38 – The Entry into Medina

The Prophet had reached the oasis on Monday 27 September AD 622. Various messages soon made it clear that the people of Medina were impatient for his arrival there, so he only stayed three full days in Quba’, during which he laid the foundations of a mosque, the first to be built in Islam. On the Friday morning he set out from Quba’, and at noon he and his companions stopped in the valley of Ranuna’ to pray the prayer with the Khazrajite clan of the Bani Salim who were expecting him. This was the first Friday Prayer that he prayed in the country that from now on was to be his home. Some of his kinsmen of the Bani an-Najjad had come to meet him, and some of the Bani ‘Amr had escorted him from Quba’, which brought the whole congregation up to about a hundred men. After the prayer the Prophet mounted Qaswa’, and Abu Bakr and others of Quraysh also mounted their camels and set off with him for the city. To the right and to the left of them, dressed in armor with their swords drawn, rode men of Aws and Khazraj, as a guard of honor and by way of demonstration that the oath they had taken to protect him was no empty word, though they knew well that then and there he would need no protection. Never was a day of greater rejoicing. “Come is the Prophet of God! Come is the Prophet of God!” was the joyous cry that went up from more and more voices of men and women and children who had lined the route. Qaswa’ set the slow and stately pace of the procession as it passed amid the gardens and palm groves to the south of Medina. The houses were still few and far between, but gradually they entered more closely built districts, and many were the eager invitations which were offered. “Alight here, O Messenger of God, for we have strength and protection for thee, and abundance.” More than once a man or a group of clansmen took hold of Qaswa’s halter. But each time the Prophet blessed them and said: “Let her go her way, for she is under the command of God.”

At one point it seemed as if she were making for the houses of the Prophet’s nearest kinsmen of the ‘Adi branch of the great Khazrajite clan of Najjar, for she turned into the eastern part of the city where most of the clan lived. But she passed by the place where he had stayed with his mother as a child and by all the other houses of those nearest to him, despite their earnest entreaties that he should make his home there. The Prophet gave them the same reply that he had given to the others, and they could only submit. He had now reached the houses of the Bani Malik branch of Najjar. To this subclan belonged two of those six men who had pledged allegiance to him the year before the First ‘Aqabah, As’ad and ‘Awf; and here Qaswa’ turned from the road into a large walled courtyard which had in it a few date palms and the ruins of a building. One end had been used at some time as a burial ground. There was also a place set apart for drying dates. Slowly she made her way towards a rough enclosure which As’ad had set up as a place of prayer, and there at the entrance she knelt. The Prophet let go her rein, but did not alight; and after a moment she rose to her feet and began to walk leisurely away. But she had not gone far when she stopped, turned in her tracks and walked back to where she had first knelt. Then she knelt again; and this time she flattened her chest against the ground. The Prophet alighted and said: “This, if God will, is the dwelling.”[1]

He then asked who owned the courtyard, and Mu’adh, the brother of ‘Awf, told him it belonged to two orphan boys, Sahl and Suhayl. They were under the guardianship of As’ad, and the Prophet asked him to bring them to him, but they were already at hand and came and stood before him. He asked them if they would sell him the courtyard, and told them to name their price, but they said: “Nay, we give it thee, O Messenger of God.” He would not, however, take it as a gift, and the price was fixed with the help of As’ad. Meanwhile Abu Ayyub Khalid, who lived nearby, had untied the baggage and carried it into his house. Others of the clan now came and begged the Prophet to be their guest, but he said: “A man must be with his baggage.” Abu Ayyub had been the first of the clan to pledge himself at the Second ‘Aqabah. He and his wife now withdrew to the upper part of the house, leaving the ground floor for the Prophet; and As’ad led Qaswa’ to the courtyard of his own house which was close by.


[1] B. 63

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