On this day in 630 CE, the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam,
led an army of 10,000 men to conquer Mecca, which is in modern-day Saudi
Arabia. At the time of Muhammad’s birth in Mecca in 570, the city was
ruled by the pagan Quraysh tribe. In 610, Muhammad is said to have begun
receiving divine revelations from God through the Archangel Gabriel. He
then began to preach this new religion which focused on one god: Allah.
This posed a challenge to the paganism of the Quraysh tribe, who
persecuted Muhammad and his followers, causing them to flee to Medina.
This conflict lasted for years, with the two frequently clashing in
battle, until 628 when they negotiated the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in
which the Quraysh promised to cease fighting and to allow the Muslims
into Mecca for pilgrimage. However, the Quraysh did not hold to this treaty and in 630 slaughtered a group of Muslims. Therefore, Muhammad
gathered his army of 10,000 and marched to Mecca; the city swiftly
surrendered after little bloodshed. Muhammad then declared amnesty for
the people of Mecca, but destroyed the pagan imagery to devote the area
to the worship of Allah. Muhammad declared Mecca the holiest site in
Islam, and made it the centre of Muslim pilgrimage; a pilgrimage to
Mecca (Hajj) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muhammad died in 632,
and the subsequent leadership crisis caused the religion to split into
Sunni and Shia sections. The faith Muhammad had begun spread rapidly,
and soon became one of the leading world religions.