on the strength of the report that a reconciliation had been effected with the Qurâis.
His recantation brought upon Mohammed redoubled hate and opposition, but his family still stood firmly by him, and his life was therefore safe, for it was no light thing to incur the dread responsibility of the blood feud.
The Qurâis revenged themselves by placing the family under a ban, engaging themselves in writing to contract no marriage or commercial relations with any of them, to accord them no protection, and, in short, to hold no communication whatever with them. This document was solemnly suspended in the Kaabah itself.
The result of this was more than mere social disqualification, for as they could not join the Meccan caravans, and were not rich or powerful enough to equip one of their own, they lost their very means of livelihood, and were reduced to the greatest penury and distress.
Unable to contend openly with so many and such powerful foes, the whole of the Hâsimî family, pagan as well as Muslim, took refuge in the siʿb or ‘ ravine ’ of Abu Tâlib, a long and narrow defile in the mountains to the east of Mecca. One man only kept aloof, and that was Abu Laheb, the uncle of the prophet, the bitterest enemy of El Islâm.
For two years the Hâsimîs lay under the ban, shut up in their ravine and only able to sally forth when the ʿHagg pilgrimage came round and the sacred months made their persons and their property for the time inviolable.
At length the Qurâis began themselves to tire of the restriction which they had imposed upon the Hâsimî clan, and were glad of an excuse for removing it. It was found that the deed on which it had been engrossed had become worm-eaten and illegible, and this being taken as an evidence of the divine disapproval of its contents, they listened to the appeal of the venerable Abu Tâlib and allowed the prisoners to come forth and mix once more freely with the rest of the world. The permission came none too soon, for their stores were gone and they were on the