Now the treaty of Al Hudaibiyyah took place in the month Dhu'l Qa'dah of A. H. 6 (March, A. D. 628). Therefore, if this commentator is right, not seven but twelve years elapsed between the two events. If Muhammad therefore explained بِضع as meaning a period of between three and nine years, the facts of the case do not confirm his claims.

It was not at all a difficult matter for any able man to predict the ultimate victory of the Byzantines. That the Persians had at first gained some successes was evidently a surprise to the Quraish, hence their delight at the news. Abu Bakr's wager was probably made before he consulted Muhammad at all. If so, he 1 as well as Muhammad felt convinced of the fact that the Byzantines would finally overcome their foes. The reason of this conviction was the evident instability of the Persian Empire in those days. Between the death of Anushiravan (A.D. 578) and the overthrow of Yasdijird III, in A.D. 642, at the battle of Nahavand, no less than fourteen sovereigns sat on the Persian throne, many of whom were murdered after a very short reign. In the five years that elapsed between the death of Khusrau Parviz (A.D. 627) and the accession of Yasdijird III (AD. 632), there were eleven Persian monarchs. A country subject to such internal disturbances was evidently unfitted long to resist the Byzantine arms, and this Muhammad readily perceived. We may date the beginning of the Byzantine successes under the Emperor Heraclius from the year 625 of the Christian era, instead of two years later, as Al Baizawi does. Yet even then the victory was ten years after the defeat, and not between three and nine.

That Muhammad did actually realize the weakness of the Persians is clear from a fact mentioned in Ibn Hisham's Siratu'r Rasul. He tells us that, when Muhammad and the chiefs of the Quraish held a conference in the presence of Abu Talib in Mecca, before

1 Though Abu Bakr was not a prophet.

the Hijrah, Muhammad tried to persuade them to repeat the first part of the Kalimah and put away their polytheism by promising them the supremacy over Arabia and Persia on that condition, saying: "O Uncle, 1 they shall give me one word: ye shall through it possess Arabia, and through it shall Persia submit to you."

But Al Baizawi shatters the whole argument of the Muslims by informing us of certain varied readings in these verses of Suratu'r Rum. He tells us that some read غَلَبَتِ instead of the usual غُلِبَتِ, and سَيُغْلَبُونَ instead of سَيَغْلُبُونَ. The rendering will then be: "The Byzantine have conquered in the nearest part of the land, and they shall be defeated in a small number of years," &c. If this be the correct reading, the whole story about Abu Bakr's bet with Ubai must be a fable,2 since Ubai was dead long before the Muslims began to defeat the Byzantines, and even long before the victories which Heraclius won over the Persians. This shows how unreliable such Traditions are. The explanation which Al Baizawi gives is, that the Byzantines became the conquerors of "the well-watered land of Syria" (على ريف آلْشام), and that the passage predicted that the Muslims would soon overcome them. If this is the meaning, the Tradition which records the "descent" of the verses about six. years before the Hijrah must be wrong, and the passage must belong to A.H. 6 at earliest. It is clear that, as the vowel-points were not used when the Qur'an was first written down in Kufic letters, no one can be certain which of the two readings is right. We have seen that there is so much uncertainty about (1) the date at which the verses were "sent down", (2) the correct reading, and (3) the meaning, that it is quite impossible to show that the

1 Siratu'r Rasul, Vol. i, p. 146: يا عم كلمة واحدة يعطونيها تملكون بها آلْعرب وتدين لكم بها آلْعجم‬.
2 Unless we admit that Ubai had something of the prophet in him.