The Year of Deputations and Abu Bakr's Leadership of the Pilgrimage

The Effects of the Campaign of Tabuk

With the campaign of Tabuk the word of God was fulfilled throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Muhammad had firmly secured it against all attacks. In fact, as soon as he returned to Madinah from Tabuk, the associationists of Arabia began to ponder their fate. The Muslims who accompanied Muhammad on his march toward al Sham suffered many hardships, bore the heat and thirst of the desert, and returned somewhat disappointed, nay resentful, that they were not given a chance to fight and to enjoy the fruits of victory. The Byzantines had withdrawn to the interior where they stood better fortified. Nonetheless, their withdrawal before a marching Arab army left the tribes severely shaken, anxious over the fate of their pagan religion and of their society. The tribes of southern Arabia, of Yaman, Hadramawt, and `Uman were specially affected in this manner. The Byzantines, they thought, were those who vanquished the Persians, recaptured the cross and reinstated it in Jerusalem with imperial pomp and grandeur. This happened at a time when Persia held dominion over Yaman and the surrounding countryside, territories which Persia had ruled for many decades. Since the Muslims were now close to Yaman-indeed close to every quarter of the Peninsula why should these territories not join the greater unity under the banner of Muhammad, the aegis of Islam? Such a step would at least save them from the imperialism of both Byzantium and Persia. So they thought regarding their relations with the outside world. On the internal front the princes of the territories and the tribal chieftains knew very well that Muhammad would confirm any leader or sovereign in his leadership or sovereignty if he but converted to Islam. Why then, they thought, should they not join this greater unity, which would bring them clear advantage without prejudice to their particular structure of power? And so it was. The tenth year of the Hijrah was indeed the "Year of Deputations," in which men entered into the religion of God en masse. The Campaign of Tabuk and the withdrawal of the Byzantines before the Muslims brought forth results as great as the conquest of Makkah, the Muslim victory at Hunayn, or the blockade of al Ta'if.

 

Conversion of `Urwah ibn Mas'ud and His Murder

Fortunately, it was al Ta‘if, the city which resisted the Prophet despite the long blockade and which the Muslims had had to bypass without conquering, that came first to declare its allegiance to Muhammad after Tabuk. 'Urwah ibn Mas'ud, one of the chieftains of the tribe of Thaqif, was absent in Yaman during the Prophet's blockade of his city following the Battle of Hunayn. Upon his return to al Ta'if and his realization of the Prophet's victory in Tabuk, he hastened to Madinah to declare his conversion as well as his commitment to call his fellow tribesmen unto the religion of God. 'Urwah was not ignorant either of Muhammad or of the power which the latter had so far achieved, for he was one of the notables of Arabia who entered the negotiations regarding the peace of Hudaybiyah on behalf of Quraysh. 'Urwah's conversion reassured the Prophet that the voice of Islam would reach the tribesmen of Thaqif inside al Ta'if. Aware of Thaqif's attachment to their goddess al Lat, and of their determination to die in defense of their idol, Muhammad warned 'Urwah that his tribesmen would fight him. 'Urwah, however, felt too sure of his position and influence with his people. He answered: "O Prophet of God, my people love me more than they do their own eyes." 'Urwah proceeded to Thaqif and preached Islam to his people. They consulted among themselves and gave him no reply. In the morning, 'Urwah ascended to the top of his high house and from there gave the Islamic call to prayer. It was then that the Prophet's prediction came to be realized. Deeming `Urwah's behavior utterly dishonorable, his people attacked him with arrows on all sides and killed him. As his relatives panicked around him, `Urwah told them just before he breathed his last that: "This is indeed an honor granted to me by God, the honor to die as a martyr in His cause. For my case is identical to that of all the other martyrs who gave up their lives at the gates of this city while the Prophet of God-May God's peace and blessing be upon him-was laying siege to it." He then asked to be buried together with those martyrs who were buried in that area.

 

Thaqifs Delegation to the Prophet

`Urwah had not laid down his life in vain. The tribes which lived in the neighborhood of al Ta'if on all sides had already been converted to Islam. Thaqif's quick disposal of one of its chieftains was regarded by the surrounding tribes as a hideous and contemptible crime. Naturally, this led to the decline of security in the area, for no Thaqif's tribesmen crossed the territories of these tribes without exposing himself to the gravest dangers. Soon Thaqif realized that unless it reached peace with the Muslims, its fate would be doomed. The tribesmen consulted with one another and approached an elder of theirs called `Abd Ya Layl to go to the Prophet and negotiate with him. `Abd Ya Layl feared to meet a fate not unlike that of his predecessor `Urwah ibn Mas'ud. He therefore declined to go to Muhammad unless Thaqif would delegate him five more chieftains belonging to different clans and capable of committing those clans to whatever decision the five would reach with Muhammad. Thaqif agreed and their delegation was formed. As they approached Madinah, al Mughirah ibn Shu'bah met them first at the outskirts of the city. When he discovered their purpose, he hastened to the Prophet to inform him. Abu Bakr met him on the road and, finding out the cause of his hurry, pleaded with al Mughirah to give him the pleasure of announcing the great news to the Prophet. It was therefore Abu Bakr who made the announcement to the Prophet.

The delegation consisted of proud chieftains who had the greatest esteem for their city and people. They remembered too well-and of course resented-the Prophet's blockade of their city. Despite al Mughirah's instruction of them in Islamic protocol, they refused to greet the Prophet except in the pre-Islamic manner. Furthermore, they requested that a special tent be put up for their use within the mosque of Madinah, for they trusted no one to be their host. It was Khalid ibn Sa'id-ibn al `As who played the role of middleman between them and the Prophet of God; and it was he who had to taste of every food which the Prophet furnished to them in order to convince them that it had not been poisoned. Finally, on their behalf, Khalid informed Muhammad of their preparation to convert to Islam on condition that the Prophet exempt them from prayer and promise not to destroy their idol, al Lat, for three years. Muhammad strongly rejected their proposal. They changed their proposal to two years, and then to one year, and indeed to one month after their return home. But Muhammad rejected all their terms. This was naturally to be expected of a prophet calling man to the religion of God, the One, the Mighty, of a prophet committed to stamp out all idolatry. How could he spare any idol, no matter how cherished it might be by its own devotees? On this matter, there can be no middle ground. Either man believes or he is victim to doubt and suspicion. Doubt and conviction do not unite, just as faith and unbelief are ever disparate. The sparing of al Lat would definitely imply that Thaqif would mingle its worship of God with that of the idol. That is plain associationism, condemned by God in clear and unequivocal terms. That is unfaith. Thaqif also pleaded for exemption from prayer. This, too, Muhammad rejected, saying: "There is no good in a religion in which prayer is ruled out." Finally, Thaqif accepted Islam on Muhammad's terms. They agreed to both the destruction of al Lat and the institution of regular prayers. They demanded, however, that they be exempted from having to destroy their own idol with their own hands. Since they were new converts and since they still had the task of convincing their fellows to accept the terms they were bringing back from Muhammad, their request was natural and could well be understood. It was too much to ask them to destroy with their own hands idols which they themselves had been worshipping the day before, idols which their people honored as the object of their ancestors' worship, and to do so at a time when their people's confidence in them was absolutely necessary if their call to Islam was to succeed. Hence, Muhammad was not adamant on this point. For him, it was all one whether al Lat was destroyed by Thaqif tribesmen or by others. What was important to him was that the idol was soon to be destroyed and that Thaqif was henceforth to turn to the worship of God alone. Addressing himself to the delegation, the Prophet-may God's blessing be upon Him-said: "As for the destruction of your idols with your own hands, we exempt you from it." Muhammad appointed 'Uthman ibn Abu al 'As, the youngest among them, as leader despite his youth; for he sensed in him the strongest desire to learn the Qur'an and the most brilliant mind for studying the law. Abu Bakr and other early Muslims attested to 'Uthman's competence. The delegation remained in Madinah as guests of the Prophet during the rest of Ramadan, fasting with the Prophet and eating of the food which he presented to them at sunset and before dawn. When it was time for them to leave and return home, Muhammad counseled their leader, 'Uthman ibn Abu al 'As, saying, "Be brief when leading the prayers, and measure the people by the weakest among them. Remember that among them are the old men, the youth, the weak, and the deprived."

 

Destruction of the Idol al Lat

The delegation returned home accompanied by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and al Mughirah ibn Shu'bah, who knew the tribe of Thaqif and felt toward its people great friendship and compassion. They were assigned by the Prophet the job of destroying al Lat. Abu Sufyan and al Mughirah approached the sanctuary, and the latter began the job of destruction while the women of Thaqif stood around moaning and crying. Not one tribesman, however, dared to stop al Mughirah in the fulfillment of his duty, for everyone had ratified beforehand the agreement the delegation had concluded with, the Prophet. Al Mughirah further seized the wealth of al Lat and its jewelry and, at the direction of the Prophet and in agreement with Abu Sufyan, settled the debts of 'Urwah and al Aswad. With the destruction of al Lat and the conversion of al TAW, the conversion of the Hijaz was complete. Muhammad's power expanded from the frontiers of Byzantium in the north to al Yaman and Hadramawt in the south. The territories of South Arabia were all preparing to join the new religion and integrate themselves into a system of defense. That is why delegations from all corners proceeded to Madinah to declare allegiance to the new order and to convert to the new faith.

 

Abu Bakr Leads the Pilgrimage

As these delegations followed one another to Madinah, the months went by until it was time again for pilgrimage. Until that time, the Prophet-may God's blessing be upon him-had not performed the pilgrimage in exactly the same way as it is performed today. It will be remembered that the previous pilgrimages had all been performed under extraordinary circumstances. Would the Prophet go out to perform the pilgrimage this year in gratitude for the victory God had granted him over the Byzantines, or for the conversion of al Ta'if and the numerous peoples who sent all these delegations to Madinah? Many persons in the Arabian Peninsula did not believe either in God or His Prophet. Unbelievers, Jews, and Christians were still in their places. The unbelievers continued to observe their ancient custom of going on pilgrimage to the Ka'bah during the holy months. But the unbelievers were anathema. Would the Prophet therefore not remain in Madinah until God's word was more completely fulfilled, until express permission from above were granted him for the purpose? Thus the Prophet reasoned, and he instructed Abu Bakr to lead the pilgrimage in his place.

Abu Bakr proceeded to Makkah together with three hundred Muslims. There was apprehension that the years would follow one another while the unbelievers continued to perform pilgrimage to the holy sanctuary and mingle with the Muslims in religious worship. After all, there was a general pact between Muhammad and the Arabs that none should be prevented from reaching the Holy House if he so desired, that none should be attacked during the holy months. Likewise, the relations with various Arab tribes were governed by pacts whose terms had not yet expired. As long as these pacts had not expired, the associationists had the same right to perform the pilgrimage to the Holy House as the Muslims. For sometime yet, the Muslims would have to continue to see pre-Islamic worship performed side by side with theirs around the Ka'bah.

True, most of the idols worshipped by the Arabs had by then been destroyed, as were the idols and images of the Ka'bah. The pilgrimage institution was, however, still confused. In the sacred months the sanctuary of Makkah was the scene of idolators worshipping their gods as well as of Muslims in revolt against idolatry. A religious institution with a texture such as this is in contradiction with itself. It may be possible to understand the pilgrimage of Jews and Christians to Palestine because it is the land of promise for the former and the birthplace of Jesus Christ for the latter. But it is incomprehensible that two systems of worship meet in the same sanctuary, the one destroying the idols of that sanctuary and the other worshipping the idols destroyed. Hence, it was necessary to stop the associationists from entering a sanctuary just cleansed of associationism and ridden of its idols and images. Thus, the Surah of "Bara'ah" was revealed at the right time but too late for implementation in this pilgrimage. The Hajj season had begun and already thousands of associationists had converged upon Makkah as they were accustomed to do for generations. Though this was obviously not the time to implement the revelation, it was time to proclaim it and to let the associationists know that, henceforth, no covenant between Muslims and associationists would be valid unless it specified a given term. In this case, the covenant would be honored for the duration of its term.

For this purpose, the Prophet sent `Ali ibn Abu Talib to Makkah to join Abu Bakr and to address the congregation of pilgrims assembled at 'Arafat. He was entrusted with the duty to proclaim the commandments of God and His Prophet. When the two met, Abu Bakr asked: "Do you come to us as commander or messenger?" 'Ali answered, "Indeed as messenger," and informed Abu Bakr of his mission. When the pilgrims congregated at Mina, 'Ali rose and delivered the following address, quoting the Qur'an

"This is a complete absolution from God and His Prophet regarding all obligation arising from pacts made with the associationists. The unbelievers may travel throughout the land for four months in freedom and security. Certainly, they cannot frustrate the plans of God, nor will they escape His final humiliation of them. This proclamation from God and His Prophet is for the benefit of all people on the day of the greater pilgrimage. God and His Messenger are clear of all obligation toward the associationists. It is better for them that they repent; but if they do not and turn away, they should know that they will not frustrate God's plan. Rather, to them belong the tidings of a severe and painful punishment. (These verses constitute a general and a particular absolution of obligations incumbent upon the Muslims toward the associationists. -Tr.) The "particular" absolution will not apply in those cases where those who covenanted with the Muslims have not subsequently violated their covenant nor aided anyone against the Muslims. Such covenanters shall enjoy the benefit of their pact until it expires. God loves the righteous. As for the others, when the holy months have passed, then you are free to kill the associationists wherever they may be, to take them prisoners, to beleaguer and blockade them, and to lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. However, if they repent, observe prayer, and pay the zakat, let them go free, for God is forgiving and merciful. And at any rate, if any of them ask for your protection, grant it to him so that he may hear the words of God. Extend your protection to him until he reaches his home in safety, remembering that he is ignorant and needs your mission. As for the others, how can there be any covenant between them and God and His Prophet? Certainly, those with whom a pact of peace has been concluded near the holy sanctuary are protected thereby, and the Muslims are obliged to remain true to their covenant as long as the associationists are true to theirs. God loves the righteous; but the others can have no peace. Should they prevail against you, they will honor neither blood tie nor covenant of peace. They will delude you with sweet words while their hearts are full of perfidy and resentment. It was they who bartered God's word for a mean price; it was they who put obstacles in the way of men seeking the pleasure of their Lord. Evil indeed is everything they have done. They honor neither relation nor covenant. It is they who are the transgressors. Nonetheless, if they repent, hold prayer, and pay the zakat, then treat them as your brethren in the faith. Thus do We explain Our word to men with knowledge. But if they break their oath after their covenant and attack your religion, then fight these leaders of unfaith, these scions of ungodliness, for they are unworthy of their covenants. Fight them that they may desist from their path of error. As for you, the Muslims, will you hesitate to fight a people who have broken their oath, who have expelled the Prophet, and who were the first to open hostilities against you? Will you fear them? Is not God worthier of your fear, you who call yourselves true believers? Fight them then so that God may inflict upon them His punishment through you, that He may humiliate them and give you victory, and that He may avenge the believers for the wrongs they have suffered and dissipate the wrath of their hearts. God will then forgive whomsoever He pleases, for He is All-Knowing and All-Wise. Or, would you think that you would be abandoned and forsaken, assuming that God did not know which of you truly strive for His sake or which of you faithfully refuse to regard as their friend anyone but God, His Prophet, and the believers? Would you think that God is not well aware of everything you do? The associationists have no right to visit the mosques of God to bear witness against themselves of their own unbelief. It is they whose works shall be in vain and who will dwell eternally in the fire. The mosques of God are for those who believe in Him, in the Day of Judgment, and who hold the prayers, pay the zakat, and fear only God. Only they may be counted among the righteous. True, the unbelievers have been responsible for providing food and drink to the pilgrims and for maintenance of the sanctuary. But would you confuse the moral worth of these services with the believers' faith in God and the Day of Judgment, with their fighting in the cause of God? Surely, they are unequal. The unjust are not guided by God. The worth of those who believed, who emigrated and fought for the sake of God, and who spent of their wealth and laid down their lives, is far greater with God. Theirs will be the true triumph. To them God will grant His mercy, His pleasure, and His gardens full of lasting bliss. God's reward is surely the greatest. O Men who believe, do not take your parents and brothers as friends as long as they prefer unfaith to faith. Whoever among you befriends them will do wrong. Remember, if parents, sons, wives and relatives, clans and tribes, wealth and property, prosperity and affluence which you fear might be adversely affected, a trade recession, and dwellings and material things you wish to preserve-if these are dearer to you than God or His Prophet and self-exertion in His cause, then God's judgment will soon fall upon you. Such immoral people are not guided by God. God has given you victory on many occasions, but when you became too proud of your numbers, that is on the day of Hunayn, your numbers availed you nothing. The earth with all its vastness became too small for you and you had to run away, vanquished and in retreat. Then did God send His peace upon His Prophet and the believers. He sent down His hosts to fight on their side, hosts which you did not see. Then did the unbelievers meet their due punishment. Then, too, did God forgive whomsoever He wills. For He is most forgiving and merciful. O Men who believe! The associationists are anathema. After this year they shall not approach the holy Mosque. Do not fear the economic consequences of this proclamation. Gad will give you of His bounty as He pleases. Surely God is All-Knowing and All-Wise. Fight, therefore, those `People of the Book' who do not believe either in God or in the Day of Judgment, who do not forbid that which God and His Prophet have forbidden, nor follow the religion of truth, until they pay the jizyah and acknowledge their subjection. The Jews claim Ezra to be the son of God, and so do the Christians claim Jesus to be the son of God. That is what they actually claim in their own words. By claiming this they surpass even the unbelievers of old in unbelief. God's curse be upon them where they turn. They have taken their rabbis, priests, and monks as lords beside God, and so have they regarded the Messiah, son of Mary. But they were never commanded to worship any but God alone, the One, besides whom there is no other. Praised be God above their associations! Evidently they seek to extinguish the divine light by what they claim. But God will not be frustrated and His light will illumine the world in spite of them. It is He who sent His Prophet with genuine guidance and the religion of truth; and it is He who will make this religion prevail over all other religions, however much the unbelievers may resent it. O Men who believe, many of the rabbis, priests, and monks devour the wealth of the people by false means and turn men away from the true path of God. Many of them hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the cause of God. To such of them as do this wilt belong painful and strict punishment. Their punishment shall be a scorching fire, a fire branding their foreheads, sides, and backs, and they will be told that such punishment is reward for what they have hoarded, a taste of what they themselves have treasured. Remember also that God reckoned the months to be twelve, ever since He created heaven and earth, and that four of them are sacred. That is the right religion. Do not therefore wrong yourselves during these months by committing any act of aggression. When the sacred months are over, then fight the associationists in all-out war just as they fight you. Know that God is always on the side of the pious and the virtuous." [Qur'an, 9:1-36]

`Ali delivered all these verses from Surah, "Al Tawbah," [The surah in question is Qur'an 9. It is known by either of the two titles "Al Tawbah" (repentance) and "Bara'ah" (absolution). -Tr.] which we have quoted in full for a reason which will soon become apparent. After he finished his recitation of the Qur'an, he continued in his own words: "O Men, no unbeliever will enter Paradise; no associationist will perform pilgrimage after this year; and no naked man will be allowed to circumambulate the Holy House. Whoever has entered into a covenant with the Prophet of God-May God's peace and blessing be upon himwill have his covenant fulfilled as long as its term lasts." `Ali proclaimed these four instructions to the people and then gave everybody four months of general peace and amnesty during which anyone could return safely home. From that time on no associationist performed the pilgrimage and no naked man circumambulated the Holy House. From that day on, the Islamic state was established.

 

The Moral Foundations of the Islamic State

It was precisely for the purpose of clarifying the foundation of the Islamic state that we have quoted the verses of Surah "Al Tawbah" at length. This was equally the purpose of `Ali's recitation, namely, to enable all the Arabs to understand this foundation. That is why the Prophet had asked him, according to a number of sources, to recommend that these verses be recited to the people each in his own house and quarter. If one were to give close and conscientious examination to the opening pages of this Surah, he would be convinced that it contains all that constitutes the moral base of any nascent state. The revelation of this Surah of the Qur'an at a time following the last of the Prophet's campaigns, after conversion of the people of al Ta'if, of Hijaz, Tihamah and Najd, after all these territories and many of the tribes of the south had made common cause with Muhammad and Islam, was meant to clarify the moral foundation on which the new state was to be erected. It was then necessary, as it is now, for the state to have a general moral ideology in which its people believe and for the sake of which they would be prepared to fight with all their power and energy. The Surah in question seems to be saying to the Muslims in particular and to mankind in general that there is no ideology greater than faith in God alone, in God devoid of associates.

No idea, no faith and no conviction of any kind can exercise greater power over the soul of man than that soul's entry into communion with reality as a whole, with reality at the point of its greatest and most sublime manifestation-in short, with God. Here, man is without master except God; his conscience is without judge except God. The Surah seems to be laying down the principle that those who flout this general conviction which ought to be the foundation of the state are the rebels, the immoral, and the nucleus of subversion and hateful destruction. Such ones should be entitled to no covenant and the state ought to fight them. If their rebellion against the general faith of the state is overt, then they should be fought and brought to subjection. If it is not overt, as was the case with the people of Tabuk, then they should pay the jizyah in acknowledgment of their subjection.

A close but unbiased consideration of the problem from the historical and social points of view will enable us to appreciate the moral which the foregoing verses of the Surah were supposed to teach. Those who hastily have jumped to conclusions condemning Islam and its Prophet do not consider this aspect of the matter and regard these very strong verses of the Surah as a call to fanaticism and intolerance inconsistent with genuine civilization. They take the verses calling for fighting the associationists and killing them wherever they may be found without compassion or mercy as a call to raise the political state on a foundation of power and tyranny. Such false claims one often reads in the books of western Orientalists. They are the claims of those who have no talent for social and historical criticism even though, sometimes, they themselves be Muslims. They are claims which fly in the face of historical truth and run counter to every fact of social life. The prejudice with which such claims are advocated compel their authors to interpret the pertinent verses of this and other Surahs of the Qur'an in violence to the whole biography of the Prophet. Their interpretation contradicts the logic of the life of the great Prophet and the sequence of events from the day God commissioned him to prophethood to his death.

 

The Principle of Freedom in Western Civilization

In order to establish the foregoing point, it behooves us to inquire what is the moral foundation of the dominant civilization of modern times and then to compare it with the foundation on which Muhammad sought to base the civilization of Islam. The moral foundation of contemporary civilization is the limitless freedom of opinion, a freedom which cannot be limited except by due process of law. On this account, freedom of opinion is a first principle which men are prepared to defend, whatever the sacrifice, and to realize in their societies, whatever the cost, including war. The advocates of this freedom regard this principle as one of their greatest glories. They boast of it and call themselves greater than all previous generations and periods on its account. It is because of their commitment to this principle that the above mentioned Orientalists call Islam's condemnation of those who believe neither in God nor in the Day of Judgment a will to fanaticism incompatible with freedom. But the fallacious nature of this point of view becomes flagrantly obvious when one realizes that the value of an opinion lies in the ability to express, to propagate, and to implement it. Islam did not call for fighting the Arab associationists who acknowledged the dominion of Muhammad and did not propagate their unbelief or display their pagan rituals. Likewise, the dominant civilization of today wages a war to the knife against any ideology which runs counter to its own, and does so more resolutely and fiercely than the Muslims fought the Arab associationists. Indeed, it imposes upon its own "People of the Book" (i.e., those who reside in its midst but disagree with its basic premises) that which is a thousand times worse than the jizyah of Islam.

 

The West's War against Communism

To illustrate this point, we may refer to the fight against slavery. In its war against those of its members who adhered to the institution of slavery, modern western civilization gave no heed to the fact that those adherents believed in their institution, that they did not regard slavery as taboo. By this we do not mean that Islam approves of slavery, though it must be remembered that Islam did not require us to fight anything but that which God had clearly and unequivocally condemned. The two cases are not dissimilar. Therefore, rather than invoking this case, let us look at Europe, the contemporary carrier of dominant western civilization together with America and all those countries of South and East Asia which run in her orbit. Europe has fought Bolshevism and continues to do so with the strongest determination. We, too, in Egypt are also prepared to cooperate with the western countries in fighting Bolshevism. But Bolshevism is only an economic view, an ideological opinion which runs counter to that of the dominant western countries. Can one therefore say that the call of Islam to fight the unbeliever who violates his own covenant after it has been given is a call to fanaticism, an "empty liberalism," and at the same time say that the call to fight Bolshevism, the destroyer of the West's economic system, is one which upholds the principle of freedom of faith and opinion and which respects and honors that freedom?

 

The West's War against Nudism

Furthermore, in more than one European country it has been thought that moral discipline cannot be separated from bodily discipline, that hiding some parts or organs of the human body under clothing is more sexually arousing, and hence, more corrupting than the exposure of the whole human body in total nakedness. The advocates of this view began to implement it and founded resorts in a number of cities where those who want to discipline themselves to total nakedness can pursue their desire without hindrance. However, as soon as this view began to spread, the rulers of most of the countries concerned decided that the practice constituted a grave threat to the morality of the majority. They thus declared these "health centers" out of bounds and fought the advocates of nudism. They propagated laws forbidding the organization or construction of any nudist centers. And were nudism to envelop a whole nation, there is no doubt but that nation would become the object of a new war waged against it by all other nations on the grounds that it constituted a denial of the morality of man. Many a nation was threatened with war by other nations on account of its toleration of slavery, prostitution, or commerce in narcotics. How could such wars be justified? Surely, they could be justified solely on the grounds that freedom, despite its absoluteness, is a value only as long as it is limited to those bounds protecting the community from harm. Wherever the exercise of freedom exceeds those limits, it is deemed a threat to the social, economic, and moral health of the community, an evil worthy of being combated on all fronts. In such an instance, all public exercise of freedom is stopped, and the opinion itself whose freedom is in question is fought. The degree of brutality to which such a war may have to resort is determined by the nature of the threat which the ideological principal in question poses for the particular community.

 

Legislation Map Restrict Freedom

Such is the social truth acknowledged by the dominant civilization of today. Were we to cite every expression and effect of this truth among the various nations, these pages would hardly suffice. Generally speaking, it may be safely asserted that every piece of legislation designed to combat a social, economic, or political movement is a denial of the freedom of opinion and an act of war against that movement. Such denial of freedom to that to which freedom gives birth can be tolerated only on the grounds' that the free implementation of those principles entails harm to society. If, therefore, we are to appreciate Islam's war against associationism and its adherents, and its resolution to pursue the fighting till surrender, it is necessary to consider the social implications of associationism. Without such consideration, it is not fair to pass judgment on the legitimacy of the war. Now, if it can be established that associationism brought great harm to human society in all stages and periods, then Islam's call to war against it is not only legitimate but obligatory.

 

Social Aspect of Associationism

The associationism which was prevalent when Muhammad may God's peace and blessing be upon him began to call men to the religion of God was not only a matter of idol worship. Even if it were so, fighting it would still be obligatory. For it is an insult to the human mind, to the dignity of man, that any member of society should worship a stone. But that is not all. Associationism represented a system of traditional customs, beliefs, and practices; indeed, a total social structure which was far worse than slavery, Bolshevism, or any other social evil in the Twentieth Century. Associationism implied the burial of daughters alive and limitless polygamy whereby a man could marry thirty, forty, one or three hundred women. It implied the most cruel forms of usury and the most degrading license and immorality. The society of Arab pagans of Muhammad's time was truly one of the worst that has existed on earth. We ask every man of reason the following question: If a certain nation today were to adopt for itself the same system of beliefs and customs as the pagan Arabs, including the burial of daughters alive, limitless polygamy, slavery with or without cause, economic exploitation and usury, would an internal movement that seeks to destroy that order and alter its system be accused of fanaticism and violation of freedom? Suppose a social group neighboring the degraded community, realizing its own exposure to the contagion of such social evils as dominated their neighbors, were to challenge them to a war. Would such a war be justified or not? Would it not be even better justified than World War I in which millions of men were slaughtered for no other reason except the gluttony and recklessness of the colonialist states? If this argument is valid, what is the value of the Orientalists' criticism of the Qur'anic verses from Surah "Al Tawbah" which we have just brought to the attention of the reader? What would be the point of their critique of Islam's call to combat associationism and its adherents who seek to establish the evil order which we have just described?

 

Legitimacy of the War against Associationism

If such was the historical truth of that pattern of life which was prevalent in the Arabian Peninsula under the banner of associationism and paganism, it is not without implications for the historical truth of the life of the Prophet. It must be recalled that, ever since his commission to prophethood thirteen years before, Muhammad had been calling men to the religion of God with argument and the kindest of words. All the campaigns which he undertook against his enemies were purely defensive. In none of them had he been guilty of aggression. On the contrary, he undertook those campaigns in defense of his Muslim converts, of their freedom to preach the religion in which they believed and which they cherished more than their lives. The stringent call to fight the associationists because they were anathema and had violated the covenant and amnesty freely concluded between them and the believers was in fact revealed to the Prophet after the last of his campaigns, viz. the campaign of Tabuk. Islam arose in a land saturated with associationism and unbelief, a land in which associationism had established its destructive economy and immoral social system. If, therefore, the Prophet commanded the Muslims to ask Arabia to exchange its order for one allowing that which God legitimatised and forbidding that which He proscribed, no fair observer could but agree to rise against the associationists and to pursue the fight against them to victory. Such victory is the victory of truth and goodness, of the religion which is all God's.

 

`Amir ibn al Tufayl

`Ali's recitation of the Qur'anic Surah "Al Tawbah," and his calling Muslim attention to the divine order that henceforth no unbeliever would enter Paradise or would perform pilgrimage, and no naked man would circumambulate the Holy House, brought forth the best of fruits. Above all, it removed all hesitancy in the minds of those tribes which had not yet resolved to enter into Islam. Moreover, the territories of Yaman, Mahrah, Bahrayn, and Yamdmah immediately joined the ranks of Islam. No one was left to oppose Muhammad nor to contend with him except a few deluded individuals. One of them was `Amir ibn al Tufayl, who refused to convert. His people had enlisted him to serve as a member of their delegation to the Prophet proclaiming their conversion. When the delegation obtained audience with the Prophet, `Amir refused to go forward. He even proclaimed himself the Prophet's equal. Muhammad invited him to a talk and tried to convince him of the truth of Islam to no avail. `Amir walked out threatening with war: "By God", he swore, "I shall fill your spaces with men and cavalry." Muhammad prayed God to restrict `Amir. On his way home, the persistent unbeliever was struck with cancer in his neck and died in an inn belonging to a woman from the tribe of Banu Salul. It is reported that he expired while lamenting, "O Banu `Amir, do you leave me to be stifled to death by a lump in my neck as big as a camel's lump here in the house of a woman of Banu Salul?"

Another persistent associationist was Arbad ibn Qays. He, too, refused to convert and returned to Banu `Amir where he perished by lightning shortly after his arrival at the marketplace. However, neither `Amir nor Arbad, whether dead or alive, could stop their people from joining Islam. Worse yet was the case of Musaylimah ibn Habib who accompanied the delegation of his tribe, the Banu Hanifah of Yamamah, to the Prophet. His companions assigned him the job of watching their horses while they entered the court of the Prophet to present their submission and receive his blessing. They did not forget him, but they mentioned his case to Muhammad, and the latter ordered that he be given exactly what his companions received. Indeed, Muhammad praised him for agreeing to stay behind and watch his people's property. But when Musaylimah heard of this, false pride took possession of him and he claimed to be himself a prophet. He not only started to argue that God had associated him with Muhammad in prophethood but as well to compose rhymes and verses in imitation of the Qur'an. He recited such verses as "God blessed the pregnant woman. He brought forth from her the breath of life, embedded within a well padded womb." Musaylimah proclaimed wine and adultery legitimate, and he absolved men from the obligation of prayer. He preached widely but was met with ridicule. Except for these individual cases, Arab groups from all corners of the Peninsula, led by some of the greatest men of the period such as `Adiyy ibn Hatim and `Umar ibn Ma'di Karib, entered the religion of God. The kings of Himyar sent a messenger to the Prophet declaring their conversion to Islam, and the Prophet accepted their conversion and wrote to then explaining their rights and obligations under God. It was then that Muhammad sent some of the early converts to teach the new Muslims in the south the institutions of their faith and to deepen their understanding of it.

 

The Other Deputations

Unlike some early biographers, we shall not spend time relating the details of the delegations of tribes who came to declare their entrance into the faith. In his al Tabaqat al Kubra, the historian Ibn Sa'd devoted fifty long pages to those details. Suffice it here to mention only their names. These were: Muzaynah, Asad, Tamim, `Abs, Fazarah, Murrah, Tha'labah, Muharib, Sa'd ibn Bakr, Kilab, Ru'as ibn Kilab, `Uqayl ibn Ka'b, Ja'dah, Qushayr ibn Ka'b, Banu al Bakka', Kinanah, Ashja`, Bahilah, Sulaym, Hilal ibn `Amir, `Amir ibn Sa'sa'ah, Thaqif ; the Rabi'ah group of `Abd al Qays, Bakr ibn Wail, Taghlib, Hanifah, Shayban; the Yamani tribes of Tay', Tujib, Khawlan, Ju'fiyy, Suda', Murad, Zubayd, Kindah, al Sadif, Khushayn, Sa'd Hudaym, Baliyy, Bahra', `Udhrah, Salaman, Juhaynah, Kalb, Jarm, al Azd, Ghassan, al Harith ibn Ka'b, Hamdan, Sa'd al `Ashirah, `Ans, al Dariyyin, al Rahawiyyin branch of Madhhaj, Ghamid, al Nakha`, Baj ilah, Khath'am, al Ash'arayn, Hadramawt, Azd `Uman, Ghafiq, Bariq, Daws, Thumalah, al Huddan, Aslam, Judham, Mahrah, Himyar, Najran, and Jayshan. There remained not one of the tribes of the Peninsula, or of its clans, but had entered into Islam.

Such was the fate of the associationists who lived in the Arabian Peninsula. They hastened to enter into Islam and to abandon the worship of idols until the countryside was cleansed of idols and idol-worship. All this was accomplished after the campaign of Tabuk and willingly and in freedom without a single soul being coerced or a single drop of blood being spilled. But what did the Jews and Christians do with Muhammad, and what did the latter do to them?