But they show that the influence of Mahomet was fast expanding, and bringing him gradually into relations, hostile or friendly, with even distant tribes. It will be sufficient to enumerate these excursions in a note.1

1 In Shaban, or November, there were three expeditions 1. Thirty men under Omar, went in quest of a tribe of the Bani Hawazin on the road to Sanaa and Najran, but without success. 2. Abu Bakr headed a considerable party against the Bani Kilab in Najd, many of whom were slain or taken prisoners. 3. Bashir was sent with thirty men against the B. Murra in the vicinity of Fadak. They had probably interfered with the territory conquered by Mahomet there. Bashir drove off their camels and flocks; but he was pursued, the booty rescued, his followers slain, and, he himself wounded, with difficulty escaped to Mahomet.

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Mahomet sets out on the Lesser Pilgrimage to Mecca. Dzul Cada, A.H. VII. February, A.D. 629.

The time had now come round when Mahomet, according to. the treaty of Hodeibia, might visit Mecca, and fulfil undisturbed the Omra, or Lesser Pugrimage,1 from the rites of which he had been in the previous year debarred. Besides those who had made the unsuccessfhl pilgrimage to Hodeibia, many others now accompanied him, so that the cavalcade numbered about two thousand men; Each was armed, according to the stipulation, only with a sword; but, as a precaution against treachery, a large reserve of armour and lances was carried separately. Muhammad, son of Maslama, with a hundred horse, marched one stage in advance of the Pilgrims. Sixty camels for sacrifice were also driven in front.

Precautionary arrangements before entering Mecca.

At Marr al Tzahran, one stage from Mecca, Mahomet sent forward the store of armour to the valley

In Ramadhan, an incursion by one hundred and thirty men was successfully planned and carried out against the Bani Uwal at Mayfaak, on the confines of Najd. The settlement was surprised; many put to death; and the camels and flocks of the tribe driven off. In this expedition, Usama, son of Zeid, killed a man who shouted aloud the Moslem creed. Mahomet on his return, chided him, saying: "what! didst thou split open his heart, to see whether he told the truth or not?" Usama said he would do so no more.

In Shawwal, January, 629, Bashir again commanded an expedition to Yamn and Jabbar (in the vicinity of Wadi al Cora, Kheibar, and Salah,) against the Ghatafan, who were once more plotting mischief with Uyeina. They found their houses deserted, but carried off an immense herd of camel.

1 This Pilgrimage is called Omrat at Cadhda, or the "fulfilled Pilgrimage;" i.e. the pilgrimage undertaken in fulfilment of the vision (p.28), and of the abortive attempt at Hodeibia to realize it.

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of Yajuj, where it remained outside the sacred territory,1 guarded by two hundred well-armed soldiers, while the rest of the Pilgrims advanced to the Kaaba. The victims were also sent forward to Dzu Towa in the vicinity of Mecca.

Mahomet enters Mecca; performs the circuit of the Kaaba;

Meanwhile, the Coreish, apprised of Mahomet's near approach, retired from Mecca, and, ascending the adjacent hills, watched with curious and anxious eye for the appearance of the exile who had so long been the troubler of their city. At last the cavalcade was seen emerging from the northern valley. At its head was Mahomet, seated on Al Caswa; Abdallah ibn Rawaha, a leader qf the Bani Khazraj, walking in front, held the bridle; around the Prophet crowded his chief companions; and behind, in a long extended line, followed the rest of the Pilgrims on camels and on foot. Seven eventful years had passed since Mahomet and the Refugees last saw their native valley and its holy Temple. They hastened forward with the eagerness of long repressed desire, shouting the pilgrim cry, Labbeik! Labbeik! Still mounted on his camel, the pilgrim's mantle drawn under his right arm and thrown over the left shoulder, Mahomet approached the Kaaba, touched the Black Stone reverentially with his staff, and then accomplished the seven prescribed circuits of the holy House. The people followed, and, at the bidding of Mahomet,

1 From thence the landmarks bounding the sacred territory were risible, close at hand. K Wackidi 124.

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to show the Meccans that they were not weakened (as their enemies pretended) by the fever of Medina, they ran the three first circuits at a rapid pace.1 Abdallah, as he led the Prophet's camel, shouted at the pitch of his voice some warlike and defiant verses.2 But Omar checked him. And Mahomet said, "Gently! son of Rawahal Recite not this; but say instead - 'There is no God but the Lord alone! It is he that hath holden his servant, and exalted his Army! Alone hath he discomfited the confederated hosts.'" Abdallah proclaimed these words accordingly: and all the people taking them up shouted loudly as they ran round the Kaaba, till the sound reverberated through the valley.

And slays the victims

The circuits completed, Mahomet, still upon his camel, proceeded to the adjoining eminence of Safa, and rode from thence to the opposite rising ground of Marwa and back again, seven times, according to the ancient custom.3 The victims having then been

1 The same was done at Mahomet's final visit to the Kaaba, and became a standing ordinance. I confess that the reason given sounds childish. The Coreish must have had, in the battles and marauding excursions of the Refugees, proof of their physical strength, far more convincing than a race three times round the Kaaba could afford. Had not tradition been positive and unanimous on the point, I should rather hare attributed the first rapid circuits to the burst of joyous feeling in the exiles at resuming an old cherished custom, after having been long debarred from it.

2 The verses attributed to Abdallah are, in part at least, apocryphal. I have explained this in a note, vol. i. Introd. p. lxxxv.

3 See vol. i. Introd. p. ccv. For the places, see the plan of Mecca, in the same vol. p.5.

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brought and placed in order at Marwa, were sacrificed there ;-Mahomet calling aloud, - "This is the place of sacrifice, and so is every open valley of Mecca." Then he shaved his head, and thus ended the ceremonies of the Lesser pilgrimage.

The guard over the weapons do the same

His next care was to relieve the soldiers on guard over the weapons at Yajaj, who then visited Mecca and fulfilled their pilgrimage after the same example.

Public prayer performed at the Kaaba

On the morrow, Mahomet entered the Kaaba and remained there till the hour of mid-day prayer.1 At the appointed time, Bilal ascended the holy House, and from its summit vociferated the Moslem call to prayers. The Pilgrims assembled at the cry, and under the shadow of the Temple the service was led by the Prophet in the accustomed form.

Mahomet takes Meimuna to wife

While at Mecca, Mahomet entered none of the houses there. He lived in a tent of leather pitched for him in the open space south of the Kaaba. But he held friendly communication with several of the citizens. And, during this interval, he was not deterred either by the sacred object of his visit, his

1 The day is not mentioned: but it could hardly have been the day of first entering Mecca, as that would not have allowed interval sufficient for the various ceremonies of circuit and sacrifice, and also for spending some time in the Kaaba before mid- day. It was probably the second day. My account differs in one or two particulars from that of M. C. de Perceval (iii. 208), who makes Mahomet visit Mina, and there slay the victims; and from Weil (p.203), who says that Mahomet was not permitted to enter the Kaaba. The Secretary, however, is very distinct in his statement; and I have followed him. K. Wackidi, 124.

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advanced age (now exceeding three score year), or by the recollection that within the present year he had already welcomed three new inmates to his harem,1 from negotiating another marriage. Meimuna, the favoured lady, was sister to Omm al Fadhl, the wife of Abbas, into whose keeping, since her widowhood, she had committed the disposal of her hand. Mahomet listened to the overtures of his uncle that she should be added to the number of his wives, the more readily perhaps as two of her sisters were already allied to his family, one being the wife of Jafar,2 and another the widow of Hamza.

Mahomet warned to leave Mecca

Mahomet endeavoured to turn the present opportunity for conciliating the citizens of Mecca to the best effect, and as the sequel will show, not without success. But the time was short. Already the stipulated term of three days was ended, and he had entered on a fourth, when Suheil and Huweitib, chief men of the Coreish, appeared before him and said:- "The period allowed thee hath elapsed: depart now therefore from amongst us." To which the Prophet replied courteously :- "And what harm if ye allowed me to remain and celebrate my nuptials in your midst, and make you a feast at which ye might all sit down.?" "Nay," roughly answered the chiefs, " We have no need of thy viands:

1 I say three, including the captive maid Mary, with Omm Habiba and Saflya.

2 Her name was Asma bint Oneis. Abu Bakr married her, after Jafar's death.

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Consummates his marriage with Meimuna

Retire!" Mahomet gave immediate orders for departure: it was proclaimed among the Pilgrims that his by the evening not one should be left behind in Mecca. Placing his bride in charge of his servant Abu Rafi, he himself proceeded at once to Sarif, distant from the city eight or ten Arabian miles.1 In the evening, Abu Rafi, carrying Meimuna with him, reached the same place, and the marriage was there consummated. Early next morning, the march was resumed, and the cortege returned to Medina.

Number of his harem now complete

Meimuna is said to have been at this time fifty-one years of age.2 She survived thirty years, and was buried on the spot on which she had celebrated her marriage with the Prophet. The harem of Mahomet had reached its limit: for this was the last marriage contracted by him. He now had ten wives, besides two slaves or concubines. But Zeinab

1 Ibn Cuteiba says ten; M. C. do Perceval says eight: vol. iii. 209. Burton states that her tomb is still visited at this place in the Wady Fatima, iii. 241.

1 Mahomet's jealousy even of his elder wives may be illustrated by the following anecdote - A deputation from the B. Hilal ibn Amir came to Medina, asking Mahomet for help to discharge a debt, which he promised to do when the tithes came in. A young man, Ziad, nephew to Meimuna, being with this company, went to see his aunt. Mahomet coming suddenly into the place was disconcerted at the sight: his visage showed marks of wrath, and he turned to go away. "It is only my sister's son," cried Meimuna after him. So he returned. Then he took the young man into the Mosque for the mid day prayer; and dismissed him with a blessing, placing both hands upon his head, and drawing them over his nose.

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bint Khozeima died before him; the number consequently was then reduced to nine, or, including concubines, to eleven.1

Sister and niece or his bride accompany him to Median

Mahomet brought with him to Medina his bride's sister, Salma, the widow of Hamza (who, it would seem, had not accompanied her husband in his exile), and Omarah, her unmarried daughter. Jafar, Ali, and Zeid ibn Harith, each contending for the honour of receiving Omarah into his family, Mahomet decided in favour of Jafar, because he was married to her aunt.

Khalid, Amra, and Othman ibn Talha go over to Mahomet

Another sister of Meimuna was the mother of Kahlid ibn Walid 2 the famous warrior who had turned the tide of the battle at Ohod against the Moslems. Not long after the marriage of his aunt to the Prophet, Khalid repaired to Medina, and gave in his adhesion to the cause of Islam. Two others followed him. One, his friend 'Amru (ibn al Aas), whose poetic talents had often been used for the annoyance and injury of Mahomet. He was a man of weight in the councils of the Coreish, and had been employed by them in their embassy to

1 I have not thought it necessary to mention two or three other women, whose intended marriage with Mahomet was broken off at various stages before consummation: more especially as doubt attaches to the several narratives. The families of these women would naturally try to suppress these abortive negotiations as not creditable to them. See Ibn Cuteiba, p.68.

2 His mother's name was Lobaba the Less; Omm Fadhl, her elder sister, being also called Lobaba: these two were by the same father Harith. The other sisters were by another father, Omeis.

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Abyssinia.1 The other was Othman, son of Talha, a chief of some note, and (as successor to the Hijaba) custodian of the Kaaba.2 He had, no doubt, in that capacity, attended on the late occasion with the keys of his office to give Mahomet admittance to the holy House; and, perhaps, like many others, who gazed from a respectful distance on that memorable scene, was gained over by the earnest devotion

1 His name is properly Amr, the u at its close being added by Arab scribes to distinguish it from Omar, which It otherwise it resembles, when written. But Amru, the conqueror of Egypt, is a name familiar to the European reader, and the confusion from changing it would not be counterbalanced by the benefits of orthography. For his trip to Abyssinia, see vol.ii. p.172.

Hishami gives a very improbable account of his conversion. After the siege of Medina, struck with the augmenting power of Mahomet, he resolved to go to the Najashy, and in Abyssinia await the result of the struggle between the Prophet and his countrymen. So he went thither with a company of Coreish, who carried a present of leather for the Prince; and they were there when the messenger arrived with Mahomet's despatch in the sixth year of the Hegira. Amru desired to get hold of this messenger, and kill him; but the Prince was indignant at the idea of giving him up, and exhorted Amru, on the contrary, to embrace Islam; which he did secretly, signifying his allegiance to Mahomet by striking the Prince's hand. Then crossing the Red Sea, he went forth to go to Mahomet shortly before the conquest of Mecca, and met Khalid, who was on the same errand. Hishami, p.308.

The original embassy of Amru has apparently been mixed up with this story, which, besides, is full of inconsistencies.

2 See vol. i., Introd. pp. cciv., ccxliv., ccxlvii. Othman was of the family of Abd al Dar, to which branch, it will be remembered, that three offices were reserved - the custody of the Kaaba, the Presidency in the Hall of Council, and the right of raising and presenting the Banner at the commencement of a war.

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of Mahomet to the national shrine, and by the elevation and beauty of the services which he there performed.

Mahomet's position at Mecca improving.

The position of Mahomet at Mecca was greatly strengthened by the accession of such leading men. The balance was already wavering: it required little to throw it entirely on the side of Islam. To what extent persons of less note and influence about this time came over to Medina, or remaining at Mecca declared in favour of Mahomet, is not told to us. But there can be no doubt that the movement was not confined to Khalid, Amru, and Othman, but was wide and general; and that the cause of Islam was every day gaining popularity.

A coup de état becoming possible

His visit to Mecca enabled Mahomet to see and estimate the growth of his own influence there, upon the one hand, and the waning power and spirit of the Coreish, upon the other. The citizens of Mecca were weary of intestine war and bloodshed. The advocates of peace and compromise were growing in numbers and in confidence. Among the Coreish there were no chiefs of marked ability or commanding influence. A bold and rapid stroke of policy might put an end to the struggle which for so many years bad depressed and agitated Mecca. A coup de état was possible.

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