Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/41

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introduction.

the chief man among them being one Abdallah ibn Ubai. Although perfectly aware of their designs, Mohammed treated them with singular courtesy and forbearance, and spared no pains to win them over to his side; even when his rule was firmly established, and they were completely in his power, he made no difference in dealing with them until in the course of time they became absorbed into the general band of the faithful.

The Jews of Medînah were much harder to deal with, and although Mohammed, by adapting his religion as far as possible to their own, by appealing to their own scriptures and religious books, by according them perfect freedom of worship and political equality, endeavoured in every way to conciliate them, they treated his advances with scorn and derision. When it became obvious that Islâmism and Judaism could not amalgamate, and that the Jews would never accept him for their prophet, Mohammed withdrew his concessions one by one, changed the qiblah or point to which he turned in prayer from Jerusalem which he had at first adopted to the Kaabah at Mecca, substituted the fast of Ramadhân for the Jewish fasts which he had prescribed, and, in short, regarded them as the irreconcilable enemies of his creed.

Soon afterwards he turned his attention to his native city, which had rejected him and driven him out; and feeling himself now sufficiently strong to take the offensive, he began to preach the Holy War. After some petty raids upon the enemies′ caravans an event happened which brought the Muslim and the infidel armies for the first time into open collision. In January, 624 A.D., a large caravan from Mecca, which had in the autumn of the previous year escaped an attack by the Muslims, was returning from Syria laden with valuable merchandise, and Mohammed determined to capture it. His intention, however, reached the ears of Abu Sufiyân, who sent a messenger to Mecca to ask for troops for his protection, while he himself followed a different route along the coast of the Red Sea. Mohammed, without waiting for the return of his spies, marched out in the

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