A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold Ma. C.I.FProfessor of Arabic, University of London, University College. Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim

it is not proposed in this chapter to add another to the already numerous biographies of Muhammad,

but rather to make a study of his life in one of its aspects only, viz. that in which the Prophet is presented to us as a preacher, as the apostle unto men of a new religion.

The life of the founder of Islam and the inaugurator of its propaganda may naturally be expected to exhibit to us the true character of the missionary activity of this religion.

If the life of the Prophet serves as the standard of conduct for the ordinary believer, it must do the same for the Muslim missionary. From the pattern, therefore, we may hope to learn something of the spirit that would animate those who sought to copy it, and of the methods they might be expected to adopt.

  • For the missionary spirit of Islam is no after-thought in its history; it inter-penetrates the religion from its very commencement, and in the following sketch it is desired to show how this is so, how Muhammad the Prophet is the type of the missionary of Islam.
  • It is therefore beside the purpose to describe his early history, or the influences under which he grew up to manhood, or to consider him in the light either of a statesman or a general: it is as the preacher alone that he will demand our attention.
  • When, after long internal conflict and disquietude, Muhammad was at length convinced of his divine mission, his earliest efforts were directed towards persuading his own family of the truth of the new doctrine. The unity of God, the abomination of idolatry, the duty laid upon man of submission to the will of his Creator,—these were the simple truths to which he claimed their allegiance.
  • The first convert was his faithful and loving wife, Khadijah, —she who fifteen years before had offered her hand in marriage to the poor kinsman that had so successfully traded with her merchandise as a hired agent,—with the words, ” I love thee, my cousin, for thy kinship with me, for the respect with which thy people regard thee, for thy honesty, for the beauty of thy character and for the truthfulness of thy speech.”[1]
  • Khadijah had lifted him out of his burdens, and enabled him to live up to the social position to which he was entitled by right of birth; but this was as nothing to the fidelity and loving devotion with which she shared his mental anxieties, and helped him with tenderest sympathy and encouragement in the hour of his despondency.

Up to her death in a.d. 619 (after a wedded life of five and twenty years) she was always ready with sympathy, consolation and encouragement whenever he suffered from the persecution of his enemies or was tortured by misgivings. “So Khadijah believed,” says the biographer of the Prophet,” and attested the truth of that which came to him from God and aided him in his undertaking. Thus was the Lord minded to lighten the burden of His Prophet; for whenever he heard anything that grieved him touching his rejection by the people, he would return to her and God would comfort him through her, for she reassured him and lightened his burden and declared her trust in him and made it easy for him to bear the scorn of men.”[2]

Among the earliest believers were his adopted children Ali and Zayd, and his bosom friend Abu Bakr, of whom Muhammad would often say in after years, “I never invited any to the faith who displayed not hesitation, perplexity and vacillation —excepting only Abu Bakr; who when I told him of Islam tarried not, neither was perplexed.” He was a wealthy merchant, much respected by his fellow citizens for the integrity of his character and for his intelligence and ability. After his conversion he expended the greater part of his fortune on the purchase of Muslim slaves who were persecuted by their masters on account of their adherence to the teaching of Muhammad.

Through Abu Bakr’s influence, to a great extent, five of the earliest converts were added to the number of believers,

  1. Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas, the future conqueror of the Persians;
  2. al-Zubair b. al-Awwam, a relative both of the Prophet and his wife;
  3. Talha, famous as a warrior in after days;
  4. a wealthy merchant Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Awf, and
  5. Uthman, the third Khalifa.

Uthman was early exposed to persecution; his uncle seized and bound him, saying, “Dost thou prefer a new religion to that of thy fathers? I swear I will not loose thee until thou givest up this new faith thou art following after.” To which Uthman replied, “By the Lord, I will never abandon it!” Whereupon his uncle, seeing the firmness of his attachment to his faith, released him.

With other additions, particularly from among slaves and poor persons; the Prophet succeeded in collecting round him a little band of followers during the first three years of his mission. Encouraged by the success of these private efforts, Muhammad determined on more active measures and began to preach in public.

He called his kinsmen together and invited them to embrace the new faith. “No Arab,” he urged,” has offered to his nation more precious advantages than those I bring you. I offer you happiness in this world and in the life to come. Who among you will aid me in this task? “All were silent.

Only the 13 year old Ali, with boyish enthusiasm, cried out, “Prophet of God, I will aid thee.” At this the company broke up with derisive laughter.

Undeterred by the ill-success of this preaching, he repeatedly appealed to them on other occasions, but his message and his warnings received from them nothing but scoffing and contempt.

More than once the Quraish tried to induce his uncle Abu Talib, as head of the clan of the Banu Hashim, to which Muhammad belonged, to restrain him from making such attacks upon their ancestral faith, or otherwise they threatened to resort to more violent measures.

Abu Talib accordingly appealed to his nephew not to bring disaster on himself and his family. The Prophet replied:

“Were the sun to come down on my right and the moon on my left,

and the choice were offered me of abandoning my mission until God himself should reveal it, or perishing in the achievement of it,

I would not abandon it.”

Abu Talib was very moved and exclaimed, “Go and say whatever thou wilt: by God! I will never give thee up unto thy enemies.”

The Quraish viewed the progress of the new religion with increasing dissatisfaction and hatred. They adopted all possible means:

  1. threats and promises,
  2. insults and
  3. offers of worldly honor and aggrandizement to induce Muhammad to abandon the part he had taken up.
  4. The violent abuse with which he was assailed is said to have been the indirect cause of drawing to his side one important convert in the person of his uncle, Hamza, whose chivalrous soul was so stung to sudden sympathy by a tale of insult inflicted on and patiently borne by his nephew, that he changed at once from a bitter enemy into a staunch adherent.

His was not the only instance of sympathy for the sufferings of the Muslims being aroused at the sight of the persecutions they had to endure, and many, no doubt, secretly favored the new religion who did not declare themselves until the day of its triumph.

The hostility of the Quraish to the new faith increased in bitterness as they watched the increase in the numbers of Islam’s adherents. They realized that the triumph of the new teaching meant:

  • the destruction of the national religion and
  • the national worship,
  • and a loss of wealth and
  • power to the guardians of the sacred Ka’ba.

Muhammad himself was safe under the protection of Abu Talib and the Banu Hashim, who, though they had no sympathy for the doctrines their kinsman taught, yet with the strong clan-feeling peculiar to the Arabs, secured him from any attempt upon his life, though he was still exposed to continual insult and annoyance. But the poor who had no protector, and the slaves, had to endure the cruelest persecution, and were imprisoned and tortured in order to induce them to recant.

It was at this time that Abu Bakr purchased the freedom of Bilal,[3] an African slave, who was called by Muhammad “the first-fruits of Abyssinia.” Bilal had been cruelly tortured by being exposed, day after day, to the scorching rays of the sun, stretched out on his back, with an enormous stone on his stomach; here he was told he would have to stay until either he died or renounced Muhammad and worshipped idols, to which he would reply only,

“There is but one God, there is but one God.”

Two persons died under the tortures they had to undergo. The constancy of a few gave way under the trial, but persecution served only to re-kindle the zeal of others.

Abd Allah b. Mas’ood made bold to recite a passage of the Quran within the precincts of the Ka’ba itself,—an act of daring that none of the followers of Muhammad had ventured upon before. The assembled Quraish attacked him and smote him on the face, but it was some time before they compelled him to desist.

He returned to his companions, prepared to bear witness to his faith in a similar manner on the next day, but they dissuaded him, saying, “This is enough for thee, since thou hast made them listen to what they hated to hear.”

The virulence of the opposition of the Quraish is probably the reason why in the fourth year of his mission Muhammad took up his residence in the house of al-Arqam, one of the early converts. It was in a central situation, much frequented by pilgrims and strangers, and here peaceably and without interruption he was able to preach the doctrines of Islam to all enquirers that came to him. Muhammad’s stay in this house marks an important epoch in the propagation of Islam in Mecca, and many Muslims dated their conversion from the days when the Prophet preached in the house of al-Arqam.

As Muhammad was unable to relieve his persecuted followers, he advised them to take refuge in Abyssinia, and in the fifth year of his mission (a.d. 615), eleven men and four women (then more than eighty others) crossed over to Abyssinia, where they received a kind welcome from the Christian king of the country.

Among them was a certain Mus’ab b. Umayr whose history is interesting as of one who had to endure that most bitter trial of the new convert—the hatred of those he loves and who once loved him. He had been led to embrace Islam through the teaching he had listened to in the house of al-Arqam, but he was afraid to let the fact of his conversion become known, because his tribe and his mother, who bore an especial love to him, were bitterly opposed to the new religion; and indeed, when they discovered the fact, seized and imprisoned him. But he succeeded in effecting his escape to Abyssinia.

The hatred of the Quraish is said to have pursued the fugitives even to Abyssinia, and an embassy was sent to demand their extradition from the king of that country. But when he heard their story from the Muslims, he refused to withdraw from them his protection. In answer to his enquiries as to their religion, Ja’far b. Abu Talib as their leader said:

“O King, we were plunged in the darkness of ignorance, worshipping idols, and eating carrion;

we practiced abominations, severed the ties of kinship and maltreated our neighbors;

the strong among us devoured the weak;

and so we remained until God sent us an apostle, from among ourselves, whose lineage we knew as well as his truth, his trustworthiness and the purity of his life.

He called upon us to worship the One God and abandon the stones and idols that our fathers had worshipped in His stead.

He bade us be truthful in speech, faithful to our promises, compassionate and kind to our parents and neighbors, and to desist from crime and bloodshed.

He forbade to do evil, to lie, to rob the orphan or defame women.

He enjoined on us the worship of God alone, with prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

And we believed in him and followed the teachings that he brought us from God.

But our countrymen rose up against us and persecuted us to make us renounce our faith, and return to the worship of idols and the abominations of our former life.

So when they cruelly entreated us, reducing us to bitter straits and came between us and the practice of our religion,

we took refuge in your country; putting our trust in your justice, we hope that you will deliver us from the oppression of our enemies.”

Their prayer was heard and the embassy of the Quraish returned discomfited.[4]

Meanwhile, in Mecca, a fresh attempt was made to induce the Prophet to abandon his work of preaching by promises of wealth and honor, but in vain.

While the result of the embassy to Abyssinia was being looked for in Mecca with the greatest expectancy, there occurred the conversion of a man, who before had been one of the most bitter enemies of Muhammad, and had opposed him with the utmost persistence and fanaticism—

a man whom the Muslims had every reason then to look on as their most terrible and virulent enemy, though afterwards he shines as one of the noblest figures in the early history of Islam, viz. Omar b. al-Khattab.

One day, in a fit of rage against the Prophet, he set out, sword in hand, to slay him. On the way, one of his relatives met him and asked him where he was going. “I am looking for Muhammad,” he answered, “to kill the renegade who has brought discord among the Quraish, called them fools, reviled their religion and defamed their gods.”

“Why dost thou not rather punish those of thy own family, and set them right? ” “And who are these of my own family?” answered Omar.”Thy brother-in-law Sa’id and thy sister Fatima, who have become Muslims and followers of Muhammad.”

Omar at once rushed off to the house of his sister, and found her with her husband and Khabbab, another of the followers of Muhammad, who was teaching them to recite a chapter of the Quran. Omar burst into the room:

“What was that sound I heard?” “It was nothing,” they replied.

“Nay, but I heard you, and I have learned that you have become followers of Muhammad.” Whereupon he rushed upon Sa’id and struck him.

Fatima threw herself between them, to protect her husband, crying, “Yes, we are Muslims; we believe in God and His Prophet: slay us if you will.”

In the struggle his sister was wounded, and when Omar saw the blood on her face, he was softened and asked to see the paper they had been reading: after some hesitation she handed it to him.

It contained the 20th Surah of the Quran.

When Omar read it, he exclaimed, “How beautiful, how sublime it is!” As he read on, conviction suddenly overpowered him and he cried, “Lead me to Muhammad that I may tell him of my conversion.”[5]

The conversion of Omar is a turning-point in the history of Islam: the Muslims were now able to take up a bolder attitude. Muhammad left the house of al-Arqam and the believers publicly performed their devotions together round the Ka’ba.

The situation might thus be expected to give the aristocracy of Mecca just cause for apprehension. For they had no longer to deal with a band of oppressed and despised outcasts, struggling for a weak and miserable existence.

It was rather a powerful faction, adding daily to its strength by the accession of influential citizens and endangering the stability of the existing government by an alliance with a powerful foreign prince.

The Quraish resolved accordingly to make a determined effort to check the further growth of the new movement in their city. They put the Banu Hashim, who through ties of kindred protected the Prophet, under a ban, in accordance with which the Quraish agreed that:

  • they would not marry their women,
  • nor give their own in marriage to them;
  • they would sell nothing to them, nor buy aught from them—
  • that dealings with them of every kind should cease.
  • For three years the Banu Hashim are said to have been confined to one quarter of the city, except during the sacred months, in which all war ceased throughout Arabia and a truce was made in order that pilgrims might visit the sacred Ka’ba, the centre of the national religion.

Muhammad used to take advantage of such times of pilgrimage to preach to the various tribes that flocked to Mecca and the adjacent fairs. But with no success, for his uncle Abu Lahab used to dog his footsteps, crying with a loud voice, “He is an impostor who wants to draw you away from the faith of your fathers to the false doctrines that he brings, wherefore separate yourselves from him and hear him not.” They would taunt Muhammad with the words: “Thine own people and kindred should know thee best: wherefore do they not believe and follow thee?”

But at length the privations endured by Muhammad and his kinsmen enlisted the sympathy of a numerous section of the Quraish and the ban was withdrawn.

In the same year the loss of Khadijah, the faithful wife who for twenty five years had been his counselor and support, plunged Muhammad into the utmost grief and despondency; and a little later the death of Abu Talib deprived him of his constant and most powerful protector and exposed him afresh to insult and contumely.

Scorned and rejected by his own townsmen, to whom he had delivered his message with so little success for ten years, he resolved to see if there were not others who might be more ready to listen, among whom the seeds of faith might find a more receptive and fruitful soil.

With this hope he set out for Ta’if, a city about seventy miles from Mecca. Before an assembly of the chief men of the city, he expounded his doctrine of the unity of God and of the mission he had received as the Prophet of God to proclaim this faith; at the same time he besought their protection against his persecutors in Mecca.

The disproportion between his high claims (which moreover were unintelligible to the heathen people of Ta’if) and his helpless condition only excited their ridicule and scorn, and pitilessly stoning him with stones they drove him from their city.

On his return from Ta’if the prospects of the success of Muhammad seemed more hopeless than ever, and the agony of his soul gave itself utterance in the words that he puts into the mouth of Noah:

“O my Lord, verily I have cried to my people night and day; and my cry only makes them flee from me the more.

And verily, so oft as I cry to them, that Thou mayest forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears and wrap themselves in their garments,

and persist (in their error), and are disdainfully disdainful.” (lxxi. 5-6.)

It was the Prophet’s habit at the time of the annual pilgrimage to visit the encampments of the various Arab tribes and discourse with them upon religion. By some his words were treated with indifference, by others rejected with scorn. But consolation came to him from an unexpected quarter.

He met a little group of six or seven persons whom he recognized as coming from Medina, or, as it was then called, Yathrib.

“Of what tribe are you?” said he, addressing them. “We are of Khazraj,” they answered. “Friends of the Jews?” “Yes.” “Then will you not sit down awhile, that I may talk with you?” “Assuredly,” replied they.

Then they sat down with him, and he proclaimed unto them the true God and preached Islam and recited to them the Quran. Now so it was, in that God wrought wonderfully for Islam that there were found in their country Jews, who possessed scriptures and wisdom, while they themselves were heathen and idolaters.

Now the Jews oft times suffered violence at their hands, and when strife was between them had ever said to them, “Soon will a Prophet arise and his time is at hand; him will we follow, and with him slay you with the slaughter of ‘Ad and of Iram.”

When now the apostle of God was speaking with these men and calling on them to believe in God, they said one to another: “Know surely that this is the Prophet, of whom the Jews have warned us; come let us now make haste and be the first to join him.”

So they embraced Islam, and said to him, “Our countrymen have long been engaged in a most bitter and deadly feud with one another; but now perhaps God will unite them together through thee and thy teaching. Therefore we will preach to them and make known to them this religion, that we have received from thee.” So, full of faith, they returned to their own country.[6]

Such is the traditional account of this event which was the turning-point of Muhammad’s mission. He had now met with a people whose antecedents had in some way prepared their minds for the reception of his teaching and whose present circumstances, as afterwards appeared, were favorable to his cause.

The city of Yathrib had been long occupied by Jews whom some national disaster, possibly the persecution under Hadrian, had driven from their own country, when a party of wandering emigrants, the two Arab clans of Khazraj and Aws, arrived at Yathrib and were admitted to a share in the territory. As their numbers increased they encroached more and more on the power of the Jewish rulers, and finally, towards the end of the fifth century, the government of the city passed entirely into their hands.

Some of the Arabs had embraced the Jewish religion, and many of the former masters of the city still dwelt there in the service of their conquerors, so that it contained in Muhammad’s time a considerable Jewish population.

  • The people of Yathrib were thus familiar with the idea of a Messiah who was to come, and were consequently more capable of understanding the claim of Muhammad to be accepted as the Prophet of God, than were the idolatrous Meccans to whom such an idea was entirely foreign and especially distasteful to the Quraish, whose supremacy over the other tribes and whose worldly prosperity arose from the fact that they were the hereditary guardians of the national collection of idols kept in the sacred enclosure of the Ka’ba.
  • Further, the city of Yathrib was distracted by incessant civil discord through a long-standing feud between the Banu Khazraj and the Banu Aws.
  • The citizens lived in uncertainty and suspense, and anything likely to bind the conflicting parties together by a tie of common interest could not but prove a boon to the city. Just as the medieval republics of Northern Italy chose a stranger to hold the chief post in their cities in order to maintain some balance of power between the rival factions, and prevent, if possible, the civil strife which was so ruinous to commerce and the general welfare, so the Yathribites would not look upon the arrival of a stranger with suspicion, even though he was likely to usurp or gain permission to assume the vacant authority.
  • On the contrary, one of the reasons for the warm welcome which Muhammad received in Medina would seem to be that the adoption of Islam appeared to the more thoughtful of its citizens to be a remedy for the disorders from which their society was suffering, by its orderly discipline of life and its bringing the unruly passions of men under the discipline of laws enunciated by an authority superior to individual caprice.[7]

These facts go far to explain how eight years after the Hijrah Muhammad could, at the head of 10,000 followers, enter the city in which he had labored for ten years with so meager a result.

But this is anticipating. Muhammad had proposed to accompany his new converts, the Khazrajites, to Yathrib himself, but they dissuaded him therefrom, until a reconciliation could be effected with the Banu Aws.

“Let us, we pray thee, return unto our people, if haply the Lord will create peace amongst us; and we will come back again unto thee. Let the season of pilgrimage in the following year be the appointed time.” So they returned to their homes, and invited their people to the faith; and many believed, so that there remained hardly a family in which mention was not made of the Prophet.

When the time of pilgrimage again came round, a deputation from Yathrib, ten men of the Banu Khazraj, and two of the Banu Aws, met him at the appointed spot and pledged him their word to obey his teaching. This, the first pledge of ‘Aqaba, so called from the secret spot at which they met, ran as follows :—

” We will not worship any but the one God; we will not steal, neither will we commit adultery or kill our children; we will abstain from calumny and slander; we will obey the Prophet in every thing that is right.”

These twelve men now returned to Yathrib as missionaries of Islam, and so well prepared was the ground, and with such zeal did they prosecute their mission, that the new faith spread rapidly from house to house and from tribe to tribe.

They were accompanied on their return by Mus’ab b. ‘Umayr; though, according to another account he was sent by the Prophet upon a written requisition from Yathrib.

This young man had been one of the earliest converts, and had lately returned from Abyssinia; thus he had had much experience, and severe training in the school of persecution had not only sobered his zeal but taught him how to meet persecution and deal with those who were ready to condemn Islam without waiting to learn the true contents of its teaching.

Accordingly, Muhammad could with the greatest confidence entrust him with the difficult task of directing and instructing the new converts, cherishing the seeds of religious zeal and devotion that had already been sown and bringing them to fruition.

Mus’ab took up his abode in the house of As’ad b. Zurarah, and gathered the converts together for prayer and the reading of the Quran, sometimes here and sometimes in a house belonging to the Banu Dhafar, which was situated in a quarter of the town occupied jointly by this family and that of Abd al-Ashhal.

The heads of Abd al-Ashhal family at that time were Sa’d b. Mu’adh and Usayd b. Hudhayr. One day it happened that Mus’ab was sitting together with As’ad in this house of the Banu Dhafar, engaged in instructing some new converts, when Sa’d b. Mu’adh, having come to know of their whereabouts, said to Usayd b. Hudhayr:

“Drive out these fellows who have come into our houses to make fools of the weaklings among us; I would spare thee the trouble did not the tie of kinship between me and As’ad prevent my doing him any harm ” (for he himself was the cousin of As’ad).

Hereupon Usayd took his spear and, bursting in upon As’ad and Mus’ab, “What are you doing?” he cried, “leading weak-minded folk astray? If you value your lives, begone hence.”

“Sit down and listen,” Mus’ab answered quietly, ” if thou art pleased with what thou hearest, accept it; if not, then leave it.” Usayd stuck his spear in the ground and sat down to listen, while Mus’ab expounded to him the fundamental doctrines of Islam and read several passages of the Quran.

After a time Usayd, enraptured, cried, “What must I do to enter this religion?” “Purify thyself with water,” answered Mus’ab, “and confess that there is no lord but God and that Muhammad is the apostle of God.” Usayd at once complied and repeated the profession of faith, adding, “After me you have still another man to convince” (referring to Sa’d b. Mu’adh). “If he is persuaded, his example will bring after him all his people. I will send him to you forthwith.”

With these words he left them, and soon after came Sa’d b. Mu’adh himself, hot with anger against As’ad for the patronage he had extended to the missionaries of Islam. Mus’ab begged him not to condemn the new faith unheard, so Sa’d agreed to listen and soon the words of Mus’ab touched him and brought conviction to his heart, and he embraced the faith and became a Muslim.

He went back to his people burning with zeal and said to them, “Sons of ‘Abd al-Ashhal, say, what am I to you?” “Thou art our lord,” they answered, “thou art the wisest and most illustrious among us.” “Then I swear,” replied Sa’d, “never more to speak to any of you until you believe in God and Muhammad, His apostle.” And from that day, all the descendants of ‘Abd al-Ashhal embraced Islam.[8]

With such zeal and earnestness was the preaching of the faith pushed forward that within a year there was not a family among the Arabs of Medina that had not given some of its members to swell the number of the faithful, with the exception of one branch of the Banu Aws, which held aloof under the influence of Abu Qays b. al-Aslat, the poet.

The following year, when the time of the annual pilgrimage again came round, a band of converts, amounting to seventy-three in number, accompanied their heathen fellow countrymen from Yathrib to Mecca.

They were commissioned to invite Muhammad to take refuge in Yathrib from the fury of his enemies, and had come to swear allegiance to him as their prophet and their leader.

All the early converts who had before met the Prophet on the two preceding pilgrimages, returned to Mecca on this important occasion, and Mus’ab their teacher accompanied them.

Immediately on his arrival he hurried to the prophet, and told him of the success that had attended his mission.

It is said that his mother, hearing of his arrival, sent a message to him, saying: “Ah, disobedient son, wilt thou enter a city in which thy mother dwelleth, and not first visit her!” “Nay, verily,” he replied, “I will never visit the house of any one before the Prophet of God.”

So, after he had greeted and conferred with Muhammad, he went to his mother, who thus accosted him: ” Then I ween thou art still a renegade.” He answered, “I follow the prophet of the Lord and the true faith of Islam,” “Art thou then well satisfied with the miserable way thou hast fared in the land of Abyssinia and now again at Yathrib? “Now he perceived that she was meditating his imprisonment, and exclaimed,

“What! wilt thou force a man from his religion? If ye seek to confine me, I will assuredly slay the first person that layeth hands upon me.” His mother said, “Then depart from my presence,” and she began to weep.

Mus’ab was moved, and said, “Oh, my mother! I give thee loving counsel. Testify that there is no Lord but God and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.” But she replied, “By the sparkling stars! I will never make a fool of myself by entering into thy religion. I wash my hands of thee and thy concerns, and cleave steadfastly unto mine own faith.”

In order not to excite suspicion and incur the hostility of the Quraish, a secret meeting was arranged at Aqaba, the scene of the former meeting with the converts of the year before.

Muhammad came accompanied only by his uncle Abbas, who, though he was still an idolater, had been admitted into the secret.

Abbas opened the solemn conclave, by recommending his nephew as a scion of one of the noblest families of his clan, which had hitherto afforded the Prophet protection, although rejecting his teachings; but now that he wished to take refuge among the people of Yathrib, they should bethink themselves well before undertaking such a charge, and resolve not to go back from their promise, if once they undertook the risk.

Then Bara b. Ma’rur, one of the Banu Khazraj, protesting that they were firm in their resolve to protect the Prophet of God, besought him to declare fully what he wished of them.

Muhammad began by reciting to them some portions of the Quran, and exhorted them to be true to the faith they had professed in the one God and the Prophet, His apostle; he then asked them to defend him and his companions from all assailants just as they would their own wives and children. Then Bara b. Ma’rur, taking his hand, cried out,

“Yea, by Him who sent thee as His Prophet, and through thee revealed unto us His truth,

we will protect thee as we would our own bodies, and we swear allegiance to thee as our leader.

We are the sons of battle and men of mail, which we have inherited as worthy sons of worthy fore­fathers.”

So they all in turn, taking his hand in theirs, swore allegiance to him.

As soon as the Quraish gained intelligence of these secret proceedings, the persecution broke out afresh against the Muslims,

and Muhammad advised them to flee out of the city, “Depart unto Yathrib; for the Lord hath verily given you brethren in that city, and a home in which ye may find refuge.”

So quietly, by twos and threes they escaped to Yathrib, where they were heartily welcomed, their co-religionists in that city vying with one another for the honor of entertaining them, and supplying them with such things as they had need of.

Within two months nearly all the Muslims except those who were seized and imprisoned and those who could not escape from captivity had left Mecca, to the number of about 450.

There is a story told of one of these Muslims, by name Suhayb, whom Muhammad called “the first-fruits of Greece” (he had been a Greek slave, and being set free by his master had amassed considerable wealth by successful trading); when he was about to emigrate the Meccans said to him, “Thou camest hither in need and penury; but thy wealth hath increased with us, until thou hast reached thy present prosperity; and now thou art departing, not thyself only, but with all thy property. By the Lord, that shall not be;” and he said, “If I relinquish my property, will ye leave me free to depart?” And they agreed thereto; so he parted with all his goods. And when that was told unto Muhammad, he said, “Verily, Suhayb hath made a profitable bargain.”

Muhammad delayed his own departure (with the intention, no doubt, of withdrawing attention from his faithful followers) until a determined plot against his life warned him that further delay might be fatal, and he made his escape by means of a stratagem.

[1] Ibn Isḥāq, p. 120.
[2] Id. p. 155.
[3] He is famous throughout the Muhammadan world as the first mu’adhdhin.
[4] Ibn Isḥāq, p. 219-220. Ṭabarī makes no mention of this mission and Caetani (i. p. 278) accordingly suggests that it is a later invention.
[5] Ibn Isḥāq. pp. 225-6.
[6] Ibn Isḥāq, pp. 286-7.
[7] Caetani, vol. i. pp. 334-3.
[8] Ibn Isḥāq. p. 291 sq.

To be Continued