1099 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY.-CAREER OF THE PROPHET.
Mohammed was unsuccessful. In his first
battle, however, which was fought with Abu
Sofian, chief of the Meccans, the Prophet
gained the victory. Afterwards he met with
a series of reverses. In 625 he was defeated
by the Koreishites in the battle of Mount
Ohod. Two years later he was besieged in
Medina. Among his own followers there were
dangerous factions and contentions. His connection with the Jews proved unfortunate.
He could not be their Messiah; they would
not be his people. His alienation from the
sons of Israel became so great that war ensued, and he conducted several campaigns
against the Jewish tribes in Arabia. In revenge for these aggressions against her countrymen, a Jewess, named Zainab, fed the
Prophet a poisoned lamb, the effects of which
burned in his bones until his death.
By this time the idea of propagating the
doctrines of Islam by the sword had taken
complete possession of the mind of Mohammed. He sent to Chosroes II., king of Persia, a written demand that he should submit
himself and his people to Allah and his
Prophet. When this was refused, he undertook to enforce compliance by war. A desperate battle was fought at Muta, in which Mohammed's general, Khaied, so greatly distinguished himself that he received the surname of the "Sword of God."
Meanwhile the Meccans again revolted.
After a severe struggle, however, they were
subdued, and their submission was the end of
present resistance in Arabia. For a season
the Prophet returned to Medina, where, in
the ninth year of the Hegira, he received ambassadors from many of the surrounding
states. He next made a demand of submission upon Heraclius, Emperor of the East,
but the same was rejected. Mohammed thereupon declared war, but his attempted conquest
resulted in a ridiculous failure. The soldiers of the Prophet became discontented and mutinous, but were finally quieted.
Resuming his station at Medina, Mohammed now busied himself with the preparation
of a great pilgrimage to Mecca: The event was set for the tenth year of the Hegira. At
least forty thousand pilgrims assembled for the journey. The rites and ceremonies of the
preparation and the march have ever since remained the models of the annual pilgrimage
of the faithful to the shrine of their Prophet.
In the year 632, three months after his return
to Medina, he was taken with a fatal illness.
He clearly foresaw the end which his friends
would have concealed from his vision. He
had himself taken to the house of his favorite
wife Ayesha-for the good Kadijah was now
dead. This house adjoined the mosque, and
the Prophet ordered himself borne back and
forth from his couch to the shrine. He spoke
of his approaching death. He liberated his
slaves and distributed sums of money to the
poor. He then prayed for support in the
final struggle and quietly breathed his last.
There was much dispute about the place of
the Prophet's burial. It was, however, finally
determined that he should be interred in the
house where he died, adjacent to the mosque
of Medina. Subsequently the temple was enlarged so as to include the spot where the
bones of Adballah's son are still reposing.
Of all his children only a daughter named
Fatima survived her father. She was married
to Ali, the Prophet's cousin, and became the
mother of the rulers and nobles of the Mohammedan world.
Mohammed was a man of medium stature
and of a well knitted and sinewy frame. His
body was of the Oriental type, and his constitution delicate. He had a fine oval face,
full of tender lines, and a massive head with
slightly curling dark hair. His long well arched Arabian eyebrows were separated midway by a vein which swelled and throbbed
visibly when he was excited. His eyes were
large, black, and restless. His hand was
exceedingly small, and soft as the hand
of woman. His step was quick and energetic, and is described in tradition as being like
that of one who steps from a higher place to a
lower. When his attention was called he
stopped short, and turned not only his face
but his whole body in that direction.
In mind the Prophet had the rare union
of womanly timidity with extraordinary courage. In times of danger he would, without a
moment's hesitation, put his life in peril. He