26.5 The Mission of Uthman
Once more Mohamed tried to come to an understanding with Quraysh. This time he sent them a noble messenger whom they knew and liked well, Uthman ibn Affan. Before his entering Islam he had been one of the great men of Quraysh, after it he became a devout Muslim and Mohamed's son-in-law. He was a man loved and respected by all-extremely generous and open-handed.
The first man Uthman found on entering Mecca was Aban ibn Said. He asked him to be responsible for his life and safety. The man agreed to protect him for the duration of his negotiations with Quraysh. Then Uthman went to see the Qurayshi chiefs.
They said to him,
"Uthman, if you would like to visit the Sacred House, you may do so."
"It is not for me to visit the House of Allah before the Messenger of Allah."
Then Quraysh informed him that they had sworn a solemn oath that Mohamed should not enter Mecca.
Now long and laborious negotiations began, so long that a rumor came to the Muslim camp that Quraysh had killed Uthman who was the most kindly and generous of men and a man who had gone to them on a peaceful errand in the Sacred Months inside the Sacred Precincts. This was too much even for Mohamed. He said,
"We shall not leave without fighting them."
The Muslims had come as pilgrims; they had no weapons, no shields, no war camels or horses. They had come to answer the call of Allah, unarmed and in the garb of humility. However, in sheer indignation, they all gathered around Mohamed who was standing under a tree and one by one they swore allegiance to fight to the death. When they had all sworn, the Prophet held both his hands together and said,
"And this is the oath of Uthman, so that Uthman, dead or alive, would not be left out of this oath of faith."
A little while later, they heard that Uthman was alive, but carrying on lengthy negotiations. And when after some time Uthman appeared in person, they were overjoyed.
The rumor about Uthman's death had been a test to them. Would they fight without weapons and put their trust in Allah, or were they still trammeled by material considerations? The Koran says:
Allah has approved of those who believe,
when they swore allegiance to you under the tree
He knew what was in their hearts,
so He sent down His tranquility upon them,
and granted them a conquest soon. (48: 18)
Uthman returned to say that, although Quraysh were now sure that Mohamed had not come to fight, they would not allow him, for the sake of their pride and prestige, to enter Mecca since they had sworn he would not enter it that year. They feared the Arabs would say that they had let him enter out of fear.