Forced by Persecution
Both parts of this myth are wrong. Only Muhammad was in danger at Mecca and this was after he made a treaty of war against the local residents while living among them.
After his influential uncle died, Muhammad was exposed to the wrath of the Meccans, whom he had been insulting free of penalty for so many years. Still, they did not seek to harm him, because they believed that his vulnerability following the death of his protector meant that he would finally stop stirring up trouble.
They were mistaken.
Muhammad eventually made an alliance with another town, Medina, that included provisions of war against the Meccans. The parties to the treaty were asked “Do you realize to what you are committing yourselves in pledging your support to this man? It is to war against all and sundry” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 299). The pledge to war is further confirmed in Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 305.
Therefore, it was only after Muhammad committed himself to armed revolution against the Meccans that the town’s leaders sought to have him either killed or evicted.
The historical account also flatly contradicts the popular view that all Muslims had to flee Mecca following Muhammad’s declaration of war. In fact, it was only Muhammad himself whom the Meccans were interested in seizing. This is proven by the episode recounted in Ibn Ishaq/Hisham (326-328) in which Muhammad's own son-in-law, Ali, sleeps in his bed to trick his enemies into thinking that they had cornered him on the night they came to seize him.
Not only did the Meccans do no harm to Ali, even after finding out that he had fooled them, but he remained in the city for several days thereafter with Muhammad’s daughter Fatima in order to arrange the transfer of the family business to Medina.
The story of Fatima's sister, Muhammad's oldest daughter, is of acute embarrassment to those who insist Muslims were suffering in Mecca. Zaynab was married to Abu al-Aas ibn al-Rabee, one of Muhammad's arch enemies, and had no desire to leave. When Muhammad took her husband prisoner at the Battle of Badr, Zaynab tried to ransom him, but the prophet of Islam would not free the man until she promised to leave Mecca and live in Medina with him instead. She was actually forced to trade her marriage for her husband's life. It was not until Abu al-Aas agreed to "embrace" Islam (after being taken hostage again six years later following a Muslim caravan raid) that Muhammad allowed the two to live together.
Muslim biographers provide the names of other Muslims who continued to live in Mecca following Muhammad’s departure and there is no record that they were persecuted. There is even some evidence that the Muslims in Medina were allowed to conduct pilgrimages back to Mecca during the holy months (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 424 & Qur’an 2:196).
It is important to note that Muhammad justified his own eviction at the hands of the Meccans by his subsequent actions in Medina, where he began evicting the native Jewish tribes within just a few months of arriving. Apologists are fond of claiming that the eviction (and outright execution) of the Jews on the direct order of Muhammad was necessary because of their “enmity” towards him.
Unfortunately for the Jews, the Muslims were far less patient and far more severe with them than the Meccans had been with Muhammad – but this is just one of the many grand hypocrisies of Islam.
A supremacist ideology is always its own justification.
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