With the host travelled also a hundred camels, destined as a sacrifice upon the triumphant day when the ceremonies should be accomplished. By easy stages the Pilgrims journeyed through the desert. There was no hurry, for there was no fear of attack. The whole company was unarmed, save for the defensive sword allowed to each man. Over the desert they moved like locusts, overwhelming the country, and the tune of their march spread far around. In ten days the pilgrim army, in the gladness of self-confidence and power, arrived at Sarif, a short day’s march from their goal. There Mahomet rested before he embarked upon the final journey.
Mecca lay before him, awaiting his coming, her animosities silenced, her populace acquiescent, her temples freed from the curse of idolatry. His mind was uplifted into a fervour of praise. He seemed in truth about to enter upon his triumph, to celebrate in very flesh the ceremonies he had reverenced, to celebrate them in his own peculiar manner, freed of what was to him their bane and degradation. Something of the foreknowledge of the approaching cessation of activity flashed across him as he mounted Al-Caswa and prepared to make the entry of the city.
He came upon the upper suburbs by the same route as he had entered Mecca two years before, and proceeded to the Kaaba. There he performed the circuits of the sacred place and the preliminary rites of the Greater Pilgrimage. Then he returned to the valley outside the city where his tent was pitched, and tarried there the night. And now Ali, the mighty in arms, reached the city from an admonitory expedition and demanded the privilege of performing the Pilgrimage. Mahomet replied that like most other Believers he might perform the rites of the Lesser Pilgrimage, but that the Greater was barred to him because he had no victims. But Ali refused to forego his privilege, and at last Mahomet, urged by his love for him and his fear of creating any disturbance at such a time, felt it wiser to yield. He gave Ali the half of his own victims, and their friendship and Ali’s devotion to his master were idealised and made sweeter for the gift.
Now the rites of the Greater Pilgrimage properly began. Mahomet preached to the people from the Kaaba on the morning of the next day, and when his words had roused the intense religious spirit of those listening masses he set out for Mina, accompanied by Bilal, followed by every Believer, and prepared to spend the night in the sacred valley. When morning dawned he made his way to Arafat, where he climbed the hill in the midst of the low-lying desolate ground. Standing at the summit of the hill, surrounded by the hosts of his followers, revealed to their eyes in all the splendour and dignity of his familiarity and personally wrested authority, he recited some of the verses of the Kuran dealing with the fit and proper celebration of the Pilgrimage. He expounded then the manner in which that rite was to be performed for all time. So long as there remains one Muslim upon earth his Pilgrimage will be carried out along the traditions laid down for him at this beneficent moment.