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Wednesday 28th of September 2022
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Victor of Khyber

As Ali returned to the Muslim camp, the Holy Prophet went forward to greet him, and hailed him as the Victor of Khyber. There was great rejoicing in the Muslim camp at this great victory. As a result of the victory, in accordance with the Jewish law, all male Jews could be executed. The Jews pleaded for mercy and undertook to pay one half of the produce of their lands to the Muslims as annual tribute. The Holy Prophet took a lenient view. He accepted the terms offered by the Jews and a treaty was executed accordingly. The Jews undertook to remain faithful to the Muslims and accepted their dominance.

A prominent Jew lady, Zainab held a feast in the honor of the Holy Prophet and his companions. At the dinner the Holy Prophet first took a morsel of meat and after chewing it threw it aside saying that the meat was poisoned. A companion Bashr ate a good deal of meat and he died on the spot. The feast ended in confusion. Zainab was put to explanation and she admitted her guilt. She pleaded that she had poisoned the meat thinking that if Muhammad (peace be On him) was a false prophet, the world would get rid of him.

Accounts differ about the fate of Zainab. According to one account, she became a Muslim and was pardoned. According to another account she was executed.

Conquest of Fidak

After the conquest of Khyber, the Muslims marched to Fidak, another Jewish settlement, not far from Khyber. Having seen the fate of the people of Khyber, the people of Fidak did not choose to fight. They agreed to execute a treaty of peace with the Muslims on the same terms as had been agreed upon in the case of the Jews of Khyber. As Fidak had fallen without fight, the annual tribute therefrom was earmarked as the private purse of the Holy Prophet. After meeting the household expenses of the Holy Prophet the proceeds were to be utilized for the welfare of the widows, the orphans, the needy, the distressed and the wayfarers.

Consequences of the Battle of Khyber

The Battle of Khyber was another turning point in the annals of Islam. It had far reaching consequences. The Muslim rule was no longer confined to Madina and its immediate environments. It came to be extended to other parts of Arabia and the Jews who had been so hostile to the Muslims had become the subjects of the Islamic state. The Quraish could no longer bank on the support of the Jews. If we study the events that took place one after the other we can discern the Hand of God directing the course of things in favor of the Muslims. The Hudaibiya pact which was apparently unfavorable to the Muslims paved the way to the conquest of Khyber, and the conquest of Khyber paved the way to the conquest of Makkah. Ali was the Victor of Khyber. The exploits of Ali at Khyber have attained the dimensions of legends. History is however silent as to how Ali was rewarded for his services. The amount of the tribute from Khyber was sufficiently large and Ali as the Victor of Khyber must have got a lion's share thereof. Because of his fraternity with the Holy Prophet, Ali had his share in the tribute from Fadak as well. All these resources would have made him sufficiently rich, and all accounts that dilate on the poverty of Ali appear to be far from the truth.

Conquest of Makkah

Banu Khuza'ah

According to the terms of the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Arab tribes had the option to be allied with the Quraish or the Muslims. In pursuance of this option, the Banu Bakr joined the Quraish, and their enemies the Banu Khuza'ah allied themselves with the Muslims. Incited by the Quraish, the Banu Bakr attacked the Khuza'ah, looted their property and killed their men. Even when the Banu Khuza'ah sought the sanctuary of the Kaaba, they were chased and put to death. The Banu Khuza'ah sent a deputation to Madina, and wanted the Muslims to come to their aid according to the terms of their treaty with them. The Holy Prophet assured the Banu Khaza'ah that the Muslims would fulfil their obligation to them. The Holy Prophet thereupon sent a message to the Quraish making three alternative demands. The first alternative was that the Banu Bakr and the Quraish should pay blood money for the victims of Banu Khuza'ah. The second alternative was that the Quraish should terminate their alliance with Banu Bakr. The third alternative was that the treaty of Hudaibiya should be considered to have been abrogated. In a fit of arrogance, the Quraish replied that they would neither pay blood money, nor terminate their alliance with Banu Bakr, and that in the circumstances they were prepared to consider that the Hadaibiya pact had been abrogated.

The Hudaibiya pact

The life of the Hudaibiya pact did not exceed two years. It was a short period, but nevertheless much had happened during this period which had added to the strength of the Muslims, and correspondingly weakened the position of the Quraish. After the conquest of Khyber the material sources of the Muslims had considerably increased. After the discomfiture of the Jews, many Arab tribes joined the Muslims as their allies. The Muslims were now in a position to raise a sufficiently large army. The Quraish soon realized that they had imprudently abrogated the treaty of Hudaibiya. Abu Sufyan, the Chief of the Quraish, rushed to Madina to seek the renewal of the treaty of Hudaibiya. Umm Habiba a daughter of Abu Sufyan had accepted Islam and was a wife of the Holy Prophet. Abu Sufyan wanted his daughter to intercede with the Holy Prophet in his behalf. He sought the help of Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali as well. The Holy Prophet met Abu Sufyan with due courtesy, and brought home to him the point that if the Quraish wanted peace they should accept the suzerainty of the Muslims as the Jews had done. Abu Sufyan was not agreeable to this and the negotiations failed. Abu Sufyan returned to Makkah, a disappointed man. During his stay in Madina he had come to realize that the Muslims had become a power, and the position of the Quraish visa a vis the Muslims had become difficult.

March to Makkah

After Abu Sufyan had left Madina, the Holy Prophet ordered preparations to be made for a foray. The Holy Prophet mustered a force ten thousand strong and took the road to Makkah. Having reached in the neighborhood of Makkah, the Muslims encamped at Marr al Zahran. When at night fire was lit in the Muslim camp it appeared as if the whole of the desert was on fire. That alarmed the Quraish. Abu Sufyan realized that it would be futile for the Quraish to resist the Muslims. He visited the Muslim camp and was converted to Islam. That was the end of the Quraish opposition. The following day the Muslim army marched triumphantly into Makkah. The various contingents of the Muslim army marched into Makkah through different gates. Ali held the banner of Islam. The triumphant entry of the Muslims in Makkah marked the vindication of the truth of Islam. The city which eight years ago had treated the Muslims cruelly, and driven them to seek refuge with strangers in Madina now lay at the feet of the Muslims. In the hour of triumph, the Holy Prophet forgot every evil suffered, and forgave every injury that had been inflicted on him. He granted general amnesty to the people of Makkah.

Destruction of the idols

The triumph of the Muslims was the triumph of Allah and the defeat of the idols. The Holy Prophet visited the Kaaba along with his companions. The Holy Prophet with the stroke of the stick held in his hand broke the idols that lay in the lower cavities of the walls. As the stones were destroyed one by one, the Quraish looked on aghast at the massacre of their gods, while the Holy Prophet recited the verse from the Quran: "Say, the Truth has come and falsehood gone. Verily, falsehood is ever vanishing."

The more important idols, including that of Hubal, the god of war were placed higher up in the cavities of the walls beyond the reach of the hand or stick. The Holy Prophet asked Ali to ascend on his shoulders, and destroy the idols which were placed higher up. Ali hesitated to ascend the shoulders of the Holy Prophet, but when the Holy Prophet repeated the command, Ali complied and destroyed all idols. According to legend, Ali is reported to have said that while standing on the shoulders of the Holy Prophet he felt that his hand could reach to the heights of the Heaven.

Address to the people

To the people assembled in the Kasba who witnessed the destruction of the idols; the Holy Prophet addressed as follows: "There is no god but Allah. He has no associate. He has today made good His promise that He had held to his bondman and helped him in fulfilling his mission. With the triumph of truth every claim of privilege, whether that of blood or property is abolished except that of the custody of the Kaaba and of supplying water to the pilgrims. Bear in mind that for anyone who is slain the blood wit is one hundred camels. O people of Quraish, God has abolished from you all pride of the time of ignorance, and all pride in your ancestry, because all persons are descended from Adam, and Adam was made of clay." Then the Holy Prophet, turning to the people said: "O Ye, Quraish, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you?" They said, "Mercy, O Prophet of Allah. We expect nothing but good from you." Thereupon the Holy Prophet declared, "I speak to you in the same words as Joseph spoke to his brothers. This day there is no re-proof against you, go your way for you are free." This announcement was received with great joy and applause.

Banu Jazima

Having destroyed the idols of the Kaaba, the Holy Prophet sent out small expeditions to the neighboring settlements to destroy the idols in the local temples. There after a number of expeditions were sent to the neighboring tribes to call them to Islam. The Holy Prophet issued instructions that the tribes who accepted the call were not to be harmed. Khalid b Walid was sent to the tribe of Banu Jazima. The tribe accepted the call and declared themselves as Muslims, but Khalid b Walid who had an old feud with the tribe asked the men to lay down arms and then had them killed. When the Holy Prophet came to know of this he felt much annoyed. He raised his hands towards heaven and said "O Lord I am not responsible for what Khalid has done." The Holy Prophet sent Ali with a good deal of money to smooth the feelings of Banu Jazima. Ali paid indemnity for the blood that had been shed. He treated them generously, expressed great regrets at what had happened and assured them of the good will of the Muslims. Ali lived in the midst of the tribe for some time, and educated them in the Islamic way of life. Ali performed the mission entrusted to him with great credit, and returned to Makkah when the Banu Jazima were fully satisfied.

The Battle of Hunain

Tribes of Hawazin and Thaqueef

After the fall of Makkah, the Holy Prophet sent a mission to the neighboring tribes of Hawazin and Thaqueef, inviting them to accept Islam. They rejected the invitation and chose the warpath, boasting that they were not cowards like the Quraish of Makkah. The two tribes along with their allies mustered in considerable strength at Autas a few miles to the east of Makkah on the way to Taif. The coalition was led by Malik b Auf, a fiery commander of considerable skill.

The pass of Hunain

When the Holy Prophet came to know of the hostile intentions of the tribes he decided to take action against them on a cold day of February 630 C.E. The Muslim forces under the command of the Holy Prophet set out from Makkah. The Muslim army consisted of 12,000 men fully armed. Out of these 10,000 men were from Madina, while 2000 were the Muslim converts of Makkah. It was a large force, and some of the Muslims felt proud of their strength. In order to reach Autas, the Muslim army had to pass the narrow pass of Hunain, some ten miles north east of Makkah. It was narrow defile, leaving little room for the army to pass through except in single file. As the vanguard of the Muslim army entered the defile, a rain of arrows fell on it let loose by a group of archers of the hostile tribes who lay hidden in the precipitous rocks. Taken unaware the advance guard of the Muslim army fled in panic. There was considerable confusion. The camels, horses, and men ran into one another to seek cover. As the advance guard retreated precipitately from the paste, the rest of the army which had still to enter the pass, fled in panic in various directions.

The Battle of Hunain

The Holy Prophet stood firm at the place where he was at some distance from the mouth of the pass. Only a dozen companions stood by the side of the Holy Prophet; all other men fled for safety. The men who stood around the Holy Prophet included Abu Bakr, Umar, and some members of the Hashimites. Seeing that the Holy Prophet having been abandoned by his men could easily be overcome, the hostile tribesmen descended from the heights of the mountains and rushed towards the site where the Holy Prophet stood surrounded by a dozen persons. Under the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Abbas shouted at the top of his voice "O Muslims, come to the Holy Prophet of Allah". The call was heard by the Muslims and they returned to fight. As the forces of the tribes advanced boasting of their initial victory, and satirizing the Muslims for their cowardice, the Holy Prophet threw a handful of dust against the enemy. The Holy Prophet exhorted his men to be stout hearted and not to get nervous. By the time the forces of the tribes arrived, most of the Muslims were ready for combat.

Out of the ranks of the enemy, Abu Nadhul a giant of a man very tall and well built stepped forward and challenged the Muslims to a duel. Ali accepted the challenge. With the speed of lighting, Ali struck at the camel on which Abu Nadhul was riding. Abu Nadhul fell from the beast and before he could recover from his fall, Ali was at his head, giving him blows after blows with his sword. Soon Abu Nadhul was killed. Thereafter the battle began. In the hand to hand fighting, the tribes were no match for the Muslims. They lost ground and they had to retreat. It was now their turn to pass through the defile when the Muslims rained arrows at them. As many as seventy men of the enemy were killed while passing through the defile.

Confrontation at Autas

The Holy Prophet posted a contingent to guard the pass, and led the main army to Autas on the other side of the defile in pursuit of the enemy. In the confrontation at Autas, the tribes could not withstand the onslaught of the Muslims. Finding the resistance useless, the tribes broke the camp and retired to Taif. Immense booty fell in the hands of the Muslims. This included 24,000 camels and 4000 Oqiyahs of silver. The number of persons taken captive exceeded six thousand.

The siege of Taif

The siege of Taif

From Autas, the Muslim forces set out for Taif. The people of Taif were a proud people with traditions of bravery. They were a rich people and considered themselves to be superior to all other tribes in Arabia. Sometime in 619/620 C.E., when the Holy Prophet was persecuted by the Quraish of Makkah, he had visited Taif to seek refuge. The people of Taif had maltreated the Holy Prophet and had turned him out of their city. Now the tables were turned. The people shut themselves in the fort and could not face the Muslims in the open. The Holy Prophet decided to lay a siege to the city. The Muslim catapults began to throw stores in the fort, but this did not lead to any tangible result. The Muslims tried the Tetsudou device whereunder a group of soldiers shielded by a cover of cowhide advanced to set fire to the gate. The enemy threw red-hot scraps of iron on the Tetsudou which made it ineffective. The siege dragged on for two weeks but still there was no sign of the fall of the fort. The Holy Prophet had other business to attend, and he could not afford to remain at Taif for long. The Holy Prophet raised the siege and returned to Makkah.

Operations of Ali

The Holy Prophet commissioned Ali to undertake operations against the tribes in the neighborhood of Taif who were feudatories to Taif. Ali began his operations by destroying the idols in the temples in the neighborhood of Taif. The principal god of the people was Al lat, and when Ali destroyed this idol, he was involved in a skirmish with the men of Banu Khusbam. Shahab, the leader of Banu Khusham and a formidable man enjoying reputation as a great warrior challenged Ali to a duel. Ali killed Shahab. With the murder of their leader Shahab and the destruction of their god Al lat, the men of Banu Khusham were unnerved. They laid down arms and accepted Islam. The other tribes in the neighborhood of Taif were similarly subdued and converted to Islam.

Conversion of the people of Taif to Islam

With the conversion to the tribes around Taif to Islam, the position of the people of Taif became precarious when Ali advised them to accept Islam, they agreed to send a deputation to Makkah to wait on the Holy Prophet. The deputation agreed to accept Islam, but they wanted that a respite should be allowed to them to continue to worship their idols for some time. They begged for a respite for one year, and reduced the period of grace to six months, three months, and one month. The Holy Prophet rejected the demand outright on the ground that he who had accepted Islam could no longer worship the idols. The deputation next asked for exemption from prayers. This demand was rejected on the ground that there could be no faith without prayers. Thereupon the deputation urged, "then at least give us exemption from the payment of Zakat". The Holy Prophet rejected the demand on the ground that Zakat was a compulsory levy. The Holy Prophet made the deputation bear in mind that Islam was a matter of faith; if one had faith in Islam he had to accept all that Islam had enjoined. There could be no compromise in the matter of the injunctions of Islam. The Holy Prophet made them realize that it was open to them not to be converted to Islam, but once they accepted Islam, they had to strictly follow all the commandments of Islam. The deputation understood the position, and accepted Islam for themselves and for the people of Taif whom they represented.

Return to Madina

With the conversion of the people of Taif to Islam, the mission of Makkah was completed. The Holy Prophet and his companions performed the "Umrah", and thereafter returned to Madina. Eight years earlier the Muslims had escaped from Makkah and oppressed people, now they were the masters of Makkah, Madina, and a greater part of Arabia. That was verily a positive proof of the truth of Islam. Thus God fulfilled all the promises that He had made with His prophet.

Campaign Against Banu Tai

Hatim Tai

Banu Tai came into prominence under their chief Hatim Tai. Hatim Tai made a great name for himself for his generosity and munificence. Poets and minstrels sang of his unprecedented exploits of generosity. Many romantic tales got current in Arabia highlighting his golden deeds. He acquired fame as a great hero of Arabia; a veritable symbol of selflessness, charity, and generosity. Hatim was a contemporary of the Holy Prophet, but no occasion rose for Hatim to meet the Holy Prophet. According to the assessment of the Holy Prophet, Hatim had the attributes of a Muslim, and if Islam had been offered to him he would have accepted it. Hatim died before Islam began to spread in Arabia.

Adi

Hatim was succeeded by his son Adi. Adi tried to follow in the footsteps of his father. He tried to be generous and munificent but he could not attain that fame that had been earned by his father. Adi was very religious in his own way, and was very particular in the worship of idols in the local temple. When Islam came to spread to the neighboring tribes, Banu Tai showed a hostile attitude to Islam. Thereupon the Holy Prophet sent an expedition to Banu Tai under the command of Ali.

Flight of Ad

When Ali reached the territory of Banu Tai, Adi could not make up his mind to face the Muslims in battle. He quietly escaped to Syria with a few followers, leaving his clansmen to their fate. Ali overpowered the Hanu Tai and returned to Madina carrying in his train a large number or men and women of Banu Tai as captives. These included Sufana, a daughter of Hatim. At Madina, the Holy Prophet set Sufana at liberty because of the consideration for her father, the illustrious Hatim. Sufana had some attributes of her father. She said that she was the daughter of a man who ransomed prisoners, fed the poor and helped those in distress. As the daughter of such a man she could not accept her liberty unless her clansmen were also freed. The Holy Prophet out-hatimed Hatim, and set all prisoners of Banu Tai free. That impressed Sufana a good deal. She felt that the Holy Prophet was a great man and the religion that he preached was the true faith. She felt that to be generous to others and yet to worship idols who were incapable of doing any harm or good was inconsistent. One who professed to be generous should necessarily worship such Being who was Almighty, Omnipotent, and Sustainer of all mankind. When Sufana left Madina she was already a Muslim at heart. Sufana proceeded to Syria, and told her brother of the generous treatment that Banu Tai had met at the hands of the Holy Prophet. Adi visited Madina and accepted Islam. He had lessons in Islam from Ali. Thereafter the entire tribe of Banu Tai accepted Islam.

Christians of Najran

Christians tribes

When Islam began to spread there were some tribes which professed Christianity. After the expedition to Tabuk some Christian tribes were converted to Islam. Some Christian tribes chose not to change their faith, but they accepted the suzerainty of the Muslims and agreed to pay them an annual tribute.

Christians of Najran

There was a large Christian community in Najran. In 631 C.E., The Holy Prophet invited them to accept Islam. In response, they challenged the Holy Prophet to a Mubahila. The Mubahila was an ancient way of ascertaining the truth. In a religious contest, each of the disputing parties was required to take a solemn oath that they were right and true, and called on God to wreak His vengeance on them if they lied. It was believed that in such cases, the liar was visited by the wrath of God and was destroyed. The Holy Prophet accepted the challenge and asked the Christians of Najran to send a deputation to Madina.

The Christian deputation

A deputation of the Christian priests headed by their chief Aqib accordingly arrived in Madina. They were dressed in fine silken robes, and wore golden rings on their fingers. When dressed thus, they waited on the Holy Prophet in the mosque, the Holy Prophet did not pay any attention to them, and did not even return their salutation. Greatly puzzled they left the mosque, and upon meeting Othman complained to him that the Prophet of Islam had invited them to Madina, but he had paid no attention to them when they had visited him in the mosque. Othman took them to Ali, he told them that indifference of the Holy Prophet was due to the fact that they were dressed in silk finery, and were loaded with jewelry. He advised them to cast off their jewelry and be dressed in simple cotton robes. When they had changed their dress, Ali took them to the Holy Prophet in the mosque.

Dispute with the Christians

This time, the Holy Prophet welcomed them and made them sit near him. He told them that when they had first come to him, he had turned his head away because Satan accompanied them with finery and jewelry. Thereafter the Holy Prophet entered into the discourse with them, and the talk centered round the personality of Jesus Christ. The Christians wanted to know what was his opinion about Jesus Christ. The Holy Prophet said that like other Prophet he was a Prophet of God. The Christians next asked whether he regarded Jesus Christ as a son of God. The Holy Prophet said the God is far above having a wife or a son, and as such Jesus is not a son of God. The Christians then posed the question: if Jesus had no father and his mother Mary had not sinned, what then is the status of Jesus if he is not the son of God. The Holy Prophet said that they would have their answer the following day. At night the Holy Prophet had a revelation about the true nature of Jesus. When the Christians met the Holy Prophet the following day, he told them that the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the links of Adam. Adam was born without a father and so was Jesus born without a father, but neither Adam nor Jesus was the son of God.

The Mubahila

At this reply of the Holy Prophet, the Christians priests felt stranded, but to keep up appearances, they desired that a Mubahila be held. The Christians named five priests who were to take part in the Mubahila. The Holy Prophet nominated five persons who were to take part in the Mubahila on behalf of the Muslims. These included the Holy Prophet himself, Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain. The Holy Prophet did not dominate any of his wives in this behalf. The nomination was confined to such persons who had blood relation with him. The Holy Prophet declared that the Mubahila would be held the following day. At night, the Christians could get no sleep. They felt that truth shone in the eyes of the Holy Prophet and to invoke the curse of God with people like these would invite destruction for the Christians. The following day when the Christian priests waited on the Holy Prophet, they said that they had neither the conviction to profess Islam, nor the strength to enter into any disputation or fight with the Muslims. They said that while maintaining their own faith, they would accept the dominance of the Muslims and pay an annual tribute. The Holy Prophet accepted the offer, entered into a treaty with them, and allowed them to return to Najran. The way in which the Christians gave the challenge of Mubahila in the first instance, and then backed out of it, was a confession of failure on the part of the Christians, and their acknowledgment of the supremacy of Islam as a faith.

Banu Zabada

Umar b Madi kurb

The Banu Zabada was an Arab tribe who had their settlement a few miles west of Madina. The tribe had accepted Islam and they had a mosque in their settlement. The chief of the tribe was Amar b Madi Kurb. Amar had a blood feud with Ushus Khusee, the chief of a neighbor tribe. The tribe of Ushus Khusee had also accepted Islam. In the days of ignorance, Ushus Khusee had killed the father of Amar. Amar burnt with the urge to seek vengeance from Ushus for the murder of his father. As both the parties had accepted Islam, the case was brought to the Holy Prophet for arbitration. After hearing the case, the Holy Prophet decided that after the acceptance of Islam, the question of seeking vengeance in the case of any blood feud which had prevailed in the days of ignorance did not arise. The judgment hurt Amar. He, and at his instance his tribe abjured Islam, and raised the standard of revolt. In a rebellious mood, Amar killed Harith b Ka'b the chief of a tribe which had accepted Islam. The aggrieved tribe brought the high handedness on the part of Amar and Banu Zabada to the notice of the Holy Prophet.

Action against Banu Zabada

On receiving complaint against Banu Zabada, the Holy Prophet ordered punitive action. The Holy Prophet appointed Ali as the Commander of the expedition to be led against the rebellious tribe. Ali led a Muslim force to meet the rebels. When the two forces confronted each other in battle array, Amar b Madi Kurb stepped forward from the ranks of Banu Zabada, boasted of his lineage and his skill as a warrior, and challenged Ali, the Commander of the Muslim force to a single combat. Ali stepped forward and raised the shout of A11ah-o-Akbar. The shout of Ali was more ferocious than the roar of a lion, and it struck terror in the hearts of the enemy. When the duel began, Amar aimed blows at Ali who skillfully avoided all blows. Then it was the turn of Ali to strike at his adversary. The charge of Ali was so forceful that Amar reeled under it and fell on the ground helpless. Ali bade him rise up, and take the sword. Amar rose from the ground, but he was too nervous to fight. He took to his heels and fled from the battlefield. The flight of their leader demoralized the force of Banu Zabada and it laid down arms without fight. Ali returned victorious to Madina, and in his train followed a large number of captives. According to traditions the men of Banu Zabada said that as they faced the Muslims on the battlefield, it appeared to them that some super natural power was aiding the Muslims. The men of Banu Zabada repented and were re-converted to Islam. Later Amar also appeared before the Holy Prophet, offered repentance, and was reconverted to Islam.

               

Expedition to Tabuk

Wars between the Byzantines and the Persians

In the course of history, wars between the Byzantines and the Persians had been fought every now and then. In these wars sometimes the Persians had the upper hand and sometimes the Byzantines had the upper hand. In the early years of the seventh century the Persians defeated the Byzantines. As the Christians were monotheists, the pagans of Arabia hailed the victory of the Persians over the Christian Byzantines. At that time the Holy Prophet prophesied that within ten years the tables would be turned, and the Byzantines would defeat the Persians. This prophecy was fulfilled, and in the later twenties of the seventh century the Byzantine emperor Heracleus inflicted a crushing defeat on the Persians. It was at this stage of the Perso-Byzantine conflict that Islam rose into power. The Byzantines could not view the growing strength of Islam with favor. It was accordingly apprehended that after defeating the Persians the Byzantine emperor Heracleus would invade Arabia. After the conquest of Makkah when Islam came to spread throughout Arabia, the invasion of Arabia by the Byzantines appeared to be imminent. It was rumored that the Byzantine emperor was mustering a large army in Syria to invade Arabia.

Expedition to Tabuk

To forestall any invasion of Arabia by the Byzantines, the Holy Prophet decided to undertake an expedition to Tabuk on the borders of Syria. The hot season had set in, and the season was unfavorable to the undertaking of any expedition. It was the harvesting season, and the people were generally loath to leave their homes and go to the war. In spite of these difficulties the Holy Prophet was able to raise an army of thirty thousand men. To finance the expedition, the Holy Prophet invited voluntary contributions, and the Companions subscribed liberally to the cost of the war.

Ali as Governor of Madina

The expedition to Tabuk was led by the Holy Prophet himself. In his absence from Madina, the Holy Prophet appointed Ali as the Governor of Madina. As such Ali did not participate in the expedition. The hypocrites spread the rumor that Ali had been left at Madina because he did not bare the courage to face the Byzantines. This cut Ali to the quick, and while the Muslim force was still at Jorf, a few miles from Madina, Ali visited the camp and apprised the Holy Prophet of what the hypocrites were saying. The Holy Prophet told Ali that he was to him what Prophet Haroon was to Prophet Musa. Just as Prophet Musa had appointed Haroon to look after his people during his absence, thus he had appointed Ali to look after Madina during his absence. The Holy Prophet pointed out that as the hypocrites were able to do any mischief, he had to appoint a member of his household to look after his household during his absence. Trouble could be expected from the tribes, and it was necessary that the administration of Madina was left in the hands of a person who could be a source of awe for the enemy. Fully satisfied Ali returned to Madina. He summoned Abdullah b Ubayy, and told him in plain words that if he or any of his followers tried to indulge in any mischief or spread any false rumor he would cut off their heads. That struck terror in the hearts of the hypocrites and they refrained from doing any mischief. Ali maintained law and order with a stern hand. He looked after the needs of the households of the Holy Prophet effectively.

The Tabuk Campaign

The Muslim army reached Tabuk after a weary march. Contrary to expectations there was no Byzantine force at Tabuk to meet the Muslims. On coming to know of the advance of the Muslim army, the Byzantines withdrew their army well within Syria. The Muslims achieved their object without firing a shot. The strategy of the Muslims was purely defensive, aimed at keeping the Byzantines army away from the borders of Arabia. The Byzantines who had at one time threatened to invade Arabia were no longer in the mood to measure swords with the Muslims. This was a moral victory for the Muslims. The tribes in the border region who had heretofore offered allegiance to the Byzantines transferred their allegiance to the Muslims.

Holy Prophet's address at Tabuk

At Tabuk, the Holy Prophet delivered a classical address which has passed into history. He said: Verily, the most veracious discourse is the Book of Allah. The most trustworthy stronghold is the word of piety. The best of religions is the religion of Islam. The best of precedents is the precedent of Muhammad. The noblest speech is the Invocation of Allah. The finest of the narrative is the Quran. The best of the affairs is that which has been firmly resolved upon. The worst in religion are those things which are created without sanction. The best of the ways is the one bidden by Prophets. The noblest death is the death of a martyr. The most miserable blindness is waywardness after guidance. The best of the actions is that which is beneficial. The best guidance is that which is put into practice. The worst blindness is the blindness of the heart.

Return from Tabuk

On return from Tabuk, the Holy Prophet was glad to see that during his absence Ali had maintained law and order satisfactorily and the hypocrites were in a chastened mood. The hypocrites had constructed a mosque, and they asked the Holy Prophet to perform the opening ceremony of the mosque. The Holy Prophet consulted Ali, who was of the view that a separate mosque for any section of the Muslims should not be patronized. Later, the Holy Prophet had a revelation advising the Holy Prophet against the patronage of the mosque. The Holy Prophet ordered the demolition of the mosque. Ali supervised the demolition of the mosque. Soon after, Abdullah b Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites died. Thereafter his followers repented, and joined the fold of Islam as true Muslims. Ali played an important part in suppressing the activities of the hypocrites.

               

The Declaration of Discharge

Abu Bakr as Amirul Hajj

In 631 C. E the Holy Prophet sent from Madina, a delegation of three hundred Muslims to perform the Hajj. Abu Bakr was appointed as the leader of the delegates. Abu Bakr had thus the honor of being the first 'Amir-ul-Hajj" in the history of Islam

The Revelation

Some time after Abu Bakr and trio party had left for the Hajj, the Holy Prophet received revelation about the regulation of the Hajj, and the ordering of relationship between the Muslims and the infidels. It is related that when the revelation came some one suggested to the Holy Prophet that he should send news about the revelation to Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet said only a man of his own house could proclaim the revelation.

Ali

The Holy Prophet summoned Ali, and asked him to proclaim the revealed verses to the people on the day of sacrifice when they assembled at Mina. Ali went forth on the Holy Prophet's slit-eared camel, and soon overtook Abu Bakr and his party. When Ali joined the party, Abu Bakr wanted to know whether he had come to give orders or to convey them. Ali said that he had not come to replace Abu Bakr as "Amir ul-Hajj", and that his mission was merely to convey a special message to the people on behalf of the Holy Prophet,

Declaration of Discharge

At Makkah on the occasion of the Hajj, Abu Bakr presided at the Hajj ceremony while Ali read the verses of the revelation which came to be known as the Declaration of Discharge. According to the Declaration it was provided that henceforward the Muslims were discharged of all obligations that they had undertaken with the non-Muslims. All treaties or agreements with them were to be no longer effective. Henceforward the non-Muslims were not to be allowed to visit the Kaaba or perform the Hajj. New rules for the performance of the Hajj were proclaimed. No one was to circumambulate the Kaaba naked. Polytheism was to be no longer tolerated a grace period of four months was laid down and thereafter all agreement with the non-Muslims were to stand as abrogated.

Importance of the Declaration

The Declaration of Discharge was really the declaration of the victory of Islam, the victory of the truth over falsehood. The battle between the truth and falsehood began in 611 C.E., with the proclamation of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet. This battle was waged for twenty years in one form or the other. It came to an end with the Declaration of Discharge signifying the ultimate victory of Islam from the day this proclamation was made. A new era dawned in Arabia. Henceforward Islam alone was to be the faith of the Arabs.

Ali's claim to the caliphate

In some quarters, an argument is advanced to the effect that as on this occasion the declaration of discharge was read by Ali, while Abu Bakr was the Amir ul Hajj. This established the precedence of Ali over Abu Bakr, and as such when on the death of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr became the Caliph in disregard of the claim of Ali he was a usurper. I will discuss this aspect of the matter in detail in a later part of the book. Here we may pause to consider two questions, firstly why was the proclamation read by Ali when Abu Bakr was the Amir ul Hajj, and secondly whether this established the precedence of Ali over Abu Bakr and others in the matter of caliphate. The revelations emanating from God were particularly sacrosanct, and these had to be proclaimed to the people either by the Holy Prophet himself or by some member of his house in whom he had particular confidence. The choice of Ali to read the proclamation was not relevant to the question of succession. The question of succession had to be considered in the context of other considerations. This did not establish the precedence of Ali over Bakr for Ali did not replace Abu Bakr as Amir ul Hajj. Ali's role was merely confined to the delivering of a special message. This established the precedence of Ali over other Hashimites with whom the Holy Prophet had blood relations. Ali was the first among the Hashimites to profess Islam, and among the Hashimites he remained closest to the Holy Prophet.

               

Banu Ramla

Banu Ramla

By 631 C.E. most of the tribes in the neighborhood of Madina had accepted Islam. The people of the Banu Ramla tribe still held out against Islam, and they had become a source of menace to the Muslims. They lived in a rugged country in the inaccessible defiles of the mountains at some distance from Madina. They waylaid caravans and after plundering them would retire to their strongholds in the mountains. They would even raid the city of Madina and after plundering the people sought shelter in the mountains.

 

Campaigns against Banu Ramla

The Banu Ramla tribe created a law and order problem for Madina and in 631 C. E the Holy Prophet decided to take punitive action against the tribe. The Holy Prophet sent an expedition against the tribe under the command of Abu Bakr. The Muslim army penetrated deep into the mountains without meeting any resistance. One night as the Muslim soldiers lay asleep in their camp, the Banu Ramla people made a surprise attack on the Muslim camp and killed many Muslims. The Muslim army had to withdraw in a state of confusion. Thereafter the Holy Prophet sent another expedition under the command of Umar. This expedition fared no better, and the Muslim army had to retreat after suffering losses. A third expedition under 'Amr b Al Aas also failed in achieving its object.

 

Expedition under Ali

After the failure of three expeditions, the Holy Prophet ordered the fourth expedition under the command of Ali. In the earlier expeditions, the Muslim army had failed to reach the stronghold of the tribe, and had to withdraw without actual confrontation with the tribe. Ali changed the tactics. Instead of following the established route, Ali led the Muslim army along mountainous tracks, where they hid themselves during the day, and advanced during the night. Ali succeeded in beating the Banu Ramla at their own game. After several nights march the Muslim army reached the stronghold of the tribe, and made a surprise attack on the enemy. The mountainous tribe could never imagine that the men of the plains could ever penetrate through the depth of the mountains and reach their stronghold. In the confrontation that followed many persons of the tribe were killed, and they were ultimately forced to surrender. Ali returned triumphant to Madina carrying an immense booty, and a large number of prisoners. Heretofore all battles that the Muslims had fought had been fought in the plains. The battle against Banu Ramla was the first battle that the Muslims had to fight in mountainous terrain. The Muslims had no experience of fighting in hilly tracts, and as such the first three expeditions undertaken by the Muslims against the people of the hills failed. The people of the hills were expert in guerilla warfare. They could hide in the mountain recesses and fall upon the Muslims in surprise at all odd hours. By these tactics the Banu Ramla warriors prevented the Muslims from reaching their main settlement in the hills. Ali was the first Muslim General to score a victory in a mountainous territory. When Ali returned triumphant to Madina, the Holy Prophet and the Muslims welcomed him a few miles outside the city. The Holy Prophet appreciated the services of Ali in superlative terms. According to the Shiite traditions, the Holy Prophet addressed Ali on this occasion in the following terms: "O Ali ! If I were not apprehensive that the Muslim community would exaggerate your deeds like the Christians who extolled the achievements of Jesus Christ by ascribing divinity to him. I would have narrated the superiority of your character today in such a way that wherever you went, the people would have worshipped the very dust of your feet".

Mission to Yemen

Khalid b Walid's mission to Yemen

After the Conquest of Makkah, the tribes around Makkah and Madina accepted Islam. It was now the turn of the remoter parts of Arabia to be introduced to Islam. The Holy Prophet sent missions to various parts of Arabia. One of such missions under Khalid b Walid was sent to Yemen to invite the Yemenites to Islam. Khalid b Walid was a soldier and a swordsman, but not a scholar or a preacher. He was a late convert to Islam, and in spite of his enthusiasm did not have that depth in the understanding of Islam which could attract others to Islam. The Yemenites were proud of their ancient civilization and culture, and could not believe that anyone from the interior of Arabia, always regarded by them as a backward area, could be a source of enlightenment for them. The Jews and the Christians had their high powered missions in Yemen. Some of the people of Yemen were Christians and some of them were Jews. The Christian priests and the Jewish Rabbis had a strong hold on the people of Yemen and in spite of his best efforts for over six months, Khalid bin Walid was not able to make any headway in Yemen. The Holy Prophet recalled Khalid b Walid from Yemen.

The mission of Ali

The Holy Prophet thereafter commissioned Ali to proceed to Yemen. A force of three hundred soldiers assembled at Quba outside Madina. The Holy Prophet tied the turban on the head of Ali with his own hands, and handed him the standard. The Holy Prophet prayed to God to enlighten the mind of Ali, to make his tongue eloquent, to make his talk impressive, and to make his conduct a source of attraction for others. Although Ali proceeded to Yemen at the head of a force, he was commanded not to use force. The force was only meant for defense in the case of any attack. It was a voyage of enlightenment. People were to be converted to Islam not by an appeal to arms but by an appeal to their hearts.

Strategy of Ali

On reaching Yemen, Ali realized that the people of Yemen were very much under the influence of the Christian priests and Jewish Rabbis, and unless such priests and Rabbis were effectively tackled, there was little likelihood of any success with the common men. The Christian priests and Jewish Rabbis were proud of their religious knowledge. They challenged Ali to a debate. Ali was used to fighting duels with his adversaries in the case of battles, now he had to fight an intellectual duel. The first challenge came from a Christian priest renowned for his learning and piety. A public debate was held. The Christian priest advanced arguments in favor of the perfection of Christianity, and of Jesus Christ being the son of God. It was observed that in such circumstances there could be no question of another faith. Ali smashed these arguments one by one. He quoted from the Christian scriptures wherein Jesus Christ had himself spoken of the advent of a prophet after him. Ali took pains to explain that Islam acknowledged Jesus Christ as a prophet, but did not regard him as a son of God. He maintained that Islam was a perfected form of all previous religions. The debate lasted for several days and at last Ka'ab admitted the superiority of Islam and was converted to Islam. With his conversion many Christians were also converted to Islam.

The Jewish Rabbis felt concerned at the success of Islam. They challenged Ali to a public debate. This debate lasted for several days, and ended in the victory for Islam. Some of the Jewish Rabbis accepted Islam, and following them many Jews accepted Islam. Thereafter Ali spread his men throughout the length and breadth of Yemen to carry the message of Islam to the people. When the people came to know that their priests and rabbis had accepted Islam, they lost the will to resist Islam and accepted the new faith willingly. Within a few months most of the people in Yemen were converted to Islam. These people came to look to Ali as a great hero.

The Farewell Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage

Early in 632 C.E. in the Hajj season, the Holy Prophet decided to proceed to Makkah to perform the "Hajj". The pilgrimage was planned on a large scale, Messengers were sent to all parts of Arabia calling upon the Muslims to assemble at Madina for the purposes of the pilgrimage. In response to this call, over one hundred thousand Muslims gathered at Madina to proceed to Makkah to perform the Hajj.

The Caravan

After all arrangements had been completed, a caravan of over one hundred thousand Muslims fired with their enthusiasm for Islam, started for Makkah to visit the House of God and offer their submission to God. It was a remarkable sight, like which the people of Arabia had not seen before. The Holy Prophet rode at the head of the caravan. All his wives accompanied him. Ali rode by his side. He was accompanied by Fatima,

Dhul Hulaifa

At Dhul Halaifa on the outskirts of Makkah, the Holy Prophet and all his followers put on the Ihram - the pilgrim's garb. The Holy Prophet gave the signal call "Labbayyak Allah hummah Labbayk" - "Here I am at your service O Lord!" This was repeated by all the one-larch persons in the congregation. The entire valley came to ring with the sound, the Muslims calling on their Lord, submitting to Him, and placing themselves at His disposal.

Makkah and Mina

The party reached Makkah on the fourth of Zul Hajj after a journey of nineteen days. After a stay of four days in Makkah, the pilgrims left for Mina on the 5th of Zul Hajj, and passed the night there. The following day the pilgrims proceeded to Arafat.

Farewell Address

After mid-day prayers on the 9th of Zul Hajj at Arafat, the Holy Prophet delivered the historic "Hajj Khutba" which has come to be known as the farewell address. After giving praise to God and thanking Him for the bounties that he had conferred on the Muslims, and had crowned their efforts in the cause of the Truth with success. the Holy Prophet said: "O People, listen carefully to my words for I may not be among you next year, nor ever address you again from this spot. O People, just as you regard this month as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as sacred. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one, so that no one may hurt you. Usury is forbidden. Satan has despiated in leading you astray in big things, so beware of his maneuvers in tempting you in small things. Women have rights over you as you have rights over them. Be good to them. You may soon have to appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware. Do not go astray after I am gone. O People, no prophet will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Worship your Allah. Say your prayers. Keep fast during the month of Ramdhan. Give of your wealth in charity. All Muslims, free or slaves have the same rights and the same responsibilities. None is higher than the other unless he is higher in virtue. Feed your slaves as you feed yourself. Do not oppress them. Do not usurp their rights. All distinctions between the Arabs the non-Arabs, the black and the white are abolished. All Muslims are brothers. Do good. Be faithful to your trusts. Be kind to the orphans. Remember God. Know that while man being mortal is bound to die, God being immortal will live for ever." Having spoken these words, the Holy Prophet turned his face to the Heaven and said: "Be my witness O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to Your people. " Thereupon the people corroborated saying, "Yes, O Prophet of Allah, you have done so, and done it magnificently. "

The Revelation

After the Holy Prophet had delivered the address, Allah revealed to him the verses: "This Day have I perfected for you, your faith, and completed My blessings upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as religion. " All other prophets including Moses and Jesus Christ had to leave their unfulfilled mission to their successors. The Holy Prophet of Islam alone had the unique distinction of seeing the successful fruition of his mission during his lifetime.

Reaction of the Companions

As the Companions including Ali heard these verses about the perfection of the faith, they wept because they felt that the mission of the Holy Prophet having been completed, He was apt to depart to meet his Lord.

After the farewell address, the party left Arafat in the evening and passed the night at Muzdalifa. The following day they went to Mina, and sacrificed the animals. The Holy Prophet sacrificed 63 animals, one for each year of his life, and these were shared by Ali. The men then shaved their heads, and the ceremony of the Hajj was completed. Thereafter the pilgrims left for Madina. On the return journey while the Companions were happy that their faith had been perfected, they were overwhelmed with grief at the thought that such consummation implied that the Holy Prophet was soon to depart from their midst.

               

Khum Ghadir

The Revelation

On the way to Madina the caravan of those who had participated in the farewell pilgrimage spread over several miles. When the Holy Prophet reached the valley of Khum some midway between Makkah and Madina, the Holy Prophet received the following revelation: "O Messenger of God, make known what has been revealed to you from your Lord, for if you do it not, you will not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from mankind. Lo, Allah guides not the unbelieving folk."

Calling a halt near a pond Ghadir, in the valley of Khum the Holy Prophet sent men to call all persons of the caravan who had gone ahead or lagged behind to assemble there to hear the command of the Holy Prophet.

Address of the Holy Prophet

When all people, over one hundred thousand in number had assembled at the pond in the Khum valley, the Holy Prophet addressed them. The exact text of the address is not available. There is a good deal of controversy about the contents of the address, and both the Sunnis and the Shias have their own versions of the address.

According to the Sunni writers, the Holy Prophet said that after him the Muslims would have to face hard times. He wanted them to remain united and to obey those in authority. He said that he was the last of the prophets and there was to be no prophet after him. He observed that God had given him superiority over all those who inhabit the world, and they include all the past and future generations. The Holy Prophet observed that God had given him the keys of His treasures, and He had asked him to confirm the solemn pledges which He had made with them, God had confided His secret to him, and had given him help so that he had been enlightened. Thus he had made the beginning, and thus he would set the final seal. He added that no one could derive power except from Allah. He wanted mankind to fear God. He exhorted the Muslims not to wage war except in the name of God and in the cause of Islam. He continued that after him there would be people who would accuse him of falsehood but ultimately the truth would prevail for he did not invite the people to anything else but towards God.

The Controversy

There is a good deal of controversy about the Holy Prophet's address at Khum Ghadir. But the fact is that the sayings of the Holy Prophet are a continuation of his life-long message and struggle in the light of the teachings of the Holy Quran the final Word of Allah. Whatever is compatible with it is only to be accepted.

 

Death of the Holy prophet

Illness of the Holy Prophet

A short time after returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage the Holy Prophet fell sick. The poison which the Jewess had given to him at Khyber had slowly penetrated into his system and began to show its effect. The Holy Prophet felt that having fulfilled the mission entrusted to him by God, his earthly life was to end, and he was to meet his Master. One night when he had some respite the Holy Prophet accompanied by Ali went to the graveyard, and there prayed for the souls of his companions who had fallen in the Battle of Uhud. Then he returned to the apartment of his wife Maimuna. The exertion because of the visit to the graveyard had its effect, and the fever became violent. The Holy Prophet assembled all his wives and told them that on account of his sickness, it would not be possible for him to visit each wife in turn. He wanted their permission to stay in the apartment of Ayesha till he recovered. All the wives agreed to the proposal, and the Holy Prophet supported by Ali and Abbas moved to the apartment of Ayesha. The Holy Prophet directed that during his illness, Abu Bakr should lead the prayers.

The Holy Prophet's Address

A day later the fever subsided and the Holy Prophet took a bath. Refreshed by the bath he felt some relief, and went to the mosque to offer the noonday prayer. At the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit to address the congregation. The Holy Prophet said: "There is a servant whose Lord has given him the option between the life on this earth, and the life hereafter in nearness to his Lord, and the servant has chosen the latter."

Thereupon tears trickled down from the eyes of the companions and they said, "Holy Prophet, how can we live without you".

The Holy Prophet continued: "O People! It has reached me that you are afraid of the approaching death of your prophet. Has any previous prophet lived forever among the people to whom he was sent, so that I should live forever among you. Behold, I am about to go to my Lord. You too will go there sooner or later."

After the address, the Holy Prophet retired to the quarter of Ayesha. The exertion had its effect, and the fever became violent again. The night following the seventh of June 632 C.E. lay heavy on him. He was overheard praying constantly to Allah for His blessings, the morning of the eighth June brought some relief, when the fever and pain somewhat subsided. Moving the curtain he saw the Muslims offering their prayers. The Holy Prophet supported by Ali walked to the mosque. The people made way for him, opening their ranks as he stepped forward. Abu Bakr stepped backward to vacate his seat for the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet told Abu Bakr by a motion of his hand to continue to lead the prayers.

After the conclusion of the prayers, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit. He said that he had heard that the people were objecting to send an expedition to the Syrian front under the command of Usama. He observed that their objection was not valid as Usama was fit to lead the expedition to avenge the death of his father. He exhorted the people to do what was lawful and to refrain from doing that which was unlawful. He said that he had not made lawful except that which God had declared lawful nor he had prohibited anything but that which God had forbidden.

The Muslims were happy to see the Holy Prophet in their midst. They felt that the Holy Prophet had recovered, and that there was no danger to his life. Thereafter the Holy Prophet returned to the apartment of Ayesha. The exertion had its effect. The condition of the Holy Prophet grew worse, and within a few hours he passed away.

The faithful assembled in the mosque. There was an air of uneasiness in the atmosphere. There was a whispering that the Holy Prophet of Islam was dead. There were suppressed sobs and sighs. What would happen to the Muslims when the great prophet was to be no longer in their midst was the thought that disturbed everybody. All eyes were turned to the quarter of Ayesha. The faithful had the fond hope that the door of the chamber would open any moment, and the Holy Prophet would emerge with his face radiating divine light.

In the courtyard of the mosque, Umar moved among the people and said: "Who says that the Holy Prophet is dead. I testify that he is alive and has gone to Allah like Moses, and would return to us after some time." Then Abu Bakr came and addressed the people, saying: "Listen to me, ye people. Those of you who worshipped Muhammad know that he is dead like any other mortal. But those of you who worship the God of Muhammad know that He is alive and would live forever." Thereafter Abu Bakr quoted the following verses from the Holy Quran: "Muhammad is but a Messenger. Messengers of God have passed away before him. What if he dies or is killed. Will you turn back upon your heels? And whosoever turns back upon his heels will by no means do harm to Allah."

And Allah rewarded the Thankful

The effect of the address of Abu Bakr was eletrica1. It appeared as if the people did not know of this verse of the Holy Quran until Abu Bakr had recited it.

According to the will of the Holy Prophet Ali and Abbas washed the body of the Holy Prophet and prepared it for burial. The Holy Prophet was buried in the chamber of Ayesha, where he had died. Ali was overwhelmed with grief at the death of the Holy Prophet. He expressed his grief in heart reading verses. He said: "May my parents be sacrificed on you, O Messenger of God, with your death things have come to an end which could not end thus with the death of any other person. The process of prophethood has come to an end. News of the Unseen have ceased, Revelations from Almighty have ceased. You gave a message of hope to the people. You showed them the right path. You are the savior of humanity. You established a new order. You established equality among the people. You ushered in a revolution. You were a guide when alive; you would be a guide even after death. If you had not ordered patience in hour of grief I would have shed tears of blood from my eyes. The entire world is dark without you. Your passing away is a great loss but we resign ourselves to the will of God. From God you came, and to God you have returned, May your soul rest in peace in proximity to God."

The Caliphate of Abu Bakr

Election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph

After the death of the Holy Prophet when his body was still to be buried, the Ansars met at Saqifa Bani Sauda to urge that the successor to the Holy Prophet should be chosen out of them. When the Muhajireen came to know of this gathering, Abu Bakr, Umar, and some other Quraish leaders attended the meeting. The Ansars demanded that the Caliph should be elected out of them. When the Quraish made a counter claim, the Ansars suggested that one Amir be elected from among the Ansars, and another Amir from among the Muhajireen. The Muhajireen contended that such dual caliphate would lead to disunity in the ranks of the Muslims which would be against the interests of Islam. After a good deal of discussion, the Ansars gave way and Abu Bakr from among the Muhajireen was elected as the Caliph.

Ali's reaction to the election of Abu Bakr

In Nahj-ul-Balagha we come across certain passages which indicate the reaction of Ali to the election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph. When the meeting at Saqffa Bani Saada was brought to the notice of Ali by some one, Ali asked him as to what did the Ansar ask for. He was told that the Amir should be elected from them, and if the Muhajireen also desired the office, one Amir might be elected from the Ansar and one from the Muhajireen. Thereupon Ali said, "Was it not brought to their notice that the Holy Prophet had willed that after him the Ansar should be well treated, and if they made any lapse it should be overlooked. Ali was asked how did this will establish that the Caliph was not to be elected from among the Ansars. Ali said that if the Ansar were to have the caliphate there was no point in asking those in power to pay due regard to the Ansars did not arise. Ali then inquired as to what argument the Muhajireen had advanced in support of their claim to the caliphate. He was told that the Muhajireen based their claim on the ground that they belonged to the tree to which the Holy Prophet belonged. Thereupon Ali said, "What a pity that they look to the tree, but overlooked its fruit". The implication was that the Muhajireen should have offered the caliphate to him and not to anyone else.

In a passage in Nahj-ul-Balagha, Ali is said to have expressed his reaction to the election of Abu Bakr in the following terms: "The son of Abu Qahafa has assumed the mantle of the caliphate forcibly although he knew that I was essential for the caliphate as the handle is for the grinding stone which moves it. In Islamic learning I excel everyone else, and the caliphate should have come to me as a matter of course. At this disregard of my right I became confused. I began to think whether I should assert my claim, or whether I should practice forbearance and patience after a good deal of thinking I decided to adopt the later course".

Offer of allegiance to Ali by 1bn Abbas and Abu Sufyan

After Abu Bakr had been elected as the Caliph, Ibn Abbas and Abu Sufiyan approached Ali and offered him allegiance as the Caliph. Ali did not accept the offer on the ground that this would create dissentions among the Muslims. From a passage in Nahj-ul-Balagha wherein Ali is reported to have expressed his feelings at this stage in the following terms: "If I say something about the caliphate the people would say that I am ambitious for power. If I remain silent there are people who would say that I am afraid of death. I have suffered many wrongs. The people should have known that the son of Abu Talib is as much fond of death as the infant is fond of the milk of its mother. My silence is because of the secret which I alone knew. If I reveal the secret you will tremble and shudder as the strings binding a vessel shake when the vessel is lowered in the well."

Property of Fidak

After the conquest of Khyber, the Jews of Fidak a neighboring settlement had surrendered without say fight. They were offered the same terms as the Jews of Khyber. The Holy Prophet took over the property of the Jews at Fidak in his personal custody. The income from the property was earmarked by the Holy Prophet for meeting his household expenses, and for looking after the needy and the wayfarer. After the death of the Holy Prophet, Ali lodged a claim before Abu Bakr for the transfer of the property of Fidak to them. Abu Bakr did not accept the claim on the ground that according to a tradition of the Holy Prophet, prophets leave no inheritance, and whatever they leave belongs to the community as a whole. Abu Bakr declared that the property in question would remain in his custody but he would utilize the income therefrom for the same purposes as was the practice of the Holy Prophet. As a part of the income would be earmarked for meeting the expenses of the household of the Holy Prophet. Fatima and Ali would have their due share. This decision did not satisfy Fatima and Ali.

Activities of Ali during the caliphate of Abu Bakr

From the source books that have come down to us, we do not have a proper account of the activities of Ali during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. Unfortunately most of the accounts that are available are colored because of sectarian and partisan considerations. It appears that Ali did not take the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr for some time and he remained aloof from the state politics. It appears that after the death of Fatima, Abu Bakr tried to console Ali in his grief, and win over his goodwill. It appears that Ali took the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr some time after the death of Fatima and got reconciled to him. When Abu Bakr died, Ali in the funeral oration highly praised Abu Bakr. This shows that in the later part of the caliphate of Abu Bakr the relationship between Abu Bakr and Ali was cordial. Ali however did not take any part in the apostasy wars that were fought during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. It appears that Ali during the period confined his activities to domestic affairs and religious pursuits.

 

 

               

Fatima Zahra

Death of Fatima

Fatima took the death of the Holy Prophet to heart, and she passed away in early 633 C E, barely six months after the passing away of the Holy Prophet. She was only twenty-nine years old at the time or her death. Her marriage lasted for a short period of eight or nine years only. During this period she gave birth to five children, three sons and two daughters. Her three sons were Hasan, Husain, and Mohsin. Mohsin died during infancy. Hasan was about seven years old while Husain was about six years old at the time of her death.

Ali's grief at the death of Fatima

Ali was much grieved at the death of Fatima. Her passing away so soon after the death of the Holy Prophet was a great blow for Ali. He felt disconsolate. He poured his grief in the following elegiac verses: "Afflicted as I feel with many a worldly disease. Verily, men in this world would suffer as long as they live in this vale of tears and sorrow. Verily, after the demise of the Holy Prophet, Fatima's loss has shown, that friends do not last forever. " In this hour of grief, Ali addressed the soul of the Holy Prophet in the following terms: "O Messenger of God please accept my greetings, and the greetings from your daughter who has hastened to join you. O Prophet of God my patience has been exhausted at her death. I am most distressed and disconsolate. At your death I suppressed my grief with great difficulty. I laid you in the grave with my own hands. Verily, from God you came and to God you have returned. We all belong to God and to Him we have to return. Fatima was a trust with me, which has now been taken away from me. My state of affairs will be told to you by your daughter. Please do inquire about me from her. Much time has not elapsed to your death, and the memory of your passing away is very much alive with me. I pay my greetings and respects to you. As I can expect relief in my distress only from you. If I move away from your grave, it will not be because of any indifference on my part and if I stay here, it will not be so because of having lost confidence in the promise that God has made to those who are patient." Ali used to visit the grave of Fatima frequently, and used to write verses to express his grief. On one occasion he wrote: "O thou grave, to thee I resort for paying homage to thee. "O thou, the repository of my beloved Thou answer me not. "O thou beloved tomb, what ails thee Thou respondeth not to my supplications. Art thou, out of humor, Because of the love that I bear thee. "

Married life of Ali and Fatima

The married life of Ali and Fatima did not extend beyond nine years. It was a happy union. Nevertheless there were differences between the pair occasionally. Once, after having quarreled with Fatima, Ali went to the mosque, and lay on bare earth. That made the Holy Prophet call Ali by the appellation of Abu Turab, Father of the earth. At one time, Ali entertained the idea of marrying a daughter of Abu Jahl. Fatima complained to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet felt annoyed, and while addressing the people in the mosque he said that verily Fatima was part and parcel of him. If Ali wanted to marry the daughter of Abu Jahl, it was open to him to do so, but he should divorce Fatima in the first instance for the daughter of the Prophet, and the daughter of Abu Jahl could not live under the same roof. Thereupon Ali dropped the idea of marrying the daughter of Abu Jahl. There were some temperamental differences between Ali and Fatima, and the Holy Prophet always controlled Fatima to fall in line with the wishes of her husband for after her father he was the best of men.

Fatima Zahra-assessment

Fatima Zahra is regarded as one of the four perfect women of all times, the other three women being: Asiyah the wife of the Pharaoh of Egypt who mothered Moses; Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ; and Khadija the first wife of the Holy Prophet of Islam, and the mother of Fatima Zahra. One day Fatima inquired of the Holy Prophet why she was called Fatima. He said that it was so, because fire would not touch her soul. She was also called 'Batool", because she devoted herself all out to Allah and fervently followed the dictates of the Holy Prophet (pbub). Fatima resembled the Holy Prophet in countenance, in elegance of speech, and in general deportment. Whenever Fatima paid a visit to the Holy Prophet, he would kiss her on the forehead, and would make her sit on his seat. He would say, "Fatima is part of me, and whoever angers her angers me, and whoever injures her injures me. " It was the customary for the Holy Prophet that when he went on a journey the last person of whom he took leave was Fatima, and when he returned from the journey the first person he would see was Fatima. When the Holy Prophet was about to die, Fatima visited him. The Holy Prophet whispered to her something that made her weep. Then he again whispered something and Fatima laughed. She was asked what made her weep and laugh in succession. She did not disclose the secret but later. After the passing away of the Holy Prophet. Ayesha asked her about it and she said that she had wept on being informed of the impending end of the Holy Prophet, but laughed on his assurance that she was to join him soon.

When the Holy Prophet died, the whole world became dark for her. She wept and mourned the death of the Holy Prophet in pathetic verses She said: It is not wondrous that whoever smells the fragrance of Muhammad's tomb will never smell another perfume. Destiny hurt me with bereavement. So sad, and so dark, that if it had fallen on the days they would have been turned into eternal nights".

 

Ali's Oration on the Death of Abu Bakr

Ali's Oration

When Abu Bakr died in 634 C.E., Ali delivered an oration which was not only a faithful summing up of the character and personality of Abu Bakr, but was also a masterpiece of oratory. The speech has been preserved, and quoted hereunder in full Mercy of God on you O Abu Bakr! You were an affectionate Companion and friend of the Prophet of Allah, a source of joy to him, and who knew his secrets, and enjoyed the privilege of being consulted by him. You were the first person to embrace Islam. You had the purest faith, and your belief in Islam was unshakable. Of all, you feared Allah most, and you were the source of the greatest advantage to his faith. You had been with the Prophet more than any one else, and your love for Islam was superior to others. A blessing to the Companions, you were the best of associates, master of many virtues, excelling others in accomplishments, and superior to all in position. You resembled the Holy Prophet more than any other person in the uprightness of character and conduct and in kindness and excellence. Your rank was noble, and your position sublime and you enjoyed the greatest confidence of the Prophet. May God reward you for your services to Islam and the Prophet. For the Prophet you were like his very sight and hearing. You corroborated the truth of his message at a time when everybody belied him; and so you were called "As-Sadiq' (the veracious) by Allah in His revelations. He says, 'The one who came with the Truth and the one who corroborated the truth. The One who came with the Truth was Muhammad, and the one who corroborated the Truth was Abu Bakr. You supported him when others had deserted, and you remained firm in helping him in misfortunes when others had withdrawn their support. In the days of hardship you were his best companion; you were the second of the two, and his companion in the Cave. You were the person on whom God conferred tranquillity of mind. You were the only companion of the Prophet in his migration to Madina, and you were his Caliph among his followers, and in the religion of Allah. You discharged the functions of the Khilafat in a most excellent manner at a moment when the people had taken to apostasy, and exhibited much firmness in enforcing the commands of Allah as had never been exhibited by the Khalifa of any other prophet. You rose to the occasion when your colleagues showed lassitude, and you became bold when they exhibited weakness. You were strong when they were weak. You retained your adherence to the ways of the Prophet when others had deviated from them. You were his true Caliph with no dispute or difference, although this gave offense to hypocrites, and umbrage to the infidels. You stuck to the commands of Allah when others showed cowardice. You remained firm when others went astray. You had the lowest voice, and the highest distinction. Your conversation was most salutary, and your reasoning was forceful. Your silence was longest in duration, and your speech was most eloquent. You were bravest among men, You were well informed about matters. Your action was most dignified. You were the leader of the believers. You came towards the faith when others were away from it. Indeed you acted 1ike a kind father to the believers, and your filial affection made them your children. You bore the heavy burden which they could not, and you preferred to do what they had omitted. You preserved that what they had lost. You taught them what they knew not. You took the risk when they were helpless. You did not lose patience, when they were inpatient. You redressed the grievances of those who asked for justice. They turned to you for guidance, and you guided them to success. They got through you what they had never dreamt of. For the infidels you were a source of terrible punishment and great fear. For the believers you were all kindness, affection and protection. You fed in the atmosphere of piety, you attained its noble reward, and won in superiority. Your argument was never weak and your judgment was never faulty. You were never guilty of cowardice, and your heart was never crooked or misdirected. You were like a rock which stands firm in the face of hard blows of dashing winds and waves. You were as the Prophet of Allah has said, the most generous of men in friendship and in giving money. Again as he said, you were weak in body, but strong in enforcing the commands of Allah. You were humble in your manners, but dignified in the estimation of God. You were great in the eyes of men, and you commanded respect with them. No one could even as much as wink at you, nor could any one taunt you. You were kind to all and partial to none. The weak and the humble were strong with you as you made secure their rights. The strong were weak and humble with you as you made them surrender the rights of others. No matter those who were near you, and those who were far from you were all equal. Those who obeyed and feared Allah were nearest to you. Your dignity lay in righteousness, truth and benevolence. Your word was imperative and definite. Your command was mild and cautious. Your judgment was fair and wise. You extirpated evil and made way for the Truth clear. You solved difficulties. You extinguished the fires of evil and discord. You brought moderation to the Faith, strength to belief, firmness to Islam and the Muslims, and triumph to the command of Allah. You were a source of grief to the infidels. Because of your extraordinary qualities, you have created difficulties for your successors who would have to work hard to maintain the standards set by you. Evidently, you attained a high position in doing good. You are far above mourning and lamentation. Mourning for you is great in the Heaven. Your death has broken the back bone of the people, and we recite the verse 'From God you came, and to God you have returned'. We submit to what has been ordained by Allah, and are ready to obey His commands. By Allah never shall the Muslims suffer after the death of the Prophet, a calamity greater than your death. You were a source of honor, protection and support to the Faith and for the believers you were a stronghold and a place of refuge. For the hypocrites you were all strictness and terror. May Allah take you near to your Prophet, and may He not deprive us of the fruits of your efforts and may we not be misled after you. We recite once again 'From God you came and to God you have returned'. May your soul rest in peace!"

The Caliphate of Umar

Nomination of Umar as the Caliph

On his death bed, Abu Bakr nominated Umar as his successor. Ali not only took the oath of allegiance to Umar but also married his daughter Umm Kulthum to Umar, and quite contrary to the biased allegations, perfect cordiality prevailed between Ali and Umar. Ali held the office of the Chief Justice. He acted as the principal Counselor of Umar. He acted as Chief Secretary as well. The services of Ali were highly appreciated by Umar. In these circumstances the views expressed in some quarters that Umar was the worst enemy of Ali is far from truth and cannot be accepted.

Battle of Yermuk

During the time of Abu Bakr the Muslims captured a greater part of Syria including Damascus. When Umar became the Caliph the Byzantines made strong preparations and concentrated a very large army at Yermuk with a view to expelling the Muslims from Syria. The Muslims had to evacuate Damascus, and the cities in Northern Syria with a view to facing the Byzantines in battle at Yermuk in Southern Syria. It was a critical state of affairs for the Muslims. At this juncture Umar was of the view that he should himself go to Syria to command the Muslim forces. Umar sought the advice of Ali on the point. Ali advised in the following terms: "God is the protector of the Muslims. He guards their secrets. God helped the Muslims when they were few in number, and could not face the enemy. God defended them when they could not defend themselves. When God helped the Muslims in the early years, we can depend on His help even now when we have gained in numbers. God is alive, and would never die. We are fighting in His cause. And we should have perfect faith that He would help us. If you yourself go to fight against the Byzantine and God forbid are defeated, that will cause a great confusion, and would demoralize the Muslims. That would create a precarious situation for the Muslims in the areas bordering Syria. The proper course for you would be to remain in Madina, and direct the operations from there. You may place a seasoned general in command of the Muslim forces in Syria. God willing, the Muslims would be victorious. " Umar acted on the advice of Ali, and the Muslims won an astounding victory at the Battle of Yermuk.

Conquest of Jerusalem

After the Battle of Yermuk, the Muslims won other battles in Syria and the Byzantines were forced to evacuate Syria when the Muslim forces attacked Jerusalem. The Lord Bishop of Jerusalem proposed to surrender Jerusalem in case Umar the Caliph of the Muslims came to take over the city himself. Some of the companions of Umar advised that the Caliph should not go to Jerusalem, and the Christians after having been defeated could not dictate terms. When the advice of Ali was sought he said: "I had advised you not to go to Syria when the war was imminent for in the case of defeat that would have led to demoralization on the part of the Muslims. Now that God has rewarded the Muslims with victory, and the Christians desire that the Ca1iph should come himself to get the surrender of Jerusalem, I would advise that the Caliph should go to Jerusalem, for he will be going there as a victor. The presence of the Caliph of the Muslims in Syria would add to the prestige of the Muslims and would be instrumental in converting the Christians to Islam. Jerusalem is not merely sacred to the Christians; it is sacred to the Muslims as well. It was from Jerusalem that the Holy Prophet ascended the Heavens, and the sanctity of the place demands that its occupation should be take a by no one other than the Caliph of the Muslims." Umar accepted the advice of Ali, and personally west to Jerusalem to obtain the surrender of the city.


source : http://witness-pioneer.org
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