Despite the improved relations between Mecca and Medinah after the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, the ten-year peace was to be broken by Quraysh who, with their allies, the Bani Bakr, attacked the Khuza’ah tribe. Now Khuza’ah were allies of the Muslims and when the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard of the attack he immediately ordered his men to prepare for war. When they were ready he told them that their destination was Mecca and, as he did not want any fighting within the walls of the city, he told them they must move quickly and take the enemy by surprise. In this way the Meccans would not have time to prepare for war and, being surrounded would have to surrender. The Muslims would then be able to take the city without injury or loss of life to anyone.
When the Muslim army, which numbered ten thousand, set out for Mecca it was the month of Ramadan in the eighth year of the Hijrah. Many of the men kept the fast, even though they were not obliged to because they were travelling. Everyone was jubilant because they were going to Mecca, especially as some of them had not seen their homes in the city for eight long years. In the meantime, the Prophet's uncle, Al-'Abbas had decided that the time had come for him and his wife to leave Mecca and join the Prophet (peace be upon him) in Medinah. They did not, however, have to go far as after a distance of only twenty-five kilometers they came across the Muslim camp. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw them he said, 'Uncle, your emigration is the last emigration. My prophecy is the last prophecy.' Al-'Abbas then joined the army and his wife went on to the safety of Medinah.
Night fell and the Muslims made fires to light their camp. The Meccans, looking out of the city, were amazed to see the many fires, and Abu Sufyan went all over Mecca trying to find out whose camp it was. Suddenly he saw al-‘Abbas riding towards him from the direction of the fires. He was returning as a messenger of peace from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said to Abu Sufyan, 'The Muslims have come with a large army. They do not wish to fight, only to enter the city. It would be better to surrender and not fight. Come under my protection and meet the Prophet (peace be upon him).'
Abu Sufyan agreed, and got up behind al-Abbas, who was riding the Prophet’s white mule. It was still night as they entered the Muslim camp. Each time they passed a fire, someone would call out, 'Who goes there?' None of them recognized the stranger as the leader of their enemy but all knew al-‘Abbas and so let them through. As they passed by 'Umar, however, he immediately recognized Abu Sufyan and yelled out, 'Abu Sufyan! The enemy of Allah!' He ran after them intending to kill his enemy but al-‘Abbas made the mule go faster. They reached the Prophet's tent just before ‘Umar who rushed in after them quite out of breath. 'Umar begged the Prophet (peace be upon him), 'O Messenger of Allah, let me end the life of Abu Sufyan, this enemy of Islam, who has led the Quraysh armies in their attacks on us!' Al-‘Abbas interrupted, saying, 'I have sworn to protect him during his time here’ whereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) told his uncle to take Abu Sufyan to his tent for the night.
In the morning Abu Sufyan was taken to the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said, 'Abu Sufyan! Have you not yet realized that there is no divinity but Allah?' To this Abu Sufyan replied, 'If there had been another he surely would Have helped me by now.’ ‘Shame on you, Abu Sufyan', responded the Prophet (peace be upon him), 'it is time you realize that I am truly Allah's Messenger.' After a moment or two, Abu Sufyan, who remembered how ‘Umar had not been allowed to kill him, replied: 'I can see you are a generous and forgiving man but I still cannot be sure of that.' At this, Al-‘Abbas, who had been standing nearby turned to him and said: ‘Believe as I do now.' Abu Sufyan stood quietly for a moment, then in a calm, clear voice swore in front of everyone, there is no divinity but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.'
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then told Abu Sufyan to go back to Mecca and tell the people that the Muslims would enter the city the next morning. Before he left, however, Al-'Abbas suggested to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that as Abu Sufyan was a proud man, it would be good to give him an honorable position. The Prophet (peace be upon him) took this advice, saying to Abu Sufyan, 'Tell the people that when we enter, anyone seeking refuge in your house will be safe.' This was a great honor for Abu Sufyan.
In addition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him to assure the Meccans that those who remained in their own homes or at the Ka’bah would also be protected.
Abu Sufyan returned quickly to the city. He made straight for the hill Hagar had climbed in her search for water and from which the Prophet (peace be upon him) later spoke, and called upon Quraysh to come to him. Abu Sufyan then spoke to the people, 'O people of Mecca, the fires we saw all around us were the camp fires of Muhammad and his men. He has come with a strong army and there are too many for us to fight. It is best, therefore, to surrender. Anyone who stays in my house, or in his own home, or at the Ka'bah will be safe.'
Early next day, the Muslims entered Mecca from all sides. They had been ordered to cause no harm unless anyone tried to stop them entering. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) arrived, he got off his camel, bowed down on the ground and thanked Allah for this victory. When the unbelievers saw this, they knew that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had come in peace. People began leaving their homes and running towards the Ka’bah. When they arrived there, they found the Prophet (peace be upon him) performing the ritual encircling of the Ka'bah, the tawaf on his camel, surrounded by the Muslims. When he had finished, he said, 'There is no divinity except Allah and He has no partner. Men and women of Quraysh be not proud for all are equal; we are all the sons of Adam, and Adam was made of dust.'
Then he recited this verse to them:
“O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes so you may know each another. Surely the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is All-knowing, All-aware”. (Qur'an, Surah Al-Hujarat, 49:13)
After this he said to them: 'O Quraysh, what do you think I am going to do to you?' The people thought carefully before answering because they knew that according to the laws of war they could all be taken prisoner. They also knew, however, that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was generous, so they replied, ‘You will treat us as a kind nephew and a generous brother would.'
To this he replied with the words used by the Prophet Joseph when his brothers came to Egypt: 'God forgives you and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.' Later the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to the hill of Safa and there the crowd followed him and surged forward, taking his hand one by one, to declare themselves Muslim. He then turned to the Ka'bah and, pointing his staff at the three hundred and sixty-five idols which were placed there, recited from the Qur'an:
“… Truth has come and falsehood has vanished away. Lo! Falsehood is ever bound to vanish”. (Qur'an, Surah Al-Isra’, 17: 81)
At this, each idol fell over onto its face. Together with his followers the Prophet (peace be upon him) then proceeded to purify the Ka'bah, after which he ordered Bilal to climb on top of it and perform the call to prayer. Since then the call to prayer has been heard five times a day in Mecca.
The Ka'bah, the House of Allah, has served the purpose for which it was built by Abraham thousands of years ago, as a sanctuary for the worship of Allah, our Creator, and Mecca continues to be the spiritual centre of Islam.
On the day Mecca was conquered, the Prophet (peace be upon him) addressed the people saying:
“Allah made Mecca holy the day He created heaven and earth and it is the Holy of Holies until the Resurrection Day. It is not lawful for anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day to shed blood therein, nor to cut down trees therein. It was not lawful for anyone before me and it will not be lawful for anyone after me. Indeed it is not lawful for me except at this time, only Allah's anger against his people makes it permissible. Mecca has now regained its former holiness. Let those here now go forth and tell others.”
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