THE FLIGHT TO MEDINA
“Knowest thou not that the dominion
of the Heavens and of the
Earth is God’s? and that ye have neither patron nor helper save
The expectancy which burned like revivifying fire in the hearts of the Meccan Muslim, kindled and nourished by their leader himself, was to culminate at the time of the yearly pilgrimage in 622. In that month came the great concourse of pilgrims from Yathreb to Mecca, among them seventy of the “Faithful” who had received the faith at Medina, headed by their teacher Musab and strengthened by the knowledge that they were before long to stand face to face with their Prophet.
Musab had reported to Mahomet the success of his mission in the city, and had prepared him for the advent of the little band of followers secured for Islam. Secrecy was essential, for the Muslim from Medina were in heart strangers among their own people, in such a precarious situation that any treachery would have meant their utter annihilation, if not at the hands of their countrymen, who would doubtless throw in their lot with the stronger, certainly at the hands of the Kureisch, the implacable foes of Islam, in whose territory they fearfully were. The rites of pilgrimage were accordingly performed faithfully, though many breathed more freely as they departed for the last ceremony at Mina. All was now completed, and the Medinan party prepared to return, when Mahomet summoned the Faithful by night to the old meeting-place in the gloomy valley of Akaba.
About seventy men and two women of both Medinan tribes, the Beni Khazraj and the Beni Aus, assembled thus in that barren place, under the brilliant night skies of Arabia, to pledge themselves anew to an unseen, untried God and to the service of his Prophet, who as yet counted but few among his followers, and whose word carried no weight with the great ones of their world.
To this meeting Mahomet brought Abbas, his uncle, younger son of Abd-al-Muttalib, a weak and insignificant character, who had endeared himself to Mahomet chiefly because of his doglike devotion. He was not a convert, but he revered his energetic nephew too highly and was also too greatly in awe of him to imagine such a thing as treachery. He was in part a guarantee to the Khazraj of Mahomet’s good faith, in part an asset for him against the Kureisch, for his family were still influential in Mecca.