26.2 Visit to the Ancient House
About one year after the Muslims had emigrated to Medina, they made their orientation the Ancient House, the first house erected for the worship of Allah on earth. It had been reconstructed by Abraham and Ishmael, the grandfathers of the Arabs. When it needed reconstruction at the time of Mohamed, it was he who put the sacred Black Stone in its place. To this house the Arabs from every quarter of the peninsula made a pilgrimage each year in certain appointed months. In these months the Arabs refrained from fighting. The Koran stated that this house was for all men, every man had the right to enter the House of his Lord, every man had the right to be secure in it, and every man had the right to visit it on a pilgrimage of peace. It was an ancient custom, as ancient as the House itself.

After remaining for six years in Medina, Mohamed announced his intention of visiting the Ancient House as a pilgrim and he invited anyone who wished to join him. He wanted to reassure Quraysh that he came in peace as a pilgrim and had no intention to fight.

When those on pilgrimage reached Dhul-Hulayfa, they all put on the same simple garb of the pilgrim, symbolic of the equality of status before Allah and of their submission and humility before Him. They marked out the animals to be sacrificed as offerings at the Kaaba and took no weapons with them except what a pilgrim might need. Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet, was to travel with him on this occasion.

When Quraysh learnt that Mohamed was coming, they were not sure whether or not he was coming in peace, and their hatred and arrogance was such that they wanted no Muslim in Mecca, even as a pilgrim. They assembled an army to meet them and stop their approach. Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl was at its head and Khalid ibn Al-Walid lead the cavalry. The Messenger and the pilgrims marched on until they reached Usfan, near Mecca, where they met a man from Banu Kalb who informed them that Quraysh were adamant in their resolution to refuse him entry. They had donned their war gear and swore by Allah that Mohamed should not enter.

Mohamed said,

"Woe unto Quraysh, war has exhausted them. What do they lose if they leave me to the rest of the Arabs. If they defeat me, then this is what Quraysh wants. If they do not, then Quraysh would enter Islam with honor. If they defeat me, then Quraysh will fight me with the upper hand. What do these Qurayshis think? By Allah, I shall continue to struggle for what I was sent until Allah makes it prevail or until this collar-bone is severed."

He meant until death.

Although Quraysh hated Mohamed and were mean and bitter in their hostility, Mohamed, as the above speech shows, worried about Quraysh and their condition. He would continue to struggle against them as they were in the wrong; he would guide them to the right whatever the cost, but he felt great pity for them. He knew that Allah would give him victory sooner or later, and he wanted to spare them this bitter dragging, costly, and futile war against the Almighty.

The Messenger continued his peaceful march towards Mecca, insisting on not fighting for he came as a pilgrim. Quraysh sent people to him from the tribe of Khuzaa to find out what his intentions were and they, after speaking with Mohamed, were convinced he came in peace. They reported this to Quraysh, but Quraysh were furious and said that even if Mohamed had not come to fight, but as a pilgrim, he should not enter the House, for what would the Arabs think? That he had compelled them to allow him entry?