The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4

Author: Irving Ockley  | Date: A.D. 622

The Hegira—Career of Mahomet;
The Koran and Mahometan Creed

A.D. 622


The flight of Mahomet from Mecca to Medina occurred June 20, 622, and was called the hegira, or departure of the prophet. That event marks the commencement of the Mahometan era, which is called therefrom the Hegira. According to the civil calculation it is fixed at Friday, July 16th, the date of the Mahometans, although astronomers and some historians assign it to the day preceding. While primarily referring to the flight of Mahomet, the term is applied also to the emigration to Medina, prior to the capture of Mecca (630) of those of Mahomet’s disciples, who henceforth were known as Mohajerins-Emigrants or Refugees—which became a title of honor.

A scion of the family of Hashem and of the tribe of Koreish, the noblest race in Arabia, and the guardians of the ancient temple and idols of the Kaaba, Mahomet was born at Mecca, August 20, A.D. 570. Me acquired wealth and influence by his marriage with Kadijah, a rich widow, but, about his fortieth year, by announcing himself as an apostle of God, sent to extirpate idolatry and to restore the true faith of the prophets Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, he and his converts were exposed to contumely and persecution.

It was, as Irving’s recital shows, necessary for the preservation of his life—which was threatened by his own tribe, the Koreishites—that Mahomet should leave Mecca, and he escaped none too soon. It must also be observed that by this going out he found ampler means for the spread of his doctrine and the increase of his followers. His very presence among strangers drew multitudes to the support of his cause, and the enthusiasm aroused by the prophet at Medina made that city the centre of his first great propaganda. There Mahomet died; in the Great Mosque is his tomb, and Medina is sometimes called the City of the Prophet." From this centre began the development and spread of Islam into a world-religion, which has flourished to the present day, when its followers are estimated at nearly two hundred millions, having large empire and still wider influence among some of the most important races of the East.


The fortunes of Mahomet were becoming darker and darker in his native place. Kadijah, his original benefactress, the devoted companion of his solitude and seclusion, the zealous believer in his doctrines, was in her grave; so also was Abu-Taleb, once his faithful and efficient protector. Deprived of the sheltering influence of the latter, Mahomet had become, in a manner, an outlaw in Mecca; obliged to conceal himself, and remain a burden on the hospitality of those whom his own doctrines had involved in persecution. If worldly advantage had been his object, how had it been attained? Upward of ten years had elapsed since first he announced his prophetic mission; ten long years of enmity, trouble, and misfortune. Still he persevered, and now, at a period of life when men seek to enjoy in repose the fruition of the past, rather than risk all in new schemes for the future, we find him, after having sacrificed ease, fortune, and friends, prepared to give up home and country also, rather than his religious creed.

As soon as the privileged time of pilgrimage arrived, he emerged once more from his concealment, and mingled with the multitude assembled from all parts of Arabia. His earnest desire was to find some powerful tribe, or the inhabitants of some important city, capable and willing to receive him as a guest, and protect him in the enjoyment and propagation of his faith.

His quest was for a time unsuccessful. Those who had come to worship at the Kaaba1 drew back from a man stigmatized as an apostate; and the worldly-minded were unwilling to befriend one proscribed by the powerful of his native place.

At length, as he was one day preaching on the hill Al Akaba, a little to the north of Mecca, he drew the attention of certain pilgrims from the city of Yathreb. This city, since called Medina, was about two hundred and seventy miles north of Mecca. Many of its inhabitants were Jews and heretical Christians. The pilgrims in question were pure Arabs of the ancient and powerful tribe of Khazradites, and in habits of friendly intercourse with the Keneedites and Naderites, two Jewish tribes inhabiting Mecca, who claimed to be of the sacer-dotal line of Aaron. The pilgrims had often heard their Jewish friends explain the mysteries of their faith and talk of an expected messiah. They were moved by the eloquence of Mahomet, and struck with the resemblance of his doctrines to those of the Jewish law; insomuch that when they heard him proclaim himself a prophet, sent by heaven to restore the ancient faith, they said, one to another, "Surely this must be the promised messiah of which we have been told." The more they listened, the stronger became their persuasion of the fact, until in the end they avowed their conviction, and made a final profession of their faith.

As the Khazradites belonged to one of the most powerful tribes of Yathreb, Mahomet sought to secure their protection, and proposed to accompany them on their return; but they informed him that they were at deadly feud with the Awsites, another powerful tribe of that city, and advised him to defer his coming until they should be at peace. He consented; but on the return home of the pilgrims, he sent with them Musab Ibn Omeir, one of the most learned and able of his disciples, with instructions to strengthen them in the faith, and to preach it to their townsmen.

Thus were the seeds of Islamism first sown in the city of Medina. For a time they thrived but slowly. Musab was opposed by the idolaters, and his life threatened; but he persisted in his exertions and gradually made converts among the principal inhabitants. Among these were Saad Ibn Maads, a prince or chief of the Awsites, and Osaid Ibn Hodheir, a man of great authority in the city. Numbers of the Moslems of Mecca also, driven away by persecution, took refuge in Medina, and aided in propagating the new faith among its inhabitants, until it found its way into almost every household.

Feeling flow assured of being able to give Mahomet an asylum in the city, upward of seventy of the converts of Medina, led by Musab Ibn Omeir, repaired to Mecca with the pilgrims In the holy month of the thirteenth year of "the mission," to invite him to take up his abode in their city. Mahomet gave them a midnight meeting on the hill Al Akaba. His uncle Al Abbas, who, like the deceased Abu-Taleb, took an affectionate interest in his welfare, though no convert to his doctrines, accompanied him to this secret conference, which he feared might lead him into danger. He entreated the pilgrims from Medina not to entice his nephew to their city until more able to protect him; warning them that their open adoption of the new faith would bring all Arabia in arms against them.

His warnings and entreaties were in vain; a solemn compact was made between the parties. Mahomet demanded that they should abjure idolatry, and worship the one true God openly and fearlessly. For himself he exacted obedience in weal and woe; and for the disciples who might accompany him, protection; even such as they would render to their own wives and children. On these terms he offered to bind himself to remain among them, to be the friend of their friends, the enemy of their enemies.

"But, should we perish in your cause," asked they, "what will be our reward?"

"Paradise," replied the prophet.

The terms were accepted; the emissaries from Medina placed their hands in the hands of Mahomet, and swore to abide by their compact. The latter then singled out twelve from among them, whom he designated as his apostles; in imitation, it is supposed, of the example of our Saviour. Just then a voice was heard from the summit of the hill, denouncing them as apostates and menacing them with punishment. The sound of this voice, heard in the darkness of the night, inspired temporary dismay. "It is the voice of the fiend Iblis," said Mahomet scornfully; "he is the foe of God; fear him not." It was probably the voice of some spy or eavesdropper of the Koreishites; for the very next morning they manifested a knowledge of what had taken place in the night, and treated the new confederates with great harshness as they were departing from the city.

It was this early accession to the faith, and this timely aid proffered and subsequently afforded to Mahomet and his disciples, which procured for the Moslems of Medina the appellation of Ansarians, or auxiliaries, by which they were afterward distinguished.

After the departure of the Ansarians, and the expiration of the holy month, the persecutions of the Moslems were resumed with increased virulence, insomuch that Mahomet, seeing a crisis was at hand, and being resolved to leave the city, advised his adherents generally to provide for their safety. For himself he still lingered in Mecca with a few devoted followers.

Abu Sofian, his implacable foe, was at this time governor of the city. He was both incensed and alarmed at the spreading growth of the new faith, and held a meeting of the chief of the Koreishites to devise some means of effectually putting a stop to it. Some advised that Mahomet should be banished-the city; but it was objected that he might gain other tribes to his interest, or perhaps the people of Medina, and return at their head to take his revenge. Others proposed to wall him up in a dungeon, and supply him with food until he died; but it was surmised that his friends might effect his escape. All these objections were raised by a violent and pragmatical old man, a stranger from the province of Nedja, who, say the Moslem writers, was no other than the devil in disguise, breathing his malignant spirit into those present.

At length it was declared by Abu-Jahl that the only effectual check on the growing evil was to put Mahomet to death. To this all agreed, and as a means of sharing the odium of the deed, and withstanding the vengeance it might awaken among the relatives of the victim, it was arranged that a member of each family should plunge his sword into the body of Mahomet.

It is to this conspiracy that allusion is made in the eighth chapter of the Koran:

"And call to mind how the unbelievers plotted against thee, that they might either detain thee in bonds, or put thee to death, or expel thee the city; but God laid a plot against them; and God is the best layer of plots."

In fact, by the time the murderers arrived before the dwelling of Mahomet, he was apprised of the impending danger. As usual, the warning is attributed to the angel Gabriel, but it is probable it was given by some Koreishite, less bloody-minded than his confederates. It came just in time to save Mahomet from the hands of his enemies. They paused at his door, but hesitated to enter. Looking through a crevice they beheld, as they thought, Mahomet wrapped in his green mantle, and lying asleep on his couch. They waited for a while, consulting whether to fall on him while sleeping or wait until he should go forth. At length they burst open the door and rushed toward the couch. The sleeper started up; but, instead of Mahomet, Ali stood before them. Amazed and confounded they demanded, "where is Mahomet?" "I know not," replied Ali sternly, and walked forth; nor did anyone venture to molest him. Enraged at the escape of their victim, however, the Koreishites proclaimed a reward of a hundred camels to anyone who should bring them Mahomet alive or dead.

Divers accounts are given of the mode in which Mahomet made his escape from the house after the faithful Ali had wrapped himself in his mantle and taken his place upon the couch. The most miraculous account is, that he opened the door silently, as the Koreishites stood before it, and, scattering a handful of dust in the air, cast such blindness upon them that he walked through the midst of them without being perceived. This, it is added, is confirmed by the verse of the thirtieth chapter of the Koran: "We have thrown blindness upon them, that they shall not see." The most probable account is that he clambered over the wall in the rear of the house, by the help of a servant, who bent his back for him to step upon it.2

He repaired immediately to the house of Abu-Bekr, and they arranged for instant flight. It was agreed that they should take refuge in a cave in Mount Thor, about an hour’s distance from Mecca, and wait there until they could proceed safely to Medina; and in the mean time the children of Abu-Bekr should secretly bring them food. They left Mecca while it was yet dark, making their way on foot by the light of the stars, and the day dawned as they found themselves at the foot of Mount Thor. Scarce were they within the cave when they heard the sound of pursuit. Abu-Bekr, though a brave man, quaked with fear.

"Our pursuers," said he, "are many, and we are but two."

"Nay," replied Mahomet, "there is a third; God is with us!"

And here the Moslem writers relate a miracle, dear to the minds of all true believers. By the time, say they, that the Koreishites reached the mouth of the cavern, an acacia-tree had sprung up before it, in the spreading branches of which a pigeon had made its nest and laid its eggs, and over the whole a spider had woven its web. When the Koreishites beheld these signs of undisturbed quiet, they concluded that no one could recently have entered the cavern; so they turned away, and pursued their search in another direction.

Whether protected by miracle or not, the fugitives remained for three days undiscovered in the cave, and Asama, the daughter of Abu-Bekr, brought them food in the dusk of the evenings.

On the fourth day, when they presumed the ardor of pursuit had abated, the fugitives ventured forth, and set out for Medina, on camels which a servant of Abu-Bekr had brought in the night for them. Avoiding the main road usually taken by the caravans, they bent their course nearer to the coast of the Red Sea. They had not proceeded far, however, before they were overtaken by a troop of horse headed by Soraka Ibn Malec. Abu-Bekr was again dismayed by the number of their pursuers; but Mahomet repeated the assurance, "Be not troubled; Allah is with us." Soraka was a grim warrior, with shagged iron-gray locks and naked sinewy arms rough with hair. As he overtook Mahomet, his horse reared and fell with him. His superstitious mind was struck with it as an evil sign. Mahomet perceived the state of his feelings, and by an eloquent appeal wrought upon him to such a degree that Soraka, filled with awe, entreated his forgiveness, and turning back with his troop suffered him to proceed on his way unmolested.

The fugitives continued their journey without further interruption, until they arrived at Koba, a hill about two miles from Medina. It was a favorite resort of the inhabitants of the city, and a place to which they sent their sick and infirm, for the air was pure and salubrious. Hence, too, the city was supplied with fruit; the hill and its environs being covered with vineyards and with groves of the date and lotus; with gardens producing citrons, oranges, pomegranates, figs, peaches, and apricots, and being irrigated with limpid streams.

On arriving at this fruitful spot Al Kaswa, the camel of Mahomet, crouched on her knees, and would go no farther. The prophet interpreted it as a favorable sign, and determined to remain at Koba, and prepare for entering the city. The place where his camel knelt is still pointed out by pious Moslems, a mosque named Al Takwa having been built there to commemorate the circumstance. Some affirm that it was actually founded by the prophet. A deep well3

is also shown in the vicinity, beside which Mahomet reposed under the shade of the trees, and into which he dropped his seal ring. It is believed still to remain there, and has given sanctity to the well, the waters of which are conducted by subterraneous conduits to Medina. At Koba he remained four days, residing in the house of an Awsite named Colthum Ibn Hadem. While at this village he was joined by a distinguished chief, Boreida Ibn al Hoseib, with seventy followers, all of the tribe of Saham. These made profession of faith between the hands of Mahomet.

Another renowned proselyte who repaired to the prophet at this village was Salman al Parsi—or the Persian. He is said to have been a native of a small place near Ispahan, and that, on passing one day by a Christian church, he was so much struck by the devotion of the people, and the solemnity of the worship, that he became disgusted with the idolatrous faith in which he had been brought up. He afterward wandered about the East, from city to city and convent to convent, in quest of a religion, until an ancient monk, full of years and infirmities, told him of a prophet who had arisen in Arabia to restore the pure faith of Abraham.

This Salman rose to power in after years, and was reputed by the unbelievers of Mecca to have assisted Mahomet in compiling his doctrine. This is alluded to in the sixteenth chapter of the Koran: "Verily, the idolaters say, that a certain man assisted to compose the Koran; but the language of this man is Ajami—or Persian—and the Koran is indited in the pure Arabian tongue."

The Moslems of Mecca, who had taken refuge some time before in Medina, hearing that Mahomet was at hand, came forth to meet him at Koba; among these were the early convert Talha, and Zobeir, the nephew of Kadijah. These, seeing the travel-stained garments of Mahomet and Abu-Bekr, gave them white mantles, with which to make their entrance into Medina. Numbers of the Ansarians, or auxiliaries, of Medina, who had made their compact with Mahomet in the preceding year, now hastened to renew their vow of fidelity.

Learning from them that the number of proselytes in the city was rapidly augmenting, and that there was a general disposition to receive him favorably, be appointed Friday, the Moslem Sabbath,4

the sixteenth day of the month Rabi, for his public entrance.

Accordingly on the morning of that day he assembled all his followers to prayer; and after a sermon, in which he expounded the main principles of his faith, he mounted his camel Al Kaswa, and set forth for that city, which was to become renowned in after ages as his city of refuge.

Boreida Ibn al Hoseib, with his seventy horsemen of the tribe of Saham, accompanied him as a guard. Some of the disciples took turns to hold a canopy of palm leaves over his head, and by his side rode Abu-Bekr. "O apostle of God!" cried Boreida, "thou shalt not enter Medina without a standard"; so saying, he unfolded his turban, and tying one end of it to the point of his lance, bore it aloft before the prophet.

The city of Medina was fair to approach, being extolled for beauty of situation, salubrity of climate, and fertility of soil; for the luxuriance of its palm-trees, and the fragrance of its shrubs and flowers. At a short distance from the city a crowd of new proselytes to the faith came forth in sun and dust to meet the cavalcade. Most of them had never seen Mahomet, and paid reverence to Abu-Bekr through mistake; but the latter put aside the screen of palm leaves, and pointed out the real object of homage, who was greeted with loud acclamations.

In this way did Mahomet, so recently a fugitive from his native city, with a price upon his head, enter Medina, more as a conqueror in triumph than an exile seeking an asylum. He alighted at the house of a Khazradite, named Abu-Ayub, a devout Moslem, to whom moreover he was distantly related; here he was hospitably received, and took up his abode in the basement story.

Shortly after his arrival he was joined by the faithful Ali,5

who had fled from Mecca, and journeyed on foot, hiding himself in the day and travelling only at night, lest he should fall into the hands of the Koreishites. He arrived weary and wayworn, his feet bleeding with the roughness of the journey.

Within a few days more came Ayesha, and the rest of Abu-Bekr’s household, together with the family of Mahomet, conducted by his faithful freedman Zeid, and by Abu-Bekr’s servant Abdallah.


Mahomet had hitherto propagated his religion by fair means only. During his stay at Mecca he had declared his business was only to preach and admonish; and that whether people believed or not was none of his concern. He had hitherto confined himself to the arts of persuasion, promising, on the one hand, the joys of paradise to all who should believe in him, and who should, for the hopes of them, disregard the things of this world, and even bear persecution with patience and resignation; and, on the other, deterring his hearers from what he called infidelity, by setting before them both the punishments inflicted in this world upon Pharaoh and others, who despised the warnings of the prophets sent to reclaim them; and also the torments of hell, which would be their portion in the world to come. Now, however, when he had got a considerable town at his command, and a good number of followers firmly attached to him, he began to sing another note. Gabriel now brings him messages from heaven to the effect that, whereas other prophets had come with miracles and been rejected, he was to take different measures, and propagate Islamism by the sword. And accordingly, within a year after his arrival at Medina he began what was called the holy war. For this purpose he first of all instituted a brotherhood, joining his Ansars or helpers, and his Mohajerins or refugees together in pairs; he himself taking All for his brother. It was in allusion to this that Ali, afterward when preaching at Cufa, said, "I am the servant of God, and brother to his apostle."

In the second year of the Hegira, Mahomet changed the Kebla of the Mussulman, which before this time had been toward Jerusalem, ordering them henceforth to turn toward Mecca when they prayed. In the same year he also appointed the fast of the month Ramadan.

Mahomet having now a pretty large congregation at Medina found it necessary to have some means of calling them to prayers; for this purpose he was thinking of employing a horn, or some instrument of wood, which should be made to emit a loud sound by being struck upon. But his doubts were settled this year by a dream of one of his disciples, in which a man appearing to him in a green vest recommended as a better way, that the people should be summoned to prayers by a crier calling out, "Allah acbar, Allah acbar," etc.; "God is great, God is great, there is but one God, Mahomet is his prophet;6

come to prayers, come to prayers." Mahomet approved of the scheme, and this is the very form in use to this day among the Mussulmans; who, however, in the call to morning prayers, add the words, "Prayer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep"—a sentiment not unworthy the consideration of those who are professors of a better religion.

The same year the apostle sent some of his people to plunder a caravan going to Mecca; which they did, and brought back two prisoners to Medina. This was the first act of hostility committed by the Mussulmans against the idolaters. The second was the battle of Beder. The history of the battle is thus given by Abulfeda: "The apostle, hearing that a caravan of the Meccans was coming home from Syria, escorted by Abu Sofian at the head of thirty men, placed a number of soldiers in ambuscade to intercept it. Abu Sofian, being informed thereof by his spies, sent word immediately to Mecca, whereupon all the principal men except Abu Laheb—who, however, sent Al Asum son of Hesham in his stead—marched out to his assistance, making in all nine hundred and fifty men, whereof two hundred were cavalry. The apostle of God went out against them with three hundred and thirteen men, of whom seventy-seven were refugees from Mecca, the rest being helpers from Medina; they had with them only two horses and seventy camels, upon which they rode by turns. The apostle encamped near a well called Beder, from the name of the person who was owner of it, and had a hut made where he and Abu-Bekr sat. As soon as the armies were in sight of each other, three champions came out from among the idolaters, Otha son of Rabia, his brother Shaiba, and Al Walid son of Otha; against the first of these, the prophet sent Obeidah son of Hareth, Hamza against the second, and Ali against the third: Hamza and All slew each his man and then went to the assistance of Obeidah, and having killed his adversary, brought off Obeidah, who, however, soon after died of a wound in his foot.

"All this while the apostle continued in his hut in prayer, beating his breast so violently that his cloak fell off his shoulders, and he was suddenly taken with a palpitation of the heart; soon recovering, however, he comforted Abu-Bekr, telling him God’s help was come. Having uttered these words, he forthwith ran out of his hut and encouraged his men, and taking a handful of dust threw it toward the Koreishites, and said, ’May their faces be confounded,’ and immediately they fled. After the battle, Abdallah, the son of Masud, brought the head of Abu Jehel to the apostle, who gave thanks to God; Al As, brother to Abu Jehel, was also killed; Al Abbas also, the prophet’s uncle, and Ocail son of Abu Taleb, were taken prisoners. Upon the news of this defeat Abu Laheb died of grief within a week."

Of the Mussulmans died fourteen martyrs (for so they call all such as die fighting for Islamism). The number of idolaters slain was seventy; among whom my author names some of chief note, Hantala son of Abu Sofian, and Nawfal, brother to Kadijah. Ali slew six of the enemy with his own hand.

The prophet ordered the dead bodies of the enemy to be thrown into a pit, and remained three days upon the field of battle dividing the spoil; on occasion of which a quarrel arose between the helpers and the refugees, and to quiet them the eighth chapter of the Koran was brought from heaven. It begins thus, "They will ask thee concerning the spoils: say, The spoils belong to God and his apostle": and again in the same chapter, "And know that whenever ye gain any, a fifth part belongeth to God, and to the apostle, and his kindred, and the orphans, and the poor." The other four-fifths are to be divided among those who are present at the action. The apostle, when he returned to Safra in his way to Medina, ordered Ali to behead two of his prisoners.

The victory at Beder was of great importance to Mahomet; to encourage his men, and to increase the number of his followers, he pretended that two miracles were wrought in his favor, in this, as also in several subsequent battles: first, that God sent his angels to fight on his side; and second, made his army appear to the enemy much greater than it really was. Both these miracles are mentioned in the Koran, chapter viii. Al Abbas said he was taken prisoner by a man of a prodigious size (an angel, of course); no wonder, then, he became a convert.

As soon as the Mussulmans returned to Medina the Koreishites sent to offer a ransom for their prisoners, which was accepted, and distributed among those who had taken them, according to the quality of the prisoners. Some had one thousand drachms for their share. Those who had only a small or no part of the ransom Mahomet rewarded with donations, so as to content them all.

The Jews had many a treaty with Mahomet, and lived peaceably at Medina; till a Jew, having affronted an Arabian milk-woman, was killed by a Mussulman. In revenge for this the Jews killed the Mussulman, whereupon a general quarrel ensued. The Jews fled to their castles; but after a siege of fifteen days were forced to surrender at discretion. Mahomet ordered their hands to be tied behind them, determined to put them all to the sword, and was with great difficulty prevailed upon to spare their lives and take all their property. Kaab, son of Ashraf, was one of the most violent among the Jews against Mahomet. He had been at Mecca, and, with some pathetic verses upon the unhappy fate of those who had fallen at Beder, excited the Meccans to take up arms. Upon his return to Medina he rehearsed the same verses among the lower sort of people and the women. Mahomet, being told of these underhand practices, said, one day, "who will rid me of the son of Ashraf?" when Mahomet, son of Mosalama, one of the helpers, answered, "I am the man, O apostle of God, that will do it," and immediately took with him Salcan son of Salama, and some other Moslems, who were to lie in ambush. In order to decoy Kaab out of his castle, which was a very strong one, Salcan, his foster-brother, went alone to visit him in the dusk of the evening; and, entering into conversation, told him some little stories of Mahomet, which he knew would please him. When he got up to take his leave, Kaab, as he expected, attended him to the gate; and, continuing the conversation, went on with him till he came near the ambuscade, where Mahomet and his companions fell upon him and stabbed him.

Abu Sofian, meditating revenge for the defeat at Beder, swore he would neither anoint himself nor come near his women till he was even with Mahomet. Setting out toward Medina with two hundred horse, he posted a party of them near the town, where one of the helpers fell into their hands and was killed. Mahomet, being informed of it, went out against them, but they all fled; and, for the greater expedition, threw away some sacks of meal, part of their provision. From which circumstance this was called the meal-war.

Abu Sofian, resolving to make another and more effectual effort, got together a body of three thousand men, whereof seven hundred were cuirassiers and two hundred cavalry; his wife Henda, with a number of women, followed in the rear, beading drums, and lamenting the fate of those slain at Beder, and exciting the idolaters to fight courageously. The apostle would have waited for them in the town, but as his people were eager to advance against the enemy, he set out at once with one thousand men; but of these one hundred turned back, disheartened by the superior numbers of the enemy. He encamped at the foot of Mount Ohud, having the mountain in his rear. Of his nine hundred men only one hundred had armor on; and as for horses, there was only one besides that on which he himself rode. Mosaab carried the prophet’s standard; Kaled, son of Al Walid, led the right wing of the idolaters; Acrema, son of Abu Jehel, the left; the women kept in the rear, beating their drums. Henda cried out to them: "Courage, ye sons of Abdal Dari; courage! smite with all your swords."

Mahomet placed fifty archers in his rear, and ordered them to keep their post. Then Hamza fought stoutly, and killed Arta, the standard-bearer of the idolaters; and as Seba, son of Abdal Uzza, came near him, Hamza struck off his head also; but was himself immediately after run through with a spear by Wabsha, a slave, who lurked behind a rock with that intent. Then Ebn Kamia slew Mosaab, the apostle’s standard-bearer; and taking him for the prophet cried out, "I have killed Mahomet!" When Mosaab was slain the standard was given to All.

At the beginning of the action the Mussulmans attacked the idolaters so furiously that they gave ground, fell back upon their rear, and threw it into disorder. The archers seeing this, and expecting a complete victory, left their posts, contrary to the express orders that had been given them, and came forward from fear of losing their share of the plunder. In the mean time Kaled, advancing with his cavalry, fell furiously upon the rear of the Mussulmans, crying aloud at the same time that Mahomet was slain. This cry, and the finding themselves attacked on all sides, threw the Mussulmans into such consternation that the idolaters made great havoc among them, and were able to press on so near the apostle as to beat him down with a shower of stones and arrows. He was wounded in the lip, and two arrowheads stuck in his face. Abu Obeidah pulled out first one and then the other; at each operation one of the apostle’s teeth came out. As Sonan Abu Said wiped the blood from off his face, the apostle exclaimed, "He that touches my blood, and handles it tenderly, shall not have his blood spilt in the fire" (of hell). In this action, it is said, Telhah, while he was putting a breast-plate upon Mahomet, received a wound upon his hand, which maimed it forever. Omar and Abu-Bekr were also wounded. When the Mussulmans saw Mahomet fall, they concluded he was killed and took to flight; and even Othman was hurried along by the press of those that fled. In a little time, however, finding Mahomet was alive, a great number of his men returned to the field; and, after a very obstinate fight, brought him off, and carried him to a neighboring village. The Mussulmans had seventy men killed, the idolaters lost only twenty-two.

The Koreishites had no other fruit of their victory but the gratification of a poor spirit of revenge. Henda, and the women who had fled with her upon the first disorder of the idolaters, now returned, and committed great barbarities upon the dead bodies of the apostle’s friends. They cut off their ears and noses, and made bracelets and necklaces of them; Henda pulled Hamza’s liver out of his body, and chewed and swallowed some of it. Abu Sofian, having cut pieces off the cheeks of Hamza, put them upon the end of his spear, and cried out aloud, "The success of war is uncertain; after the battle of Beder comes the battle of Ohud; now, Hobal,7

thy religion is victorious!" Notwithstanding this boasting, he decamped the same day. Jannabi ascribes his retreat to a panic; however that may have been, Abu Sofian sent to propose a truce for a year, which was agreed to.

When the enemy were retreated toward Mecca, Mahomet went to the field of battle to look for the body of Hamza. Finding it shamefully mangled, in the manner already related, he ordered it to be wrapped in a black cloak, and then prayed over it, repeating seven times, "Allah acbar," etc. ("God is great," etc.). In the same manner he prayed over every one of the martyrs, naming Hamza again with every one of them; so that Hamza had the prayers said over him seventy-two times. But, as if this were not enough, he declared that Gabriel had told him he had been received into the seventh heaven, and welcomed with this eulogium, "Hamza, the lion of God, and the lion of his prophet."

The Mussulmans were much chagrined at this defeat. Some expressed a doubt of the prophet being as high in the divine favor as he pretended, since he had suffered such an overthrow by infidels. Others murmured at the loss of their friends and relations. To pacify them he used various arguments, telling them the sins of some had been the cause of disgrace to all; that they had been disobedient to orders, in quitting their post for the sake of plunder; that the devil put it into the minds of those who turned back; their flight, however, was forgiven, because God is merciful; that their defeat was intended to try them, and to show them who were believers and who not; that the event of war is uncertain; that the enemy had suffered as well as they; that other prophets before him had been defeated in battle; that death is unavoidable. And here Mahomet’s doctrine of fate was of as great service to him as it was afterward to his successors, tending as it did to make his people fearless and desperate in fight. For he taught them that the time of every man’s death is so unalterably fixed that he cannot die before the appointed hour; and, when that is come, no caution whatever can prolong his life one moment;8

so that they who were slain in battle would certainly have died at the same time, if they had been at home in their houses; but, as they now died fighting for the faith, they had thereby gained a crown of martyrdom, and entered immediately into paradise, where they were in perfect bliss with their Lord.

In the beginning of the next year the prophet had a revelation, commanding him to prohibit wine and games of chance. Some say the prohibition was owing to a quarrel occasioned by these things among his followers.9

In the fifth year of the Hegira, Mahomet, informed by his spies of a design against Medina, surrounded it with a ditch, which was no sooner finished than the Meccans, with several tribes of Arabs, sat down before it, to the number of ten thousand men. The appearance of so great a force threw the Mussulmans into a consternation. Some were ready to revolt; and one of them exclaimed aloud, "Yesterday the prophet promised us the wealth of Khusrau (Cosroes) and Caesar, and now he is forced to hide himself behind a nasty ditch." In the mean time Mahomet, skilfully concealing his real concern, and setting as good a face upon the matter as he could, marched out with three thousand Mussulmans, and formed his army at a little distance behind the intrenchment. The two armies continued facing each other for twenty days, without any action, except a discharge of arrows on both sides. At length some champions of the Koreishites, Amru son of Abdud, Acrema son of Abu Jehel, and Nawfal son of Abdallah, coming to the ditch leaped over it; and, wheeling about between the ditch and the Moslem army, challenged them to fight. Ali readily accepted the challenge, and came forward against his uncle Amru, who said to him, "Nephew, what a pleasure am I now going to have in killing you." Ali replied, "No; it is I that am to have a much greater pleasure in killing you." Amru immediately alighted, and, having hamstrung his horse, advanced toward Ali, who had also dismounted and was ready to receive him. They immediately engaged, and, in turning about to flank each other, raised such a dust that they could not be distinguished, only the strokes of their swords might be heard. At last, the dust being laid, All was seen with his knee upon the breast of his adversary, cutting his throat. Upon this, the other two champions went back as fast as they came. Nawfal, however, in leaping the ditch, got a fall, and being overwhelmed with a shower of stones, cried out, "I had rather die by the sword than thus." All hearing him, leaped into the ditch and despatched him. He then pursued after Acrema, and having wounded him with a spear, drove him and his companions back to the army. Here they related what had happened; which put the rest in such fear that they were ready to retreat; and when some of their tents had been overthrown by a storm, and discord had arisen among the allies, the Koreishites, finding themselves forsaken by their auxiliaries, returned to Mecca. Mahomet made a miracle of this retreat; and published upon it this verse of the Koran, "God sent a storm and legions of angels, which you did not see."

Upon the prophet’s return into the town, while he was laying by his armor and washing himself, Gabriel came and asked him, "Have you laid by your arms? we have not laid by ours; go and attack them," pointing to the Koraidites, a Jewish tribe confederated against him. Whereupon Mahomet went immediately, and besieged them so closely in their castles that after twenty-five days they surrendered at discretion. He referred the settlement of the conditions to Saad, son of Moad; who being wounded by an arrow at the ditch, had wished he might only live to be revenged. Accordingly, he decreed that all the men, in number between six and seven hundred, should be put to the sword, the women and children sold for slaves, and their goods given to the soldiers for a prey. Mahomet extolled the justice of this sentence, as a divine direction sent down from the seventh heaven, and had it punctually executed. Saad, dying of his wound presently after, Mahomet performed his funeral obsequies, and made a harangue in praise of him.

One Salam, a Jew, having been very strenuous in stirring up the people against the prophet, some zealous Casregites desired leave to go and assassinate him. Permission being readily granted, away they went to the Jew’s house, and being let in by his wife, upon their pretending they were come to buy provisions, they murdered him in his bed, and made their escape.

Toward the end of this year Mahomet, going into the house of Zaid, did not find him at home, but happened to espy his wife Zainab so much in dishabille as to discover beauties enough to touch a heart so amorous as his was. He could not conceal the impression made upon him, but cried out, "Praised be God, who turneth men’s hearts as he pleases!" Zainab heard him, and told it to her husband when he came home. Zaid, who had been greatly obliged to Mahomet, was very desirous to gratify him, and offered to divorce his wife. Mahomet pretended to dissuade him from it, but Zaid easily perceiving how little he was in earnest, actually divorced her. Mahomet thereupon took her to wife, and celebrated the nuptials with extraordinary magnificence, keeping open house upon the occasion. Notwithstanding, this step gave great offence to many who could not bring themselves to brook that a prophet should marry his son’s wife; for he had before adopted Zaid for his son. To salve the affair, therefore, he had recourse to his usual expedient: Gabriel brought him a revelation from heaven, in which God commands him to take the wife of his adopted son, on purpose that forever after believers might have no scruple in marrying the divorced wives or widows of their adopted sons; which the Arabs had before looked upon as unlawful. The apostle is even reproved for fearing men in this affair, whereas he ought to fear God. (Koran, chapter xxxiii.)

In the sixth year he subdued several tribes of the Arabs, Among the captives was a woman of great beauty, named Juweira, whom Mahomet took to wife and, by way of dowry, released all her kindred that were taken prisoners.

When Mahomet went upon any expedition, it was generally determined by lots which of his wives should go with him; at this time it fell to Ayesha’s lot to accompany him. Upon their return to Medina, Ayesha was accused of intriguing with one of the officers of the army, and was in great disgrace for about a month. The prophet was exceedingly chagrined to have his best-beloved wife accused of adultery; but his fondness for her prevailed over his resentment, and she was restored to his favor, upon her own protestation of her innocence. This, however, did not quite satisfy the world, nor, indeed, was the prophet’s mind perfectly at ease on the subject, until Gabriel brought him a revelation, wherein Ayesha is declared innocent of the crime laid to her charge; while those who accuse believers of any crime, without proof, are severely reproved, and a command given, that whosoever accuses chaste women, and cannot produce four eye-witnesses in support of the charge, shall receive eighty stripes. (Koran, chapter xxiv.) In obedience to this command, all those who had raised this report upon Ayesha were publicly scourged, except Abdallah, son of Abu Solul, who was too considerable a man to be so dealt with, notwithstanding he had been particularly industrious in spreading the scandal.10

Mahomet, being now increased in power, marched his army against Mecca, and a battle being fought on the march, wherein neither side gaining the advantage, a truce was agreed upon for ten years, on the following conditions: All within Mecca, who were disposed, were to be at liberty to join Mahomet; and those who had a mind to leave him and return to Mecca, were to be equally free to do so; but, for the future, if any Meccans deserted to him, they should be sent back upon demand; and that Mahomet or any of the Mussulmans might come to Mecca, provided they came unarmed, and tarried not above three, days at a time.

Mahomet was now so well confirmed in his power that he took upon himself the authority of a king, and was, by the chief men of his army, inaugurated under a tree near Medina; and having, by the truce obtained for his followers, free access to Mecca, he ordained they should henceforward make their pilgrimages thither.11

Among the Arabs it had been an ancient usage to visit the Kaaba once a year, to worship there the heathen deities. Mahomet, therefore, thought it expedient to comply with a custom with which they were pleased, and which, besides, was so beneficial to his native place, by bringing a great concourse of pilgrims to it, that when he afterward came to be master of Mecca, he enforced the pilgrimage with most of the old ceremonies belonging to it, only taking away the idols and abolishing this worship. Though he now took upon himself the sovereign command and the insignia of royalty, he still retained the sacred character of chief pontiff of his religion, and transmitted both these powers to his caliphs or successors, who, for some time, not only ordered all matters of religion, but used, especially upon public occasions, to officiate in praying and preaching in their mosques. In process of time this came to be all the authority the caliphs had left, for, about the year of the Hegira 325, the governors of provinces seized the regal authority and made themselves kings of their several governments. They continued, indeed, to pay a show of deference to the caliph, who usually resided at Bagdad, whom, however, they occasionally deposed. At this present time most Mahometan princes have a person in their respective dominions who bears this sacred character, and is called the mufti in Turkey, and in Persia the sadre. He is often appealed to as the interpreter of the law; but, as a tool of state, usually gives such judgment as he knows will be most acceptable to his prince.

Mahomet used at first, when preaching in his mosque at Medina, to lean upon a post of a palm-tree driven into the ground; but being now invested with greater dignity, by the advice of one of his wives he had a pulpit built, which had two steps up to it and a seat within. When Othman was caliph he hung it with tapestry, and Moawiyah raised it six steps higher, that he might be heard when he sat down, as he was forced to do, being very fat and heavy; whereas his predecessors all used to stand.

Mahomet had now a dream that he held in his hand the key of the Kaaba, and that he and his men made the circuits round it and performed all the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. Having told his dream next morning, he and his followers were all in high spirits upon it, taking it for an omen that they should shortly be masters of Mecca. Accordingly, great preparations were made for an expedition to this city. The prophet gave it out that his only intent was to make the pilgrimage. He provided seventy camels for the sacrifice, which were conducted by seven hundred men, ten to each camel; as, however, he apprehended opposition from the Koreishites, he took with him his best troops, to the number of fourteen hundred men, besides an incredible number of wandering Arabs from all parts. The Koreishites, alarmed at the march of the Mussulmans, got together a considerable force and encamped about six miles from Mecca. Mahomet continued his march, but finding, by his spies, the enemy had posted their men so as to stop the passes in his feints and counter-marches, came to a place where his camel fell upon her knees. The people said she was restive, but the prophet took it for a divine intimation that he should not proceed any farther in his intended expedition, but wait with resignation till the appointed time. He therefore turned back, and encamped without the sacred territory, at Hodaibia. The Koreishites sent three several messengers, the two last men of consequence, to demand what was his intention in coming thither. He answered that it was purely out of a devout wish to visit the sacred house, and not with any hostile design. Mahomet also sent one of his own men to give them the same assurance; but the Koreishites cut the legs of his camel, and would also have killed the man had not the Ahabishites interposed and helped him to escape. Upon this he wished Omar to go upon the same errand; but he excused himself, as not being upon good terms with the Koreishites. At last Othman was sent; who delivered his message, and was coming away, when they told him he might, if he wished, make his circuits round the Kaaba. But upon his replying he would not do so until the apostle of God had first performed his vow to make the holy circuits, they were so greatly provoked that they laid him in irons. In the Mussulman army it was reported that he was killed, at which Mahomet was much afflicted and said aloud, "we will not stir from hence till we have given battle to the enemy." Thereupon the whole army took an oath of obedience and fealty to the prophet, who, on his part, by the ceremony of clapping his hands one against the other, took an oath to stand by them as long as there was one of them left.

The Koreishites sent a party of eighty men toward the camp of the Mussulmans to beat up their quarters. Being discovered by the sentinels, they were surrounded, taken prisoners, and brought before Mahomet; who, thinking it proper at that time to be generous, released them. In return, Sohail son of Amru was sent to him with proposals of peace, which he agreed to accept.

Mahomet, pretending he had a divine promise of a great booty, returned to Medina and, having concluded a peace for ten years with the Koreishites, was the better enabled to attack the Jews, his irreconcilable enemies. Accordingly, he went to Khaibar, a strong town about six days’ journey northeast of Medina, and took that and several other strong places, whereto the Jews had retired, and carried a vast deal of treasure; this all fell into the hands of the Mussulmans. Being entertained at Khaibar, a young Jewess, to try, as she afterward said, whether he were a prophet or not, poisoned a shoulder of mutton, a joint Mahomet was particularly fond of. One of those who partook of it at the table, named Basher, died upon the spot; but Mahomet, finding it taste disagreeable, spat it out, saying, "This mutton tells me it is poisoned." The miracle-mongers improve this story, by making the shoulder of mutton speak to him; but if it did, it spoke too late, for he had already swallowed some of it; and of the effects of that morsel he complained in his last illness, of which he died three years after.

In this year, Jannabi mentions Mahomet’s being bewitched by the Jews. Having made a waxen image of him, they hid it in a well, together with a comb and a tuft of hair tied in eleven knots. The prophet fell into a very wasting condition, till he had a dream that informed him where these implements of witchcraft were, and accordingly had them taken away. In order to untie the knots Gabriel read to him the two last chapters of the Koran, consisting of eleven verses; each verse untied a knot, and, when all were untied, he recovered.12

This year Mahomet had a seal made with this inscription, "Mahomet, the apostle of God." This was to seal his letters, which he now took upon him to write to divers princes, inviting them to Islamism. His first letter to this effect was sent to Badham, viceroy of Yemen, to be forwarded to Khusrau, king of Persia. Khusrau tore the letter, and ordered Badham to restore the prophet to his right mind or send him his head. Khusrau was presently after murdered by his son Siroes; Badham with his people turned Mussulmans, and Mahomet continued him in his government.

He also sent a letter of the same purport to the Roman emperor Heraclius. Heraclius received the letter respectfully, and made some valuable presents to the messenger. He sent another to Makawkas, viceroy of Egypt, who returned in answer he would consider of the proposals, and sent, among other presents, two young maidens. One of these, named Mary, of fifteen years of age, Mahomet debauched. This greatly offended two of his wives, Hafsa and Ayesha, and to pacify them he promised, upon oath, to do so no more. But he was soon taken again by them transgressing in the same way. And now, that he might not stand in awe of his wives any longer, down comes a revelation which is recorded in the sixty-sixth chapter of the Koran, releasing the prophet from his oath, and allowing him to have concubines, if he wished.13

Forgets the Koran in his Mary’s smile,
Then beckons some kind angel from above,
With a new text to consecrate their love!"

     —Veiled Prophet of Khorassan. And the two wives of Mahomet, who, upon the quarrel about Mary, had gone home to their fathers, being threatened in the same chapter with a divorce, were glad to send their fathers to him to make their peace with him, and obtain his permission for their return. They were fain to come and submit to live with him upon his own terms.

Mahomet, preaching the unity of God, enters Mecca at the head of his victorious followers

Mahomet sent letters at the same time to the king of Ethiopia, who had before professed Islamism, and now in his answer repeated his profession of it. He wrote to two other Arabian princes, who sent him disagreeable answers, which provoked him to curse them. He sent also to Al Mondar, king of Balirain, who came into his religion, and afterward routed the Persians and made a great slaughter of them. And now all the Arabians of Bahrain had become converts to his religion.

Among the captives taken at Khaibar was Safia, betrothed to the son of Kenana, the king of the Jews. Mahomet took the former to wife, and put Kenana to the torture to make him discover his treasure. In the action at Khaibar, it is said, Ali, having his buckler struck out of his hand, took one of the gates off its hinges, and used it for a buckler till the place was taken. The narrator of this story asserts that he and seven men tried to stir the gate, and were not able.

One of the articles of the peace being, that any Mussulman might be permitted to perform his pilgrimage at Mecca, the prophet went to that city to complete the visitation of the holy places, which he could not do as he intended when at Hodaiba. Hearing, upon this occasion, the Meccans talking of his being weakened by the long marches he had made, to show the contrary, in going round the Kaaba seven times, he went the first three rounds in a brisk trot, shaking his shoulders the while, but performed the four last circuits in a common walking pace. This is the reason why Mussulmans always perform seven circuits round the Kaaba in a similar manner.

In the eighth year of the Hegira, Kaled son of Al Walid, Amru son of Al As, and Othman son of Telha, who presided over the Kaaba, became Mussulmans; this was a considerable addition to Mahomet’s power and interest. The same year Mahomet, having sent a letter to the governor of Bostra in Syria, as he had to others, and his messenger being slain there, sent Zaid, son of Hareth, with three thousand men to Muta in Syria, against the Roman army, which, with their allies, mace a body of nearly one hundred thousand men. Zaid being slain, the command fell to Jaafar, and, upon His death, to Abdallah son of Rawahas, who was also killed.14

Thereupon the Mussulmans unanimously chose Kaled for their leader, who defeated the enemy, and returned to Medina with a considerable booty, on which account Mahomet gave him the title of the "Sword of God."

The same year the Koreishites assisted some of their allies against the Kozaites, who were in alliance with Mahomet. This the latter resented as an infraction of the peace. Abu Sofian was sent to try to make up matters, but Mahomet would not vouchsafe to receive his explanation. But having made his preparation to fall upon them before they could be prepared to receive him, he advanced upon Mecca with about ten thousand men. Abu Sofian having come out of the town in the evening to reconnoitre, he fell in with Al Abbas, who, out of friendship to his countrymen, had ridden from the army with the hope of meeting some straggling Meccans whom he might send back with the news of Mahomet’s approach, and advise the Meccans to surrender. Al Abbas, recognizing Abu Sofian’s voice, called to him, and advised him to get up behind him, and go with him, and in all haste make his submission to Mahomet. This he did, and, to save his life, professed Islamism, and was afterward as zealous in propagating as he had hitherto been ire opposing it.

Mahomet had given orders to his men to enter Mecca peaceably, but Kaled meeting with a party who discharged some arrows at him, fell upon them, and slew twenty-eight of them. Mahomet sent one of his helpers to bid him desist from the slaughter; but the messenger delivered quite the contrary order, commanding him to show them no mercy. Afterward, when Mahomet said to the helper, "Did not I bid you tell Kaled not to kill anybody in Mecca?"

"It is true," said the helper, " and I would have done as you directed me, but God would have it otherwise, and God’s will was done."

When all was quiet, Mahomet went to the Kaaba, and rode round it upon his camel seven times, and touched with his cane a corner of the black stone with great reverence. Having alighted, he went into the Kaaba, where he found images of angels, and a figure of Abraham holding in his hand a bundle of arrows, which had been made use of for deciding things by lot. All these, as well as three hundred and sixty idols which stood on the outside of the Kaaba, he caused to be thrown down and broken in pieces. As he entered the Kaaba, he cried with a loud voice, "Allah acbar," seven times, turning round to all the sides of the Kaaba. He also appointed it to be the Kebla, or place toward which the Mussulmans should turn themselves when they pray. Remounting his camel, he now rode once more seven times round the Kaaba, and again alighting, bowed himself twice before it. He next visited the well Zem-zem, and from thence passed to the station of Abraham. Here he stopped awhile, and ordering a pail of water to be brought from the Zem-zem, he drank several large draughts, and then made the holy washing called wodhu. Immediately all his followers imitated his example, purifying themselves and washing their faces. After this, Mahomet, standing at the door of the Kaaba, made a harangue to the following effect: "There is no other god but God, who has fulfilled his promise to his servant, and who alone has put to flight his enemies, and put under my feet everything that is visible, men, animals, goods, riches, except only the government of the Kaaba and the keeping of the cup for the pilgrims to drink out of. As for you, O ye Koreishites God hath taken from you the pride of paganism, which causes you to worship as deities our fathers Abraham and Ishmael, though they were men descended from Adam, who was created out of the earth." Having a mind to bestow on one of his own friends the prefecture of the Kaaba, he took the keys of it from Othman the son of Telha, and was about to give them to Al Abbas, who had asked for them, when a direction came to him from heaven, in these words, "Give the charge to whom it belongs." Whereupon he returned the keys by Ali to Othman, who, being agreeably surprised, thanked Mahomet, and made a new profession of his faith. The pilgrim’s cup, however, he consigned to the care of Al Abbas, in whose family it became hereditary.

The people of Mecca were next summoned to the hill Al Safa, to witness Mahomet’s inauguration. The prophet having first taken an oath to them, the men first, and then the women, bound themselves by oath to be faithful and obedient to whatsoever he should command them. After this he summoned an extraordinary assembly, in which it was decreed that Mecca should be henceforward an asylum or inviolable sanctuary, within which it should be unlawful to shed the blood of man, or even to fell a tree.

After telling the Meccans they were his slaves by conquest, he pardoned and declared them free, with the exception of eleven men and six women, whom, as his most inveterate enemies, he proscribed, ordering his followers to kill them wherever they should find them. Most of them obtained their pardon by embracing Islamism, and were ever after the most zealous of Mussulmans. One of these, Abdallah, who had greatly offended Mahomet, was brought to him by Othman, upon whose intercession Mahomet pardoned him. Before he granted his pardon, he maintained a long silence, in expectation, as he afterward owned, that some of those about him would fall upon Abdallah and kill him. Of the women, three embraced Islamism and were pardoned, the rest were put to death, one being crucified.

Mahomet now sent out Kaled and Others to destroy the idols which were still retained by some of the tribes, and to invite them to Islamism. Kaled executed his commission with great brutality. The Jodhamites had formerly robbed and murdered Kaled’s uncle as he journeyed from Arabia Felix, Kaled having proposed Islamism to them, they cried out, "they professed Sabism." This was what he wanted. He immediately fell upon them, killing some, and making others prisoners: of these, he distributed some among his men, and reserved others for himself. As for the latter, having tied their hands behind them, he put them all to the sword. On hearing of this slaughter Mahomet lifted up his eyes and protested his innocence of this murder, and immediately sent Ali with a sum of money to make satisfaction for the bloodshed, and to restore the plunder. Ali paid to the surviving Jodhamites as much as they demanded, and generously divided the overplus among them. This action Mahomet applauded and afterward reproved Kaled for his cruelty.

Upon the conquest of Mecca, many of the tribes of the Arabs came and submitted to Mahomet; but the Hawazanites, the Thakishites, and part of the Saadites, assembled to the number of four thousand effective men, besides women and children, to oppose him. He went against them at the head of twelve thousand fighting men. At the first onset the Mussulmans, being received with a thick shower of arrows, were put to flight; but Mahomet, with great courage, rallied his men, and finally obtained the victory. The next considerable action was the siege of Taif, a town sixty miles east from Mecca. The Mussulmans set down before it and, having made several breaches with their engines, marched resolutely up to them, but were vigorously repulsed by the besieged. Mahomet, having by a herald proclaimed liberty to all the slaves who should come over to him, twenty-three deserted, to each of whom he assigned a Mussulman for a comrade. So inconsiderable a defection did not in the least abate the courage of the besieged; so that the prophet began to despair of reducing the place, and, after a dream, which Abu-Bekr interpreted unfavorably to the attempt, determined to raise the siege. His men, however, on being ordered to prepare for a retreat, began to murmur; whereupon he commanded them to be ready for an assault the next day. The assault being made the assailants were beaten back with great loss. To console them in their retreat, the prophet smiled, and said, "We will come here again, if it please God." When the army reached Jesana, where all the booty taken from the Hawazanites had been left, a deputation arrived from that tribe to beg it might be restored. The prophet having given them their option between the captives or their goods, they chose to have their wives and children again. Their goods being divided among the Mussulmans, Mahomet, in order to indemnify those who had been obliged to give up their slaves, gave up his own share of the plunder and divided it among them. To Malec, however, son of Awf, the general of the Hawazanites, he intimated that if he would embrace Islamism he should have all his goods as well as his family, and a present of one hundred camels besides. By this promise Malec wad brought over to be so good a Mussulman that he had the command given him of all his countrymen who should at any time be converts, and was very serviceable against the Thakishites.

The prophet, after this, made a holy visit to Mecca, where he appointed Otab, son of Osaid, governor, though not quite twenty years of age; Maad, son of Jabal, imam, or chief priest, to teach the people Islamism, and direct them in solemnizing the pilgrimage. Upon his return to Medina his concubine, Mary, brought him a son, whom he named Ibrahim, celebrating his birth with a great feast. The child, however, lived but fifteen months.

In the ninth year of the Hegira envoys from all parts of Arabia came to Mahomet at Medina, to declare the readiness of their several tribes to profess his religion.

The same year Mahomet, with an army of thirty thousand men, marched toward Syria, to a place called Tobuc, against the Romans and Syrians, who were making preparation against him, but, upon his approach, retreated. The Mussulmans, in their march back toward Medina, took several forts of the Christian Arabs, and made them tributaries. Upon his return to Medina the Thakishites, having been blockaded in the Taif by the Mussulman tribes, sent deputies offering to embrace Islamism, upon condition of being allowed to retain a little longer an idol to which their people were bigotedly attached. When Mahomet insisted upon its being immediately demolished, they desired to be at least excused from using the Mussulmans prayers, but to this he answered very justly, "That a religion without prayers was good for nothing." At last they submitted absolutely.

During the same year Mahomet sent Abu-Bekr to Mecca, to perform the pilgrimage, and sacrifice in his behalf twenty camels. Presently afterward he sent Ali to publish the ninth chapter of the Koran, which, though so placed in the present confused copy, is generally supposed to have been the last that was revealed. It is called "Barat," or Immunity; the purport of it is that the associators with whom Mahomet had made a treaty must, after four months’ liberty of conscience, either embrace Islamism or pay tribute. The command runs thus: "When those holy months are expired, kill the idolaters wherever ye shall find them." Afterward come these words, "If they repent, and observe the times of prayer and give alms, they are to be looked upon as your brethren in religion." The same chapter also orders, "That nobody should, not having on the sacred habit, perform the holy circuits round the Kaaba; and that no idolater should make the pilgrimage to Mecca." In consequence, no person except a Mahometan may approach the Kaaba, on pain of death.

The following account of Mahomet’s farewell pilgrimage is from Jaber, son of Abdallah, who was one of the company: "The apostle of God had not made the pilgrimage for nine years (for when he conquered Mecca he only made a visitation). In the tenth year of the Hegira, he publicly proclaimed his intention to perform the pilgrimage, whereupon a prodigious multitude of people (some make the number near one hundred thousand) flocked from all parts to Medina. Our chief desire was to follow the apostle of God, and imitate him. When we came to Dhul Holaifa, the apostle of God prayed in the mosque there; then mounting his camel he rode hastily to the plain Baida, where he began to praise God in the form that professes his unity, saying, ’Here I am, O God, ready to obey thee; thou hast no partner,’ etc. When he came to the Kaaba, he kissed the corner of the black stone, went seven times round—three times in a trot, four times walking—then went to the station of Abraham, and coming again to the black stone, reverently kissed it. Afterward he went through the gate of the sons of Madhumi to the hill Safa, and went up it till he could see the Kaaba; when, turning toward the Kebla, he professed again the unity of God, saying, ’There is no God but one, his is the kingdom, to him be praises, he is powerful above everything,’ etc. After this profession he went down toward the hill Merwan, I following him all the way through the valley; he then ascended the hill slowly till he came to the top of Merwan; from thence he ascended Mount Arafa. It being toward the going down of the sun, he preached here till sunset; then going to Mosdalefa, between Arafa and the valley of Mena, he made the evening and the late prayers, with two calls to prayer, and two risings up. Then he lay down till the dawn, and, having made the morning prayer, went to the enclosure of the Kaaba, where he remained standing till it grew very light. Hence he proceeded hastily, before the sun was up, to the valley of Mena; where, throwing up seven stones, he repeated at each throw, ’God is great,’ etc. Leaving now the valley, he went to the place of sacrifice. Having made free sixty-three slaves, he slew sixty-three victims15

with his own hand, being then sixty-three years old, and then ordered Ali to sacrifice as many more victims as would make up the number to one hundred. The next thing the apostle did was to shave his head, beginning on the right side of it, and finishing it on the left. His hair, as he cut it off, he cast upon a tree, that the wind might scatter it among the people. Kaled was fortunate enough to catch a part of the fore-lock, which he fixed upon his turban; the virtue whereof he experienced in every battle he afterward fought. The limbs of the victims being now boiled, the apostle sat down with no other companion but Ali to eat some of the flesh and drink some of the broth. The repast being over, he mounted his camel again and rode to the Kaaba; where he made the noon-tide prayer, and drank seven large draughts of the well Zem-zem, made seven circuits round the Kaaba, and concluded his career between the hills Safa and Merwan.

"The ninth day of the feast he went to perform his devotions on Mount Arafa. This hill, situated about a mile from Mecca, is held in great veneration by the Mussulmans as a place very proper for penitence. Its fitness in this respect is accounted for by a tradition that Adam and Eve, on being banished out of paradise, in order to do penance for their transgression were parted from each other, and after a separation of sixscore years met again upon this mountain."

At the conclusion of this farewell pilgrimage, as it was called, being the last he ever made, Mahomet reformed the calendar in two points: In the first place, he appointed the year to be exactly lunar, consisting of twelve lunar months; whereas before, in order to reduce the lunar to the solar year, they used to make every third year consist of thirteen months. And secondly, whereas the ancient Arabians held four months sacred, wherein it was unlawful to commit any act of hostility, he took away that prohibition, by this command, "Attack the idolaters in all the months of the year, as they attack you in all." (Koran, ix.)

In the eleventh year of the Hegira there arrived an embassy from Arabia Felix, consisting of about one hundred who had embraced Islamism. The same year Mahomet ordered Osama to go to the place where Zaid his father was slain at the battle of Muta, to revenge his death. This was the last expedition he ever ordered, for, being taken ill two days after, he died within thirteen days. The beginning of his sickness was a slow fever, which made him delirious. In his frenzy he called for pen, ink, and paper, and said he "would write a book that should keep them from erring after his death." But Omar opposed it, saying the Koran is sufficient, and that the prophet, through the greatness of his malady, knew not what he said. Others, however, expressing a desire that he would write, a contention arose, which so disturbed Mahomet that he bade them all begone. During his illness he complained of the poisoned meat he had swallowed at Khaibar. Some say, when he was dying, Gabriel told him the angel of death, who never before had been, nor would ever again be, so ceremonious toward anybody, was waiting for his permission to come in. As soon as Mahomet had answered, "I give him leave," the angel of death entered and complimented the prophet, telling him God was very desirous to have him, but had commanded he should take his soul or leave it, just as he himself should please to order. Mahomet replied, "Take it, then." [According to the testimony of all the Eastern authors Mahomet died on Monday the 12th Reby 1st, in the year 11 of the Hegira, which answers in reality to the 8th of June, A.D. 632.]

His grave was dug under the bed whereon he lay, in the chamber of Ayesha. The Arabian writers are very particular to tell us everything about the washing and embalming his body; who dug his grave, who put him in, etc.16

The person of Mahomet is minutely described by Arabian writers. He was of a middle stature, had a large head, thick beard, black eyes, hooked nose, wide mouth, a thick neck, flowing hair. They also tell us that what was called the seal of his apostleship, a hairy mole between his shoulders, as large as a pigeon’s egg, disappeared at his death. Its disappearance seems to have convinced those who would not before believe it that he was really dead. His intimate companion Abu Horaira said he never saw a more beautiful man than the prophet. He was so reverenced by his bigoted disciples they would gather his spittle up and swallow it.

The same writers extol Mahomet as a man of fine parts and a strong memory, of few words, of a cheerful aspect, affable and complaisant in his behavior. They also celebrate his justice, clemency, generosity, modesty, abstinence, and humility. As an instance of the last virtue, they tell us he mended his own clothes and shoes. However, to judge of him by his actions as related by these same writers, we cannot help concluding that he was a very subtle and crafty man, who put on the appearance only of those good qualities, while the governing principles of his soul were ambition and lust. For we see him, as soon as he found himself strong enough to act upon the offensive, plundering caravans, and, under a pretence of fighting for the true religion, attacking, murdering, enslaving, and making tributaries of his neighbors, in order to aggrandize and enrich himself and his greedy followers, and without scruple making use of assassination to cut off those who opposed him, of his histful disposition we have a sufficient proof, in the peculiar privileges he claimed to himself of having as many wives as he pleased, and of whom he chose, even though they were within forbidden degrees of affinity. The authors who give him the smallest number of wives own that he had fifteen; whereas the Koran allows no Mussulman more than four. As for himself, Mohamet had no shame in avowing that his chief pleasures were perfumes and women.

1This famous structure (in the Arabic, Ka’bah-a square building) for over twelve hundred years has been the cynosure of the Moslem peoples. It is undoubtedly of great antiquity, being mentioned by Diodorus the historian in the latter part of the first century, at which time its sanctity was acknowledged and its idols venerated by the Arabians and kindred tribes who paid yearly visits to the shrine to offer their devotions.
According to the Arabian legend Adam, after his expulsion from the Garden, worshipped Allah on this spot. A tent was then sent down from heaven, but Seth substituted a hut for the tent. After the Flood, Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Kaaba.At present it is a cube-shaped, flat-roofed building of stone in the Great Mosque at Mecca. In its southeast corner next to the silver door is the famous black stone "hajar al aswud," dropped from paradise. It was said to have been originally a white stone (by other accounts a ruby), but the tears-or more probably the kisses-of pilgrims have turned it quite black.

2Palmer has it: "In the mean time Mahomet and Abu-Bekr escaped by a back window in the house of the latter."

3Zem-zem, the name of this well, is said by the Moslems to be the spring which Hagar had revealed to her when driven into the wilderness with her son Ishmael.

4Friday remains the Sabbath of the Moslems.

5His nephew and son-in-law, surnamed "the Lion-hearted."

6The Persians add these words, "and Ali is the friend of God." Koull Khan, having a mind to unite the two different sects, ordered them to be omitted.-Fraser’s Life of Kouli Khan, p. 124.

7An Arab of Kossay, named Ammer Ibn Lahay, is said to have first introduced idolatry among his Countrymen; he brought the idol called Hoball from Hyt in Mesopotamia, and set it up in the Kaaba. It was the Jupiter of the Arabians, and was made of red agate in the form of a man holding in his hand seven arrows without heads or feathers, such as the Arabs use in divination. At a subsequent period the Kaaba was adorned with three hundred and sixty idols, corresponding probably to the days of the Arabian year.—Burckhardt’s Arabia, pp. 163, 164.

8An opinion as ancient as Homer.--Iliad, vi. 487

9Several stories have been told as the occasion of Mahomet’s prohibiting the drinking of wine. Busbequius says:" Mahomet, making a journey to a friend at noon, entered into his house, where there was a marriage feast; and sitting down with the guests, he observed them to be very merry and jovial, kissing and embracing one another, which was attributed to the cheerfulness of their spirits raised by the wine; so that he blessed it as a sacred thing in being thus an instrument of much love among men. But returning to the same house the next day, he beheld another face of things, as gore-blood on the ground, a hand cut off, an arm, foot, and other limbs dismembered, which he was told was the effect of the brawls and fightings occasioned by the wine, which made them mad, and inflamed them into a fury, thus to destroy one another. Whereon he changed his mind, and turned his former blessing into a curse, and forbade wine ever after to all his disciples." (Epist. 3,) ` This prohibition of wine hindered many of the prophet’s contemporaries from embracing his religion. Yet several of the most respectable of the pagan Arabs, like certain of the Jews and early Christians, abstained totally from wine, from a feeling of its infurious effects upon morals, and, in their climate, upon health; or, more especially, from the fear of being led by it into the commission of foolish and degrading actions. Thus Keys, the son of Asim, being one night overcome with wine, attempted to grasp the moon, and swore that he would not quit the spot where he stood until he had laid hold of it. After leaping several times with the view of doing so, he fell flat upon his face; and when he recovered his senses, and was acquainted with the cause of his face being bruised, he made a solemn vow to abstain from wine ever after. "-Lane’s Arab. Nights, vol. i pp. 217, 218.

10The following elucidation of the above circumstance is given by Sale: Mahomet having undertaken an expedition against the tribe of Mostalek, in the sixth year of the Hegira, took his wife Ayesha with him. On their return, when they were not far from Medina, the army removing by night, Ayesha, on the road, alighted from her camel, and stepped aside on a private occasion; but on her return, perceiving she had dropped her necklace, which was of onyxes of Dhafar, she went back to look for it; and in the mean time her attendants, taking it for granted that she was got into her pavilion, set it again on the camel, and led it away. When she came back to the road and saw her camel was gone, she sat down there, expecting that when she was missed some would be sent back to fetch her; and in a little time she fell asleep. Early in the morning, Safwan Ebu al Moattel, who had stayed behind to rest himself, coming by, perceived somebody asleep, and found it was Ayesha; upon which he awoke her, by twice pronouncing with a low voice these words, We are God’s, and unto him must we return.’ Aye-sha immediately covered herself with her veil; and Safwan set her on his own camel, and led her after the army, which they overtook by noon, as they were resting. This accident had like to have ruined Ayesha, whose reputation was publicly called in question, as if she had been guilty of adultery with Safwan."-Sale’s Koran, xxiv. note.

11 He once thought to have ordered the pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but finding the Jews so inveterate against him, thought it more advisable to oblige the Arabs.

12"An implicit belief in magic is entertained by almost all Mussulmans. Babil, or Babel, is regarded by the Mussulmans as the fountainhead of the science of magic, which was, and, as most think, still is, taught there to mankind by two fallen angels, named Haroot and Maroot, who are there suspended by the feet in a great pit closed by a mass of rock."-Lanels Arab. Nights, vol. i. pp. 661 218.
"From another fable of these two magicians, we are told that the angels in heaven, expressing their surprise at the wickedness of the sons of Adam, after prophets had been sent to them with divine commissions, God bid them choose two out of their own number, to be sent down to be judges on earth. Whereupon they pitched upon Haroot and Maroot, who executed their office with integrity for some time, in the province of Babylon; but while they were there, Zohara, or the planet Venus, descended, and appeared before them in the shape of a beautiful woman, bringing a complaint against her husband. As soon as they saw her they fell in love with her, whereupon she invited them to dinner, and set wine before them, which God had forbidden them to drink. At length, being tempted by the liquor to transgress the divine command, they became drunk, and endeavored to prevail on her to satisfy their desires; to which she promised to consent upon condition that one of them should first carry her to heaven, and the other bring her back again. They immediately agreed to do so, but directly the woman reached heaven she declared to God the whole matter, and as a reward for her chastity she was made the morning star. The guilty angels were allowed to choose whether they would be punished in this life or in the other; and upon their choosing the former, they were hung up by the feet by an iron chain in a certain pit near Babylon, where they are to continue suffering the punishment of their transgression until the day of judgment. By the same tradition we also learn that if a man has a fancy to learn magic, he may go to them and hear their voice, but cannot see them."-Sale’s Koran, ii. and notes.

13Moore thus alludes to the circumstance in Lalla Rookh.—
"And here Mahomet, born for love and guile,

14 "The death of Jaafar was heroic and memorable; he lost his right hand, he shifted the standard to his left, the left was severed from his body, he embraced the standard with his bleeding stumps, till he was transfixed to the ground with fifty honorable wounds. `Advance,’ cried Abdallah, who stepped into the vacant place,’ advance with confidence; either victory or paradise is our own. The lance of a Roman decided the alternative; but the falling standard was rescued by Kaled, the proselyte of Mecca; nine swords were broken in his hand; and his valor withstood and repulsed the superior numbers of the Christians. To console the afflicted relatives of his kinsman Jaafar, Mahomet represented that, in paradise, in exchange for the arms he had lost, he had been furnished with a pair of wings, resplendent with the blushing glories of the ruby, and with which he was become the inseparable companion of the arch-angel Gabriel, in his volitations through the regions of eternal bliss, Hence, in the catalogue of the martyrs he has been denominated Jaaffer teyaur (` the winged Jaaffer’)."-Milman’s Gibbon, 1.

15Mahomet’s victims were camels; they may, however, be sheep or goats, but in this case they must be male; if camels or kine, female.-- Sale, Prelim. Dis., p. 120.

16There are man’; ridiculous stories told of Mahomet, which, being notoriously fabulous, are not introduced here. Two of the most popular are: That a tame pigeon used to whisper in his ear the commands of God. [The pigeon is said to have been taught to come and peck some grains of rice out of Mahomet’s ear, to induce people to think that he then received by the ministry of an angel the several articles of the Koran.) The other is that after his death he was buried at Medina, and his coffin suspended, by divine agency or magnetic power, between the ceiling and floor of the temple.


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Chicago: Irving Ockley, "The Hegira— Career of Mahomet; the Koran and Mahometan Creed," The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4 in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. Rossiter Johnson (Harrogate, TN: The National Alunmi, 1926), Original Sources, accessed December 3, 2022,

MLA: Ockley, Irving. "The Hegira— Career of Mahomet; the Koran and Mahometan Creed." The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4, in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, edited by Rossiter Johnson, Harrogate, TN, The National Alunmi, 1926, Original Sources. 3 Dec. 2022.

Harvard: Ockley, I, 'The Hegira— Career of Mahomet; the Koran and Mahometan Creed' in The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4. cited in 1926, The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. , The National Alunmi, Harrogate, TN. Original Sources, retrieved 3 December 2022, from