MOHAMMED AS CONQUEROR
He is come to ope
The purple testament of bleeding war.
SHAKESPEARE: Richard II.
HE year which marked Mohammed's triumphant
entry into Medina is known in the Mohammedan
world as the Hegira, and counts as the Year
One in their calendar—the year from which all others
are reckoned. For the first time the faith of Islam
was preached openly, and the claim of Mohammed
to be merely one of the "prophets" gave place to a
demand for acknowledgment as the chief of all, a
demand calculated to arouse the antagonism of all
other existing forms of religion. The other important
development of his teaching at this time was that all
faithful Moslems—the followers of the Prophet—must
entirely abstain from the use of intoxicating drink.
Moreover, though at first Mohammed (possibly to please
the Jews in Medina) had commanded that at the hour
of prayer every Moslem should turn his face towards
Jerusalem, in course of time, when he began to see
the impossibility of uniting the Jewish believers with
those of Islam, he suddenly, after the usual prostration,
turned towards the Temple at Mecca. From that
moment down to the present day the Moslem, wherever
 he is, follows this example at the fivefold hour of
At Medina, Mohammed married the young girl Ayesha,
and, as permitted by the Moslem faith, soon brought
other wives to the simply built house by the mosque
which he and his converts were building just outside
the city. Yet, though a man of fifty-three, the Prophet
by no means intended to pass the rest of his life in ease
and domestic comfort. He had been forced by violence
to flee from Mecca. He now conceived it his duty to
make himself master of his native city by means of the
The sons of the desert are born fighters, and whether
his motive was to enforce the Moslem faith at the peril
of the sword, or merely to assert his personal rights,
the fact remains that he had no difficulty whatever
in rallying to his standard a small though most enthusiastic army.
An attempt to seize a rich caravan belonging to a
merchant of Mecca was the signal for battle. The
forces of Mecca, hastily gathered, went out against
the Moslem host, and, after hard fighting, were dispersed.
There was joy in Medina when the "swift dromedary "
of the Prophet appeared at the house of prayer and
the news was made known; but in Mecca was bitter
hatred and woe, fifty expressed in the grim words of
the wife of the slain leader of the caravan: "Not
till ye again wage war against Mohammed and his
fellows shall tears flow from my eyes! If tears would
wash away grief, I would now weep, even as ye; but
with me it is not so!"
From that time Mohammed gave up all pretence
of winnig converts by peaceable methods;
hence-  forth he was to live and die a man of the sword
Deterioration of character was a more or less natural
outcome of this change. It may have been necessary
to invent visions in order to convince the ignorant
people of Medina that their victory was due, not to
their own strength, but to the aid of the angels of
Allah, who would always fight upon their side; but
we cannot say the same of the applause, given openly
by Mohammed in the mosque, to the cold-blooded
murderer of a woman who had composed some verses
throwing doubt upon the right of the Prophet to glory
in the death of the men of his own tribe. Nor was
this the only instance of revenge and cruelty. It was
but too clear that Mohammed, from a calm and peaceful
prophet, had been transformed into a warlike chieftain,
bent on subduing all others to his will. When Mecca
declared battle, he went out to the field, clad in full
armour, sword in hand. At first all went well with
the Moslems. Then Mohammed was struck in the
mouth and cheek, and a cry went up, "The Prophet is
slain! Where is now the promise of Allah?" Their
cry was drowned in the triumphant shouts of the men
of Mecca, "War hath its revenge; Allah is for
us—not for you!"
The day was lost; and it needed all the Prophet's
ingenuity to account for it satisfactorily to those whom
he had so often assured of the certain protection of
Allah. From that time possibly dates the belief of
the Moslems that he who dies in battle against the
unbeliever is so certain of the joys of Paradise that it
is the survivor rather than the slain who should be
Meantime, before the contest with Mecca could be
 finally settled, Mohammed undertook to crush, once
for all, the Jewish power in Arabia. It seems strange
that there should have been such hostility between
Jews and Moslems, seeing that both claimed the God
of Abraham as the object of their worship; but this
was now lost sight of in view of the natural refusal
of the former to acknowledge Mohammed as the chief
of all prophets, and his sacred book, the Koran, as
superior to their "Book of the Law," the Old
Testament. By dint of persecuting those who dwelt within
the walls of Medina, and of besieging their cities
elsewhere, Mohammed compelled the Jews to migrate to
Syria, leaving their abandoned lands and cities to him.
The event finds special mention in the Koran.
"Allah it is who drove out the People of the Book,
(the Jews), who believed not, to join the former exiles.
Ye thought not they would go forth; verily, they thought
that their fortresses would defend them against Allah;
but Allah came upon them from a quarter unexpected
and covered their hearts with dread."
Soon after this event, Ali, his faithful nephew, was
still more closely united with Mohammed by his marriage
with Fatima, the Prophet's daughter; and thus he of
whom Mohammed was wont to say, " I am the city
of wisdom, but Ali is its door," was joined to one of
the " four perfect women " spoken of by the Prophet.
It was now six years since Mohammed had left Mecca,
during which time he had never ceased to yearn and
plan for his triumphant return. The Kaaba, save for
its idols, was sacred to him as the home of the worship
of Allah, and his heart was bitter within him when he
reflected that he and his followers had been so long
forbidden the yearly pilgrimage thither. So he
deter-  mined to put the temper of the Meccans to the test by
making a pilgrimage, with a sufficient number of
followers to resist any aggressive act of hostility. As
they approached the sacred borders, the camel of
Mohammed refused to go further. "The creature is
obstinate and weary," said the Moslems. "Not so,"
answered Mohammed, "the hand of Allah restrains
her. If the Meccans make any demand of me this day,
I will grant it. Let the caravan halt." "There is
no water here," they cried in dismay, "how shall we
halt?" But Mohammed ordered that a dried-up well
should be opened, and at once water bubbled up to the
Still more surprised were the Moslems, all of whom were
burning to fight, when they found the Prophet quietly
accepting the terms offered by the men of Mecca, when
they promised to permit future pilgrimages, though they
would not allow him to enter the city on that occasion.
Once recognised by his own birthplace, Mohammed
determined to bring about his most ambitious project,
and to summon all the kingdoms of the earth to
He even had a signet-ring engraved with the words
"Mohammed, the Apostle of Allah," and, in a spirit
of sublime self-confidence, sent it to the King of Persia,
to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, and to the rulers
of Syria, Abyssinia, and Egypt. Nothing came of it,
of course, and meantime the earlier desire of his heart
had been gratified. The pilgrimage to Mecca had been
undertaken in safety, and the Prophet had worshipped
after the manner of Islam within the very walls of the
That same year saw the Moslems on the march against
 the forces of Rome herself. One of the Prophet's
envoys had been put to death by the Christian chieftain
of a Syrian tribe, which was under Roman rule; and
the little Moslem army at once set out from Medina to
avenge him. Little did Mohammed know of the Roman
military power when he sent forth his men with such
high words of courage. The Moslem troops advanced,
crying "Paradise! how fair is thy resting-place!
Cold is the water there and sweet the shade! Rome!
Rome! The hour of thy woe draweth nigh! When
we close with her, we shall hurl her to the dust."
Instead of this, a discomfited rabble made their way
back to Medina in hot haste, to be received with cries
of "Oh, runaways! Do ye indeed flee before the enemy
when fighting for Allah?"
Nor did the conquest of several wandering desert
tribes soothe the wounded pride of the Prophet. He
could only be consoled by his next project of making
himself master of Mecca, the Holy City, itself. He
was strong enough now to put ten thousand of his
followers in the field, and with these, after a rapid and
secret march, he encamped on the hills above the city,
where his ten thousand twinkling watch-fires could
strike terror into the hearts of the inhabitants. That
night a chieftain of the men of Mecca, going forth
in the darkness to reconnoitre the enemy, was captured
and brought before the Prophet. Threatened with
death, he agreed to embrace the faith of Islam, and was
forthwith sent back to his city with this message:—
"Every Meccan who is found in thy dwelling; all
who take refuge in the Kaaba; and whosoever shutteth
the door of his own house upon his family, shall be
safe: haste thee home!"
 The army followed hard upon his heels, fearing
treachery; but the new-made convert kept faith;
and when they entered Mecca, it was like a city of the
The first act of Mohammed was to destroy the idols
in the Kaaba, and to sound the call for prayer from
its summit. But except in the case of a few rebellious
spirits, no blood was shed, and no cruelty shown to
those who had once been his persecutors. The chiefs
of the Meecans indeed came before him, fearing the
worst; and of them he asked, "What can you expect
at my hands?"
"Mercy, O generous brother," they answered.
"Be it so; ye are free!" was the Prophet's reply.
"Thus, after an exile of seven years, the fugitive
missionary was enthroned as the Prince and Prophet
of his native country."
In the years that followed his triumphant possession
of Mecca, all the tribes and cities from the Euphrates
to the head of the Red Sea submitted to Mohammed,
who thus became the founder of a new empire as well
as of a new religion. Many of these tribes were Christian,
and to them the Prophet always showed the utmost
kindness and toleration for their worship. As the
enemies of the hated Jews they had a special claim on
his favour; and it was no doubt to his own advantage
to be on good terms with a religion destined to be the
most powerful in the world.
During the last four years of his life the strength
of the Prophet began to flag under the incessant demands
made upon it. He was now over sixty years of age,
and, just as he was proposing to undertake a new raid
 into Roman territory, he was attacked by a high fever.
Recovering for a time, he appeared once more in the
mosque at the time of prayer. Returning to his couch,
his great and increasing weakness warned him that the
end was near.
"O God, pardon my sins!" he faltered. "Yes—
I come-among my fellow-citizens on high."
Thus he died, in the tenth year after the Hegira.