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All these eight years Mecca had been the hotbed of intrigues and conspiracies against the Muslims . From whichever quarter in the Peninsula trouble or mischief came, it was aided, abetted, inspired or encouraged by the hard core of Muhammad's Meccan enemies. So the Muslims, their patience worn out at last, decided to pull out this thorn from their side. A large force was accordingly assembled and it marched towards Mecca.

In earlier years when odds against the Muslim community were too overwhelming, they would not willingly venture out from sanctuary without trepidation. It was different now. Their name and power were already great, so none interfered with them on their march nor tried to bar their way. When they approached the end of their journey and Mecca was a few miles away, they halted and encamped for the night. Muhammad commanded that each group should light a bright fire to give the Meccans an idea of their strength. The Meccans , he hoped, would not give battle once they knew that resistance was hopeless. As always he was anxious to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, and so no blood was shed. The Quraysh gave in. Their redoubtable leader, Abu Sufyan, presented himself before Muhammad as their envoy, and accepted Islam.

When Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca, he made the following proclamation on behalf of the Prophet:

"Whoever takes refuge in the house of Abu Sufyan shall be forgiven."

"Whoever remains indoors and keeps his doors shut shall be forgiven."

"Whoever enters the Ka'ba shall be forgiven."

"Whoever goes about his business unarmed shall go in peace."

No one was forced to change his faith, or made to accept the faith of the conquerors as a precondition for personal security. Everyone was given quarter on one simple condition -peaceful submission.

Then in small groups and from various directions, the triumphant Muslims entered their native city after a punishment lasting for years. Many had lost their nearest and dearest at the hands of the people now completely at their mercy. All of them carried in their hearts bitter memories of cruelty, persecution and pain inflicted by their now humbled enemies. Yet none thought of vengeance or retribution, and none raised his arm against a defenceless foe.

Only in one quarter of Mecca the Quraysh resisted, and the party led by Khalid Ibn Walid was greeted with a shower of arrows. The resistance was soon overcome, and it is said that fifteen to eighteen men of the Quraysh fell in the encounter. When the news was brought to Muhammad, he was grieved. "I wish this had not happened," he said, "I had strictly forbidden all bloodshed."

Then he entered the Ka'ba at the head of his people, and with his own hands removed from the house of God, the idols and deities which had long polluted its sanctity. The custody of the keys of the Ka'ba was an office carrying high honor and many prominent Muslims secretly aspired to it. But Muhammad returned the keys to the same man who had them in custody and said, "These keys will stay with your household until the end of time." The same family has custody of these keys up to the present day.

Then Muhammad rose and spoke:

"There is only One God; He has no equal and no compeer. Today, He has fulfilled His promise. He aided His servants and made them triumph over all His enemies.

"It is not lawful for any man who believes in God and His Prophet to shed human blood wantonly.

"I have today abolished all customs and all rituals of the days of the 'jahiliya' except that arrangements for the distribution of water to the pilgrims from the well of Zamzam will continue as before.

"O' men of Quraysh, take heed! God has destroyed your factionalism of the days of 'jahiliya' and your pride on blood and lineage. All men are equal. All are descended from the same ancestor, Adam. And Adam was nothing but dust."

The holy city of Mecca was now Muhammad's undisputed domain, and the arrogant Quraysh were completely at his mercy. Among them were many who had thirsted after his blood; many who had persecuted him and his companions and subjected them to brutal torture and indignities. There were many men who had slandered and abused him in public; intriguers who had conspired against him, traitors who had repeatedly betrayed him by professing friendships, invetrate enemies who had incited tribes against him or sought to discredit him in the courts of kings, who had pursued him wherever he sought refuge and tried to destroy what ever sanctuary gave him shelter, including the city of Medina. In Arabia of those days, the rules of warfare, when men or tribes went to war, knew neither mercy nor forgiveness. The combatants neither gave nor expected quarter. The price of defeat was slavery or death. The least that a humbled enemy could expect from his conqueror would be exile and imprisonment or public whipping, at least some ringleaders would be put to death to make an example. None of these things happened in Mecca. No heads rolled, no women were enslaved, no punishment meted out, not even a word of rebuke or recrimination was uttered. "We throw ourselves upon your mercy," the Prophet's enemies said, knowing this goodness, "you are a merciful man, the son of a merciful father." And Muhammad replied, "Go in peace; you are free, no one will demand retribution." He bound them to no pledges and presented no demands. Even the properties of Muslims usurped by their enemies after 'the flight' were left with the usurpers and the Muslims were persuaded to forgo their rights.

 
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