8-thaqif delegation: their arrival was in ramadan, the ninth year of al-hijra, after the return of the messenger of allâh [pbuh] from tabuk. as to how they became muslims, this could be deduced from the following:
their chief ‘urwah bin mas‘ud ath-thaqafi came to see the messenger of allâh [pbuh] after the latter’s return from at-ta’if in dhul-qa‘dah in the year 8 a.h. ‘urwah became a muslim. he thought that when he will tell his people and call them to embrace islam, they would obey him, because he had always been an obeyed master. he was even more beloved to them than their own firstborn. but contrary to that, when he called them to islam they shot arrows at him from everywhere and killed him. they remained as they were for months before they started discussing the situation again among themselves. upon realizing that they were incapable of fighting the neighbouring arabs who had paid allegiance to the prophet [pbuh] and converted to islam, they made up their mind to dispatch a man to the messenger of allâh [pbuh]. they concluded that ‘abd yalail bin ‘amr would be the right messenger.
‘abd refused to do such a thing lest they should kill him as they had killed ‘urwah. "i will not do such a thing till you send some other men with me," said ‘abd. so they sent two men of their allies and three others from bani malik. the six of them including ‘uthman bin abi al-‘as ath-thaqafi who was the youngest among them all.
when they entered into the prophet’s [pbuh] audience, a tent was pitched up in a corner of the mosque so that they might listen to the qur’ân and see people at prayer. during their stay they came again and again to the prophet [pbuh] who kept on calling them to embrace islam, till their chief asked the messenger of allâh [pbuh] to enter into a peace treaty between him and thaqif by means of which he allows them to commit fornication, drink wine and deal with usury. they also asked him not to injure their tyrant idol "al-lat" or to oblige them to perform the prayer. finally they insisted that they would not knock down the idols themselves. but the messenger of allâh [pbuh]turned down all their requests. they went aside to council. realizing that there were no other alternatives they yielded and professed islam. the only condition that they insisted on was that the demolition of al-lat should be dealt with and handled by the messenger of allâh [pbuh] whereas thaqif should in no way knock it down themselves. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] agreed and took a pledge with them.
being the most attentive and the keenest to study jurisprudence and learn qur’ân, ‘uthman bin abi al-‘as was appointed by the messenger of allâh [pbuh] a prince on his people. his keenness and carefulness to learn the qur’ân and study jurisprudence were clearly discernible through his behaviour during their stay.
everyday morning, the group of delegates used to go and see the messenger of allâh [pbuh]. being the youngest one, ‘uthman bin abi al-‘as was left behind with their camels and things to keep an eye on. at noon when they came back and slept, ‘uthman used to go to the messenger of allâh [pbuh]in order to learn the qur’ân and inquire about religious matters. if it happened that the messenger of allâh [pbuh] was asleep, he would then go to abu bakr for the same purpose. with the passage of time, he turned out to be a source of blessing to his people. for at the apostasy times (ar-riddah) when thaqif were determined to apostatize, he addressed them saying: "o, folkmen of thaqif! you have been the latest at embracing islam, so do not be the first to apostatize." consequently they gave up apostasy and clung fast to islam.
the group of delegates returned home but they were determined to conceal the truth for a while. they told their people to expect fight at any moment. they pretended to be grieved and depressed. they claimed that the messenger of allâh [pbuh] demanded that they should embrace islam and abandon adultery, drinking wine and dealing with usury and some other things, or else he would fight them. seized by the arrogance and zeal of al-jahiliyah (pre-islamic traditions), thaqif remained for days intent on fighting. then allâh cast terror and dismay in their hearts in such a way that they gave up fighting and thought that the delegation should go back to him and announce their approval. it was until then that the group of delegates told them the truth and revealed the items of their peace-talk with the prophet, consequently thaqif embraced islam.
the messenger of allâh [pbuh] sent some men to demolish the idol called "al-lat" under the command of khalid bin al-waleed. al-mugheerah bin shu‘bah, stood to his feet, held the hoe and the ax and said: "by allâh, i will make you laugh at thaqif." he struck with them, and pretended to fall down while running. the people of thaqif trembled at that sight and said: "may allâh dismay al-mugheerah off. the goddess has killed him." hearing that al-mugheerah leapt up to his feet and said: "may allâh bring shame on you. al-lat is nothing but a mass of dirt and stones." then he struck the door and broke it. he mounted its highest wall, and so did the other men. they knocked al-lat down till they levelled it with the ground. then they dug up its foundation and brought out its jewels and garments; to the great astonishment of thaqif. khalid bin al-waleed and his group came back to the messenger of allâh [pbuh] carrying al-lat’s jewels and garments. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] distributed them and thanked allâh for helping his prophet and solidifying his religion. [za'd al-ma'ad 3/26-28; ibn hisham 3/537-542]