Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ghazwatul Fijar: Sacrilegious War and the Ocatz Fair.

There is a mention of the Valley of Becca in the Old Testament. The word Becca, according to Bible 'a valley of weeping', but in a better sense it 'signifies rather any Valley lacking water'. Now, this waterless valley, which can easily be identified with the valley of Mecca, has been thus mentioned in the Book of Psalms.

"Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; 
They will still be praising thee. Selah. 
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; 
In whose heart are the ways of them. 
Who passing through the valley of Becca
Make it a well," -(Psalm. 84:4-6)

Mecca, [Becca is used for Mecca in verse 3:96, while Mecca is used in verse 48:24. The language use in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the b and m were interchangeable. -Philip K. Hitti, 1973. Capital cities of Arab Islam. p. 6] where Abraham and his son Ishmael built Ka'ba, the house of God. And Ishmael is the father of Arabs. Thus, the Arabs belonged to one ethnic race, but history does not record that they were ever united as one nation. They were divided into tribes and clans, each having its own chief or chieftain. They, no doubt, spoke the same language, but each tribe followed a different dialectal variation. Indeed, even religion was not a binding force. Almost every house had its own god; tribes had their own supreme deities.

In the south were the small principalities of Himyar, Awza, and Aqyal. In the middle and northern Arabia lived the tribes of Bakr, Taghlib, Shaiban, Azd, Qudha'ah, Khandaf, Lakhm, Juzam, Banu Hanifa, Tay, Asad, Hawazin, Ghatfan, Aws and Khazraj, Thaqif, Quraysh and others; they were frequently engaged in intensive warfare. Bakr and Taghlib had been fighting each other for forty years. Blood engagements had ruined many a tribe of Hadhramaut. Aws and Khazraj had exhausted themselves through a protracted war and the Battle of Fijar between the Banu Qays and Quraysh had not yet ended.

If any member of a tribe was killed, the tribe considered itself duty bound to seek revenge not merely upon the murderer but also on the tribe to which he belonged. Since there was no effective machinery to settle such disputes, this invariably touched off furious wars, which lasted for generations. Tribal might dash, and alacrity was the only guarantee of a precarious security.

The desert and the hills were the home of fierce nomadic tribes who lived largely on plunder and depredation, but the trade was also a major source of livelihood for them. Only a few months of the year were regarded as sacred. It was only then that bloodshed was stopped in order to facilitate the performance of the annual Pilgrimage to Mecca or to do Trade at Ocatz. But even this convention was at times relaxed to suit the convenience of individual tribes. Only the precincts of the Ka'ba were considered sacred and were free from bloodshed. It is to this state of affairs that the Qur'an has drawn attention: "Do they not see that we have made a sacred territory secure for them, while men are carried off by force all around them?"-(Qur'an, 29:67)

Banu Adnan
Muhammad was but a child when the "Sacrilegious Wars" the Ghazwatul Fijar which continued with varying fortunes and considerable loss of human life for a number of years broke out at Ocatz between the Quraysh and the Banu Kinana on one side, and the Qais-Aylan on the other. Ocatz lies between Tayif and Nakhla, three short journeys from Mecca.

The famous Arabian great annual fair Ocatz, would held in the sacred month of Dhul-Qadah when it was forbidden to engage in war or shed human blood in anger. This was "a sort of God's Truce." Other fairs were held at Mazna near Marr-uz-Zuhran, not far from Mecca and at Zu'l Majaz at the foot of Mount Arafat; but the gathering at Ocatz was a great national affair.

Here, in the sacred month, when all enmity and tribal vendetta was supposed to lie buried for the time, flowed from all parts of Arabia and even more distant lands, the commerce of the world. Here came the merchants of "Araby the blest" of Hijaz of Najd; the poet-heroes of the desert; and the actors, often disguised from the avengers of blood, in masks or veils, to recite their poems and win the applause of the nations gathered there. Here they came, not for trade only, but to sing of their prowess of their glory to display their poetical and literary talents. The Kasidas, which won the admiration of the assembled multitude, were inscribed in letters of gold and hung up in the national pantheon as a memorial to posterity. During these weeks, Ocatz presented a gay scene of pleasure and excitement.

But there was another side to the picture also. The dancing women like their modern representatives the Almas and Ghawdzin of Egypt, moving from tent to tent exciting the impetuous son of the desert by their songs and their merriment; the congregation of Corinthians, who did not even pretend to the calling of music; the drunken orgies, frequently ending in brawls and bloodshed; the gaming-tables at which the Meccan gambled from night till morning; the bitter hatred and ill-feeling evoked by the pointed personalities of rival poets, leading to sudden affrays and permanent and disastrous quarrels deepened the shadows of the picture.

Grecian and Persian slave girls, imported from Syria and Iraq, beguiled the idle hours of the rich with their dancing and singing or ministered to their vices. The poet, whose poems formed the pride of the nation, sung only of the joys of the present life and encouraged the immorality of the people. And no one would think himself of the morrow.

The Arabs, and especially the Meccans, were passionately addicted to drinking, gambling, and music. Dancing and singing as in other Eastern countries, were practiced by a class of women occupying a servile position, who were called Kiyan [singular- Kayna], and whose immorality was proverbial. And yet they were held in the highest estimation and the greatest chiefs paid public court to them. [The moral depravity of the people is evidenced by the fact that these women used to give receptions, which were attended by all the men of light and leading in the city].

At the fair of Ocatz, a rivalrous spirit had been, about this period, engendered between the Quraysh and the Bani Hawazin, a numerous tribe of kindred descent (those sprang through Qays and Aylan, from Modhar and Ma'add, the ancestors of the Quraysh), which dwelt in between Mecca and Taif. An arrogant poet, vaunting the superiority of his tribe, had been struck by an indignant Hawazinite; a maid of Hawazin descent rudely treated by some Quraishite youths; an importunate creditor insolently repulsed.

The circumstances form a curious illustration of Arab manners. The Hawazin creditor seated himself in a conspicuous place with a monkey by his side and said, "Who will give me another such Ape and I will give him in exchange my claim on such a one,"- naming his creditor with his full pedigree from Kinana, an ancestor of the Quraysh. This he kept continually vociferating to the intense annoyance of the Kinana tribe, one of whom drew his sword and cut off the monkey's head. In an instant, the Hawazin and Kinana tribes were embroiled in bitter strife. The poet mentioned in the text and also the murderer Birradh who, as described below, actually kindled the war, belonged to the Bani Kinana. The war, therefore, embraced a wider range than the Quraishite family, who formed a portion only of the Kinana tribe.

On each occasion the sword was unsheathed, blood began to flow, and the conflict would have become general unless the leaders had interfered to calm the excited people. Such was the origin of the Fijar or Sacrilegious War, so called because it occurred within the sacred term and was eventually carried into the sacred territory. These incidents suggested the expediency of requiring all who frequented the fair to surrender, while it lasted, their arms and to deposit them with Abdallah ibn Jodan, a Quraishite chief descended from Taym, an uncle of Qussai. By this precaution, peace was preserved for several years, but when a wanton murdered, it supplied a more serious cause of offense.

Noman V. Prince of Hira despatched to the fair of Ocatz a caravan richly laden with perfumes and musk. It proceeded under the escort of Orwa, a warrior of the Bani Hawazin. Birradh a friend of the Quraish, jealous at being supplanted in the convoy of the merchandise, watched his opportunity, and falling upon Orwa as he encamped by a fountain near Fadac (the spot was called Awara, in the valley of Tayman, north of Medina), slew him, and fled with the booty to conceal himself in Khaybar; On his way thither he met a Quraishite whom he charged to proceed with expedition to the fair then being held at Ocatz and communicate the intelligence to Harb (who was his confederate or halif) and the other Quraishite chiefs (a poet called Bishr). The message was conveyed and Abdullah ibn Jodaan, thus privately informed of the murder, immediately restored to all their arms, and feigning urgent business at Mecca at once departed with his whole tribe.

Harb is said to have urged Abdallah to give up only the Quraishite, and to withhold the Hawazin arms; so that they might fall upon the latter unprepared. Abdullah rejected the proposal as perfidious. But it looks very like an Abbasid tradition to vilify the Umayyads. It is noted that Harb was the son of Umaya and father of Abu Sufiyan.

But the news of the murder began rapidly to spread at Ocatz and as the sun went down it readied the ears of Abu Bera, Chief of the Hawazin; who, forthwith perceiving the cause of the precipitate departure of the Quraysh, rallied his people around him and proceeded in hot pursuit. The Quraysh had already entered the sacred limits and the Bani Hawazin contented themselves with challenging their enemy to a re-encounter at the same period of the following year. The challenge was accepted, and both parties prepared for the struggle. Several battles were fought with various success, and hostilities, more or less formal, were prolonged for four years, when Otba, son of Rabia (the nephew of Harb) proposed a truce.

The dead were numbered up and as twenty had been killed off the fighting. Hawazin more than of the Quraysh, the latter consented to pay the price of their blood and for this purpose delivered hostages. One of the hostages was Abu Sufiyan, the famous antagonist in after days of Prophet Muhammad.

In some of these engagements, the whole of the Quraysh and their allies were engaged. Each tribe was commanded by a Chief of its own, and Abdullah ibn Jodaan guided the general movements. The descendants of Abd Shams and Nowfel were headed by Harb, the son of Umaya and took a distinguished part in the warfare. The children of Hashim were present also, under the command of Zubair, the eldest surviving son of Abd al-Muttalib.

However, in this war at the beginning, though it seems that the Qays was going to win, yet in the end, the Quraysh won and made a treaty. The war was a legitimate part of the Quraysh. The war begins [2nd time] when prophet Muhammad in his 14 yrs and ended when he was in his 20's. However, he did not take arms in his hand but picked up the arrows to his uncle Abu Talib.

The End.
Not Yet Verified.

Life of Mahomet- Sir William Muir,
The spirit of Islam-Syed Ameer Ali.

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