The next year, thirteenth of Prophethood, June 622 A.D., during the pilgrimage season, over seventy converts from Madinah came in the trail of their polytheist people to perform the rituals of pilgrimage in Makkah. The oft-repeated question amongst them was “Isn’t it high time we protect Muhammad instead of leaving him forsaken, deserted and stumbling in the hillocks of Makkah?”
Shortly after arrival, they conducted clandestine contacts with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and agreed to meet him secretly at night in mid Tashreeq Days (the 11th, 12th and 13th days of Dhul Hijja) in a hillock at Al-‘Aqabah, the last year’s meeting place.
One of the leaders of the Ansâr (Helpers), Ka‘b bin Malik Al-Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him), gave an account of the historic meeting which changed the whole course of the struggle between Islam and paganism, he said:
We set out for pilgrimage and struck a rendezvous in mid Tashreeq Days. We were accompanied by a celebrity and a notable of ours called ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Haram, who was still a polytheist. We disclosed to him our intention of meeting Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and exhorted him to join our ranks and give up polytheism lest he should serve as wood for Hell in the Hereafter. He promptly embraced Islam and witnessed the serious meeting at Al-‘Aqabah.
That very night we slept with our people in our camps. After a third of the night had elapsed, we began to leave stealthily and met in a hillock nearby. We were seventy three men and two women Nusaibah bint Ka‘b from the Najjars and Asma’ bint ‘Amr from Bani Salamah. We waited for the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) until he came in the company of his uncle Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib who (though himself not a Muslim), adjured us not to draw his nephew away from the protection of his own kindred unless we were fully prepared to defend him even at the risk of our lives. He was the first to speak:
“O you people of the Khazraj — the Arabs used to call the Ansâr (Helpers) Khazraj, whether from Khazraj or Aws — you all know the position that Muhammad holds among us. We have protected him from our people as much as we could. He is honoured and respected among his people. He refuses to join any party except you. So if you think you can carry out what you promise while inviting him to your town, and if you can defend him against the enemies, then assume the burden that you have taken. But if you are going to surrender him and betray him after having taken him away with you, you had better leave him now because he is respected and well defended in his own place.”
Ka‘b replied: “We have heard your words, and now O Messenger of Allâh, it is for you to speak and take from us any pledge that you want regarding your Lord and yourself.”
It was a definite stance showing full determination, courage and deep faith to shoulder the daunting responsibility and bear its serious consequences.
The Messenger of Allâh then preached the Faith, and the pledge was taken. Al-Imam Ahmad, on the authority of Jabir, gave the following details:
The Ansâr (Helpers) asked the Messenger of Allâh about the principles over which they would take a pledge. The Prophet answered:
To listen and obey in all sets of circumstances.
To spend in plenty as well as in scarcity.
To enjoin good and forbid evil.
In Allâh’s service, you will fear the censure of none.
To defend me in case I seek your help, and debar me from anything you debar yourself, your spouses and children from. And if you observe those precepts, Paradise is in store for you.