12.3 Mohamed Escapes
During the second part of the night the Messenger, by the power of Allah, was able to walk unseen through the ranks of the encircling youths. He went to the house of Abu Bakr who was expecting him. The two men climbed out through a window at the back of the house. All they had with them was five thousand dinars belonging to Abu Bakr. Mohamed had spent all his own and Khadija's money in the mission. Abu Bakr had made much money in trade and once had forty thousand dinars put aside, but after embracing Islam and after three years of boycott, he had only five thousand dinars left. He had spent most of his money in freeing persecuted slaves and relieving the poor and distressed Muslims.
They headed southwards towards Yemen, the opposite direction to that of Yathrib, and hid in the cave of Thawr. They knew that as soon as morning came, Quraysh would search for them everywhere.
Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, used to bring them food while his son Abdullah used to spend the day with Quraysh, and then bring them news at night of what Quraysh were doing. Ibn Fuhayra, a slave that Abu Bakr had set free and given a job as a shepherd, went each evening to them to milk his goats and give them milk to drink, then he would let his flock walk over' Abdullah 's trail after he left so that no one would notice where it led.
When morning came and Ali woke up, the youths of Quraysh discovered the sleeper was not Mohamed but Ali ibn Abi Talib. All night they had kept watch, looking at the sleeper in the green cloak, and were convinced that their quarry was within their grasp. Now they were furious, realizing that they had been outwitted. They divided themselves into search parties, with each party taking a different route. Every day the search parties would go out and return, having accomplished nothing. Quraysh announced a prize of one hundred camels to whosoever would bring them Mohamed, dead or alive, or inform them of his whereabouts.
At last one of the search parties took the road to Yemen, the unfrequented route past the cave of Thawr. They approached the cave and found a shepherd standing near it. They asked him if he had seen men answering Mohamed and Abu Bakr's description. Casually he answered that they might be in the cave but that he had seen no one. One of the parties went towards the mouth of the cave.
Inside Abu Bakr was listening to the conversation outside, while the Messenger was praying. Abu Bakr, fearing for Mohamed, went and stood very close to him. Mohamed whispered in his ear,
"Do not grieve, for Allah is with us."
The Koran describes the scene:
"When those who deny drove him out, one of two was he in the cave,
when he told his companion,
'Do not grieve, for Allah is with us.'
So Allah sent down His peace upon him and supported him by soldiers you
could not see, and let the word of the deniers go under,
and the word of Allah is the highest.
Allah is of the highest wisdom, of invincible will." (9:40)
When the young man of Quraysh went to the mouth of the cave, he found it covered by a tree with a spider's web built over it and he found a wild dove that had built its nest in the tree. No one could have entered the cave without twisting the branches of the tree, breaking the spider's web and driving the dove away. So he said to his companions,
"There is no one in the cave. Why it has been covered by cobwebs since before Mohamed was born!"
A tree, a spider's web, and a dove's nest were all that appeared of the invisible action that saved Mohamed and his friend. Things so natural that they seemed accidental. Quraysh saw no angels and no soldiers. They returned thinking there was no one in the cave.