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The Unlettered Prophet (46)
Khalid Masud
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)

 Hajj and the Year of Delegations


It was hajj season after the victory of Makkah in 8th AH, but the Prophet (sws) himself and some of his companions were busy in putting down the rebellion of some tribes. The hajj time had passed and the hajj was carried out according to previously established rites of the Idolaters. The next year was relatively peaceful so the Prophet (sws) made that hajj an opportunity to bring in reforms. He sent three hundred companions under the leadership of Abu Bakr (rta) and after they had left, sent ‘Ali (rta) as his special emissary. The Idolaters among Arab tribes who had come for hajj offered it according to their ancient rituals while the Muslims did so as per the instructions of the Qur’an. Since, after the victory of Makkah, Islam had become a dominant power, Abu Bakr (rta) gave the sermon at ‘Arafat and announced that in future, no Idolater would be allowed to offer hajj nor would anyone circumambulate the Ka‘bah in the nude. Idolaters would be prohibited from entering the boundaries of the haram. The Quraysh believed themselves free of the obligation to go to ‘Arafat and used to stay at Muzdalifah. Abu Bakr (rta) removed this distortion.

After the sermon, ‘Ali (rta) addressed the pilgrims as the emissary of the Prophet (sws). He recited the initial verses of Surah Tawbah, in which God and His Messenger had acquitted themselves from the Idolaters and warned them that they were given four months within which they were expected to either make up their minds about Islam and accept it and demonstrate this practically by performing prayers and paying zakah. In this way, they would become faith brothers of other Muslims and their lives and property would be protected. However, if during this period, they did not refrain from enmity towards Islam and continued to deny the Prophet (sws), the Muslim government would arrest them for the crime of denying the Prophet (sws) and would fight them until they became subjugated. ‘Ali (rta) made it clear to the Idolaters that in future they would not be treated with any leniency. So, if they wanted amnesty, they were to be prepared to take advantage of the four months grace period. The same message was communicated by companions as they went from tent to tent while they were in Mina, to ensure that if anyone had not heard it at ‘Arafat, s/he hear it now and share it with her/his relatives.

The message given by ‘Ali (rta) also included the fact that from then onwards, Muslims would not make any treaty with the Idolaters and no promise of mutual survival would work. Similarly, people of other religions would also be required to accept Islam, except if they accepted to live under the Islamic government and make annual payments as taxes. They would then be able to remain upon their own faith and their lives and property would be protected.

Despite the inclusion of key Muslim figures and a few hundred companions in the hajj of 9th Hijri, the control of Idolaters over the rites of hajj remained strong. They used their old ways. After completing the rites, a man called Qalmus from a branch tribe, Banu Faqim of Banu Kananah, that was responsible to run the system of Nasi (changing months  of the hajj according to timings of trade) stood in the chamber, showing off previous pomp and glory and announced what would become the last announcement of the calendar change and declared the month after the coming Muharram as the month to be changed according to the solar calendar.  

Arrival of the Tribal Delegations  

After the victory of Makkah, and especially after the hajj of 9th AH, no tribe in Arabia was in any doubt about Islam being the only power in the whole country and that the tribe that did not accept Islam would be given the same treatment which the Prophet (sws) had been warning of for a long time. That was that it was mandatory for all Idolaters to accept Islam, or else to prepare for war. Henceforth, there would be no leniency for them. People of the Book were to be given the same invitation to Islam. If they refused, they would be told to live under the subjugation of the Islamic government and begin to pay taxes. If this was not acceptable to them, they were to be ready to fight. The people of Arabia decided about themselves immediately and started to arrive in Madinah in large numbers. This created the same situation to which the Qur’an had referred: “And you will see the people entering the religion of God in multitudes,” (110:2). This is why the 9th AH is known as the Year of Delegations, i.e. the arrival of groups of people. In this year, so many delegations came that it is not possible to count them, but here we shall mention a few of the more important ones.  

1. Thaqif  

After the victory of Makkah, the Prophet (sws) distributed the booty received from the tribes who lived in the south east of Makkah at Jir‘anah, then returned to Makkah and on to Madinah. The tribe of Ta’if, Thaqif did not accept Islam but one of its leaders, ‘Urwah ibn Mas‘ud (rta) became a Muslim and began preaching Islam to his tribe. Angered by this, his tribe killed him. After some time, the people of Thaqif realized that most of Arabia was accepting Islam: how many enemies could they afford? They advised their leader, ‘Abdiyal ibn ‘Amr to go to the Prophet (sws). He said that it was not possible for him to do it alone. Hence, three men from Banu Malik and two from allied tribes were sent with him. They used Khalid ibn al-‘As (rta) as the go between to meet the Prophet (sws). These people placed certain conditions for accepting Islam: for three years their idol Lat would not be destroyed; they would be exempted from offering the salah and would not be prevented  from indulging in drinking, gambling and adultery. The Prophet (sws) told them that destroying the idol would not be their responsibility but Abu Sufyan (rta) and Mughirah ibn Shu‘bah (rta) would undertake that work. There would be no exemption from prayer because the religion that had no prayer had no good in it and evil and immoral deeds could not be accepted in any Muslim community. Finally, those people accepted Islam and ‘Uthman ibn Abi al-‘As (rta) was assigned by the Prophet (sws) to teach the faith to them.  

2. Juzam

Farwah ibn ‘Amr Juzami was the administrator of the Romans over the regions of northern Arabia. He sent his representative to the Prophet (sws) to inform him of having accepted Islam. Later, Rafa‘ah ibn Zayd Juzami reached Madinah and accepted Islam. The Prophet (sws) sent a letter through him to his nation that if they accepted Islam on the invitation of Rafa‘ah, they would be considered to be a party of God and His Messenger. If they resisted, they would be given two months as amnesty. When this letter reached the tribe, all of its members accepted Islam.  

3. Banu ‘Adhrah

Zamal ibn ‘Amr came to Madinah from this tribe and accepted Islam. The Prophet (sws) wrote a similar letter for them as the one written for Juzam. This tribe too, upon invitation from Zamal, accepted Islam.  

4. Hamdan

This tribe was settled in Yemen. Malik ibn Namt came with a delegation representing the tribe and said to the Prophet (sws) that the delegation comprised the best people of Hamdan, representing all urban and rural populations. The Yemeni tribes of Mikhlaf, Bam and Shakir had accepted Islam and all Yemenis were then united through Islam. Their oath was as strong as the mountains. The Prophet (sws) praised them and wrote an agreement to the effect that they would have rights over the ups and downs of their region and would possess all produce as long as they ensured Prayer and payed zakah dues.

He sent a similar letter to Banu Juwayn, Banu Zuhayr, Banu Muhrah and Banu Lakham etc.  

5. Shahan Himyar

The leaders of Himyar, Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Kilal, Nu‘aym ibn ‘Abd al-Kalal and Nu‘man sent Zur‘ah Dhuwayzan Malik as their representative to inform the Prophet (sws) of having accepted Islam and of their weariness from Idolatry and Idolaters. The Prophet (sws) sent them written and detailed guidelines about religious instructions. He sent Mu‘adh ibn Jabal (rta), ‘Abdullah ibn Zayd, Malik ibn ‘Ubadah (rta) and a few more people with Dhuwayzan for their education and for receipt of sadaqah. He instructed them that they should treat people with kindness, give glad tidings on the acceptance of Islam and not turn them away from it. If anyone from the People of the Book were to ask about the key to heaven, they were to answer that it was to witness upon a single God and negation of polytheism.  

6. Banu Harith ibn Ka‘b

This tribe belonged to Yemen. Khalid ibn Walid (rta) was sent to them along with a group of soldiers. Khalid sent his soldiers in different directions to preach Islam. He instructed them that if people accepted Islam, their protection would be their responsibility. The people were impressed by these invitations towards the faith and promised to obey Islam, God and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). Khalid ibn Walid (rta) informed the Prophet (sws) of this situation, upon which he expressed happiness and wrote to Khalid that he should return and bring a delegation from the tribe of Banu Harith with him. When the delegation arrived, the Prophet (sws) appointed Qays ibn al-Husayn their leader. He sent ‘Amr ibn Hazm (rta), with a detailed written set of instructions that included Islam’s principles and the Prophet’s Sunnah, with them as their teacher. The instructions covered purity, the prayer, zakah, tithe, hajj, ‘umrah, jihad, war booty, jizyah etc. When the Prophet (sws) saw them off, he gave them silver as a gift.  

7. Delegation from Najran

Najran was the largest centre for Christians in Yemen. There was a grand church in that city and many bishops and priests lived here. The Prophet (sws) wrote to them, inviting them to accept Islam. At this, a large delegation which included 60 soldiers and many elite members and bishops, under the leadership of ‘Aqib ‘Abd al-Masih, came to Madinah. This group stayed in Madinah for many days and raised questions about beliefs. The Prophet (sws) satisfied them on every point, but the delegation did not accept Islam. The Qur’an gave instructions that they be invited for mutual cursing, in which each opposing party would say “The curse of Allah may be upon the ones of us who are wrongdoers.” The members of the delegation had already formed the belief in their hearts that the Prophet (sws) was the last of the Messengers and that in case they agreed to the cursing, their destruction would be certain. They decided, therefore to pay tax. This was agreed to be in the form of Yemeni apparel. According to the agreement, each  piece of apparel was the equivalent of an awqiyah and 2,000 such pieces were to be paid in two six monthly installments. It was also possible to pay in the form of camels and horses if it was difficult to pay in apparel. In lieu of the tax, there would be no interference with their religious matters, places of worship or idols. Their priests would not be removed from their positions and their lives and property would be protected.

According to narratives, when the delegation returned from Madinah, the archbishop came out to receive them. When he read the document written by the Prophet (sws), he said: “Indeed, this man is a prophet and messenger.” As soon as he heard this, his cousin Bishr ibn Mu‘awiyah turned his camel towards Madinah and accepted Islam upon reaching it.   

8. Banu Muharib

When a delegation from this tribe came, the Prophet (sws) looked at one of its members closely. When he asked him the reason, the Prophet (sws) said that he had seen him somewhere before.  He agreed and told the Prophet (sws) that at the festival of ‘Ukaẓ, he had spoken very vilely and had rejected the Prophet’s invitation with disgust. Now, he would accept Islam. He requested the Prophet (sws) to pray for his forgiveness. The Prophet (sws) said that Islam washed away all sins of the era of denial.

During that period, delegations from many tribes, including from Banu Kalb, Banu Hind, Banu al-Baka, Khawlan, Sada, Dhi Murrah, Bala, Bihra, Banu Asad, Banu Khazar etc came and entered the religion of God in multitudes. The Prophet (sws) sent preachers to far places to invite people towards Islam and to educate them about its teachings.

Some Jewish tribes agreed on payment of tax. These included Banu Ghada and the people Miqna who lived along the beach of the Gulf of ‘Uqbah and the people of ‘Adhrah who lived at the border of Syria.


(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)



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