34.3 The Pilgrimage and Ali's Announcement
The year went round and it was time for the pilgrimage to Mecca, but delegation after delegation continued to come, giving Mohamed no respite, so he asked Abu Bakr to lead the pilgrims to Mecca instead of him.
After Abu Bakr had left with the pilgrims, the holy verses came down saying that no polytheist should enter the House of Allah after that year. Polytheists were given four months to return to their lands in peace after which they were never to return to the Sacred Precincts. Should they wish to retain amicable relations with the Muslims, they were to forsake their idols and enter into Islam; otherwise they should expect war from Allah and His Prophet. Those with whom the Muslims had pacts were to be treated according to the terms until their dates of expiry.
Mohamed sent Ali ibn Abi Talib after Abu Bakr with the newly revealed decrees. Ali read the newly-revealed verses of Surat Al-Tawba to the people which contained these decrees, then said,
"No denier shall enter paradise; and no polytheist shall make the pilgrimage to the House of Allah after this day. No naked person shall go around the Ancient House. Those who have covenants with the Messenger of Allah, their covenants shall be observed until their time of expiry."
Thus after twenty-three years of struggle and sacrifice, after long and dark centuries of idolatry, the first house built for the worship of Allah once more became exclusively dedicated to pure worship of Him.
Islam had now spread throughout the peninsula, north and south, east and west. When it went to the Yemen, the Prophet sent one of his Companions to initiate its people in religion and said to him,
"Make things easy and do not complicate them. Give tidings of cheer and do not repel. You will be over people of the Book who will ask you what is the key to paradise. Say, 'It is the testimony that Allah is One and that He has no partner.'"