The two made their way from the city unaccompanied, by steep and stony ways, until they came to Akaba, and Mahomet saw awaiting him that concourse summoned by his persistence and tireless faith—a concourse part of himself, almost his own child, upon which all his hopes were now set. Coming thus into that circle of faces, illumined dimly by the torches, which prudence even now urged them to extinguish, he could not but feel some foreshadowing of the mighty future that awaited this little gathering, as yet impotent and tremulous, but bearing within itself the seeds of that loyalty and courage that were to spread “the Faith” over half the world.
When the greetings were over, Abbas stepped forward and spoke, while the lines of dark faces closed around him in earnest scrutiny.
“Ye men of the Beni Khazraj, this my kinsmen dwelleth amongst us in honour and safety; his clan will defend him, but he preferreth to seek protection from you. Wherefore, ye Khazraj, consider the matter well and count the cost.”
Then answered Bara, who stood for them in position of Chief:
“We have listened to your words. Our resolution is unshaken. Our lives are at the Prophet’s service. It is now for him to speak.”
Mahomet stepped forward into the circle of their glances, and with the solemnity of the occasion urgent within him recited to them verses of the Kuran, whose fire and eloquence kindled those passionate souls into an enthusiasm glowing with a sombre resolve, and prompted them to stake all upon their enterprise. At the end of those tumultuous words he assured them that he would be content if they would pledge themselves to defend him.
“And if we die in thy defence, what reward have we?”
“Paradise!” replied Mahomet, exalted, raising his hand in token of his belief in Allah and the certitude of his cause.
Then arose a murmur deep and long, the protestation of loyalty that threatened to rise into triumphant acclamation, but Abbas, the fearful of the party, stayed them in dread of spies. So the tumult died down, and Bara, taking upon himself the authority of his fellows, stretched forth his hand to Mahomet, and with their clasping the Second Pledge of the Akaba was sealed. They broke up swiftly, dreading to prolong their meeting, for danger was all around them and the air heavy with suspected treacheries.
And their apprehension was not groundless, for the Kureisch had heard of their assembly through some secret messenger, though not until the Medinan caravan with its concourse of the Faithful and the Unbelievers was well on its homeward way across the dreary desert paths which lead to Mecca from Medina. Their wrath was intense, and in fury they pursued it; but either they were ignorant as to which road the party had taken, or the Medinans eluded them by greater speed, for they returned disconsolate from the pursuit, having only succeeded in finding two luckless men, one of whom escaped, but the other, Sa’d ibn Obada, was dragged back to Mecca and subjected to much brutality before he ultimately made his escape to his native city.