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Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca, 630

On 11th January 630 the Prophet Muhammad returned to Mecca, where he had been born some 60 years previously, at the head of an army of 10,000 followers. This show of force was enough to dissuade his opponents from putting up much resistance and so the conquest of Mecca was nearly bloodless.

Muhammad had spent most of his life in Mecca but had been forced to leave in about 622 due to the hostility he had aroused from some local people. His temporary home had been the rival city of Medina.

On his return, Muhammad negotiated a takeover of Mecca with Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraysh ruling tribe. As a result, only a few opponents tried to block his entry and most of those soon surrendered.

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Muhammad also made sure that no reprisals were taken against his former enemies in Mecca, stating that “he who lays down arms will be safe. He who locks his door will be safe.”

Less assured of safety were the religious images that adorned the Kaaba, the holiest sanctuary in Mecca. Many idols were removed and destroyed, although some accounts maintain that images of Abraham, Jesus and Mary were spared. His main aim was to restore the status of the Kaaba as a sanctuary that was so “by virtue of the sanctity Allah has bestowed on it until the Day of Resurrection”. Mecca and the Kaaba have remained the focal points of Islam ever since.

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    • Thanks for the endorsement. No – I’ve never been a teacher, of history or anything else. I qualified as a librarian more than 40 years ago and still practice my trade – part-time – to this day! At school I had a huge problem about whether to pursue English or History for my degree subject and plumped for English – but the choice could easily have gone the other way.

  1. I see no reason for maintaining images of Abraham, Jesus and Mary, when nobody knows what they looked liked anyway. Why have an artistic representation of what someone thinks they look like? What purpose does that serve does that serve? Why not have a statue of Muhammad? Is there a statue or image of him there? I’ve never been. Interesting article. I always like you quick read history lessons.

    • This refers to what happened in the year 630, and only to what might have been the case. It may have been that the images were removed but not destroyed, out of respect to the characters in question. Some religions put great store by physical representations, others less so.

      • I understand. I just don’t like the idea that some people actually believe that they are looking at the real historical figure. If it is put forth as just art, or an artistic representation, that’s fine. But when you attach a real religious significance or import to a statue, it is rather deceptive. As a deeply religious person, I would even dare to say that it’s heretical. I am a Christian. But on this point, the Muslims and I are in agreement. Those statues have no place in true worship and they could lend themselves to idolatry or idol worship.

        As always, I love the interactions and exchanges we have with each other. You make me THINK! LOL.

        • I suppose you have to say – each to their own. For some people an image or an icon of Christ or a saint are extremely helpful, but to others this is a form of idolatry, as you say.

          I heard recently that more than 90% of all the artworks in England before the reign of Henry VIII had been destroyed before the end of the “reign” of Oliver Cromwell – this being because most them were religious works of art housed in churches and they were ripped out by the Protestants and Puritans. In other words, they were not allowed to be just “works of art”.

          • I heard that when ISIS attacked certain towns they also destroyed statues and temples that represented the ancient world. Whereas everyone else wanted to preserve them for their historical value, ISIS militants viewed them as idols or contributing to idol worship. When I read the reports, all I could think was “Good thing some people took photographs. Because we’re never going to see those places and things again.” It’s the like the Wonders of the World. We know they existed, but we no longer have the physical proof.

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