Seerah - Life of the Prophet Muhammad (saw)

38 - Last Call to the Polytheists

With the conquest of Makka, Muslims assumed control of the administration of the city and the Ka’ba, and many polytheistic Arab tribes entered Islam; however, there were still those who continued in their idolatrous beliefs. A certain number of these tribes were allies of the Muslims. After Makka’s conquest, Prophet Muhammad made agreements with polytheistic tribes such as the Khuda’a and Mudlij – as he had made with those neighboring Madina such as the Damra, Ghifar, Juhayna and Ashja’ from the first year after the Emigration onwards – which ensured the freedom and safety of those visiting the Ka’ba for the major and minor pilgrimage and which guaranteed that no one would be in fear during the sacred months. After returning from the Tabuk Campaign, knowing that there would still be polytheists in Makka and that some of these, based on customary practice, would circumambulate the Ka’ba naked, Prophet Muhammad did not find it in his heart to go on the pilgrimage within this year. Appointing Abu Bakr as head of the Hajj Caravan (amir al-hajj), Prophet Muhammad sent him along with 300 Companions to Makka (Dhu al-Qa'dah – Dhu'l-Hijjah 9/March 631). Thereafter, the first twenty-eight verses of the Qur’anic chapter entitled At-Tauba (The Immunity) were revealed pertaining to the general position of the polytheists and the treaties between them and the Prophet. By way of publicly declaring the decrees of these verses, Prophet Muhammad assigned ‘Ali – in accordance with prevalent Arab custom whereby the leader or a member of his family could assume position of authority. ‘Ali caught up with Abu Bakr who was on his way to Makka and, explaining the situation to him, told him that he could continue his position as head of the Hajj caravan. To the crowds gathered at Mina on 10 Dhu'l-Hijjah, or the first day of the religious festivity (‘Iyd), ‘Ali read the first verses of the chapter At-Tauba, which served as a word of warning to the polytheists, and made the following explanation:

Disbelievers will not be able to attain eternal salvation. From this year forth, those who associate partners with God will not be able to perform the pilgrimage and approach the Sacred Mosque; no one will be able to circumambulate the Ka’ba naked. Those who have treaties with Prophet Muhammad will be able to exercise their rights for the duration of the treaty, until its expiration, and in the event of their not becoming Muslim thereafter, their security cannot be ensured.

This proclamation had the desired effect; even if some of those present raised objections, virtually all of them subsequently became Muslim saying, “Even the Quraysh has become Muslim!” and did not feel the need to use their four month grace period. As such, the existence of idolatry in the Arabian Peninsula was eliminated and the Ka’ba was reserved for those believers possessing belief in the unity of God, in accordance with the principles established by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael. With the twenty-ninth verse of the same chapter, the underlying Islamic understanding of ensuring the protection of the lives and property as well as freedom of belief of the People of the Book, first and foremost, as well as for members of other religions on the condition that they pay the poll tax, was put into effect.



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