Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
After more than eleven years of fighting, thousands of American casualties and more than half a million Iraqi civilian deaths, the whole country with its infrastructure destroyed, there is no peace in sight.
Blame it on ISIS, Sunni-Shite divide, Iraqi administration or anyone else, but, I will put the blame squarely on Bush and Obama administration, who have failed to secure peace.
It is always the victors who win wars and secure peace.
The coalition army won an easy and quick victory, but, the politicians have failed to secure peace.
The 2003 Mission Accomplished speech gets its name from a banner that read “Mission Accomplished” displayed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a televised address by United States President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003 and the controversy that followed.
Bush stated at the time that this was the end to major combat operations in Iraq. Bush’s assertion—and the sign itself—became controversial after guerrilla warfare in Iraq increased during the Iraqi insurgency. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, occurred after the speech.
I want to share another victory from the same region, but, centuries ago, with dramatically different results.
This victory came after thirteen years of persecution of Muslims in Mecca followed by three defensive wars that the Muslims had to fight in Medina.
Now would have been the moment to gratify his ambition, to satiate his lust, to get his revenge. Read the account of Muhammad’s entry into Mecca along with the account of Marius Sulla as he entered Rome, or any other Roman Emperor, one would be in a position to recognize the magnanimity and moderation of the Prophet of Arabia.There were no proscription lists, no plunder, no wanton revenge. From a helpless orphan to the ruler of a big country was a great transition; yet the Holy Prophet retained the nobility of his character under all circumstances.
Lane Poole, a Christian scholar is flabbergasted to find this, he writes, explaining his amazement:
But what is this? Is there no blood in the streets? Where are the bodies of the thousands that have been butchered? Facts are hard things; and it is a fact that the day of Muhammad’s greatest triumph over his enemies was also the day of his grandest victory over himself. He freely forgave the Kureysh all the years of sorrow and cruel scorn they had inflicted on him; he gave an amnesty to the whole population of Mecca. Four criminals whom justice condemned, made up Muhammad’s proscription list; no house was robbed, no woman insulted. It was thus that Muhammad entered again his native city. Through all the annals of conquest, there is no triumphant entry like unto this one.” (Lane Poole, quoted in Introduction to Higgins’ Apology for Mohammad pp ixxi)
According to the terms of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the Arab tribes were given the option of joining either of the parties, the Muslims or Quraish. Should any of these tribes face aggression, the party to which it was allied would have the right to retaliate. As a consequence, Banu Bakr joined Quraish, and Khuza‘ah joined Muhammad. They thus lived in peace for some time; but ulterior motives stretching back to the pre-Islamic period, ignited by unabated fire of revenge, triggered fresh hostilities. Banu Bakr, without concern for the provisions of the treaty, attacked Banu Khuza’a in a place called Al-Wateer in Sha‘ban, in 8 A.H. Quraish helped Banu Bakr with men and arms, taking advantage of the dark night. Pressed by their enemies, the tribesmen of Khuza‘ah sought the Holy Sanctuary, but here too, their lives were not spared, and, contrary to all accepted traditions, Nawfal, the chief of Banu Bakr, chased them in the sanctified area — where no blood should be shed — and massacred his adversaries. Khuza’ah at once sent a delegation to Medina to inform the Islamic prophet,Muhammad, of this breach of truce and to seek help from Muslims of Medina being their allies.
After the incident, Quraysh sent a delegation to Muhammad, petitioning to maintain the treaty with the Muslims and offering material compensation. The Muslim forces had gathered in strength to settle account with Quraysh and for the final attack and the conquest of Mecca.
After Abu Sufyan’s departure, Muhammad immediately ordered the assembling of a large army. The objective of the operation was kept secret and even Muhammad’s close friends and commanders did not know his plans. Muhammad intended to assemble and attack the Quraysh using the element of surprise. For further secrecy, Muhammad sent Abu Qatadah towards “Batan Izm” to give the impression that he wanted to go there.
The Muslim army set out for Mecca on Wednesday, November 29, 630 (the 6th of Ramadan, 8 hijra). Volunteers and contingents from allied tribes joined the Muslim army on the way swelling its size to about 10,000 strong. This was the largest Muslim force ever assembled as of that time. The army stayed at Marr-uz-Zahran, located ten miles northwest of Mecca. Muhammad ordered every man to light a fire so as to make the Meccans overestimate the size of the army.
Meanwhile, Abu Sufyan travelled back and forth between Muhammad and Mecca, still trying to reach a settlement. According to the sources, he found assistance in Muhammad’s uncle Al-Abbas.
Mecca lies in the Valley of Ibrahim, surrounded by black rugged hills reaching heights of 1,000 ft (300 m) at some places. There were four entry routes through passes in the hills. These were from the north-west, the south-west, the south, and the north-east. Muhammad divided the Muslim army into four columns: one to advance through each pass. The main column in which Muhammad was present in person was commanded by Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah. It was tasked to enter Mecca through the main Madina route, from the north-west near Azakhir. Muhammad’s cousin Az Zubayr commanded the second column and it would enter Mecca from the south-west, through a pass west of Kuda hill. The column entering from south through Kudai was under the leadership of Muhammad’s cousin Ali. The last column under Khalid ibn al-Walid was tasked to enter from the north-east, through Khandama and Lait.
Their tactic was to advance simultaneously from all sides targeting a single central objective. This would lead to the dispersion of enemy forces and prevent their concentration on any one front. Another important reason for this tactic was that even if one or two of the attacking columns faced stiff resistance and became unable to break through, then the attack could continue from other flanks. This would also prevent any of the Quresh to escape.
Muhammad emphasized on refraining from fighting unless Quresh attacked. The Muslim army entered Mecca on Monday, December 11, 630 (18th of Ramadan 8 hijrah). The entry was peaceful and bloodless entry on three sectors except for that of Khalid’s column. The hardened anti-Muslims like Ikrimah and Sufwan gathered a band of Quresh fighters and faced Khalid’s column. The Quresh attacked the Muslims with swords and bows, and the Muslims charged the Quresh’s positions. After a short skirmish the Quresh gave ground after losing twelve men. Muslim losses were two warriors.
On the eve of the conquest, Abu Sufyan adopted Islam. When asked by Muhammad, he conceded that the Meccan gods had proved powerless and that there was indeed “no god but Allah“, the first part of the Islamic confession of faith. In turn, Muhammad declared Abu Sufyan’s house a sanctuary because he was the present chief, and that all the others were gathered over his territory, therefore:
Even he Who enters the house of Abu Sufyan will be safe, He who lays down arms will be safe, He who locks his door will be safe.
He also declared:
Allah has made Mecca a sanctuary since the day He created the Heavens and the Earth, and it will remain a sanctuary by virtue of the sanctity Allah has bestowed on it until the Day of Resurrection. It (fighting in it) was not made lawful to anyone before me. Nor will it be made lawful to anyone after me, and it was not made lawful for me except for a short period of time. Its animals (that can be hunted) should not be chased, nor should its trees be cut, nor its vegetation or grass uprooted.’
Then, along with his companions Muhammad visited the Kaaba. The idols were broken and their gods were destroyed. Thereupon Muhammad recited the following verse from the Quran: “Say, the Truth has come and falsehood gone. Indeed falsehood is bound to vanish.”(17:82)
The people assembled at the Kaaba, and Muhammad delivered the following address:
There is no God but Allah. He has no associate. He has made good His promise that He held to his bondman and helped him and defeated all the confederates. Bear in mind that every claim of privilege, whether that of blood or property is abolished except that of the custody of the Ka’aba and of supplying water to the pilgrims. Bear in mind that for any one who is slain the blood money is a hundred camels. People of Quraish, surely God has abolished from you all pride of the time of ignorance and all pride in your ancestry, because all men are descended from Adam, and Adam was made of clay.
Then Muhammad turning to the people said:
“O Quraish, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you?”
And they said, “Mercy, O Prophet of Allah. We expect nothing but good from you.”
Thereupon Muhammad declared:
“I speak to you in the same words as Yūsuf spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free.” Muhammad’s prestige grew after the surrender of the Meccans. Emissaries from all over Arabia came to Medina to accept him.
Ten people were ordered to be killed: Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl, Abdullah ibn Saad ibn Abi Sarh, Habbar bin Aswad, Miqyas Subabah Laythi,Huwairath bin Nuqayd, Abdullah Hilal and four women who had been guilty of murder or had sparked off the war and disrupted the peace.
Describing the state of affairs soon after fall of Makkah, RVC Bodley writes:
Now he was tired. He needed rest. In a few days he had become one of the most powerful rulers in Arabia. He was pope, he was caesar. Before the year was over, he would be the only ruler who counted, the founder of a nation, of an empire, of a faith. But this did not elate him as much as the thought that the Kaaba, the center of the world, was now cleaned of its infamous idols. If he died that night, he would consider the most important part of his mission accomplished.
Mohammed did not die that night. He had still a little while to live, but the climax of his career was that golden evening when everything he had striven for was his.
It is rare to find men fulfilling all their ambitions during their lives. It is even rarer to find those few who do, not losing their sense of values. On this January evening of 630 A.C. and in the eighth year of the Hijra, Mohammed slept on his mat in the same way as he had slept when he traveled commercially for the house of Khadija bint Khuwailid. [i]
[i] RVC Bodley. The Messenger. Double Day and Company Inc, 1946. Page 299.
— The Muslim Times (@The_MuslimTimes) October 26, 2014