Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/39

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introduction.

stration. The treaty being thus ratified, Mohammed chose twelve naqîbs or leaders, after the number of the disciples of Jesus, and the voice of some stranger being heard close by the assembly hastily but quietly dispersed.

The Meccans, who had got a hint of the affair, taxed the Yathrib pilgrims with having conspired with Mohammed against them, but being unable to prove the accusation, the new band of Muslims was enabled to return home in safety.

So hostile was now the attitude of the Qurâis that the believers of Mecca prepared for flight, and at last there were only left in Mecca three members of the community, Mohammed himself, Abu Bekr, and Ali.

The Qurâis now held a solemn council of war, at which, on the suggestion of Abu Gahl, it was determined that eleven men, each a prominent member of one of the noble families of the town, should simultaneously attack and murder Mohammed, and by thus dividing the responsibility should avoid the consequences of the blood feud ; for, as they rightly judged, the Hâsimîs, not being sufficiently powerful to take the blood revenge on so many families, would be obliged to accept the blood money instead.

Mohammed had timely warning of this design, and giving Ali his mantle bade him pretend to sleep on the couch usually occupied by himself, and so divert the attention of the would-be murderers who were watching around his house. In the meantime Mohammed and Abu Bekr escaped by a back window in the house of the latter, and the two hid themselves in a cavern on Mount Thaur, an hour and a half distant from Mecca, before the Qurâis had discovered the ruse and heard of their flight. A hot pursuit was immediately organized.

For three days they lay concealed, their enemies once coming so near that Abu Bekr, trembling, said, ‘We are but two.’ ‘Nay,’ said Mohammed, ‘we are three; for God is with us.’ The legend tells us that a spider had woven its web across the mouth of the cave, so that the Qurâis, thinking that no one had entered in, passed it over in their search.

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