“Mahomet has commanded me to go to Nakhla and there await the Kureisch; also he has commanded me to say unto you whoever desireth martyrdom for Islam let him follow me, and whoever will not suffer it, let him turn back. As for me, I am resolved to carry out the commands of God’s Prophet”
Then one and all the eight companions assured him they would not forsake him until the quest was achieved. At dawn they resumed their march and arrived at length at Nakhla, where they encountered the Kureisch caravan laden with spice and leather. Now, it was the last day of the month of Rajab, wherein it was unlawful to fight, wherefore the Muslim took counsel, saying:
“If we fight not this day, they will elude us and escape.”
But the Prophet’s implied command was strong enough to induce initiative and hardihood in the small attacking party. They bore down upon the Kureisch, showering arrows in their path, so that one man was killed and several wounded. The rest forsook their merchandise and fled, leaving behind them two prisoners, whose retreat had been cut off. Abdallah was left in possession of the field, and joyfully he returned to Medina, bearing with him the first plunder captured by the Muslim.
But his return led Mahomet into a quandary from which there seemed no escape. Politically, he was bound to approve Abdallah’s deed; religiously, he could neither laud it nor share the fruits of it. For days the spoils remained undivided, but Abdallah was not punished or even reprimanded. Meanwhile, the Jews and the Kureisch vied with one another in execrating Mahomet, and even his own people murmured against him. It was clearly time that an authoritative sanction should be given to the deed, and accordingly in the sura, “The Cow,” we have the revelation from Allah proclaiming the greater culpability of the Infidels and of those who would stir up civil strife:
“They will ask thee concerning war in the Sacred Month. Say: To war therein is bad, but to turn aside from the cause of God, and to have no faith in Him, and in the Sacred Temple, and to drive out its people, is worse in the sight of God; civil strife is worse than bloodshed.”
No possible doubt must be cast in this and similar cases upon Mahomet’s sincerity. The Kuran was the vehicle of the Lord; he had used it to proclaim his unity and power and his warnings to the unrighteous. Now that Islam had recognised his august and indissoluble majesty, and had accorded the throne of Heaven and the governance of earth to him indivisibly, the world was split up into Believers and Unbelievers. The Kuran, therefore, must of necessity cease to be merely the proclamation of divine unity that it had been and become the vehicle for definite orders and regulations, the outcome of those theocratic ideas upon which Mahomet’s creed was founded. The justification would not appeal to the people unless Allah’s sanction supported it, and Mahomet realised with all his ardour of faith that the transgression was slight compared with the result achieved towards the progress of Islam. The Prophet therefore received, with Allah’s approval, a fifth of the spoil, but the captives he released after receiving ransom.