STUDY OF THE
LIFE OF MUHAMMAD CONSIDERED AS
A PREACHER OF ISLAM.
A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold Ma. C.I.F
Professor of Arabic, University of London, University College. Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim
is not proposed in this chapter to add another to the
already numerous biographies of Muhammad,
to make a study of his life in one of its aspects only, viz. that in which the Prophet
is presented to us as a preacher, as the apostle unto men of a new religion.
life of the founder of Islam and the inaugurator of its propaganda
may naturally be expected to exhibit to us the true character
of the missionary activity of this religion.
If the life of the
Prophet serves as the standard of conduct for the ordinary
believer, it must do the same for the Muslim missionary.
From the pattern, therefore, we may hope to learn something of the spirit
that would animate those who sought to copy it, and of the methods they might be expected to adopt.
For the missionary spirit of Islam is no after-thought in its history; it inter-penetrates the religion from its very commencement,
and in the following sketch it is desired to show how this is so, how Muhammad the Prophet is the type of
the missionary of Islam.
It is therefore beside the purpose to describe his early history, or the
influences under which he grew up to manhood, or to consider him in the light either of a
statesman or a general: it is as the preacher alone that he will demand our attention.
When, after long
internal conflict and disquietude, Muhammad was at length convinced of his
divine mission, his earliest efforts were directed towards persuading his
own family of the truth of the new doctrine. The unity
of God, the abomination of idolatry, the duty laid upon
man of submission to the will of his Creator,—these were
the simple truths to which he claimed their allegiance.
The first convert was his faithful and loving wife, Khadijah,
—she who fifteen years before had offered her hand in marriage to the poor kinsman that had so successfully
traded with her merchandise as a hired agent,—with the words, " I love
thee, my cousin, for thy kinship with me, for the respect with which thy people regard thee, for thy
honesty, for the beauty of thy character and for the truthfulness of
Khadijah had lifted him out of
his burdens, and enabled him to live up to the social position to which
he was entitled by right of birth; but this was as nothing to the
fidelity and loving devotion with which she shared his mental anxieties, and helped him with tenderest sympathy
and encouragement in the hour of his despondency.
Up to her death
in a.d. 619 (after a wedded life of five
and twenty years) she was always ready with sympathy, consolation and encouragement
whenever he suffered from the persecution of his enemies or was tortured by
misgivings. "So Khadijah
believed," says the biographer of the Prophet," and attested the truth of that
which came to him from God and aided him in his undertaking.
Thus was the Lord minded to lighten the burden of His Prophet; for whenever he
heard anything that grieved him touching his rejection by the people, he would
return to her and God would comfort him through her,
for she reassured him and lightened his burden and declared
her trust in him and made it easy for him to bear the scorn of men."
Among the earliest believers were his adopted children
Ali and Zayd, and his bosom friend
Abu Bakr, of whom Muhammad would often say in after years, "I never
invited any to the faith who displayed not hesitation,
perplexity and vacillation —excepting only
Bakr; who when I told him of Islam tarried not, neither was
perplexed." He was a wealthy merchant, much respected
by his fellow citizens for the integrity of his character and
for his intelligence and ability. After his conversion he
expended the greater part of his fortune on the purchase
of Muslim slaves who were persecuted by their masters
on account of their adherence to the teaching of Muhammad.
Through Abu Bakr's influence,
to a great extent, five of the earliest converts were added to the number of
Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas, the future conqueror of the Persians;
b. al-Awwam, a relative both of the Prophet and his wife;
famous as a warrior in after days;
a wealthy merchant Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf,
Uthman, the third Khalifa.
Uthman was early exposed to persecution; his uncle seized and bound him, saying, "Dost thou
prefer a new religion to that of thy fathers? I swear I will
not loose thee until thou givest up this new faith thou art
following after." To which Uthman replied, "By the
Lord, I will never abandon it!" Whereupon his uncle,
seeing the firmness of his attachment to his faith, released
With other additions, particularly from among slaves and poor persons;
the Prophet succeeded in collecting round him a little band of followers during the
first three years of his mission. Encouraged by the success of these private
efforts, Muhammad determined on more active measures
and began to preach in public.
He called his kinsmen
together and invited them to embrace the new faith.
"No Arab," he urged," has offered to his nation more
precious advantages than those I bring you. I offer you
happiness in this world and in the life to come. Who
among you will aid me in this task? "All were silent.
Only the 13 year old Ali, with boyish enthusiasm, cried out, "Prophet of
God, I will aid thee." At this the company broke up with
Undeterred by the
ill-success of this preaching, he repeatedly appealed to them on other
occasions, but his message and his warnings received from them nothing but
scoffing and contempt.
More than once the Quraish tried to induce his uncle
Talib, as head of the clan of the Banu
Hashim, to which Muhammad belonged, to restrain him from making
such attacks upon their ancestral faith, or otherwise they
threatened to resort to more violent measures.
accordingly appealed to his nephew not to bring
disaster on himself and his family. The Prophet replied:
"Were the sun to come down on my right and the
moon on my left,
and the choice were offered me of abandoning
my mission until God himself should reveal it, or perishing in the achievement of it,
I would not abandon it."
Abu Talib was
very moved and exclaimed, "Go and say whatever thou wilt: by God! I will
never give thee up unto thy enemies."
The Quraish viewed the progress of the new religion with increasing dissatisfaction and hatred. They adopted
all possible means:
threats and promises,
of worldly honor and aggrandizement to induce Muhammad
to abandon the part he had taken up.
The violent abuse
with which he was assailed is said to have been the indirect cause of
drawing to his side one important convert in the person of his uncle, Hamza, whose chivalrous soul was so
stung to sudden sympathy by a tale of insult inflicted on and patiently borne by his nephew, that
he changed at once from a bitter enemy into a staunch adherent.
His was not the only instance of sympathy for the sufferings
of the Muslims being aroused at the sight of the persecutions they had to endure, and many, no
doubt, secretly favored the new religion who did not declare themselves until the day of
The hostility of the Quraish to the new faith increased in bitterness
as they watched the increase in the numbers
of Islam's adherents. They realized that the triumph of the
new teaching meant:
the destruction of the national religion
the national worship,
and a loss of wealth and
to the guardians of the sacred Ka'ba.
was safe under the protection of Abu
and the Banu Hashim, who, though they had no sympathy for the
doctrines their kinsman taught, yet with the strong clan-feeling
peculiar to the Arabs, secured him from any attempt upon his life, though he was still exposed to continual
insult and annoyance. But the poor who had no protector, and the slaves, had to endure the
cruelest persecution, and were imprisoned and tortured in order to induce them to recant.
was at this time that Abu Bakr purchased the
freedom of Bilal,
an African slave, who was called by Muhammad "the
first-fruits of Abyssinia." Bilal had been cruelly tortured by being exposed, day after day, to the scorching rays of the
sun, stretched out on his back, with an enormous stone on his stomach; here he was told he would have to stay until either he died or renounced
Muhammad and worshipped idols, to which he would reply only,
"There is but one
God, there is but one God."
Two persons died under the tortures they had to undergo.
The constancy of a few gave way under the trial,
but persecution served only to re-kindle the zeal of others.
Abd Allah b. Mas'ood
made bold to recite a passage of the Quran within the precincts of the Ka'ba itself,—an act of daring
that none of the followers of Muhammad had ventured upon before. The
assembled Quraish attacked him and smote him on the face, but it was some time before they compelled
him to desist.
He returned to his companions, prepared to bear witness to his faith in a similar manner
on the next day, but they dissuaded him, saying, "This is enough for
thee, since thou hast made them listen to what they hated to hear."
virulence of the opposition of the Quraish
probably the reason why in the
fourth year of his mission Muhammad took up his residence in the house of al-Arqam, one of the
early converts. It was in a central situation, much frequented by pilgrims and strangers, and here
peaceably and without interruption he was able to preach the doctrines of Islam to all
enquirers that came to him. Muhammad's stay in this house marks an important epoch in the propagation of Islam in Mecca, and
many Muslims dated their conversion from the days when the Prophet preached in the house of
Muhammad was unable to relieve his persecuted followers, he advised them to take
refuge in Abyssinia, and in the fifth year of his mission
(a.d. 615), eleven men and four
women (then more than eighty others) crossed over to Abyssinia, where they received a kind welcome from the
Christian king of the country.
Among them was a certain Mus'ab b. Umayr whose
history is interesting as of one who had to endure that
most bitter trial of the new convert—the hatred of those
he loves and who once loved him. He had been led to
embrace Islam through the teaching he had listened to in the
house of al-Arqam, but he was afraid to let the fact of his
conversion become known, because his tribe and his mother,
who bore an especial love to him, were bitterly opposed to
the new religion; and indeed, when they discovered the fact, seized and imprisoned him.
But he succeeded in effecting his escape to Abyssinia.
The hatred of the Quraish is said to have pursued the
fugitives even to Abyssinia, and an embassy was sent to
demand their extradition from the king of that country.
But when he heard their story from the Muslims, he
refused to withdraw from them his protection. In
answer to his enquiries as to their religion, Ja'far b. Abu Talib as their leader said:
"O King, we were plunged in the darkness of ignorance,
worshipping idols, and eating carrion;
we practiced abominations,
severed the ties of kinship and maltreated our neighbors;
the strong among us
devoured the weak;
so we remained until God sent us an apostle, from among
ourselves, whose lineage we knew as well as his truth, his
trustworthiness and the purity of his life.
He called upon
us to worship the One God and abandon the stones and
idols that our fathers had worshipped in His stead.
bade us be truthful in speech, faithful to our promises,
compassionate and kind to our parents and neighbors,
and to desist from crime and bloodshed.
He forbade to
do evil, to lie, to rob the orphan or defame women.
enjoined on us the worship of God alone, with prayer,
almsgiving and fasting.
And we believed in him and
followed the teachings that he brought us from God.
our countrymen rose up against us and persecuted us to
make us renounce our faith, and return to the worship of
idols and the abominations of our former life.
So when they
cruelly entreated us, reducing us to bitter straits and came between us and the
practice of our religion,
we took refuge
in your country; putting our trust in
your justice, we hope that you will deliver us from the oppression of our
Their prayer was heard and the embassy of the Quraish returned
Meanwhile, in Mecca, a fresh attempt was made to induce the Prophet to abandon
his work of preaching by promises of wealth and honor, but in vain.
While the result of the embassy to Abyssinia
was being looked for in Mecca with
the greatest expectancy, there occurred the conversion of a man, who before had been
one of the most bitter enemies of Muhammad, and had
opposed him with the utmost persistence and fanaticism—
a man whom the Muslims had every reason then to look
on as their most terrible and virulent enemy, though afterwards
he shines as one of the noblest figures in the early history of Islam, viz. Omar b. al-Khattab.
One day, in
a fit of rage against the Prophet, he set out, sword in hand,
to slay him. On the way, one of his relatives met him
and asked him where he was going. "I am looking for
Muhammad," he answered, "to kill the renegade who has
brought discord among the Quraish, called them fools,
reviled their religion and defamed their gods."
"Why dost thou not rather punish
those of thy own family, and set them right? " "And who are these of my own
family?" answered Omar."Thy brother-in-law Sa'id and thy sister
Fatima, who have become Muslims and followers of Muhammad."
Omar at once rushed off to the house of his sister, and found her with her
husband and Khabbab, another of the followers of Muhammad, who was
teaching them to recite a chapter of the Quran. Omar burst into the room:
"What was that sound I heard?" "It was nothing,"
"Nay, but I heard you, and I have learned
that you have become followers of Muhammad." Whereupon
he rushed upon Sa'id and struck him.
threw herself between them, to
protect her husband, crying, "Yes, we are Muslims; we believe in God and His
Prophet: slay us if you will."
In the struggle his sister was wounded, and when Omar saw the blood on her face, he was softened
and asked to see the paper they had been reading: after
some hesitation she handed it to him.
It contained the 20th
of the Quran.
When Omar read it, he exclaimed,
"How beautiful, how sublime it
is!" As he read on, conviction suddenly overpowered him and he cried, "Lead
me to Muhammad that I may tell him of my conversion."
The conversion of Omar is a turning-point in the history
Islam: the Muslims were now able to take up a bolder attitude. Muhammad left the house of al-Arqam and the believers publicly
performed their devotions together round the Ka'ba.
The situation might thus be expected to give the aristocracy of Mecca just cause
for apprehension. For they had no longer to deal with a band of oppressed and despised outcasts, struggling for a weak and
It was rather a powerful faction, adding daily to its strength by the accession of influential citizens and
endangering the stability of the existing government by an alliance with a powerful foreign prince.
The Quraish resolved accordingly to make a determined
to check the further growth of the new movement in their city. They put the Banu
Hashim, who through ties of kindred protected the Prophet, under a ban, in accordance with which the Quraish agreed that:
they would not marry their women,
nor give their
own in marriage to them;
they would sell nothing to them, nor buy aught from them—
that dealings with them of every kind should
For three years the Banu Hashim are said to have
been confined to one quarter of the city, except during the sacred months, in which all war ceased throughout Arabia and a truce was
made in order that pilgrims might visit the sacred Ka'ba, the centre of the national religion.
Muhammad used to take advantage of such times of pilgrimage to
preach to the various tribes that flocked to Mecca and the adjacent fairs. But with no success, for his uncle Abu
Lahab used to dog his footsteps, crying with a loud voice, "He is an impostor who wants to draw you away from the faith of your fathers to the
false doctrines that he brings, wherefore separate yourselves from him and hear him not."
They would taunt Muhammad with the words: "Thine own people and kindred should know thee best: wherefore do they not believe and follow thee?"
length the privations endured by Muhammad and his kinsmen enlisted the sympathy of a numerous
section of the Quraish and the ban was withdrawn.
In the same year the loss of Khadijah,
the faithful wife who for twenty five years had been his counselor and
support, plunged Muhammad into the utmost grief and
despondency; and a little later the death of Abu
Talib deprived him of his constant and most powerful protector and exposed him
afresh to insult and contumely.
Scorned and rejected by his own townsmen,
to whom he had delivered his message
with so little success for ten years, he resolved to see if there were not others
who might be more ready to listen, among whom the seeds of faith might
find a more receptive and fruitful soil.
With this hope he
set out for Ta'if, a city about seventy miles from Mecca. Before an assembly of the
chief men of the city, he expounded his doctrine of the unity of God and of the mission
he had received as the Prophet of God to proclaim this faith; at the same time he besought their
protection against his persecutors in Mecca.
The disproportion between his high claims (which moreover were unintelligible to the
heathen people of Ta'if) and his helpless condition only excited their ridicule and scorn,
and pitilessly stoning him with stones they drove him from their city.
his return from Ta'if the prospects of the success of Muhammad seemed more
hopeless than ever, and the agony of his soul gave itself utterance in the words
that he puts into the mouth of Noah:
"O my Lord, verily I
cried to my people night and day; and my cry only makes
them flee from me the more.
And verily, so oft as I cry
to them, that Thou mayest forgive them, they thrust their
fingers into their ears and wrap themselves in their garments,
and persist (in their error), and are disdainfully disdainful."
It was the Prophet's habit at the time of the annual pilgrimage
to visit the encampments of the various Arab tribes and discourse with them upon
religion. By some his words were treated with indifference, by others rejected
with scorn. But consolation came to him from an unexpected
He met a little group of six or seven persons
whom he recognized as coming from Medina, or, as it was
then called, Yathrib.
"Of what tribe are you?" said he,
addressing them. "We are of Khazraj," they answered.
"Friends of the Jews?" "Yes." "Then will you not
sit down awhile, that I may talk with you?" "Assuredly,"
Then they sat down with him, and he proclaimed unto them
the true God and preached Islam and recited to them the Quran. Now so it was, in that God wrought wonderfully for Islam that there
were found in their country Jews, who possessed scriptures and wisdom, while they
themselves were heathen and idolaters.
Now the Jews oft times suffered violence at their hands, and
when strife was between them had ever said to them, "Soon will a Prophet arise and his time is at hand; him
will we follow, and with him slay you with the slaughter of 'Ad and of Iram."
When now the apostle
of God was speaking with these men and calling on them to believe in God, they said one to
another: "Know surely that this is the Prophet, of whom the Jews have warned us; come let us
now make haste and be the first to join him."
So they embraced Islam, and said to him, "Our countrymen have long been engaged
in a most bitter and deadly feud with one another; but now perhaps God will unite them together
through thee and thy teaching. Therefore we will preach to them and make known to them this religion,
that we have received from thee." So, full of faith, they returned to their own country.
Such is the traditional account of this event which was the turning-point of
Muhammad's mission. He had now met with a people whose antecedents had in some way
prepared their minds for the reception of his teaching and whose present circumstances, as
afterwards appeared, were favorable to his cause.
The city of Yathrib had been long occupied by Jews
whom some national disaster, possibly the persecution under Hadrian, had driven from their own country, when a party of wandering emigrants, the two Arab clans of Khazraj
and Aws, arrived at Yathrib and were admitted to a share in the
territory. As their numbers increased they encroached more and more on the power
of the Jewish rulers, and finally, towards the end of the fifth century, the
government of the city passed entirely into their hands.
Some of the Arabs had embraced the Jewish religion, and many of the former
masters of the city still dwelt there in the service of their conquerors, so that
it contained in Muhammad's time a considerable Jewish population.
The people of
Yathrib were thus familiar with the idea of a Messiah who was to come, and
were consequently more capable of understanding the claim of Muhammad to be
accepted as the Prophet of God, than were the idolatrous Meccans to whom such an
idea was entirely foreign and especially distasteful to the Quraish, whose
supremacy over the other tribes and whose worldly prosperity arose
from the fact that they were the hereditary guardians of
the national collection of idols kept in the sacred enclosure
of the Ka'ba.
Further, the city of Yathrib was distracted by incessant civil discord through a
long-standing feud between the Banu Khazraj and the Banu
The citizens lived in uncertainty and suspense, and anything likely to bind
the conflicting parties together by a tie of common interest
could not but prove a boon to the city. Just as the medieval republics of
Northern Italy chose a stranger to hold the chief post in their cities in order to maintain some balance of power between the
rival factions, and prevent, if possible, the civil strife which was so ruinous to commerce and the
general welfare, so the Yathribites would not look upon the arrival of a stranger with
suspicion, even though he was likely to usurp or gain permission to assume the vacant
the contrary, one of the reasons for the warm welcome which Muhammad received in
Medina would seem to be that the adoption of Islam appeared to the more
thoughtful of its citizens to be a remedy for the disorders from which
their society was suffering, by its orderly discipline of life
and its bringing the unruly passions of men under the
discipline of laws enunciated by an authority superior to
These facts go far to explain how eight years after the Hijrah Muhammad could,
at the head of 10,000 followers, enter the city in which he had labored for
ten years with so meager a result.
this is anticipating. Muhammad had proposed to accompany his new converts, the Khazrajites, to Yathrib himself, but they dissuaded him therefrom, until a reconciliation could be effected with the Banu
"Let us, we pray thee, return unto our people, if haply the Lord will create peace amongst us; and we will come back again unto thee. Let the season of pilgrimage in the
following year be the appointed time." So they returned to their homes, and invited their people to the faith; and many believed, so that there remained hardly a family in which
mention was not made of the Prophet.
When the time of pilgrimage again came round,
a deputation from Yathrib, ten men of the Banu Khazraj, and two of the Banu
Aws, met him at the appointed spot and pledged him their word to obey his teaching. This, the first pledge of 'Aqaba, so called from the secret spot at which they met, ran as
" We will not
worship any but the one God; we will not steal, neither will we commit adultery or kill our children; we will abstain from calumny and slander; we will obey the Prophet in every
thing that is right."
These twelve men now returned to Yathrib as missionaries of Islam, and so well prepared was the ground, and with such zeal
did they prosecute their mission, that the new faith spread rapidly from house to house and from tribe to tribe.
They were accompanied on their return by Mus'ab b. 'Umayr; though, according to another account he was sent by the Prophet upon a written requisition from Yathrib.
This young man had been one of the earliest converts, and had lately returned from Abyssinia; thus he had had much experience, and severe training in the school of persecution
had not only sobered his zeal but taught him how to meet persecution and deal with those who were ready to condemn Islam without waiting to learn the true contents of its
Accordingly, Muhammad could with the greatest confidence entrust him with the difficult task of directing and instructing the new converts, cherishing the seeds of religious
zeal and devotion that had already been sown and bringing them to fruition.
Mus'ab took up his abode in the house of As'ad b. Zurarah, and gathered the converts together for prayer
and the reading of the Quran, sometimes here and sometimes in a house belonging to the Banu Dhafar, which was situated in a quarter of the town occupied jointly by this family
and that of Abd al-Ashhal.
The heads of Abd al-Ashhal family at that time were Sa'd b. Mu'adh and Usayd b. Hudhayr. One day it happened that Mus'ab was sitting together with As'ad in this house of the
Dhafar, engaged in instructing some new converts, when Sa'd b. Mu'adh, having come to know of their whereabouts, said to Usayd b. Hudhayr:
"Drive out these fellows who have come into our houses to make fools of the weaklings among us; I would spare thee the trouble did not the tie of kinship between me and As'ad
prevent my doing him any harm " (for he himself was the cousin of As'ad).
Hereupon Usayd took his spear and, bursting in upon As'ad and Mus'ab, "What are you doing?" he cried, "leading weak-minded folk astray? If you value your lives, begone hence."
"Sit down and listen," Mus'ab answered quietly, " if thou art pleased with what thou hearest, accept it; if not, then leave it.” Usayd stuck his spear in the ground and sat down
to listen, while Mus'ab expounded to him the fundamental doctrines of Islam and read several passages of the Quran.
After a time Usayd, enraptured, cried, "What must I do to enter this religion?" "Purify thyself with water," answered Mus'ab, "and confess that there is no lord but God and that
Muhammad is the apostle of God." Usayd at once complied and repeated the profession of faith, adding, "After me you have still another man to convince" (referring to Sa'd b.
Mu'adh). "If he is persuaded, his example will bring after him all his people. I will send him to you forthwith."
With these words he left them, and soon after came Sa'd b. Mu'adh himself, hot with anger against As'ad for the patronage he had extended to the missionaries of Islam.
Mus'ab begged him not to condemn the new faith unheard, so Sa'd agreed to listen and soon the words of Mus'ab touched him and brought conviction to his heart, and he embraced
the faith and became a Muslim.
He went back to his people burning with zeal and said to them, "Sons of 'Abd al-Ashhal, say, what am I to you?" "Thou art our lord," they
answered, "thou art the wisest and most illustrious among us." "Then I swear," replied Sa'd, "never more to speak to any of you until you believe in God
and Muhammad, His apostle." And from that day, all the descendants of 'Abd al-Ashhal embraced Islam.
With such zeal and earnestness was the preaching of the faith pushed forward that within a year there was not a family among the Arabs of Medina that had not given some of its
members to swell the number of the faithful, with the exception of one branch of the Banu
Aws, which held aloof under the influence of Abu
Qays b. al-Aslat, the poet.
The following year, when the time of the annual pilgrimage
again came round, a band of converts, amounting to seventy-three in number, accompanied their heathen
fellow countrymen from Yathrib to Mecca.
They were commissioned to invite Muhammad to take refuge in Yathrib from the fury of his enemies, and had come to swear
allegiance to him as their prophet and their leader.
All the early converts who had before met the Prophet on the two preceding pilgrimages, returned to Mecca on this important
occasion, and Mus'ab their teacher accompanied them.
Immediately on his arrival he hurried to the prophet, and told him of the success that had attended his mission.
It is said
that his mother, hearing of his arrival, sent a message to him, saying: "Ah, disobedient son, wilt thou enter a city in which thy mother dwelleth, and not first visit her!"
"Nay, verily," he replied, "I will never visit the house of any one before the Prophet of God."
So, after he had greeted and conferred with Muhammad, he went to his mother, who
thus accosted him: " Then I ween thou art still a renegade." He answered, "I follow the prophet of the Lord and the true faith of Islam," "Art thou then well satisfied with the
miserable way thou hast fared in the land of Abyssinia and now again at Yathrib? "Now he perceived that she was meditating his imprisonment, and exclaimed,
thou force a man from his religion? If ye seek to confine me, I will assuredly slay the first person that layeth hands upon me." His mother said, "Then depart from my
presence," and she began to weep.
Mus'ab was moved, and said, "Oh, my mother!
I give thee loving counsel. Testify that there is no
and that Muhammad is His servant and
messenger." But she replied, "By the sparkling stars!
I will never make a fool of myself by entering into thy
religion. I wash my hands of thee and thy concerns, and
cleave steadfastly unto mine own faith."
order not to excite suspicion and incur the hostility of the Quraish, a secret
meeting was arranged at Aqaba, the scene of the former meeting with the
converts of the year before.
Muhammad came accompanied only by his uncle Abbas,
who, though he was still an idolater, had been admitted into the secret.
opened the solemn conclave, by recommending his nephew as a scion of one
of the noblest families of his clan, which had hitherto
afforded the Prophet protection, although rejecting his
teachings; but now that he wished to take refuge among
the people of Yathrib, they should bethink themselves well before
undertaking such a charge, and resolve not to go back from their promise, if once they undertook the risk.
Then Bara b. Ma'rur,
one of the Banu Khazraj, protesting that
they were firm in their resolve to protect the Prophet of God, besought him to declare fully what he wished of them.
Muhammad began by reciting to them some portions of the Quran, and exhorted them
to be true to the faith they had professed in the one God and the Prophet, His
apostle; he then asked them to defend him and his companions
from all assailants just as they would their own wives and
children. Then Bara b. Ma'rur,
taking his hand, cried out,
"Yea, by Him who sent thee as His Prophet, and
through thee revealed unto us His truth,
we will protect thee as we
would our own
bodies, and we swear allegiance to thee as our leader.
We are the sons of battle
and men of mail, which we have inherited as worthy sons of worthy forefathers."
So they all in turn, taking his hand in theirs, swore allegiance to him.
As soon as the
Quraish gained intelligence of these secret proceedings, the persecution broke out afresh against the
and Muhammad advised them to flee out of the city, "Depart unto Yathrib; for the Lord hath verily
given you brethren in that city, and a home in which ye may find refuge."
So quietly, by twos and
threes they escaped to Yathrib, where they were heartily welcomed, their
co-religionists in that city vying with one another for the honor of entertaining them, and supplying them
with such things as they had need of.
Within two months nearly all the Muslims except those who
were seized and imprisoned and those who could not escape from captivity had left Mecca, to
the number of about 450.
There is a story told of one of these Muslims, by name Suhayb, whom Muhammad called "the first-fruits of
Greece" (he had been a Greek slave, and being set free by his master had amassed
considerable wealth by successful trading); when he was about to emigrate the Meccans said to him, "Thou
camest hither in need and penury; but thy wealth hath increased with us, until thou hast reached thy present
prosperity; and now thou art departing, not thyself only, but with all thy property. By the Lord,
that shall not be;" and he said, "If I relinquish my property, will ye leave me free to
depart?" And they agreed thereto; so he parted with all his goods. And when that was told unto Muhammad,
he said, "Verily, Suhayb hath made a profitable bargain."
Muhammad delayed his own departure (with the intention, no doubt, of withdrawing
attention from his faithful followers) until a determined plot against his life
warned him that further delay might be fatal, and he made his
escape by means of a stratagem.
He is famous throughout the Muhammadan world as the first mu’adhdhin.
Ibn Isḥāq, p. 219-220. Ṭabarī makes no mention of this mission and Caetani (i. p. 278) accordingly suggests that it is a later invention.
Ibn Isḥāq. pp. 225-6.
Ibn Isḥāq, pp. 286-7.
Caetani, vol. i. pp. 334-3.
Ibn Isḥāq. p. 291 sq.