Conquest Of Mecca
The Conquest of Mecca ( فتح مكة, Fatḥ Makkah) was the capture of the town of Mecca by Muslims led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad on December 629 or January 630 AD (Julian), 10–20 Ramadan, 8 AH. The conquest marked the end of the wars between the followers of Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe.
Ancient sources vary as to the dates of these events.
- The date Muhammad set out for Mecca is variously given as 2, 6 or 10 Ramadan 8 AH.
- The date Muhammad entered Mecca is variously given as 10, 17/18, 19 or 20 Ramadan 8 AH.
The conversion of these dates to the Julian calendar depends on what assumptions are made about the calendar in use in Mecca at the time. For example, 18 Ramadan 8 AH may be converted to 11 December 629 AD, 10 or 11 January 630, or 6 June 630 AD.
In 628, the Meccan tribe of Quraysh and the Muslim community in Medina signed a 10-year truce called the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.
In 630, this truce was broken when the Banu Bakr, an ally of the Quraysh, attacked the Banu Khuza’ah, who had recently become allies of the Muslims.
According to the terms of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the Arab tribes were given the option of joining either of the sides: the Muslims or the Quraysh. Should any of these tribes face aggression, the party to which it was allied would have the right to retaliate. As a consequence, the Banu Bakr joined the Quraysh, and the Banu Khuza’ah joined the Muslims. They thus lived in peace for some time; but ulterior motives stretching back to the pre-Islamic period, ignited by unabated fire of revenge, triggered fresh hostilities. The Banu Bakr, without concern for the provisions of the treaty, attacked the Banu Khuza’ah in a place called Al-Wateer in Sha’ban, in 8 AH. A faction of the Quraysh led by Safwan ibn Umayya, ‘Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl, and Suhayl ibn ‘Amr — without the knowledge of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb — helped the Banu Bakr with men and arms, taking advantage of the night. Pressed by their enemies, the tribesmen of the Banu Khuza’ah sought the Holy Sanctuary, but their lives were not spared, and, contrary to all accepted traditions, Nawfal, the chief of the Banu Bakr, killed twenty of his adversaries. The Banu Khuza’ah at once sent a delegation to Medina to inform Muhammad of this breach of truce and to seek his help.
After the incident, Abu Sufyan traveled to Medina for a renewal of the Truce. He directly headed for the house of his daughter Umm Habiba who was also Muhammad’s wife. But as he went to sit on Muhammad’s bed, she folded it up. “My daughter,” he said, “I hardly knew if you think the bed is too good for me or that I am too good for the bed.” She replied, “It is the Messenger of Allâh’s bed, and you are an unclean polytheist.” He contacted Abu Bakr, Umar, and Ali all of whom declined to interfere. Abu Sufyan went back to Makkah disappointed.
Preparation for conquest
The Muslim army, consisting of 10,000 men, set out for Mecca on Tuesday, 31 October 629 (10 Ramadan, AH 8). This was the largest Muslim force ever assembled as of that time. Muhammad ordered every man to light a fire so as to make the Meccans overestimate the size of the army.
Entrance into Mecca
The 300 km journey to Marr-uz-Zahran, located 15 km northwest of Mecca, took about a week. The army arrived there on Monday, 16 Ramadan, and the assault on Mecca began the following day. Mecca lies in the Valley of Ibrahim, surrounded by black rugged hills reaching heights of 1,000 ft (300 m) at some places. There were four entry routes through passes in the hills. These were from the northwest, the southwest, the south, and the northeast. Muhammad divided the Muslim army into four columns: one to advance through each pass. The main column in which Muhammad was present was commanded by Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah. It was tasked to enter Mecca through the main Medina route, from the northwest near Azakhir. Muhammad’s cousin Zubayr ibn al-Awwam commanded the second column, which planned to enter Mecca from the southwest, through a pass west of Kuda hill. The column entering from the south through Kudai was under the leadership of Muhammad’s cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. The last column, under Khalid ibn al-Walid, planned to enter from the northeast, through Khandama and Lait.
Their tactic was to advance simultaneously from all sides targeting a single central objective. This would lead to the dispersion of enemy forces and prevent their concentration on any one front. Another important reason for this tactic was that even if one or two of the attacking columns faced stiff resistance and became unable to break through, the attack could continue on the other flanks. This would also prevent any of the Quraysh from escaping.
Muhammad emphasized that the Muslims should refrain from fighting unless the Quraysh attacked. The Muslim army entered Mecca on Monday, 11 December 629 (18 Ramadan 8 AH). The entry was peaceful and bloodless on three sectors except for that of Khalid’s column. The hardened anti-Muslims like Ikrimah and Sufwan gathered a band of Quraysh fighters and faced Khalid’s column. The Quraysh attacked the Muslims with swords and bows, and the Muslims charged the Quraysh’s positions. After a short skirmish, in which the Quraysh lost twelve men and the Muslims lost two, the Quraysh retreated.
Muhammad and his companions visited the Kaaba. The idols were broken and their gods were destroyed. Thereupon Muhammad recited the following verse from the Quran:
“Say, the Truth has come and falsehood gone. Verily falsehood is bound to vanish.” (17:81)
The people assembled at the Kaaba, and Muhammad delivered the following address:
“There is no god but Allah. He has no associate. He has made good His promise that He held to his bondman and helped him and defeated all the confederates. Bear in mind that every claim of privilege, whether that of blood or property is abolished except that of the custody of the Ka’aba and of supplying water to the pilgrims. Bear in mind that for any one who is slain the blood money is a hundred camels. People of Quraysh, surely God has abolished from you all pride of the time of ignorance and all pride in your ancestry, because all men are descended from Adam, and Adam was made of clay.”
When time for prayer approached, Bilal ascended the Kaaba and called for prayer. Abu Sufyan bin Harb, Itab bin Usaid and Al-Harith bin Hisham were meanwhile sitting in the yard. Itab bin Usaid commented on the new situation (Bilal ascending the Kaaba and calling for prayer) saying that Allah honored Usaid (his father) having not heard such words. Muhammad approached and assisted by Divine Revelation told them that he had learned about what they had spoken of. Al-Harith and Itab, taken by incredible surprise, immediately professed Islam adding that “We swear by Allah that none had been with us to inform you”.
Conversion of Abu Sufyan
On the eve of the conquest, Abu Sufyan adopted Islam when he found that there was no way out except to accept Islam. When asked by Muhammad, he conceded that the Meccan gods had proved powerless and that indeed “no one is worthy of worship but Allah”, the first part of the Islamic confession of faith. In turn, Muhammad declared Abu Sufyan’s house a sanctuary because he was the present chief, and that all the others were gathered over his territory, therefore:
“Even he Who enters the house of Abu Sufyan will be safe, He who lays down arms will be safe, He who locks his door will be safe”.
He also declared:
God has made Mecca a sanctuary since the day He created the Heavens and the Earth, and it will remain a sanctuary by virtue of the sanctity God has bestowed on it until the Day of Resurrection. It (fighting in it) was not made lawful to anyone before me. Nor will it be made lawful to anyone after me, and it was not made lawful for me except for a short period of time. Its animals (that can be hunted) should not be chased, nor should its trees be cut, nor its vegetation or grass uprooted, nor its Luqata (lost things) picked up except by one who makes a public announcement about it.’
Conversion of Abu Quhafa
After hearing that the Muslims army were on their way to Mecca, Abu Quhafa asked his young daughter Qurayba, to lead him to Mount Abu Qubays, as Abu Quhafa was blind. Qurayba became frightened after seeing the Muslims army, though Abu Quhafa calmed her down, saying that her brother Atiq (Abu Bakr) is the most preferred companion of Muhammad.
Abu Bakr saw his father, and took him towards Muhammad, who greeted them with the words: “Why did you not leave the old man in his house so that I could come to him there?” Abu Bakr replied that this way was more fitting. Muhammad sat Abu Quhafa down, and asked him to accept Islam, and he did so. Abu Quhafa had white hair, so Muhammad told them to dye it. After this, Abu Quhafa reportedly became the first Muslim to dye his hair.
Conversion of Suhayl ibn Amr
Then Muhammad turning to the people said:
“O Quraysh, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you?”
And Suhayl ibn Amr said, “Mercy, O Prophet of God. We expect nothing but good from you.”
Thereupon Muhammad declared:
“I speak to you in the same words as Yūsuf spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free.” Suhayl became a devout Muslim who participated in battle with Muhammad and the Rashidun Caliphate.
Conversion of Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl
Ten people were ordered to be killed: Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl, Abdullah ibn Saad ibn Abi Sarh, Habbar bin Aswad, Miqyas Subabah Laythi, Huwairath bin Nuqayd, Abdullah Hilal and four women who had been guilty of murder or other offences or had sparked off the war and disrupted the peace. Despite being of among those ten Ikrima escaped as a fugitive for Yemen where the Makhzum had commercial connections. Muhammad later pardoned Ikrima after his conversion, and after being petitioned by Ikrima’s wife and paternal first cousin Umm Hakim bint al-Harith, who had converted to Islam.
However, of the others ordered to be killed some were pardoned. Of the two singing girls who were outlawed by Muhammad, one was slain but the other spared because she converted to Islam. Ibn Abi Sarh had been granted protection under Uthman ibn Affan and when he initially refused to take the mandatory oath of allegiance to Muhammad, the bystanders still did not kill him, due to misunderstanding the edict of Muhammad.
Conversion of Safwan ibn Umayyah
Safwan’s wife converted to Islam, but Safwan fled to Jeddah, intending to sail to Yemen. Before his ship departed, he was intercepted by Umayr ibn Wahb, who presented him with Muhammad’s turban and said, “Safwan, do not destroy yourself! I have brought you a token of safe-conduct from Allah’s Messenger.” At first Safwan told him to go away, but Umayr persisted, saying, “Your cousin is the most excellent, righteous and forbearing of men. His strength is your strength, his honour is your honour, and his dominion is your dominion.” Safwan replied that he was “in mortal fear” of Muhammad, but Umayr repeated that he was too generous and forbearing to think of killing him, and in the end Safwan agreed to return to Mecca with Umayr. Muhammad confirmed that he had indeed granted safe-conduct to Safwan. When Safwan asked for two months to consider his options, Muhammad replied that he might have four months. When he converted, he was pardoned along with Fudalah ibn Umair.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia