Chapter 4 : MADINA AND THE HOLY WARS
After years of persecution in Mecca, during which period passive resistance was adopted by Muhammad (pbh) and his followers, a new phase in the life of the Prophet began with his migration to Yathrib. The emigrant Muslims or Muhajirun were warmly welcomed by Muslims of Yathrib, called the Ansar, which literally means 'those who helped to bring about victory'. Yathrib itself was now called Madinat ul-Nabi, meaning 'The City of the Prophet'.There Muhammad (pbh) not only laid the foundation for a mosque, which is still today know as the Prophet's Mosque, the second holiest site in Islam, but also of the Islamic brotherhood.
The Quraish of Mecca however did not relent in their aggression towards the Muslims and by now imposed an economic embargo on Madina, forbidding caravans from carrying provisions and foodstuffs to the city. In addition, the Meccan armies, often in collaboration with tribes around Madina, tried in every way possible to overcome the Medinese.
In the second year after Hijira, 15 years of the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbh), the Muslim army finally came out to meet the challenge of the Meccans. This first holy war or Jihad was called the Battle of Badr and though the Muslim contingent was small, a third the size of the Meccan army, they were victorious.
In the same year, on the first of the twelfth month also saw the
marriage of the Prophet's daughter Fatima to Ali. The Quraish of Mecca, led by Abu Sufyan, came out again for vengeance the following year and met the Muslims at a place called Uhud. During the confrontation, when the Muslims were seemingly victorious, some of them began to desert their post thus changing the course of war and lead to the martyrdom of many Muslims including the Prophet's (pbh) uncle Hamza, the first flag-bearer of Islam. The Meccan did not complete their rout of the Medinese however and returned to Mecca instead.
In the fifth year of Hijira, a Jewish tribe called Bani Nazir went to Mecca to instigate the Quraish against the Muslims. With a large army, the Meccans marched upon Madina, hoping to conquer it completely. The Prophet (pbh) mobilized the Muslims to dig a trench around the city and after lying siege for some time, the Meccans were discouraged and retreated once again.
Because the Bani Qurazah, who had concluded a peace treaty with Prophet Muhammad (pbh), had violated their agreement by extending help to the Quraish in the Battle of the Trench. Prophet Muhammad (pbh) ordered his army to proceed to Bani Qurazah and lay siege over them which lasted for 25 days. They then finally agreed to accept Sa'ad Ma'az, a man of status among them as arbiter, hoping that Sa'ad would be inclined towards them. Sa'ad's arbitration however, was to have all the Qurazah fighters killed.
As Islam spread further in Arabia, Prophet Muhammad (pbh) dispatched several representatives to adjacent lands to bring letters to invite the rulers to the new religion. These included etters to Khusroe, the Emperor of Persia, Harqil the Byzantine
Emperor and the kings of Abyssinia and the Copts.
Having been exiled for six years, Prophet Muhammad (pbh) decided to return to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage to Ka'ba.The Quraish however intercepted the Muslims and prevented them from entering the city. A treaty called The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was eventually agreed to by the two sides whereby Prophet Muhammad (pbh) and his followers agreed to turn back that year but the Meccans must allow them to perform the pilgrimage the following year.
Meanwhile in the forts of Khybar, the Jews continued their enmity toward the Muslims, instigating hatred of them. Muhammad (pbh) and his army eventually surrounded the fort in the seventh year of Hijira and overcame them. Being a People of the Book, the Jews were made to pay a religious tax called Jaziyah as a token of their submission to the Islamic government now established in Madina.
Towards the end of that year, as stipulated in The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the Quraish of Mecca evacuated the city for three days to allow the Muslims to perform the pilgrimage.Struck by Prophet Muhammad's (pbh) conduct and piety, several key figures of Mecca converted to Islam as a consequence, notably the Quraish military leader, Khalid ibn Walid.
With an elaborate plan Prophet Muhammad (pbh) was able to enter and finally conquered the city. The Ka'bah was returned to its original state as a place for worship of The One God. All the idols were broken and destroyed and the walls of the Ka'bah cleared of the images that had been painted upon them. Prophet Muhammad (pbh) himself displayed respect for the Christian religion, sheilding the icon of the Virgin Mary and Christ from being destroyed and put it away.
After settling affairs in the city, Prophet Muhammad (pbh) mobilized 12,000 soldiers to face the Hawazin tribe of Central Arabia at Hunayn and only after a difficult battle were the Muslims victorious. At the fortified town of Taif however, the people conceded to Islam and by the ninth year of Hijira, Prophet Muhammad's (pbh) aim to unite the whole of the Arabian Peninsula under the protection of the Islamic Government received a great boost when many emissaries from tribes from all over the peninsula came to pay allegiance. Within his lifetime, many regions including Yemen, Bahrain and Oman adopted Islam.