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When comes the help of Allah and the Conquest (of Makkah), And You see the people enter Islam in Crowds, So glorify the Praises of your Lord, and ask for His forgiveness. Verily He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives. [An-Nasr: 1-3]
Abdullah ibn Abbas (Radiallahu Anhu) relates that this Surah was the last to be revealed in its completed form. According to many narrations it was revealed during the period of the Messenger’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) infamous Hujjat ul-Wad’aa (the farewell pilgrimage) where he delivered a final Khutbah which hinted that he was nearing the end of his life.
The subject matter of this Surah is intrinsically linked to the Conquest of Makkah. It was indeed the pinnacle of a whole host of events and it was one which crowned the end of the prophetic mission which sought with great struggle and endurance to make the message of Allah dominant.
There are two Ayah’s of the Qur’an which exemplify his mission.
“Thus we have made you a just nation, that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger be a witness over you.” [TMQ Al-Baqarah: 143]
“And we have not sent you [O Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)] except as a giver of glad tidings and a Warner to all mankind].” [TMQ As-Saba: 28]
In one narration it was mentioned by the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that the Conquest of Makkah was something which he was longing for.
Aisha (Radiallahu Anha) said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to repeat very frequently, towards the end of his life, ‘Subhanak-Allahumma wa bi-hamdika astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaika’ (Exaltations and praise be to Allah, whose forgiveness I seek; I repent of my sins.) He also said, 'My Lord told me I would see a sign in my Ummah. He ordered me to praise Him, the Forgiving, and ask His pardon when I see this sign. Indeed, I have when the victory granted by Allah and the Conquest came. (Muslim)
Ibn Kathir said in his commentary on the Qur'an:
The Conquest', it is unanimously agreed, is a reference to the conquest of Makkah. The Arab tribes were awaiting the settlement of the conflict between Qur’aish and the Muslims, before accepting Islam, saying: 'If he, Muhammad, prevails over his people, he would indeed be a prophet.' Consequently, when that was accomplished they accepted Islam in large numbers. Not two years were to pass after the conquest of Makkah when the whole Arabian Peninsula was dominated by Islam, and, all thanks to Allah, every Arab tribe had declared its belief in Islam.
This article will therefore seek to elaborate upon two main areas of Surah Nasr and by inference Fathu-Makkah (The conquest of Makkah).
Why did the Qur’aish not initially ‘accept Islam in crowds’ when the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) first carried the Da’wah in Makkah i.e. why did they wait until Makkah was opened to liberation.
The reaction of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) when he returned to Makkah with memories of past persecution, how did this affect his judgement and thereafter direct his actions towards the staunchest enemies of Islam.
Conquering frontiers rather than enduring freedom
The Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and the Muslims had skilfully embarked upon a series of astute political manoeuvres which led to the ceasing of hostilities with the Qur’aish of Makkah. They had belittled His (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala)’s deen, oppressing His (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala)’s Messenger and humiliating the believers. The Muslims who were few in number in Makkah had been tortured, slandered and boycotted. They were considered to be regional pariah’s, fashioned as such by the Qur’aishi media propaganda (you could call it the CNN of its day). Given the tumultuous track record between the Muslims and the Qur’aish, the believers were aghast when the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) had signed a treaty with them. Yet the treaty it itself, at face value, seemed a capitulation to the demands of the Qur’aish.
After the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) had signed it he went to his wife Umm Salamah who was accompanying him and confessed to her his anguish at the reaction of the Muslims. She said to him, “O Messenger of Allah, verily the Muslims will not disobey you, they only are zealous about their Deen and their Iman in Allah and your Message, shave your head and slaughter your animals and you will find that the Muslims will follow suit, then march with them back to Medinah.”
He followed this insightful advice and it in turn had a positive impact upon the Muslims whose sole objective was to serve Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam).
Yet the one-sided nature of this treaty hid the true worth of this piece of political astuteness which was backed up by revelation from Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala). Indeed Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) had characterised this treaty and the actions which followed as, ‘Fathan Mubeenan’ (the manifest victory). This was revealed to the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) whilst he was marching back to Medinah, words of satisfaction to the believers and instilling fear within the hearts of the Kuffar and Munafiqoon, encased within Surah al-Fath. When addressing the Muslims he announced: ‘Today such a thing has been sent down to me, which is more valuable to me than the world and what it contains.” After which he recited the complete Surah.
Within its verses was a reminder for them of the responsibilities of the Muslims towards the non-Muslims, their duty to convey the message of Islam to the world.
When the Sahabah (Ridhwanallahu Alaihim) were privy to this information they were filled with tranquillity and were more than willing to engage in the acts of statesmanship which had inspired the Treaty of Hudaibiyah.
What dawned upon the Muslims and also ourselves as we look back at these events are the following important offshoots of this treaty.
Firstly, It established within the region the legitimacy of the Islamic State which the Muslims had established in Medinah. They were no longer the motley crew of rebels as the Qur’aish and the rest of the tribes had viewed, they were a state which possessed territory, with a head of state and were now treated as such. Although seen as minor in significance it meant that the surrounding tribes and indeed the regional players saw an equal player in the region who they could ally with and thus extend the influence of Islam.
Secondly, The Qur’aishi propaganda was neutralised. The Muslims were not a bunch of bloodthirsty and ignorant mercenaries seeking economic domination; they were people who sought Justice and nothing more than to spread the message of Islam. Conversely, it was the Qur’aish who were antagonistic and war hungry, this something that the Muslims built on and accounted for the fast spread of the authority of Islam.
Thirdly, The Muslims were able to put down the Jewish plot to ally with the Qur’aish and thus create a war on two fronts for the Muslims to contend with. This was because the Jews of Khayber had planned to ally with the Qur’aish to attack and finish off the Islamic State of Medinah. The Qur’aish could not initiate hostilities against the Muslims, therefore could not ally with the Jews of Khayber. The result of this was the skilful isolation of a potential enemy. This also meant that the Muslims could consolidate the rule with the region and then gave them breathing space in order to initiate delegations and then expeditions to the Roman and Persian empires and territories.
Fourthly, The stipulation which meant that all those who accepted Islam and fled from Makkah had to be returned to Makkah, but those who fled from Medinah could remain in Medinah worked in favour of the Muslims. An incident is reported which states that a Muslim by the name of Abu Basir left Makkah and fled to Medinah, the Qur’aish demanded him back citing the conditions of the treaty. When he was duly sent back to Makkah, he fled and sat on a road by the Red sea shore, which was the route which the Qur’aish used to transport their trade caravans to Syria. Every Muslim who has fled to Medinah and sent back to Makkah joined Abu Basir. They ensured that they disrupted the Qur’aishi trade route to such an extent that the Qur’aish demanded dissolution of that condition of the treaty.
One of the aspects of the treaty was that neighbouring tribes could choose whether to ally with the Qur’aish or with the Muslims. The Banu Bakr chose to form a treaty with the Qur’aish and Banu Khuza’ah with the Muslims. This non-aggression pact was an integral part of the treaty and one which suited the Qur’aish when they witnessed the might of the Islamic State. After the battle of Mu’tah the Muslims returned having suffered many casualties, the Qur’aish well known to be opportunists, saw this as a perfect time to achieve their own regional interests. They therefore armed the Banu Bakr and encouraged them to fight the Banu Khuza’ah, slaying many of their kinfolk whilst they were in Prostration to Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala). In the eyes of the Messenger and the believers, the Qur’aish had broken their treaty, there was no going back now Makkah would be conquered.
Realising their pathetic miscalculation, the Qur’aish backtracked and initiated one last round of shuttle diplomacy to convince Allah’s (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) Messenger to re-instate the treaty. Abu Sufyan was sent in this capacity to plead the case of the Qur’aish. His daughter was married to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and he thought he would be lenient on him due to this. The opposite was the case, his daughter (Umm Habiba bint Abi Sufyan) was frosty towards him when he visited her he prepared to sit down on some bedding, she immediately pulled the bedding from beneath him and he was astonished by this. He asked her, ‘My daughter, by God, I don’t know whether you think I am too good for this or it is too good for me’. She retorted indignantly: “It is the bedding of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and you are an unclean Mushrik (idolater). I did not want you to sit on the bed of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam).” Abu Sufyan replied, “My daughter, by God, evil came over you after you left me.”
He then went to meet with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) who gave him short shrift. He visited Abu Bakr (Radiallahu Anhu) and he refused to intercede on his behalf with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). After which he had the nerve to visit Omar bin Al-Khattab (Radiallahu Anhu), his reaction to him was far from courteous, he reacted by saying: “I intercede for you with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)! By Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) if I only found ant grubs [to eat], I would fight you.”
Seeing little hope in his failed mission, he went to visit Ali bin Abi Talib. He was with Fatima (Radiallahu Anha), the Messenger of Allah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) daughter, and crawling next to her was their son Hasan (Radiallahu Anhu). Abu Sufyan pleaded with Ali (Radiallahu Anhu), citing their close kinship as a reason for interceding with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Ali replied: “Woe to you, Abu Sufyan. By Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala), the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) has determined a matter about which we cannot speak to him.” Abu Sufyan in his desperation asked Fatima (Radiallahu Anha) to command her son (Hasan) to make peace between the people, even promising that he would be ‘the leader of the Arabs’. She replied he was too small and the Command of Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala) and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was clear on the matter. He then asked Ali (Radiallahu Anhu) for advice, Ali advised him to make peace amongst the people and then return to Makkah. Abu Sufyan became over joyous and asked him whether this would do him any good, Ali replied: ‘No, but I do not know of anything else.”
Abu Sufyan followed his advice and returned back to Makkah empty handed and desolate, he was now playing a waiting game, uncertain as to how the Muslims would react to the transgression of the Qur’aish.
How different this is from the reception to our countries of leaders who have blood-soaked hands. When Bush, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet (CIA Chief) or Tony Blair visit the Muslim countries they are accorded full honours even though they sanction the deaths of Muslims without hesitation. Have these corrupted rulers of the Muslim countries forgotten the fact that these are the people who drop bombs upon this Ummah and who allow countries such as Israel to strike Muslim children down as though they were targets in a shooting gallery. The reason for their gratitude to the Western rulers is due to the fact that they were placed in power by them and to this day are their paymasters. We should take a lesson from the reaction of the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and his companions in rejecting these foreign dignitaries and the Western colonialists.
Coming back to the Messenger of Allah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) reaction to the slaying of Banu Khuza’ah, everyone was anticipating how the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) would react. This has resonance to the reaction within the US following the World Trade Center bombing. The smell of revenge was in the air and the Muslims were anticipating a slaughter.
The Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and the Muslims departed from Medinah on 10th Ramadhan 8 AH. On their way to Makkah, they encountered Abu Sufyan, one of the foremost enemies of Islam, the Prophet’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) uncle (Abbas) had offered him protection and Omar bin al-Khattab wanted permission to kill him. Abu Sufyan to the Muslims was similar to the manner by which Osama bin Laden is currently viewed by Americans, other than the fact that the evidence against Abu Sufyan’s crimes was definitive.
Thereafter the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) asked Abu Sufyan to go to the dwellings of Abbas and return in the morning. When he returned he took his Shahadah. This was one of the foremost enemies of Islam and an influential tribal leader.
Al-‘Abbas said to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) Messenger of Allah! Abu Sufyan is a man who likes to have some cause for pride, could you not do something for him?” Upon hearing this Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) proclaimed that, “He who enters Abu Sufyan’s house is safe, and he who locks his door is safe, and he who enters the Masjid is safe.” Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) then ordered that Abu Sufyan be detained in the narrow part of the valley where the mountain projected so that the whole Muslim army would pass by him and he would see them.
At the sight of huge armies and tribes from different regions marching towards Makkah, Abu Sufyan was astounded and commented to Abbas. “Indeed your nephews Kingdom is great.”
Abbas replied: “Woe to you! It is Prophethood.”
For Abu Sufyan this was important, as he saw the power and influence that the Muslims possessed and the strength of their state, and this was not attributed to Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) being a king, but a prophet who received revelation. It was the likes of Abu Sufyan who had offered (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) Kingship over the Arabs and it was he who in his desperation had offered this to the family of Ali (Radiallahu Anhu).
Afterwards, he hurried back to his people shouting at the top of his voice, “This is Muhammad who has come to you with a force you cannot resist. He who enters Abu Sufyan’s house is safe, and he who locks his door is safe, and he who enters the Masjid is safe.” On hearing this, the Quraysh aborted their resistance. Then the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) marched and entered Makkah, while remaining on the alert. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) had instructed his commanders to split into four divisions and not to fight or shed any blood unless they were forced to do so. The army entered Makkah meeting no resistance except the division of Khalid ibn al-Walid, who quickly dealt with it.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) dismounted at the top of Makkah where he stopped for awhile before marching towards the Ka’bah, which he circumambulated seven times. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) then summoned ‘Uthman ibn Talhah and he opened the Ka’bah. People gathered around him, and he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) addressed them by reciting the verse,
“O mankind, We created you from male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is that who has “At-Taqwa”. Verily, Allah is All knowing. All-Aware.” [Al-Hujurat, 49:13]
Then the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) asked, “O Quraysh, what do you think I am about to do with you?” They replied, “Good! You are a noble brother, son of a noble brother.” He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said, “Go your own way for you are free.” Inside the Ka’bah, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) ordered the pictures of angels and prophets which were decorating its walls to be torn down. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) also found a dove made out of wood which he broke in his hands and then threw it away. Lastly, Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) pointed to the multitude of idols present with a stick in his hand and he recited the verse,
“And say: Truth has come and Batil has vanished. Surely! Batil is ever bound to vanish.” [Al-Isra, 17:81]
All the idols collapsed onto their backs one after the other, then they were burned, broken up and disposed of. Now the sacred house was finally purified.
As Muslims we must view this great victory in Ramadhan as a thought provoker given our current situation. Every Ramadhan brings up a fresh conflict within the Muslim countries. Isn’t it time that we rose up against these corrupted rulers and bring back the Islamic Khilafah so that indeed the implementation of Islam can be resumed and the world can be given the opportunity to ‘enter Islam in crowds’
Dawla Islamiyyah, (The Islamic State), Taquidiine an-Nabhani
Ta’rik al-Rasul Wal Muluk (History of the Prophet and the Rulers), Volume VIII, The Victory of Islam
Tafsir Al Qur’an, Ibn Kathir
Fee Zilal Al-Qur’an, (In the Shade of the Qur’an), Syed Qutb