Not one to mice words. Mohammed the prophet became Mohammed the general: Islam is the only one of the world’s great religions to have been founded on the Sword as well as the Word…
“Why do you not adore the idols, as the rest of us do?” I cannot adore any object made by man,” Mohammed said, “when I know that god created me and gave me sustenance.” Mohammed convinced abu-Bakr that his revelations were genuine. Soon there were thirty-nine converts, who prayed at home keeping the secret faith….
Word got around, however, that Mohammed had founded a new religion, that he claimed to be god’s prophet, and even more surprisingly, that some fellow Meccans had joined him. At first, most Meccans seem to have regarded him with amused tolerance,but this turned to hostility when Mohammed went to the Kaaba and told the worshipers to abandon their idols and adore the one god or suffer extermination.
Before long, the Meccans realized that Mohammed was not a harmless crank but a dangerous revolutionary. He was calling their cult of idol worship, their religion, a fraud, their priests charlatans, their gods false, and their time honored traditions worse than worthless. They also feared that if his religion took hold, he would want political power.
The Quarish tribe was the most outspoken in its opposition. A Quraishite saw one of Mohammed’s followers kneeling in prayer and struck him with a stone. The man kept praying and the Quraishite threw a second stone. The follower of Mohammed picked up a camel bone and split the Quraishite’s head open. The first blood had flowed. Meccans began to fear a tribal war. The Quraishites attacked the weakest of Mohammed’s followers and tried to force them to renounce their faith. Things got so bad that in 615, two years after the start of his public preaching, some of Mohammed’s followers left for Abyssinia.
Mohammed stayed behind because he knew he was safe as long as abu-Talib protected him. But in 619 he suffered a double blow. Abu-Talib died, and so did his loyal wife Khadija. Resistance to the Prophet became more overt. Once, as he was praying, someone threw a ewe’s uteris at him. Stones and sand were flung in his path. Yet he stayed on in Mecca for two more years, having found another protector in a powerful member of his tribe named Moutim and having opened secret negotiations to move elsewhere.
Even then, Mecca’s great shrine, the Kaaba, with its idols and its famous Black Stone, probably a large chunk from a meteorite, was visited by religious pilgrims. Some of these pilgrims were from Medina, a small center for farmers and artisans about 270 miles northeast of Mecca, with a mixed Arab and Jewish population. When a group of Medina Arab pilgrims hear Mohammed preach, they are reputed to have said: “This Mohammed is the Prophet whose name is constantly on the lips of the Jews, the one they are waiting for and believe in. If they hear about him, they will appropriate him, let us bring him among us.” … ( to be continued)…