Islam History 6 / Muhammad Preached Monotheism
The Flight to Medina
Muhammad began preaching monotheism to the people of Mecca. He declared that Allah was the only god. Remember that their sacred shrine, the Kaaba, brought in a lot of money for the city. So, the people resisted this teaching. Still, he began to build a following. Eventually, persecution began against the Muslims in Mecca. At Muhammad’s orders, some Muslims fled from the persecution in Mecca to Ethiopia. The Christian king there cared for them.
The people of Mecca tried to kill Muhammad several times. They even tried poisoning him on one occasion. A woman put poison in the lamb she served him.
“Remember how the unbelievers plotted against you [Muhammad]. They sought to take you captive or to have you slain or banished. They schemed — but God also schemed. God is most profound in His machinations.” Sura 8:30
Finally be fled to Medina, 200 miles north of Mecca, after a plot was organived against his life. It was called Yathrib at the time. Later the name was changed to Medina meaning “The city of the Prophet”. He went there on July 16, 622. It was called the flight or hijrah. The Muslim calendar begins from this year.
Men from Medina had asked him to come there and be their leader. In Medina, Muhammad was both a prophet and a king. In the next 8 years, his armies conquered all of Arabia. Muhammad was the first to unify the Arabs. When he marched on Mecca in 630, he had an army of 10,000 men.
At first he tried to convert the Jews in Medina. When they rejected him, he began to persecute and kill them. He then began to pray towards the Kaba in Mecca instead of Jerusalem as before. Also, he changed their worship day from Saturday to the pagan’s Friday.
He built the treasury of Medina by plundering the caravans of pilgrims heading towards Mecca. The first raid on a caravan took place during a month of truce and peace for Arabs. He justified his raids as Allah’s vengeance on the unbelievers. His raids led to war between Mecca and Medina. He was at war almost constantly in Medina.
Muhammad received 20% of the booty from raids. His army got the rest. A poet named Abbas once complained about how Muhammad divided the spoils of conquest. Muhammad heard of it, smiled, and said, “Take that man from here and cut out his tongue.”