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Mecca, that the leaders of the Koreish, instead of CHAP.
accusing a criminal, were compelled to employ the measures of persuasion or violence. They repeatedly addressed Abu Taleb in the style of reproach and menace. “Thy nephew reviles our religion; he accuses our wise forefathers of ignorance and folly: silence him quickly, lest he kindle tumult and discord in the city. If he persevere, we shall draw our swords against him and his adherents, and thou wilt be responsible for the blood of thy fellow-citizens.” The weight and moderation of Abu Taleb eluded the violence of religious faction; the most helpless or timid of the disciples retired to Æthiopia, and the prophet withdrew himself to various places of strength in the town and country. As he was still supported by his family, the rest of the tribe of Koreish engaged themselves to renounce all intercourse with the children of Hashem, neither to buy nor sell, neither to marry nor to give in marriage, but to pursue them with implacable enmity, till they should deliver the person of Mahomet to the justice of the gods. The decree was suspended in the Caaba before the eyes of the nation; the messengers of the Koreish pursued the Musulman exiles in the heart of Africa: they besieged the prophet and his most faithful followers, intercepted their water, and inflamed their mutual animosity by the retaliation of injuries and insults. A doubtful truce restored the appearances of concord; till the death of Abu Taleb abandoned Mahomet to the power of his enemies, at the moment when he was deprived of his domestic comforts by the loss of his faithful and generous Cadijah. Abu Sophian, the chief of the branch of Ommiyah, succeeded to the principality of the republic of Mecca. A zealous votary of the idols, a mortal foe of the line of Hashem, he convened an assembly of the Koreishites and their allies, to decide the fate of the apostle. His imprisonment might provoke the de
spair of his enthusiasm; and the exile of an eloquent and popular fanatic would diffuse the mischief through the provinces of Arabia. His death was resolved; and they agreed that a sword from each tribe should be buried in his heart, to divide the guilt of his blood, and baffle the vengeance of the Hashem
and liven ites. An angel or a spy revealed their conspiracy;
from Mecca, A. D. 622.
and flight was the only resource of Mahomet." At the dead of night, accompanied by his friend Abubeker, he silently escaped from his house: the assassins watched at the door; but they were deceived by the figure of Ali, who reposed on the bed, and was covered with the green vestment of the apostle. The Koreish respected the piety of the heroic youth; but some verses of Ali, which are still extant, exhibit an interesting picture of his anxiety, his tenderness, and his religious confidence. Three days Mahomet and his companion were concealed in the cave of Thor, at the distance of a league from Mecca; and in the close of each evening, they received, from the son and daughter of Abubeker, a secret supply of intelligence and food. The diligence of the Koreish explored every haunt in the neighbourhood of the city; they arrived at the entrance of the cavern; but
the providential deceit of a spider's web and a pigeon's
nest is supposed to convince them that the place was solitary and inviolate. “We are only two,” said the trembling Abubeker. “There is a third,” replied the prophet; “it is God himself.” No sooner was the pursuit abated, than the two fugitives issued from the rock, and mounted their camels: on the road to Medina, they were overtaken by the emissaries of the Koreish; they redeemed themselves with prayers and promises from their hands. In this
eventful moment, the lance of an Arab might have changed the history of the world. The flight of the
* D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 445. He quotes a particular history of the flight of Mahomet.
prophet from Mecca to Medina has fixed the memo- CHAP. rable aera of the Hegira," which, at the end of twelve L. centuries, still discriminates the lunar years of the Mahometan nations.” The religion of the Koran might have perished in Received its cradle, had not Medina embraced with faith and oil, reverence the holy outcasts of Mecca. Medina, or *** the city, known under the name of Yathreb, before it was sanctified by the throne of the prophet, was divided between the tribes of the Charegites and the Awsites, whose hereditary feud was rekindled by the slightest provocations: two colonies of Jews, who boasted a sacerdotal race, were their humble allies, and without converting the Arabs, they introduced the taste of science and religion, which distinguished Medina as the city of the book. Some of her noblest citizens, in a pilgrimage to the Caaba, were converted by the preaching of Mahomet; on their return they diffused the belief of God and his prophet, and the new alliance was ratified by their deputies in two secret and nocturnal interviews on a hill in the suburbs of Mecca. In the first, ten Charegites and two Awsites united in faith and love, protested in the name of their wives, their children, and their absent brethren, that they would for ever profess the creed, and observe the precepts, of the Koran. The second was a political association, the first vital spark of the
empire of the Saracens.” Seventy-three men and two
* The Hegira was instituted by Omar, the second caliph, in imitation of the aera of the martyrs of the Christians (D'Herbelot, p. 444); and properly commenced sixty-eight days before the flight of Mahomet, with the first of Moharren, or first day of that Arabian year, which coincides with Friday July 16th, A. D. 622 (Abulfeda, Vit. Moham. c. 22, 23, p. 45–50; and Greaves's edition of Ullug Beig's Epochae Arabum, &c. c. 1. p. 8. 10, &c.)
* Mahomet's life, from his mission to the Hegira, may be found in Abulfeda (p. 14–45), and Gagnier (tom. i. p. 134—251.342–383). The legend from p. 187—234, is vouched by Al Jannabi, and disdained by Abulfeda.
P The triple inauguration of Mahomet is described by Abulfeda (p. 30.33 40. 86), and Gagnier (tom. i. p. 342, &c. 349, &c. tom. ii. p. 223, &c.)
CHAP. women of Medina held a solemn conference with
Mahomet, his kinsmen, and his disciples; and pledged themselves to each other by a mutual oath of fidelity. They promised in the name of the city, that if he should be banished, they would receive him as a confederate, obey him as a leader, and defend him to the last extremity, like their wives and children. “But if you are recalled by your country,” they asked with a flattering anxiety, “will you not abandon your new allies?” “All things,” replied Mahomet with a smile, “are now common between us; your blood is as my blood, your ruin as my ruin. We are bound to each other by the ties of honour and interest. I am your friend, and the enemy of your foes.” “But if we are killed in your service, what,” exclaimed the deputies of Medina, “will be our reward?” “PARADISE,” replied the prophet. “Stretch forth thy hand.” He stretched it forth, and they reiterated the oath of allegiance and fidelity. Their treaty was ratified by the people, who unanimously embraced the profession of Islam; they rejoiced in the exile of the apostle, but they trembled for his safety, and impatiently expected his arrival. After a perilous and rapid journey along the sea-coast, he halted at Koba, two miles from the city, and made his public entry into Medina, sixteen days after his flight from Mecca. Five hundred of the citizens advanced to meet him; he was hailed with acclamations of loyalty and devotion; Mahomet was mounted on a she-camel, an umbrella shaded his head, and a turban was unfurled before him to supply the deficiency of a standard. His bravest disciples, who had been scattered by the storm, assembled round his person: and the equal, though various, merit of the Moslems was distinguished by the names of Mohagerians and Ansars, the fugitives of Mecca, and the auxiliaries of Medina. To eradicate the seeds of jealousy, Mahomet judiciously coupled his principal c
followers with the rights and obligations of brethren, and when Ali found himself without a peer, the prophet tenderly declared, that he would be the companion and brother of the noble youth. The expedient was crowned with success; the holy fraternity was respected in peace and war, and the two parties vied with each other in a generous emulation of courage and fidelity. Once only the concord was slightly ruffled by an accidental quarrel; a patriot of Medina arraigned the insolence of the strangers, but the hint of their expulsion was heard with abhorrence, and his own son most eagerly offered to lay at the apostle's feet the head of his father.
office; and it was impious to appeal from a judge -"
whose decrees were inspired by the divine wisdom. A small portion of ground, the patrimony of two orphans, was acquired by gift or purchase;" on that chosen spot, he built a house and a mosch more venerable in their rude simplicity than the palaces and temples of the Assyrian caliphs. His seal of gold, or silver, was inscribed with the apostolic title; when he prayed and preached in the weekly assembly, he leaned against the trunk of a palm-tree; and it was long before he indulged himself in the use of a chair or pulpit of rough timber. After a reign of six
* Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 44), reviles the wickedness of the impostor, who despoiled two poor orphans, the sons of a carpenter; a reproach which he drew from the Disputatio contra Saracenos, composed in Arabic before the year 1130; but the honest Gagnier (ad Abulfed. p. 53) has shown that they were deceived by the word Al Nagjar, which signifies, in this place, not an obscure trade, but a noble tribe of Arabs. The desolate state of the ground is described by Abulfeda; and his worthy interpreter has proved, from Al Bochari, the offer of a price; from Al Jannabi, the fair purchase; and from Ahmed Ben Joseph, the payment of the money by the generous Abubeker. On these grounds the prophet must be honourably acquitted.
* Al Jannabi (apud Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 246. 324) describes the seal and pulpit, as two venerable relics of the apostle of God; and the portrait of his court is taken from Abulfeda (c. 44, p. 85).