ABSTRACT

Arabia and their charges became so excessive that the Persians refused to pay them, with the result that the Arabs attacked the caravan and defeated the Persian escort. This was the famous Dhu Qar which Arab poets love to describe as a victory over Persia.4 In the time of the Prophet it was customary to fit out two annual caravans which went up into Syria. 5 The heavy expenses of the caravan lay in the equipment, the hiring of guides and camel drivers, the tolls paid to every Arab tribe through whose territory it passed, and enough to the Khafir to make him willing to undertake compensation for any losses sustained on the way. We can understand that the Meccan merchants looked with no friendly eyes upon the predatory nomads of the desert and when Ibn Hisham’s Sîra tells us how a devil, as it was supposed, came to Mecca with news of Muhammad’s flight, he wore the disguise of a desert Arab . 6 To the Meccan merchants, no doubt, the Bedwin seemed very near akin to devils. Elsewhere we find that the citizens compared the nomads to wild beasts,7 and the Qur’an itself shows traces of this dislike towards the desert Arabs who were singularly unresponsive to religion. 8 The commercial community in which Islam took its rise had very little in common with the nomads of the desert.