“Thou shalt not call him blind, but the seeing,” replied the Prophet; “for indeed he hath done me great service.”
The result of this ruthlessness was the official conversion of the tribe, for resistance was useless, and they had not, like the Jews, the flame of faith to keep their resistance alive. “The only alternative to a hopeless blood feud was the adoption of Islam.” But the Jews, with stubborn consciousness of their own essential autonomy, preferred the more terrible alternative, and so the defamatory songs continued. When it is remembered that these compositions took the place of newspapers, were as universal and wielded as such influence, it is not to be expected that Mahomet could ignore the campaign against him. Abu Afak, a belated representative of the prophetic spirits of old, fired by the ancient glory of Israel and its present threatened degradation at the hands of this upstart, continued, in spite of all warnings, to publish abroad his contempt and hatred for the Prophet.
It was no time for half-measures. With such a ferment as this universal abuse was creating, the whole of his hard-won power might crumble. Victor though he was, it wanted only the torch of some malcontents to set alight the flame of rebellion. Therefore Mahomet, with his inexorable determination and force of will, took the only course possible in such a time. The singer was slain by his express command.
“Who will rid me of this pestilence?” he cried, and like all strong natures he had not long to wait before his will became the inspired act of another.
So fear entered into the souls of the people at Medina, and for a time there were no more disloyal songs, nor did the populace dare to oppose one who had given so efficient proof of his power.
But it was not enough for Mahomet to have silenced disaffection. He aimed at nothing less than the complete union of all Medina under his leadership and in one religious belief. To this end he went in Shawwal of the second year of the Hegira (Jan. 624) unto the Jewish tribe, the Beni Kainukaa, goldsmiths of Medina, whose works lay outside the city’s confines. There he summoned their chief men in the bazaar, and exhorted them fervently to become converted to Islam. But the Kainukaa were firm in their faith and refused him with contemptuous coldness.
“O Mahomet, thou thinkest we are men akin to thine own race! Hitherto thou hast met only men unskilled in battle, and therefore couldst thou slay them. But when thou meetest us, by the God of Israel, thou shalt know we are men!” Therewith Mahomet was forced to acknowledge defeat, and he journeyed back to the city, vowing that if Allah were pleased to give him opportunity he would avenge this slight upon Islam and his own divinely appointed mission. Friction between him and the Kainukaa naturally increased, and it was therefore not long before a pretext arose. The story of a Jew’s insult to a Muslim girl and its avenging by one of her co-religionists is probably only a fiction to explain Mahomet’s aggression against this tribe. It is uncertain how the first definite breach arose, but it is easy to see that whatever the actual casus belli, such a development was inevitable.