12.2 The Qurayshi Plot
The number of Muslims in Yathrib had grown considerably through the sincere efforts of the Muslims the Messenger had sent to teach the people there the Koran. They had substantial power and were now supported by the Muslims who had begun to arrive from Mecca. If Mohamed were also to emigrate, they would have the wisest and most indomitable leadership and would become a power to be reckoned with.
Quraysh feared this above all else. The Muslims might return to attack Mecca and threaten its trade route to AI-Sham. Mohamed had, therefore, to be prevented from joining his followers at all costs. Once again they sat in the House of Debate to discuss what was to be done about Mohamed. If they kept him in Mecca by force, the people of Yathrib might come to fight them for the sake of their religion and their Prophet. If they let him go, he would become dangerous, free, and powerful in Yathrib. If they killed him, his clans, Banu Hashim and Banu Abdu Manaf, would demand blood for blood. This would mean a civil war in Mecca.
After much debate they contrived a devilish plan to murder him in such a way that his blood could not be demanded of any single clan and no single person would be held responsible for the deed. They selected a large group of young, able-bodied men, one from each clan of Quraysh. They gave each a sword and ordered them to surround Mohamed's house. The moment he came out they were to strike all together as one man. In this way his blood would be upon all the clans of Quraysh, and his people would have to accept blood money for him, for they would not be able to fight the united might of all the clans of Quraysh.
The Messenger was aware of what they had prepared for him, but he was waiting for permission from Allah to emigrate. He waited calmly, full of faith that Allah would enable him to arrive safely in Yathrib. The holy verses told him:
"When those who deny plotted cunningly to restrain you, kill you or drive you out. They plot and Allah plots and Allah is the best of plot-makers." (8:30)
His support was his Lord who rules over all the universe, therefore he feared no man. When the permission came, he went to Abu Bakr and asked him to be his companion on this perilous journey. Abu Bakr was overjoyed since to travel with the Prophet was a sign of heavenly favor; to die with him, should that happen, was to die a martyr, the highest honor. Since the day that the Messenger had suggested that he might have a traveling companion, he had kept two camels ready.
It was impossible for them to slip out of Mecca unobserved during the day, and when night fell the group of youths came and surrounded the Messenger's house. Mohamed asked Ali ibn Abi Talib (the little boy who had sworn to support him was now a man ready and able to carry responsibility) to sleep in his bed that night and wear his green mantle. When morning came, Ali was to restore the trusts people had left with Mohamed to their owners.
Quraysh would not believe Mohamed, but, curiously, they would trust no one else with their valuable possessions. Ali took the Prophet's place, knowing full well the danger involved.