IN 8 AH (630 CE), the Qureish of Makkah broke their pact of Hudaibya with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by killing some of the men of the Khuza tribe, with whom the Prophet had a treaty, inside the sacred surrounds of the Kaaba.
The Khuzas asked the Prophet for help. He said, “They have betrayed us and broken the pact!” He at once prepared to leave for Makkah. On Muharram 10, AH 8, the Prophet set out, along with his allied tribes, with his forces of 10,000 men: the largest force to set out of Madina so far.
While they camped outside Makkah, the Prophet asked the men to spread out and light a fire each. The 10,000 fires became visible to the Makkans who were overawed. Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Qureish, and some other men came running to the camp and met the Prophet. When the call to prayer was sounded at dawn, Abu Sufyan, the Prophet’s bitterest enemy, was so moved that he sought the Prophet and recited the kalima: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger!”
Thereafter, the Prophet sent a messenger to Makkah to announce that whoever entered Abu Sufyan’s house would be safe and whoever went behind his own door and bolted it would be safe and whoever went into the Sacred Mosque would also be safe. Abu Sufyan rushed to Makkah and said, “O Qureish, this is Muhammad (PBUH) who has come to you with a force you cannot resist.” Thereafter, almost all the Makkans took refuge and no one tried to resist the entry of Muslims into Makkah.
The Prophet gave strict orders not to start a fight and announced, “This is the day of mercy!” He divided his troops into four divisions to enter the city from four different directions. Before entering Makkah, while still seated on his camel, the Prophet bent low, prostrating in humility and gratefulness to his Lord. When he heard of the skirmish between Khalid bin Walid’s troops and Ikrimah’s men, he was angry and said, “Did I not forbid fighting?”
It was explained that the Qureish had attacked them first. Then the Prophet put on his armour and along with his men, entered the Kaaba, touched the Hajr al-Aswad with his staff and recited “Allahu Akbar”, which his followers repeated so that the whole of Makkah resounded with it.
The Prophet made seven rounds of the Kaaba and then turned towards the 360 idols surrounding the mosque. He pointed towards each and recited, “The truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely, falsehood is bound to vanish!” (17:81). As he pointed to the idols, each one fell on its face. Thus the Kaaba, which had been built first by Adam and then reconstructed by Abraham for the worship of the One God, was finally cleansed of all man-made deities.
The door of the Kaaba was unlocked. The Prophet entered it and asked that pictures of false gods be erased. Since there was no looting, no plunder and no mistreatment of women, the Makkans were now convinced that the Prophet did not wish to avenge them. Those who had taken refuge in their homes came out and joined those in the Sacred Mosque.
The Prophet, standing at the door of the Kaaba, addressed them: “There is no God but Allah alone. He has no associate. He has made good His promise and helped his servant. He has put to flight the confederates. Every claim of privilege or blood or property is abolished by me except the custody of the temple and the watering of the pilgrims … O Qureish, God has taken from you the haughtiness of the days of paganism and its veneration of ancestors. Man springs from Adam and Adam springs from dust.”
He recited from the Quran, “We have created you from male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. The most noble of you, in the sight of God, is the most pious” (49:13). Then he asked, “O Qureish, what do you think that I am about to do with you?” They replied, “Good. You are a noble and generous brother, son of a noble and generous brother. It is thine to command.”
He then spoke to them words of forgiveness which, according to the revelation Joseph had spoken to his brothers when they came to him in Egypt, “Verily, I say as my brother Joseph said, ‘This day there shall be no upbraiding of you nor reproach. God forgiveth you, for He is most Merciful of the merciful’” (12: 92). He said, “Go your way for you are the freed ones!” Only four persons were given the death penalty, which had nothing to do with this conquest.
A general amnesty was declared for his bitter enemies of two decades who had broken their pact of Hudaibya and who had tried every trick to harm the Prophet and his followers. The Prophet then took his place at the hill of Safa, and the Makkans, both men and women, flocked to him to pay homage and to accept Islam. Through his treatment of the Qureish, the Prophet demonstrated his faith in peace, non-violence, freedom, human rights and equality of all human beings. He also lived the verse of the Quran (16:126) in which it is said that retaliation is valid, but forgiveness is more noble and worthy of reward.
The writer specialises in Quranic themes and contemporary issues.