Islamic History : 628 - 630

628

The Pact of Hudaybiya

In February, the Prophet(saws) led a gorup about 1,600 men, intending to perform the Pilgrimage at Makkah, but was prevented from doing so. After some negotiations, a pact was drawn up at Hudabiya(which later came to bear its name), a settlement about ten miles west of the town. Although some of the leading Muslims were not satisfied with the final outcome, Muhammad(saws)did get a number of concessions from the Makkans regarding the right forhim and his followers to make the Pilgrimage in the following year. This was yet another indication of the weakening resolve of the Prophet's(s) old adversaries to oppose him.

One of the most significant consequence of the Prophet(s)'s increasing prestige at this point in time was the conversion of Khalid ibn al-Walid(d.641) and Amr ibn al-As(d.663) who later proved themselves to be the greatest military commanders of the Muslims. They took part in many famous victories crucial to the expansion of the Islamic empire. At about the same time, the hereditary custodians of the keys to the idol shrine, the ka'aba, also became Muslim, which gave a political boost to the missionaries of the new Faith.

Muhammad(s)'s Invitation to Rulers of Surrounding Territories to Accept Islam

According to tradition, it was about this period, the year 628, that the Prophet(s) sent messages to the king of Persia, the Byzantine Emperor, the Governor of Egypt and the Prince of Abyssinia, inviting them to embrace Islam. The king of Persia is alleged to have torn up the missive with contempt. The Emperor Heraculis accepted the letter with less resentment but dismissed its contents. The Governor of Egypt, however, received themessage with courtesy and while refusing to change his religion, he sent in return a white riding mile and two Egyptian slave girls.

The letter addressed to Cyprus(Arabic: al-Muqawqis) the Egyptian Governor is preserved, along with other holy relics belonging to the Prophet(saws) and his companions, in Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul.* The following is the translation of the letter.

From Muhammad, the servantand Prophet of Allah, to al-Muqawqis, the leader of the Coptic tribe.**

There is safety and security for those beleivers who follow the correct path. Therefore, I invite you to accept Islam. If you accept it, you shall find security, save your throne, gain twice as much reward for having introduced Islam to your followers. If you refuse this invitation, let the sin of the calamity which awaits your followers be upon you. You too are People of the Book; therefore, let us come to a word common between us and you, that we worship none but Allah and shall not associate anyone with Him. Let us not abandon Allah and take others for Lord other than Him. If you do not consent to this invitation, bear witness that we are Muslims."

*The text of the letter consists of 12 lines followed by the Prophet(saws)'s seal and is written on a parchment measuring 19cm x 16cm. With the passage of time, the parchment has discoloured and become brittle and the writing has become indistinct.

According to the Director of the Museum, a Frenchman by the name of Barthelemy found the letter in 1850 attached to the binding of a Coptic Bible in a monastery in Egypt. It was subsequently presented to the Ottoman ruler Sultan Abdul Majid I (ruled 1839 - 1861) and brought it to Istanbul.

**Ancient Egyptians who had adopted Monophysite branch of Christainity

Conclusion of Perso-Byzantine Peace

Chosroes Parwiz, who had come to the Sasanid throne in 590, was assassinated and peace was concluded in 628 between the Persians and the Byzantines after twenty-six years of devastating wars. The two forces pulled back to the old frontiers, and neither side, in the end, gained any new territory in this long and costly conflict which had left both sides utterly exhausted militarily and financially.

The wars had brought heavy taxation on the subject populations in the two empires and had underminded their royalty to their oppressive and alien overlords. This resentment among the populace later helped the conquering Arabs, who though, untrained and ill-equipped, were completely dedicated to spreading their religion.


629

Conversion of Abbas(ra) to Islam

While Muhammad(saws) was in Makkah for the Pilgrimage, his uncle, Abbas(d. 652) accepted Islam. The descendants of Abbas later established the second Islamic Dynasty, the Abbasid (750-1258)


630

The Fall of Makkah; the Dedication of the Ka'aba as the Symbol of Islam

Now the tide had turned and Makkah was in decline with no competent leader. After the humiliating failure of their siege of Madinah, they lost the will and strength to fight. Muhammad(saws) marched on Makka, his birthplace which drive him into exile eight years earlier, with 10,000 men and the city surrendered with virtually no resistance.

Muhammad(saws), instead of being vindictive, ordered a general amnesty from which only four or five persons were excluded. The Prophet(saws) won over the Makkans by showing magnanimity on the day of triumph even to those who had persecuted him in the past. This led to a large number of local people accepting Islam. Idols kept in the Ka'aba(said to be numbered 360) were destroyed, and it became no longer a pagan shrine. Instead, the Ka'aba was dedicated afresh to the worship of the One and Only God, according to the new Faith, and from no won it became the spirtual centre of Islam.

The Ka'aba

The structure of the present Ka'aba(lit.'cube'), located in the centre of the courtyard of the Great Mosque in Makkah, is approximately 40 ft long, 35 ft wide and 50 ft high, with the Black Stone built into the south-eastern corner near its door, which is about seven feet above the ground level. It dates back to 683, when Abdullah ibn Zubair(ra)(d. 692) rebuilt it. Apart from some alterations carried out by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf(661-714) in 693, the building has survived in this form to the present day. It is the holiest shrine and 'religious pole' of the Islamic Faith; Muslims all over the world oreint themselves toward it during prayer, bury their dead facing its meridian, and cherish the ambition of visiting it on a pilgrimage.

The Black Stone - the exposed side of which is an oval shape a little more than a span across - is set in a thicker silver casing of a oval shape. The sacred rock is the only remaining relic from the building which existed in the Prophet Muhammad(saws)'s time. The silver casing protrudes from the building above five feet from the ground, a convenient height for the pilgrams to kiss, touch or otherwise greet the Black Stone during their ritual circumambulation of the Ka'aba.

Acceptance of Islam by Abu Sufyan

Abu Sufyan(d. 651), the Prophet's(saws) most feared opponent, made his peace with Muhammad(saws) and accepted islam. His son, Muawiya, became one of the secretaries of the Prophet(saws) and later (661) the 1st Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty(661 - 750)

Muhammad(saws) reutrned to Madinah, where he continued to live for the rest of his life.


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