conducted by his lieutenants,1 but they failed of their object,
for the Quraish received little harm and the Muslims gained little or no booty.
The only relatively successful expedition was one conducted in the month
Rajabu'l-Araba month sacred from time immemorial to peace and immunity from
tribal attacks. In it a Quraish caravan at Nakhla was attacked and plundered and
some prisoners were taken. The victory, however, did not compensate for the fear
created in the minds of the Muslims by so daring a violation of Arab custom. At
first Muhammad denied that he had given any command for the attack to be made in
that month, but, as the dismay still prevailed in the hearts of the people, a
revelation came condoning the offence. Thus:
They will ask thee concerning war in the sacred month; say, ' to war therein
is bad, but to turn aside from the cause of God, and to have no faith in Him,
and in the sacred temple, and to drive out its people is worse in the sight of
God; and civil strife is worse than bloodshed.' Sura Al-Baqarah (ii) 214.
Ibn Ishaq says this means, 'If you make war in the holy month, they keep you
from the way of God, they are unbelievers and debar you from the holy temple.
This is more serious before God than the death of some men whom ye have killed.'
The Quraish were very angry and said, 'Muhammad