Occupation of Mecca
|Occupation of Mecca|
|Part of the Muslim–Quraysh Wars|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Muhammad||Abu Sufyan ibn Harb|
|Casualties and losses|
Mecca was occupied by the Muslims on 11 December 629 CE (Julian), 18 Ramadan, 8 AH in the ancient (intercalated) Arabic calendar. It was not until the Farewell Pilgrimage in 632 CE that the practice of intercalation fell into disuse. Muhammad started the journey on 6 Ramadan and entered Mecca on 18 Ramadan.
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 AH. 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 occupation of Mecca.
Entrance into Mecca
After Abu Sufyan's departure, Muhammad immediately assembled 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, 29 November 629 (6 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 in order to avoid conquest. According to the sources, he found assistance in Muhammad's uncle Al-Abbas, though some scholars consider that historians writing under the rule of Abbas' descendants, the Abbasid Dynasty, had exaggerated Abbas' role and downplayed the role of Abu Sufyan, who was the ancestor of the Abbaside's enemies.
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 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 the 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 from escaping.
Muhammad emphasized on refraining from fighting unless Quresh attacked. The Muslim army entered Mecca on Monday, 11 December 629 (18 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 occupation, 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, nor its Luqata (most things) picked up except by one who makes a public announcement about it.'
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. Verily falsehood is bound to vanish."(17:81)
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 other offences or had sparked off the war and disrupted the peace.
However, they were not all killed; Ikrimah lived to adopt Islam and fight in future battles among Muslim ranks. Of the two singing girls who were outlawed by Mohammad, one was slain but the other spared because she converted to Islam. Ibn Abi Sarh had been granted protection under Uthman ibn Affan and when he initially refused to take the mandatory oath of allegiance to Muhammad, the bystanders still did not kill him, due to misunderstanding the edict of the Prophet.
The occupation of Mecca was followed by the Battle of Hunayn.
- Seerah ibn Hisham p.226/2,228.
- F R Shaikh, The Chronology of the Prophetic Events, Ta Ha Publishers Ltd., London 2001 p.72.
- John Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad, Lanham, 1998, pp. 304–310.
- Page 329, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh by Ibn al-Athir (Arabic).
- Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 603
- Related by Ibn Kathir, recorded by Ibn al-Hajjaj Muslim
-  Abu Dawood 8:2677 at International Islamic University Malaysia
- The Message by Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani, chapter 48 referencing Sirah by Ibn Hisham, vol. II, page 409.
-  Abu Dawood 8:2678 at International Islamic University Malaysia