By Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
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Extra info for Approach The Quran
Let God fight them! ' (Koran 9, 29-30). The sharpening of the anti-Christian position went hand in hand with a more precise formulation of the Islamic message, and it corresponded to the expansion of Medina towards the Byzantine north. Hardly had he returned from pilgrimage before Muhammad was arming for a campaign into southern Palestine and east Jordan. But at this moment the Prophet was suddenly attacked by a fever from which he died, after a short illness, on June 8, 632, to the measureless dismay of the faithful.
Their skill in strategy, their discipline, and their fervour in the cause of Islam bestowed an impressive victory on the something over three hundred followers of Muhammad (three-quarters of them Medinans) who defeated five or six hundred Meccans; about another three hundred had retired before the battle. The small numbers involved should not lead us to underrate the importance of the battle. Among the fifty or so whom the Meccans left on the field were some of their most influential leaders; even more important was the fact that the young Community of Muhammad had put its strength to the proof; the political situation in Arabia began at once to take shape round the two poles of a decisive confrontation.
It provided that the Nestorians, together with the Jews who had settled in the city, should be allowed to keep their faith and to be exempt from military service and other levies upon payment of a tax (jizya). A few years later 'Umar I forced them to resettle elsewhere, with compensation for their lost lands. Some went to Syria, some to the neighbourhood of Kufa. But the tax remained. Until the end of the eighth century complaints of its severity were perpetually being brought before the Caliph.