30.3 The Siege of AI-Taif
Al-Taif was a fortified city of great wealth and strong defenses. The Muslims marched on the city only to be met by showers of arrows, so withdrawing out of range they set up camp. Mohamed began to think of what would be the best way to take this city with such formidable fortifications. He came to the conclusion that the only way to make them surrender the city without needless bloodshed was to burn the palms in the fertile fields around Al-Taif. He hated to do what he had always ordered his followers to refrain from (a palm tree takes over ten years to grow and yield fruit) but realized that it would quickly bring pressure to bear, and, as he had calculated, as soon as he began burning their palm trees the inhabitants of Al-Taif asked what his terms were. The Holy Months, when fighting was forbidden to the Arabs, were approaching, so Mohamed let this temporary siege be a reminder to them that if they attacked others they were liable to be attacked themselves. He then withdrew his forces and marched towards Mecca.