Preparations for the Attack on Makkah, and the Prophet’s Attempt at imposing a News Black-out
On the authority of At-Tabari, the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] asked ‘Aishah [R], his spouse three days prior to receiving news relating to breaching of covenant, to make preparations peculiar to marching out for war. Abu Bakr, meanwhile, came in and asked ‘Aishah [R] what the matter was, showing surprise at the preparations being made as it was not, as he said, the usual time for war. She replied that she had no idea. On the morning of the third day ‘Amr bin Sâlim Al-Khuza‘i arrived in the company of forty horsemen to brief the Prophet [pbuh] on the plight of his people and seeking the Muslims’ help for retaliation. People of Madinah then got to know that Quraish had breached the covenant. Budail followed ‘Amr, and then Abu Sufyan and the news was unequivocally confirmed.
With view of securing a complete news black-out concerning his military intentions, the Prophet [pbuh] despatched an eight-men platoon under the leadership of Qatadah bin Rab‘i in the direction of Edam, a short distance from Madinah, in Ramadan 8 A.H., in order to divert the attention of people and screen off the main target with which he was preoccupied.
There was so much dread and fear everywhere that Hatib, one of the most trusted followers of the Prophet [pbuh] secretly despatched a female messenger with a letter to Makkah containing intimation of the intended attack. The Prophet [pbuh] received news from the heaven of Hatib’s action and sent ‘Ali and Al-Miqdad with instructions to go after her. They overtook the messenger, and after a long search discovered the letter carefully hidden in her locks. The Prophet [pbuh] summoned Hatib and asked him what had induced him to this act. He replied, "O Messenger of Allâh [pbuh]! I have no affinity of blood with Quraish; there is only a kind of friendly relationship between them and myself. My family is at Makkah and there is no one to look after it or to offer protection to it. My position stands in striking contrast to that of the refugees whose families are secure due to their blood ties with Quraish. I felt that since I am not related to them, I should, for the safety of my children, earn their gratitude by doing good to them. I swear by Allâh that I have not done this act as an apostate, forsaking Islam. I was prompted only by the considerations I have just explained."
‘Umar wanted to cut his head off as a hypocrite, but the Prophet [pbuh] accepted his excuse and granted him pardon, then addressed ‘Umar saying: "Hatib is one of those who fought in the battle of Badr. How do you know that he is a hypocrite? Allâh is likely to look favourably on those who participated in that battle. Turning then, to Hatib, he said: "Do as you please, for I have forgiven you."
After making full preparation, the Prophet [pbuh] proceeded to Makkah at the head of ten thousand soldiers on the 10th of Ramadan, 8 A.H. He mandated Abu Ruhm Al-Ghifari to dispose the affairs of Madinah during his absence. When they reached Al-Juhfa, Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and his family came to join the Prophet [pbuh]. At Al-Abwa’, the Muslims came across Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith and ‘Abdullah bin Omaiyah, the Prophet’s cousins, but, on account of the harm they had inflicted, and their satiric language, on the believers, they were not welcomed. ‘Ali addressed Abu Sufyan to go and beseech the Prophet [pbuh] for pardon and confess his ill-behaviour in a manner similar to that of Yusuf’s (the Prophet Joseph) brothers:
Abu Sufyan observed ‘Ali’s counsel, to which the Prophet quoted Allâh’s Words:
Abu Sufyan recited some verses paying a generous tribute to the Prophet [pbuh] and professing Islam as his only religion.
The Muslims then marched on in a state of fasting until they reached a place called Al-Qadeed where water was available. There they broke fast [Sahih Al-Bukhari 2/613] and resumed their movement towards Mar Az-Zahran. The Quraishites were quite unaware of the development of affairs, but the Prophet [pbuh] did not like to take them by surprise. He, therefore, ordered his men to kindle fire on all sides for cooking purposes. The idea behind this was that Quraish should be afforded full opportunity to assess the situation in which they were pitchforked correctly, and should not endanger their lives by leaping blindly in the battlefield. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab was entrusted with the guard duty. In the meanwhile, Abu Sufyan along with Hakim bin Hizam and Budail bin Warqua’, two terrible polytheists, went out to reconnoiter. Before they got near the camp, they met ‘Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle. He apprised Abu Sufyan of the situation and advised him to accept Islam and persuade his people to surrender before Muhammad [pbuh]; otherwise, his head would be struck off.
Under the prevailing compelling circumstances, Abu Sufyan went in the company of ‘Abbas seeking the Prophet’s [pbuh] audience. The Muslims were furious to see Abu Sufyan and wanted to kill him on the spot. But the two men managed, not without difficulties, to see the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] who advised that they see him the following day. The Prophet [pbuh] addressed Abu Sufyan saying: "Woe to you! Isn’t it time for you to bear witness to the Oneness of Allâh and Prophethood of Muhammad?" Here, the archenemy of Islam began to beseech the Prophet [pbuh] in the most earnest words that testify to the Prophet’s generosity and mild temper begging for pardon and forgiveness, and professing wholeheartedly the new faith.
On request by ‘Abbas, the Prophet [pbuh], in the context of the general amnesty he proclaimed, gave Abu Sufyan, who had a liking for bragging, a special privilege, saying: "He who takes refuge in Abu Sufyan’s house is safe; whosoever confines himself to his house, the inmates thereof shall be in safety, and he who enters the Sacred Mosque is safe."
On the morning of Tuesday, 17th. Ramadan, 8 A.H., the Prophet [pbuh] left Mar Az-Zahran. He ordered Al-‘Abbas to detain Abu Sufyan at a commanding gorge that could afford a full view of the Muslim army parading on its way towards Makkah, and hence give him the chance to see the great and powerful soldiers of Allâh. The different tribes successively passed with their banners flown up, until at last the battalion of the Emigrants and Helpers with the Prophet [pbuh] at their head heavily armed marched by. Abu Sufyan began to wonder who those people were, to which Al-‘Abbas told him that they were Muhammad [pbuh] and his Companions. Abu Sufyan said that no army however powerful could resist those people and addressing Al-‘Abbas, he said: "I swear by Allâh that the sovereignty of your brother’s son has become too powerful to withstand." Al-‘Abbas answered, "It is rather the power of Prophethood," to which the former agreed.
Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah carried the flag of the Helpers. When he passed by Abu Sufyan, he said "Today will witness the great fight, you cannot seek sanctuary at Al-Ka‘bah. Today will witness the humiliation of Quraish." Abu Sufyan complained about this to the Prophet [pbuh] who got angry and said "Nay, today Al-Ka‘bah will be sanctified, and Quraish honoured," and quickly ordered that Sa‘d should be stripped off the flag, and that it should be entrusted to his son Qais, in another version, to Az-Zubair.
Al-‘Abbas urged Abu Sufyan to hasten into Makkah and warn the Quraishites against any aggressive behaviour towards the Muslims. There in Makkah, he shouted at the top of his voice and warned against any hostilities advising them to seek safety in his house. His wife got indignant and tugged at his moustache cursing him and abusing his cowardly stance. The people within Makkah mocked Abu Sufyan and dispersed in different directions, some into their houses, others into the Holy Sanctuary while some undisciplined reckless ruffians led by ‘Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl, Safwan bin Omaiyah and Suhail bin ‘Amr encamped themselves in a place called Khandamah, with a murderous intent in their minds.
The Prophet [pbuh], on his part, was quite modestly and calmly drawing the final touches for the military breakthrough awaiting the Muslims, by Allâh’s Will. He appointed Khalid bin Al-Waleed as a leader of the right flank of the army with Aslam, Sulaim, Ghifar, Muzainah and Juhainah tribes under his command to enter Makkah through its lower avenues. Az-Zubair bin ‘Awwam was to lead the left flank and would storm Makkah from the upper side holding up the Messenger’s banner. Abu ‘Ubaidah took command of the infantry and was to penetrate into the city via a side valley. They were given full and decisive orders not to kill unless in self defence and in that case they would exterminate any aggressive elements and quell any opposition.
The Muslim battalions marched out each in its already drawn route to fulfill the missions they were supposed to carry out. Khalid bin Al-Waleed worked his way into the heart of the town quite successively killing twelve of the ruffians and sustaining two martyrs. Az-Zubair set out and reached the fixed destination where he planted the banner at Al-Fath (conquest) Mosque and waited there for the arrival of the Prophet [pbuh]. A tent was pitched for him where he offered prayers of thanks to the All-Mighty Allâh, Who, out of His immense grace, had granted him a splendid victory. But he did not repose long. He, in the company of the Helpers and Emigrants, got up and proceeded towards Al-Ka‘bah, the Sacred House, which is an emblem of the Oneness and Supremacy of Allâh. It was unfortunately infested with idols that numbered 360. He knocked them down with his bow while reciting the verse of the Noble Qur’ân:
And Allâh further said:
He then started the usual circumambulation on his ride. He was not in a state of Ihram (ritual consecration) then. On completion, he called for ‘Uthman bin Talhah, the janitor of Al-Ka‘bah, from whom he took the key. He went in and saw images of Prophets Ibrahim and Ishmael, [AWS], throwing divination arrows. He denounced these acts of Quraish and ordered that all idols be dismantled, images and effigies deleted. He then entered the sacred hall to face the wall opposite the door and there again performed devout prostrations, and went around acclaiming Allâh’s Greatness and Oneness. Shortly afterwards, he returned to the door-way and standing upon its elevated step, gazed in thankfulness on the thronging multitude below and delivered the following celebrated address:
He then recited to them the verse:
He further added:
Upon this he said:
As for the door-keeping of Al-Ka‘bah and supplying of water to pilgrims, the Prophet [pbuh] ordered that these jobs remain in the hand of ‘Uthman bin Talhah and that the key will stay with him and his descendants for ever.
When time for prayer approached, Bilal ascended Al-Ka‘bah and called for prayer. Abu Sufyan bin Harb, ‘Itab bin Usaid and Al-Harith bin Hisham were meanwhile sitting in the yard. ‘Itab bin Usaid commented on the new situation (Bilal ascending Al-Ka‘bah and calling for prayer) saying that Allâh honoured Usaid (his father) having not heard such words. The Prophet [pbuh] approached and assisted by Divine Revelation told them that he had learnt about what they had spoken of. Al-Harith and ‘Itab, taken by incredible surprise, immediately professed Islam and bore witness to the Messengership of Muhammad [pbuh] adding that "We swear by Allâh that none had been with us to inform you."
On that very day, the Prophet [pbuh] entered ‘Umm Hani’s house where he washed and offered prayers of victory. ‘Umm Hani had sheltered two Makkan relatives of hers in her house in which act she was granted support by the Prophet [pbuh].
Shedding blood of nine arch-criminals was declared lawful even under the curtains of Al-Ka‘bah. Nevertheless, only four of them were killed while the others were pardoned for different reasons. As for those who were killed, mention could be made of ‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin Khatal who had become a Muslim and then deputed to collect alms-tax in the company of a Helper. They had also a slave with them. ‘Abdullah, in a fit of rage, killed the Helper’s slave on account of a mere trifling dispute, and joined the pagan Arabs as an apostate. He was never repentant at this heinous crime but rather employed two women singers and incited them to sing satirically about the Prophet [pbuh].
The other man who was put to death was Miqyas bin Sababa. He was a Muslim. A Helper accidently killed his brother Hisham. The Prophet [pbuh] had arranged the payment of blood money to him, which he had accepted. His revengeful nature, however, was never appeased, so he killed the Helper and went to Makkah as an apostate.
Similarly, Huwairith and one woman singer went to death.
On the other hand, every attempt was made to grant pardon to the people. ‘Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, who had attacked Khalid’s detachment at the time of the entry into Makkah, was forgiven. To Wahshi, the murderer of Hamzah, the Prophet’s uncle, and to Hind, who had chewed his liver, was also extended his generous clemency. The same generous treatment was accorded to Habar who had attacked the Prophet’s daughter with a spear, while on her way from Makkah to Madinah, so grievously that she ultimately died of the fatal injuries.
In the same context of magnanimity peculiar to Muhammad [pbuh], two chiefs of Quraish were pardoned once they had embraced Islam. They were Safwan bin Omaiyah and Fudalah bin ‘Umair. The latter had attempted to assassinate the Prophet [pbuh] while circumambulating in the Holy Sanctuary. The Prophet’s matchless tolerance and broad-mindedness instigated by his mission as ‘A mercy to all people’, converted a terrible hypocrite into a faithful devout believer.
On the second day of the great conquest, the Prophet [pbuh] stood up and addressed the people in matters relating to the holy status of Makkah. After entertaining Allâh’s praise, he proclaimed that Makkah was a holy land and would remain so till the Day of Judgement. No bloodshed was allowed therein. Should anyone take the liberty of fighting within Makkah on grounds derived from the events that characterized the conquest, he should remember that it had been a licence granted temporarily to the Prophet, and virtually does not go for others. Ibn ‘Abbas [R] narrated: The Prophet [pbuh] said: "Allâh has made Makkah, a sanctuary, so it was a sanctuary before me and will continue to be a sanctuary after me. It was made legal for me (i.e. I was allowed to fight in it) for a few hours of a day. It is not allowed to uproot its shrubs or to cut its trees, or to chase (or disturb) its game, or to pick up its fallen things except by a person who would announce that (what has found) publicly." Al-‘Abbas said: "O Allâh’s Messenger! Except the lemon grass (for it is used) by our goldsmiths and for our homes." The Prophet [pbuh] then said: "Except the lemon grass."
In this context, out of the spirit of revenge, the tribesmen of Khuza‘ah killed a man from Laith Tribe. Here the Prophet was indignant and ordered Khuza‘ah to stop those pre-Islamic practices. He, moreover, gave the family of anyone killed the right to consider either of two options, blood-money or just retribution (the killer is killed).
After having delivered his address, the Prophet [pbuh] rode to a small hill, Safa, not far from Al-Ka‘bah. Turning his face towards the Sacred House, amidst a vast admiring and devotional multitude, he raised his hand in fervent prayer to Allâh. The citizens of Madinah who had gathered round him entertained fear, as Allâh had given him victory over his native city, he might choose to stay here. He insisted on explanation of their fear and so they spoke openly. He immediately dispelled their fears and assured them that he had lived with them and would die with them.
Immediately after the great conquest, the Makkans came to realize that the only way to success lay in the avenue of Islam. They complied with the new realities and gathered to pledge fealty to the Prophet [pbuh]. The men came first pledging full obedience in all areas they can afford. Then came the women to follow the men’s example. The Prophet [pbuh] with ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab receiving the pledge of fealty and communicating to them for him. Hind bint ‘Utbah, Abu Sufyan’s wife, came in the trail of women disguised lest the Prophet [pbuh] should recognize and account for her, having chewed the liver of Hamzah, his uncle. The Prophet [pbuh] accepted their allegiance on condition that they associate none with Allâh, to which they immediately agreed. He added that they should not practise theft. Here Hind complained that her husband, Abu Sufyan, was tight-fisted. Her husband interrupted granting all his worldly possessions to her. The Prophet [pbuh] laughed and recognized the woman. She implored him to extend his pardon to her and efface all her previous sins. Some other conditions were appended including the prohibition of adultery, infanticide or forging falsehood. To all these orders, Hind replied positively swearing that she would not have come to take an oath of allegiance if she had had the least seed of disobedience to him. On returning home, she broke her idol admitting her delusion as regards stone-gods.
The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] stayed in Makkah for 19 days. During that period he used to define the way to Islam, guide people to the orthodox path. He ordered Abu Usaid Al-Khuza‘i to restore the pillars of the Holy Sanctuary, sent missions to all quarters inviting them to adopt Islam and break down the graven images still lying in the vicinity of Makkah, and he did have all of them scrapped, inculcating in the believers’ ears his words:
Shortly after the great conquest, the Prophet [pbuh] began to despatch platoons and errands aiming at eliminating the last symbols reminiscent of pre-Islamic practices.
He sent Khalid bin Al-Waleed in Ramadan 8 A.H. to a spot called Nakhlah where there was a goddess called Al-‘Uzza venerated by Quraish and Kinanah tribes. It had custodians from Bani Shaiban. Khalid, at the head of thirty horsemen arrived at the spot and exterminated it. On his return, the Prophet [pbuh] asked him if he had seen anything there, to which Khalid gave a negative answer. Here, he was told that it had not been destroyed and he had to go there again and fulfill the task. He went back again and there he saw a black woman, naked with torn hair. Khalid struck her with his sword into two parts. He returned and narrated the story to the Prophet [pbuh], who then confirmed the fulfillment of the task.
Later, in the same month, ‘Amr bin Al-‘As was sent on an errand to destroy another idol, venerated by Hudhail, called Suwa‘. It used to stand at a distance of three kilometres from Makkah. On a question posed by the door-keeper, ‘Amr said he had been ordered by the Prophet [pbuh] to knock down the idol. The man warned ‘Amr that he would not be able to do it. ‘Amr was surprised to see someone still in the wrong, approached the idol and destroyed it, then he broke the casket beside it but found nothing. The man immediately embraced Islam.
Sa‘d bin Zaid Al-Ashhali was also sent in the same month and on the same mission to Al-Mashallal to destroy an idol, Manat, venerated by both Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes. Here also a black woman, naked with messy hair appeared wailing and beating on her chest. Sa‘d immediately killed her, destroyed the idol and broke the casket and returned at the conclusion of his errand.
Khalid bin Al-Waleed at the head of 350 horsemen of Helpers, Emigrants and Bani Saleem was despatched once again in the same year 8 A.H. to the habitation of Bani Khuzaimah bedouins to invite them to the fold of Islam. He was instructed to carry out his mission with peace and goodwill. There, the people were not articulate enough to communicate their intentions, so Khalid ordered his men to kill them and take the others as captives. He even had in mind to kill the captives but some of the Companions were opposed to his plan. News of bloodshed reached the Prophet [pbuh]. He was deeply grieved and raised his hands towards the heaven, uttering these words: "O Allâh! I am innocent of what Khalid has done," twice. [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/450, 2/622] He immediately sent ‘Ali to make every possible reparation to the tribes who had been wronged. After a careful inquiry, ‘Ali paid the blood-money to all those who suffered loss. The remaining portion was also distributed amongst the members of the tribe in order to alleviate their suffering. Khalid, due to his irrational behaviour, had a row with ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf. Hearing this, the Prophet [pbuh] got angry, and ordered Khalid to stop that altercation adding that his Companions (meaning ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf) were too high in rank to be involved in such arguments.
That is the story of the conquest of Makkah and the decisive battle that exterminated paganism once and for all. The other tribes in the Arabian Peninsula were waiting and closely watching the final outcome of the bitter struggle between the Muslims and idolaters, already convinced that the Holy Sanctuary would not fall but in the hands of the righteous party. It had been a conviction deeply established in their minds ever since the elephant army of Abraha Al-Ashram advanced from Yemen intending to destroy the Sacred House 50 years before.
Al-Hudaibiyah Peace Treaty was the natural prelude to this great victory in which people believed deeply and over which people talked a lot. The Muslims in Makkah, who had feared to declare their Faith in public, began to appear and work ardently for this new approach of life. People began to convert into Islam in hosts, and the Muslim army that numbered 3000 only in the previous Ghazwah, now came to reach 10,000 in number. In fact, this decisive change provided people with the keen insight to perceive things and the world around them as a whole in a different perceptive. The Muslims were then to steer the whole political and religious affairs of all Arabia. They had monopolised both the religious supremacy and temporal power.
The whole post-Hudaibiyah phase had been well-fledged in favour of the new Islamic movement. Streams of the desert Arabians began to pour in paying full homage to the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh], embracing the new faith and then carrying it to different quarters for propagation.