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Brief life-sketch of Holy Prophet Muhammad

6. Islam spreads throughout Arabia — End of Holy Prophet's life
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6. Islam spreads throughout Arabia —
End of Holy Prophet's life

The fall of Makka was a signal to the whole of Arabia. In fact, the Quraish were generally at the bottom of all organized opposition. With the sole exception of the battle of Hunain, which had to be undertaken against the Hawazin immediately after the conquest of Makka, regular warfare between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in the whole of Arabia now came to an end, and even at Hunain, the unbelieving Makkans fought on the side of the Muslims.

Islam was now free from trouble from within, but the Christian power on the north viewed its strength with a jealous eye, and persistent news as to preparations of the Roman Empire to attack Arabia could not be ignored. Accordingly, an expedition of 30,000 men was led by the Prophet personally to the northern frontier in the ninth year of the Flight. When he reached Tabuk, however, he found that his march had a restraining effect on the enemy, and there being no hostile force in the field, the Prophet returned without either attacking the Romans or declaring war against them. In fact, the Prophet always observed the Quranic injunction to fight only with those who took up the sword first to fight against the Muslims.

After the return from Tabuk, peace was apparently established in the peninsula, but the Islamic territory was infested with hordes of marauders belonging to the tribes that had entered into agreement with the Muslim state, but had little respect for their treaties:

Those with whom thou makest an agreement, then they break their agreement every time and then have no regard for their obligations." [8:56]
These people had become a menace to the security of life and property, and accordingly, towards the end of the ninth year of the Hijra, the Prophet sent Ali to make an important declaration of immunity regarding such agreements at the annual pilgrimage at Makka. This declaration is contained in the opening verses of the chapter entitled The Immunity:
"This is a declaration of immunity by Allah and His Messenger towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement." [9:1]
By idolaters were meant the idolaters spoken of in the previous chapter, already referred to, "those with whom Thou makest an agreement then they break their agreement every time." This is made clear in the next few verses by making an exception in favour of those who had not violated their treaties:
Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement then they have not failed you in anything and have not aided any one against you, so fulfil their agreement to the end of their term, for Allah loves those who have regard for their obligations. [9:4]
And again:
How can there be an agreement for the idolaters with Allah and His Messenger, except those with whom you made an agreement at the Sacred Mosque; so as long as they are true to you be true to them, for Allah loves those who have regard for their obligations. How can it be ! For if they prevail against you, they will not pay regard in your case to ties of relationship, nor those of their covenant; they please you with their mouths while their hearts do not consent and most of them are transgressors.... They do not pay regard to ties of relationship nor those of covenant in the case of a believer, and these are they who exceed the limits. [9:7-10]
The idolaters concerned met Ali with the retort: "O Ali ! Deliver this message to thy cousin (i.e. the Prophet) that we have thrown the agreements behind our backs, and there is no agreement between him and us except smiting with spears and striking with swords." The result of the Prophet's firm attitude was that such tribes surrendered, and a settled condition of peace prevailed throughout the peninsula.

This declaration of immunity towards the violators is sometimes misunderstood as meaning an abrogation of the conditions of war laid down at the beginning: "Fight with those who fight with you and do not exceed this limit" (2:190). As a matter of fact, the condition laid down remained effective to the end. The Prophet's return from Tabuk without attacking either the Roman territory or the territory of any other tribe is a dear evidence of this. And even after the declaration of immunity, the Muslims were required to fight with those who attacked them first:

What ! Will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Messenger and attacked you first? [9:13]
Deputations which had already started coming to the Prophet in the ninth year of the Flight to learn the truth about Islam now became more abundant. People came from different corners from all over Arabia and embraced Islam of their own free will. As soon as peace was established, Islam spread be leaps and bounds, and the tenth year of the Flight witnessed the conversion of the whole of Arabia to Islam, including some Christian tribes. It was not only a conversion in the sense that idolatry was given up for the purest monotheism from one end of the vast peninsula to the other; it was a reformation in all spheres of life. The whole course of life of an entire nation was changed - ignorance, superstition and barbarism giving place to the spread of knowledge and to a rational outlook in all aspects of life.

At the end of the tenth year of the Hijra, the Prophet set out to perform the pilgrimage to Makka. As the whole of Arabia was now Muslim, there was not a single idolater in the huge concourse of 124,000 pilgrims assembled at Makka from all corners of the country. The very spot where the Prophet was only twenty years ago a rejected person, to whose word no one was willing to lend his ear, was now the scene of marvellous devotion to him. To whichever side he turned his eye, he saw hosts of devoted friends who recognized him both as their temporal as well as their spiritual head. An inspiring manifestation of Divine power to him as well as to those who had assembled there.

It was here on the ninth day of Dhul Hijja, the day of the assembling of the pilgrims at Mount Arafat, that he received a revelation from on High which sent a thrill of joy through the vast gathering:

This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you and chosen for you al-Islam as a religion. [5:3]
Obviously the Prophet perceived that the message of the perfection of religion meant his approaching end. Here he delivered the following sermon - Islam's sermon on the Mount to the whole of Arabia through representatives of tribes coming from every quarter:
O people ! Lend an attentive ear to my words, for I know not whether I shall ever hereafter have the opportunity to meet you here.

I apprise you that your lives, your properties and your honour must be as sacred to one another as this sacred day in this sacred month in this sacred town. Let those present take this message to those absent.

You are about to meet your Lord Who will call you to account for your deeds....

O people ! This day Satan has despaired of re-establishing his power in this land of yours. But should you obey him even in what may seem to you a trifling matter, it will be a source of pleasure for him. So you must beware of him in the matter of your faith.

O my people ! You have certain rights over your wives and so have your wives over you.... They are the trust of Allah in your hands. So you must treat them with all kindness ... And as regards your slaves, see that you give them to eat of what you yourselves eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves.

O people ! Listen to what I say and take it to heart. You must know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal, and members of one brotherhood. It is forbidden to any of you to take from his brother save what he should willingly give. Do not do injustice to your people. ........

Then the Prophet cried at the top of his voice:
O Allah ! I have delivered Thy message,
and the valley resounded with the words:...
Aye ! That thou hast.
This is known as the Prophet's Farewell pilgrimage. A little while after his return to Madina, he fell ill. At first he went to the mosque to lead the prayers even during his illness, but later on he became too weak and appointed Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. After about twelve days' illness, on the 12th of Rabi' I on a Monday in the 11th year of the Flight, at the age of sixty-three, he commended his soul to his Maker, his last words being:
Blessed companionship on High.

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