Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) in Madinah (622 A.D.)
By: Yasin T. al- Jibouri
Living in contact with the Jews, the Aws and the Khazraj tribes were not foreign to the idea of the unity of God. They had heard from the Jews that a Prophet was to come. Some of their people had come into contact with the Prophet at Mecca and had been deeply impressed by Him. The deputation (of three to five hundred referred to above) which they had sent to Mecca had returned entirely satisfied. The disciples who had preceded the Prophet were spreading the message of Islam throughout Yathrib. Unlike the Meccans, the Yathribites had no vested interest standing in the way of their accepting the new religion. Islam had already taken roots in Yathrib thus before the Prophet arrived there on the invitation of the people of Aws and Khazraj. No wonder they gave the Prophet a tumultuous welcome at Yathrib.
The name of the city was then changed to “Medinat al-Nabi’, the City of the Prophet. Islam effaced the age-long enmity between the tribes of Aws and Khazraj and they were given the honourific designation of “Ansars’ (helpers or supporters). The immigrants, forty-five in number, were called “Muhajirun.’
The next task was to build a mosque in Medina like the one built in Quba. The place where Muhammad's she-camel had stopped was an open courtyard with some palm trees growing over it, and it belonged to two orphan brothers named Sahl and Suhayl. When they came to know that the Prophet wanted to build a mosque on their property, they were elated and offered the property as a present to the Prophet. But the Prophet kindly declined their offer, paying them instead two mithqals in gold, the price settled for the plot. The plot was cleared of the trees, and a mosque 54 yards in width and 60 yards in length was built over it with clay bricks and mud. It was roofed with palm-wood rafters covered with palm branches, leaves and clay. Actually, it was not sufficiently solid to keep rain out.
The trunks of palm trees were used as pillars to support the roof. The construction of this mosque, “Masjid al-Nabi,’ (mosque of the Prophet), was distributed among the converts. The Prophet, too, had his share of the work, but he was seldom allowed to work as ‘Ammar ibn Yasir, one of the earliest converts to Islam and a faithful companion of the Prophet, used to accomplish the Prophet's share of work in addition to his own. ‘Ammar was the very first person to begin digging the mosque's foundation. Soon, a simple, unostentatious mosque was completed. Close to one side of the mosque, rooms were constructed for the Prophet and his family.
On the other side, rooms were provided for the poor adherents who had no house of their own. The latter numbered about seventy at the time and later gradually increased to four hundred. The rooms of the poor faithfuls who had no house of their own to live in were called “Suffa,’ and it was in one of them that a famous muhaddith, narrator of traditions, named Abu Hurayra used to live. He will Insha-Allah be discussed later in this book. On the completion of these rooms, the Prophet, who meanwhile was living with Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, whose full name is Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb, moved permanently into one of them. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was head of the Banu al-Najjar clan to whom Selma, mother of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, Muhammad's grand-father, belonged, hence Abu Ayyub was actually a distant relative of the Messenger of Allah, a maternal cousin.
The doors of the houses of some of the companions opened into the mosque. The Prophet ordered the doors of all of them except that of Ali closed. The companions raised some objections against this order. The Prophet, thereupon, stood up and addressed them. Having praised Allah, he said, “In accordance with the decree of Allah, I ordered you to close the doors and Ali to keep his open. Your wrangling is undesirable. Neither did I open nor close any door of my own accord. I only acted as I was ordered by Allah.’
The Muhajirun needed some meaningful relief. To ensure their economic security and also to establish brotherly ties between them and the Ansar, the Prophet joined each Muhajir with an Ansar in a tie of “Brotherhood’ that became even more precious and enduring than the bond of blood relationship. The Ansar volunteered to share half and half with other contractual brothers everything they earned or possessed. It is to this unification of interests that the Qur'an refers in the following verses: Surely those (Muhajirun) who believed and migrated and strived hard in the way of Allah with their property and souls, and those (Ansar) who sheltered and helped them, these are indeed friends (and protectors) of one another.(Qur'an, 8:72)
The Muhajirun were anxious not to remain a burden on their brothers. Soon, many of them settled down to trade and do business. In the course of time, they were rehabilitated, and within a few years, they were no longer in need of any financial support. It was then that the following verse was revealed: And the possessors of relationships are nearer to each other.(Qur'an, 8:75)
In Medina, Islam had at first to face serious challenges. Danger threatened it from all sides, and it had to fight against great odds for mere survival. Some of the battles forced on it were inspired by political motives, others were the result of direct opposition to the new faith and the desperate efforts which its enemies exerted to quell it before it firmly established itself. Other difficulties were added by the predatory and warlike habits of the nomadic tribes roaming around the city and the insecurity and lawlessness prevailing in the country at large. It may be a good idea, therefore, to analyze and understand the political conditions of Arabia of the time.
The Arabs belonged to one ethnic race, but history does not record that they were ever united as one nation. They were divided into tribes and clans, each having its own chief or chieftain. They, no doubt, spoke the same language, but each tribe followed a different dialect. Indeed, even religion was not a binding force. Almost every house had its own god; tribes had their own supreme deities. In the south were the small principalities of Himyar, Awza and Aqyal. In the middle and northern Arabia lived the tribes of Bakr, Taghlib, Shaiban, Azd, Quza’ah, Kandaf, Lakhm, Juzam, Banu Hanifa, Tay, Asad, Hawazin, Ghatfan, and Aws. Khazraj, Thaqif, Quraish and others were frequently engaged in intensive warfare.
The Aws and the Khazraj belonged to Banu Qayla. Shortly before Muhammad's arrival, the Battle of Bu’ath, which broke out during the seventh year of the Prophet's mission, between these two clans, had shattered the power of the Khazraj who were now considering making Ibn Ubay, namely ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay Salool, king of Medina. They hoped, by doing so, that they would be guided by him in consolidating their power, especially since they were more n’Omarous than the other clan. But the appearance of the Prophet and the conversion of the majority of the Aws to Islam turned the tide in favour of the Prophet. He proved himself to be the right man who came to the right place at the right time to put an end to the senseless bloodshed.
Bakr and Taghlib, too, had been fighting each other for forty years. Blood engagements had ruined many a tribe of Hadaramaut. And the Battle of Fijar between Banu Qais and Quraish had not yet ended. If any member of a tribe was killed, the tribe considered itself duty bound to seek revenge not merely upon the murderer but also on the tribe to which he belonged. Since there was no effective machinery to settle such disputes, this invariably touched off furious wars which lasted for generations.
Tribal might, dash and alacrity, were the only guarantee of a precarious security. The desert and the hills were home to fierce nomadic tribes that lived largely on plunder and depredation, but trade was also a major source of livelihood. Only a few months of the year were regarded as sacred. It was only then that bloodshed was stopped in order to facilitate the performance of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca or to trade at ‘Okaz. But even this convention was at times relaxed to suit the convenience of individual tribes. Only the precincts of the Ka’ba were considered sacred and were free from bloodshed. It is to this state of affairs that the Qur'an has drawn attention: Do they not see that we have made a sacred territory secure for them, while men are carried off by force all around them?(Qur'an, 29:67)
The conditions in the country were so insecure that till 5 A.H./626 A.D., the powerful tribe of ‘Abdul-Qais of Bahrain could not think of going to Hijaz outside the sacred months. Even the caravans going to or returning from Syria were sometimes plundered in open daylight.
Muslims' pasture lands were at times raided. Although conditions had considerably improved by then, the route to Mecca from Medina was not altogether safe till the fall of Mecca in 630 A.D.
While the country was so strife-ridden internally, dangers from outside were no less. The Roman and Persian empires had extended their domain to the fertile provinces of Yemen, Oman and Bahrain, extending their sovereignty to their land. The Romans had occupied Syria. Ghassan and some other Arab tribes, who had embraced Christianity, had been set up as the latter's feudatories. The Romans had expelled the Jews from Syria and Palestine in the second Century B.C. These Jews had migrated to Medina and its suburbs and built strong fortresses at Medina, Khaibar, Taima, Fadak and other places.
Prospering themselves, the Jews were extremely jealous of prosperity in other races and strongly resented rivalry in trade business. They believed themselves to be God's “chosen people’ and their conduct was characterized by pride and arrogance intensified by the feeling of being secure inside their formidable fortresses. Only a few of them embraced Islam. They included ‘Abdullah ibn Salam, one of their rabbis. The majority did not believe in Muhammad, the prophet prophecized in their Scriptures, because they expected the Promised One to be one of the Israelites, one who would rise in Syria, not in Arabia, with Hebrew as his langauge.
It was during such times that the Prophet started his great mission. For preparing the ground and the proper climate, the first step that he took was to unite the Ansar and the Muhajirun.
Establishing Brotherhood (623 A.D.)
In the next year, the 13th after the inception of the historic Prophetic mission, the Prophet established brotherhood between each couple of his followers, one from the Ansar and one from the Muhajirun. Thus, Abu Bakr and ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab were joined as brothers; so were Hamzah and Zayd ibn al-Harithah, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, al-Zubayr ibn al-’Awwam and Ibn Mas’ud, ‘Obaydah ibn al-Harith and Bilal ibn Rabah the Ethiopian, Talhah and Sa’id ibn Zayd, Mus’ab ibn ‘Omayr and Sa’d ibn Abu al-Waqqas, Abu ‘Obaydah and Salim…., etc. The Prophet established brotherhood between himself and Ali ibn Abu Talib, telling him, as we are told by al-Sayyuti, “You are my brother in the life of this world and in that of the hereafter.’
Prayers and Fast Mandated (623 A.D.)
Bilal ibn Rabah was an Ethiopian intellectual who had embraced Nestorian Christianity then came to Arabia looking for the new prophet, fell in captivity then sold in Mecca as a slave of the Umayyads, bought by ‘Uthman and freed to be one of the early converts to Islam and the very first mu'aththin, caller to prayers. He started calling the athan publicly this very year (623 A.D.). The following verses of Surat al-Baqara (Chapter of the Cow) were revealed ordering the faithful to direct their faces towards Mecca as their qibla: Indeed, We see the turning of our face to the heavens; so, We shall surely turn you to a qibla which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you are, turn your faces towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord, and Allah is not at all heedless of what they do. And even if you bring those who have been given the Book every Sign, they shall not follow your qibla, nor can you be a follower of their qibla, nor are they the followers of each other's qibla, and if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, then you shall most surely be among the unjust.(Qur'an, 2:144-145)
Before then, they used to direct their faces towards Jerusalem, something because of which the Jews of Medina taunted them; idols still littered the Ka’ba in Mecca. And the fast of the month of Ramadan was also mandated in the same year in response to verses 179 - 181 of the same Chapter referred to above.
Ali Marries Fatima (624 A.D.)
On the 15th of Rajab of the next year (2 A.H.), corresponding to January 15, 624 A.D., Fatima, daughter of the Prophet, was married to Ali. All that Ali could offer by way of mahr (dower) was his coat of mail, and all that the Prophet could give to his daughter as a wedding gift were: an ordinary cot, a mattress stuffed with palm leaves, a water bag, two grinding stones, and two earthen pitchers. Yet some writers insinuate that the Prophet and his party were ambushing and plundering trade caravans!
If these writers, who profess to be unbiased, are to be believed, what had happened to the booty and the riches?! What is most dangerous about such “historians’ is that they dutifully cite a mass of historical data and in the same breath utter some falsehoods so that those lies may also pass on as historically true.
Pact With The Jews (624 A.D.)
Having thus welded the Ansar and the Muhajirun into one Brotherhood, the Prophet now set himself to the task of establishing a stable society, a commonwealth based on equality of rights and on the concept of universal humanity. Granting equality of status and rights as well as full freedom of religion and of conscience to the Jews, he invited them to enter into a pact with the Muslims. He drew up a charter which has been reproduced by the historian Ibn Hashim thus: In the Name of the Most Merciful and Compassionate God.
Granted by Muhammad, the Prophet, to the Believers, whether of Quraish or of Yathrib, and all individuals of whatever origin who have made common cause with them: All these shall constitute one community.
Then, after regulating the payment of the diyya (blood money) by the various clans and fixing some wise rules regarding the private duties of Muslims among themselves, the document proceeds thus: The state of peace and war shall be common to all Muslims; none among them shall have the right of concluding peace with, or declaring war against, the enemies of his co-religionists. The Jews who enter into this covenant shall be protected from all insults and vexations; they shall have an equal right with our own people to our assistance and good offices. The Jews of the various branches of ‘Awf, Najjar, al-Harith, Jashm, Tha’labah, Aws, and all others domiciled in Yathrib shall form with the Muslims one composite nation. They shall practice their religion as freely as the Muslims.
The clients and allies of the Jews shall enjoy the same security and freedom. The guilty shall be pursued and punished. The Jews shall join the Muslims in defending Yathrib against all enemies. The interior of Yathrib shall be a sacred place for all those who accept this Charter. The clients and allies of the Muslims and of the Jews shall be as respected as the principals. All Muslims shall hold in abhorrence anyone found guilty of a crime, injustice, or disorder. None shall uphold the culpable, even if he may be his nearest in kinship.
Then, after some other provisions regarding the internal management of the State, this extraordinary document concluded thus: All future disputes between those who accept this Charter shall be finally referred, after God, to the Prophet.
The Jews of Medina accepted this Pact. After some time, the neighbouring Jewish tribes of Banu Nadir and Banu Quraizah signed it, too. But, as later events proved, it was only expediency that had dictated this course of action to the Jews. There was no change of heart on their part and they secretly nursed the same hostile feelings against the Aws and the Khazraj as before and viewed the growing confederation of the Muslims with grave concern and animosity.
In the course of time, they started taunting and abusing the Muslims, frequently quarrelling with them and resorting to treachery and sedition. They were assisted by some people of the Aws and the Khazraj who had become lukewarm converts: the Munafiqun (hypocrites). These were headed by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay who had his own designs to become the king of Medina and, together with the Jews, they became a constant source of danger to the newborn religion and to its adherents.
The Jews, who had thriving business deals with Quraish of Mecca, conspired with them to eradicate the infant religion before it assumed formidable proportions. As the head of the religion, and a general in a time of almost continuous warfare, Muhammad was the guardian of the lives and liberty of the people. The very existence of the nascent religion was in serious peril. Islam preaches the brotherhood of mankind; it insists upon toleration of all religions and creeds; it enjoins kindness and compassion, but it does not permit its followers to submit to the forces of disintegration.
Being in league with the Jews and the munafiqun, the Meccans started harassing the Muslims. Under the leadership of Karz ibn Jabir al-Fahri, they started raiding up to the very outskirts of Medina, destroying fruit-bearing trees and carrying away flocks. News began pouring into Medina that the Meccans were allying with other tribes to launch a massive attack against the Muslims. Muhammad sent out small ambassadorial missions to these tribes to contract alliances and treaties. One of those missions entered into a treaty with Banu Zamra. The terms of the treaty were as follows: This is the document of Muhammad, Messenger of God, for Banu Zamra. Their lives and property are safe. If they are attacked by anyone, they will be assisted except when they themselves fight against the religion (Islam). In return, they will come to the help of the Prophet when called upon by him.
A similar pact was made with Banu Madlaj at Thul-’Ashira. Quraish had sent a threatening letter to ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay who was the chief of his tribe prior to the arrival of the Prophet: “You have given shelter to our man (Muhammad). You should either kill him or turn him out of Medina or else we swear that we will attack you and, killing all the males, we will capture and enjoy your women.’
The attack was considered so imminent, and the small band of Muslims was in such peril, that the Prophet used to remain awake throughout the night. Al-Darmi and al-Hakim have recorded that “When the Prophet and his companions came to Medina and the Ansar sheltered them, the Arabs decided to attack them. The Prophet's companions used to sleep holding to their weapons.’
Quraishites were extremely furious about Muhammad slipping away from their hands, having made all preparations to kill him. The news that Islam was rapidly gaining hold in Medina did nothing to pacify their rage and animosity. Several times news reached Medina that they were planning to attack the Muslims. As a result, the Prophet had to send out reconnoitering parties now and then to find out the designs and movements of Quraish and to watch the routes and highways to prevent any sudden attack.
Once, thirty Muslims (under the command of Hamzah, the Prophet's uncle) met a party of 300 riders (under the command of Abu Jahl) at Saiful-Bahr. The Meccans were eager to massacre the small group of thirty, but Majdi ibn ‘Amr al-Juhni (who had a covenant with both groups) prevailed upon both sides and convinced them to go back to their respective places. Thus, a battle was averted.
Some time later, a patrolling party of 60 to 80 Muslims, under the command of ‘Obaydah ibn al-Harith (a cousin of the Prophet) reached Rabigh and found 200 riders of Quraish under the command of ‘Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl. Quraishites started the battle with their bows and arrows. Then, someone thought that the Muslims could not come with such a small force to face a group of warriors so superior in number unless they had a great army hidden somewhere. This idea spread, and they fled away.
A small party of twelve persons under the command of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh (also a cousin of the Prophet) was dispatched to Nakhlah, an area between Taif and Mecca, with sealed orders to be opened after two days' journey__a precaution against espionage which was rife. The letter, as quoted by al-Tabari on page 1275 of his Tarikh, stated: “Stay at Nakhlah; gather information about the designs of Quraish and communicate.’
It was only coincidentally that the party met some Meccan traders and that one of them, ‘Amr ibn al-Hadrami, a highly distinguished man of nobility, was killed at the hands of ‘Abdullah. One man escaped, and two others were brought to the Prophet as prisoners. The date of the incident was mistaken by the party as the last day of Jumada II, but the Meccans claimed that it was the first of the holy month of Rajab during which no aggression was permitted. The action was thus interpreted as a deliberate encroachment on the sanctity of the holy month. ‘Abdullah had apparently acted beyond his instructions, and this incident aggravated the situation. Except for this isolated incident, in none of the n’Omarous expeditions listed by Arab historians as saraya was there any skirmish or a question of looting and plundering. They were sent out either to make alliances with neighbouring tribes, or they were reconnaissance patrols; news was reaching Medina that the Meccans might strike any day.
Badr: First Battle In Islam (624 A.D.)
Quraish had begun grand-scale preparations to attack Medina. The trade caravan which had gone to Syria that year headed by Abu Sufyan was extraordinarily equipped. Every Quraishite put all his savings in that caravan, and it was decided that the profit accrued that year would be given to the traders to spend on arms, horses, and other items of war to battle the Muslims of Medina.
This news did cause a great deal of anxiety in Medina. As Abu Sufyan was returning from Syria, he feared that the Muslims might intercept his trade caravan. He sent a messenger well in advance to inform the leaders of Quraish of his fears. Upon receiving the message, a well-equipped army of one thousand Meccans marched towards Medina under the command of Abu Jahl.
They had reached Badr (200 miles from Mecca and 80 miles from Medina) when news came that the trade caravan was passing just three miles on the seaside from the Quraishites' camp, and that it had not encountered any attack from the Muslims yet. But since the Meccans were so eager to battle Muhammad and his followers, they decided to proceed towards Medina anyway. After all, was not the objective of sending such a trade caravan this very battle?! So, why should they go back to Mecca when they had one thousand well-equipped warriors among them who were sufficient to teach the Muslims a lesson?! They camped at the stream of Badr.
Now let us see what was happening in Medina. When news came that the trade caravan was coming from Syria (on the north side) and that the Meccan army was marching towards Medina (from the south), the Muslims thought that they would be crushed between these two enemy groups.
Now, there were two options before the Muslims in Medina: to either save themselves from being overwhelmed by the Meccans with all their resources from the rich Syrian trade, or choose another alternative (one which had the least danger for the time being and which also promised a rich booty): fall upon the Quraishi caravan returning from Syria richly laden and led by Abu Sufyan with only 40 not so well-armed men. From a worldly point of view, this latter course was the safest and the most lucrative, and many Muslims preferred it. The other alternative, which was actually adopted on the recommendation of the Prophet as guided by God, was to leave the booty alone and to march out boldly against the well-armed and well-equipped Quraishite army of 1,000 men coming from Mecca.
The Prophet, as usual, consulted with his companions in this regard. Abu Bakr said, “The Prophet knows better, but it has come to my knowledge that Quarish are fast approaching. They are only two stages from us.’ ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab added, “O Messenger of Allah! The prestige of Quraish is involved in this affair. They have never bent their haughty necks to servitude. Since becoming infidels, they have never turned believers. They are sure to set themselves stubbornly against you. You should, therefore, have adequate equipment of war to meet them.’ ‘’Omar's statements did not please the Prophet at all, and signs of indignation were visible on his face.
Al-Miqdad ibn ‘Amr then addressed the Prophet thus: “We should not repeat what the Children of Israel had said to Moses, that is, ‘Go, you and your Lord, to fight while we sit here waiting.' Rather, by God Who sent you to guide us, we should say: ‘Go you and your Lord to fight and we shall fight your foe on your right and on your left, in front of you and behind you, till the Lord grants you victory.’ Hearing this speech of Miqdad, the Prophet smiled and blessed him.
Now the Prophet turned to the Ansar to see what they had to say. They formed the majority of his fighting force. He was apprehensive lest they should say that they had pledged to assist him only in repulsing any attack against their city, Medina. But Sa’d ibn Mu’ath stood up on behalf of the Ansar and said to him that they had received him as the Prophet of God and had sworn allegiance to him, promising to obey him. They, therefore, were all ready to follow him, to do whatever pleased him, though it were to throw themselves into the sea. The Prophet appreciated this statement and made it known to everyone that he had decided to face the Meccan forces, assuring them of victory.
This situation is described in the following ayats of the Qur'an: Just as your Lord caused you (O Muhammad
to go forth from your house with the truth, though a party of the believers were averse thereto; they disputed with you about the truth after it had become clear, (and they went forth) as if they were being driven to death while they looked (at it). And when Allah promised you one of the two parties that it shall be yours, and you loved that the one not armed should be yours, and Allah desired to manifest the truth of what was true by His words and to cut off the root of the unbelievers, so that He may manifest the truth of what was true and show the falsehood of what was false, even though the guilty ones disliked it.(Qur'an, 8:5-8)
These verses clearly show that the Meccan army was already on its way long before the Muslims came out of Medina to defend themselves. Also, they clearly show that although some Muslims desired to avoid the Meccan army and to attack the trade caravan, that idea was not accepted, and that the decided aim and objective of their march was to fight the Meccan army which was already on its way.
This clearly belies the vicious and mischievous propaganda of Western writers who claim that the Prophet had intended to attack the trade caravan of Quraish and that Quraish had come out only to protect it. The verses of the Qur'an provide an authentic contemporary record of the events of Badr. If there is any writing by anyone which goes against this Divine account, it must be thrown out of the window.
You may wonder why the enemies of Islam labour so much to present this battle of Badr as one in which the Quraishites (poor souls
were aiming at only protecting their trade caravan. The reason is this: It was the first battle between the pagan Quraishites and the Muslims, and if the responsibility of this first battle is laid on the heads of the Muslims, then all subsequent battles could be portrayed as being the continuation of this battle and, thus, the Prophet could be presented as a warrior prophet who by his plundering designs compelled the “peace-loving’ Meccans to fight!
‘Anyhow, let us go back to our narrative. The Meccan army was in control of the stream of Badr, and the ground of their campsite was of firm clay. Contrarily, the Muslims were far from the stream and thus experienced difficulty in finding water. To make matters worse, many Muslims had nocturnal discharge while asleep and became “unclean’ (najis). And the ground under them was sandy which was likely to prevent fast running during the battle.
God helped them by sending rain which provided them with water enough for their needs and made the sandy ground firm for them, while the firm clay of the Meccans' side became muddy and slippery, making their stand and maneuvers difficult.
Referring to this, Allah says in the Qur'an
: (Remember) when He caused drowsiness to fall on you as a security from Him and sent down upon you water from the cloud so that He might thereby purify you and take away from you the uncleanness of Satan, so that He might fortify your hearts and keep (your) footsteps thereby firm.(Qur'an, 8:11)
In this background, look at the insinuation of some Western “scholars’ who have written that the Prophet had taken control of the stream of Badr and by refusing water to the Meccans, reduced them to defeat!
Anyhow, the facts of the actual battle are, in short, as follows
: With an ill-equipped body of three hundred and thirteen persons, 61 from the Aws and 170 from the Khazraj, having among them only two horses and seventy camels (which they rode by turn), the Prophet proceeded to Badr, about eighty miles from Medina, to meet the Meccan army. Young Ali was the standard-bearer. The forces met on Friday, the 17th of the month of Ramadan, 2 A.H. (March 16, 624 A.D.). According to the customs of the Arabs, three Quraishite warriors challenged their opponents to individual duels. They were ‘Otbah, Abu Sufyan's father-in-law and father of Hind who tried to chew Hamzah's liver, as the reader will come to know later, al-Walid, ‘Otbah's son, and Shaybah, brother of ‘Otbah, all Umayyads.
They enjoyed a great deal of influence in their tribe. Three Ansar stepped forward accepting their challenge, but the Quraishites refused to accept them as their equals and instead invited the “Meccan renegades,’ as they called them, to come out to meet them on the battlefield. Ali and ‘Obaydah, both cosuins of the Prophet, as well as Hamzah the valiant, his uncle, all Hashemites, responded to the challenge, and the fight between these six men broke out. It was a fierce and prolonged contest. Ali and Hamzah succeeded in the end in overpowering their opponents, al-Walid and Shaybah respectively, whom they slew. Then they went to aid ‘Obaydah who was severely wounded and nearly overpowered by ‘Otbah. They killed ‘Otbah and captured ‘Obaydah who died of his wounds four days later.
After these individual duels, a pitched battle ensued. The stakes were high. Both forces fought valiantly but the Muslims were animated by holy zeal. In the thick of the battle, the Prophet was watching the progress of the battle intensely; he prayed to God, earnestly beseeching Him thus
: “O Lord, forget not Thy promise of assistance! O Lord! If this small band were to perish, there will be none to worship Thee.’ Coming out of his canopy, he cast a handful of gravel into the air towards the enemy saying, “Confusion seize their faces!’ He called out to his men saying, “Courage, my children! Close your ranks! Discharge your arrows, and the day is yours!’ According to Abu al-Fida', both armies heard his voice. The pagans imagined that they saw angelic warriors; the Quraishi line wavered, and a number of their most brave and distinguished men fell.
Allah describes this battle in the following verses
: (Remember) when you sought aid from your Lord, so He answered you: I will assist you with a thousand angels following one another. And Allah only gave it as a good news and so that your hearts might thereby be at ease, and victory is only from Allah; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.(Qur'an, 8:9-10)
The Muslims got the upper hand. Their leader, the Prophet, sat under a canopy thatched with palm branches which was erected and closely guarded by Sa’d ibn Mu’ath. Abu Bakr did not join the ranks of the fighters but sat by the Prophet's side. The Meccan pagans took to flight in a shameful manner. In their haste, they threw their armour away, abandoning their transport animals with all their camping gear and equipment. They suffered a miserable defeat.
They were driven back, leaving seventy dead, including a number of their notable chiefs and the most brave of their men. The Muslims dug up a deep pit wherein they threw the corpses of the slain Meccan pagans, including those of ‘Otbah, Shaybah, al-Walid (Khalid's father; read above his story and how Allah condemned him), Umayyah, and Abu Jahl. The Prophet addressed them thus
: “O ‘Otbah! O Shaybah! O Walid! O Umayyah! O Abu Jahl! Alas! Have you found what your gods promised you to be the truth?! What my Lord promised me I have found to be true! Woe unto you! You rejected me, your Prophet! You cast me forth while others gave me refuge; you fought me while others came to my help!’ “O Prophet!’ said ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab, who was standing by his side, “Do you really speak to the dead?!’ “Yes,’ the Prophet replied, “for they realize what I spoke to them better than you.’ All this is recorded in Madarij al-Nubuwwah and Rawdat al-Ahbab.
Half of these seventy were killed by Ali ibn Abu Talib alone. It was his first war. Seventy others were taken prisoners. The Muslim force had lost only fourteen men, six from the Muhajirun and eight from the Ansar.
The prisoners were treated with exceptional kindness with the exception of a couple who were most notorious; these were ‘Oqbah ibn Abu Mu’eet and al-Nathr ibn al-Harith, who had to be beheaded. Even the hostile critic Muir says
: “In pursuance of Mahomet's commands, the citizens of Medina and such of the refugees as possessed houses received the prisoners and treated them with much consideration.
‘Blessings be on the men of Medina', said one of these prisoners in later days, ‘they made us ride while they themselves walked; they gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates.'‘ The more affluent prisoners paid ransom and were set free. The others were asked to teach ten persons each to read and write and this teaching was to count as their ransom. After all, in these times of progress and enlightenment, with all the charters and agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war, history does not record another instance even remotely as generous and as humane as the Muslims' treatment of the prisoners taken in their very first encounter about fourteen hundred years ago.
Among the captives were ‘Abbas, an uncle of the Prophet, Nawfal ibn al-Harith, and Aqil ibn Abu Talib, both cousins of the Prophet, and Abul-’As ibn al-Rabee’, husband of Zainab daughter of Khadija and Muhammad's step-daughter. ‘Abbas was stoutly built; he was a man of tall stature. He was captured by Abul Yasar, a man relatively thin, lean, and short! When asked how a man so small could overpower him, ‘Abbas said that his captor looked to him at the time like a giant.
Indeed, there was a Sign (of Divine interference) for you in the two hosts (that) met together in the (Badr) encounter: one party fighting in the way of Allah and the other unbelieving, whom they saw twice as many (or as big) as themselves with the sight of the eye, and Allah strengthens with His aid whomsoever He pleases; most surely there is a lesson in this for those who have sight.(Qur'an, 4:13)
‘Abbas saw the size of Abul Yasar appearing to him twice as big as he actually was, and he was not big at all… ‘Abbas was asked to pay ransom for himself and for his nephews Nawfal and Aqil. He replied that if he paid up the ransom, he would be reduced to begging alms of Quraish for the rest of his life. But to his great astonishment, the Prophet revealed to him the secret of the gold which he had entrusted to his wife at midnight before departing with the Meccan army! Then he recited the following verse of Surat al-Anfal
: O Prophet! Say to the captives in your hands: If Allah knows of anything good in your hearts, He will give you beter than what has been taken away from you and will forgive you, and Allah is most Forgiving, most Merciful.(Qur'an, 8:70)
‘Abbas was now convinced beyond the shadow of doubt that his nephew was neither a pretender nor an ordinary man; how else did he know about what went on between him and his wife in the depth of the night? He admitted that nobody could know of that incident except God, so he readily embraced Islam, and so did his nephews. A few years later, when he found himself a man of considerable wealth, he reflected on the verse cited above and admitted that the prophecy was fulfilled.
In order to secure the release of Abul ‘as, his wife Zainab sent some of her jewelry, including a necklace given to her by her mother Khadija, wife of the Prophet, as a wedding gift. The Prophet identified the necklace as soon as he saw it. Sadly reflecting upon Khadija, he returned it to Abul ‘as, asking him to give it back to Zainab. He released him without any ransom on one condition: that he bring Zainab to him. Zayd ibn Harithah escorted Abul ‘as back to Mecca, and after a few days, both men came back together with Zainab, the Prophet's step-daughter. Zainab, now a Muslim, refused to go back to her pagan husband unless he accepted Islam. He embraced Islam six years later in 630 A.D. after the conquest of Mecca by the Muslims and after appearing before the Prophet as a prisoner of war for the second time.
Quraish's defeat at Badr was the death blow to Abu Lahab, the only Hashemite who was a bitter opponent of the Prophet, and he died of grief one week after the battle at the loss of his friends and relatives, especially al-Walid, Shaybah and ‘Otbah.
Battle and Aftermath
The battle of Badr was remarkable in more ways than one. It demonstrated the great devotion of the disciples to their cause and their complete faith in the Prophet and his mission. Stood before them in the Meccan ranks were many of their close relatives, sons, fathers, or uncles. Thus, the Prophet's uncle ‘Abbas, Ali's brother ‘Aqil, Abu Bakr's son, Huthaifah's father and ‘’Omar's maternal uncle, to name a few, figured in the Meccan army. Yet the disciples never faltered. Personal feelings and sentiments were subordinated to the supreme cause. Such was the material from which Islam arose. The battle also proved that mere numerical superiority and matching valour are of no avail if the cause is not righteous. God helps those who make sacrifices in His cause.
The battle of Badr had far-reaching consequences. Till then, the Muslims were a harassed band avoiding any major conflict. This victory gave them confidence in their physical power. They could now meet force with force. They were soon recognized as a power to be reckoned with and smaller tribes were cautioned against joining forces against them. This victory dealt a severe blow to the prestige of Quraish. A number of their chiefs, such as Abu Jahl, ‘Otbah, Shaibah, Zam’ah, ‘As ibn Hisham, and Umayyah ibn Khalaf had been killed and, consequently, Abu Sufyan became their undisputed chieftain.
‘Abdullah ibn Ubay and his oscillating followers professed Islam, though in name only, and as munafiqun (hypocrites), they were always a source of danger. The Jews of Medina and its vicinity were alarmed at the new power that had emerged. Their enmity towards the Muslims, however, did not abate, and a Jewish tribe, Banu Qinaqa’, had to be punished not long after Badr as will be discussed later. The ignominy of the defeat made the Meccans more bitter and furious and the cry of “Revenge!’ was on all lips.
Ghazwat Al-Sawaiq (624 A.D.)
Abu Sufyan had sworn vengeance. He took a vow that he would not touch his wives nor comb his hair till he had avenged that defeat. In order to fulfill this vow and to show that all was not lost for the Meccans, he set out towards Medina in the month of Thul-Hijjah, 2 A.H. (June 624 A.D.), leading two hundred horsemen. Salam ibn Mashkam, chief of the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir, treated them to a feast and divulged to them the weak points of Medina's fortifications. On the next day, Abu Sufyan raided a Medina pasture, killing an Ansar named Sa’d ibn ‘Amr and burning a number of houses. When this news reached the Prophet, he hotly pursued the raiders who fled, abandoning their rations. This gave the raid its name, “the battle of meal bags, sawaiq.’ Abu Sufyan was now planning for a much larger campaign.
Ghazwat Al-Ghaftan (625 A.D.)]
In 3 A.H./625 A.D., the tribes of Banu Tha’labah and Banu Mihrab sent a force of five hundred and forty horsemen under the command of Da’thur ibn Muharib to raid Medina. They gave up the idea when the Prophet marched with his companions out of Medina to meet them. Da’thur, however, got an opportunity to launch a surprise attack on the Prophet who was resting alone under a tree. “O Muhammad,’ cried he with a drawn sword in his hand, “who is there now to save thee?!’ “Allah’, replied the Prophet.
This dauntless composure and complete faith in God awed the wild bedouin whose sword now fell from his hand… Seizing it, the Prophet asked him in turn, “Who is there now to save thee, O Da’thur?’ “Alas, none,’ replied the bedouin, and I testify that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. By Allah! I shall never raise any army against you.’ “Then learn from me to be merciful,’ said the Prophet as he returned the sword to him. Da’thur was so impressed that he asked the Prophet for forgiveness.
Uhud Battle (624 A.D.)
Ghazwat al-Sawaiq was only a prelude to the big battle that was to follow. The chagrin and fury of Abu Sufyan and his Quraishite supporters at their defeat at Badr knew no bounds. Their whole energy was aroused and they commenced preparations for another attack on the Muslims. Abu Sufyan rallied behind him the coastal tribes of Banu Kinanah and Banu Tihamah. Their united forces numbered three thousand well equipped soldiers, seven hundred of whom were armed with coats of mail and two hundred were mounted on horseback, besides one thousand camels, all under the command of Abu Sufyan.
The army's right wing was under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid and the left under that of ‘Ikrimah son of the ill-famed Abu Jahl. Women played their role to provide the men with moral support. They were led by Abu Sufyan's wife Hind who brought with her fifteen Meccan matrons. They took their place in the rear of the army, beating their drums and chanting poetry to animate the troops, magnifying the greatness of Hubal, the most popular deity in Mecca.
On their way to Medina, having reached Abwa', Hind wanted to dig out the grave containing the remains of Amina bint Wahab, Muhammad's mother, who lay there buried for more than fifty years, but Divine Providence interferred, so she could not carry out her wicked scheme. Finally, the army reached Thul Hulaifa, a village about five Arabian miles to the north-east of Medina, in the green corn fields of Mount Uhud, on Wednesday, Shawwal 4, 3 A.H. (March 23, 625 A.D.).
Muhammad was in Quba when he was informed by his uncle ‘Abbas, who was still living in Mecca, of Quraish's expedition, so he hurried back to Medina. He consulted his followers whether to wait for the enemy's attack on the city and to defend it from within, or to meet the enemy outside the city. He was inclined to the former plan because he did not want the city's residents to be exposed to the perils of wars. Many of his close companions were of the same view, but the majority urged him to meet the enemy outside the city, and this view was finally adopted.
But when the Prophet was ready to march out, they changed their mind again and spoke about it to the Prophet, but he nevertheless marched out with only a thousand men headed by Ali. This number included the forces raised by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay who brought with him three hundred of his followers, the munafiqun, hypocrites, including a small number of his Jewish allies, but the Prophet refused to enlist the service of the Jews unless they accepted Islam, which they, of course, did not.
Thus, he and all his 300 men were turned back, reducing the number of Muhammad's army to seven hundred. Only a hundred of them had coats of mail, and between them they had only two horses. Their zeal was, however, so great that when some boys, who were considered too young to participate in the battle, were asked to go back, they departed very reluctantly and two of them, Rafi’ ibn Khadij and Samrah, managed to remain with the army anyway.
The Prophet reached Uhud in the morning of Saturday, Shawwal 7, 3 A.H. (March 26, 625 A.D.) and took up his position below the mountain. The army was arrayed in fighting formations and fifty archers were posted, under the command of ‘Abdullah ibn Jubayr, at a pass between the hills surrounding Mount Uhud to guard the army from any rear attack. They had strict orders from the Prophet never to leave their post, whatever the outcome of the battle might be, till they received further instructions.
The standard was in the hands of Mus’ab ibn ‘Omayr. Zubayr was in command of the mailed section and Hamzah in command of the rest. On the side of the Meccans, Talhah held the standard and the various regiments were under the charge of Khalid ibn al-Walid (who commanded the cavalry), ‘Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl, Safwan ibn Umayyah and his brother ‘Abdullah. According to some references consulted for this book, the Meccan pagans enlisted in their army a number of their black slaves to fight with them.
Talhah, the pagans' standard-bearer, challenged the Muslims to individual combat. The challenge was accepted by Ali ibn Abu Talib who soon cut off one of his legs with a single blow then killed him with another. It took only a few seconds. Talhah's dead body lay on the ground. The standard was taken by his brother ‘Uthman who was slashed to death by Hamzah. The third standard-bearer was killed by Ali. This continued till nine (or some historians say ten) standard-bearers were killed one after the other. These historians include Ibn al-Athir, Ibn Hisham, and al-Tabari. Abu ‘Amir, a veteran Meccan hero, stepped forward with his fifty archers and showered the Muslims with arrows. The Muslims responded with as thick and as prompt shower of arrows of their own. Thus did the battle begin with the Quraishites advancing in the form of a crescent. Ali, Hamzah and Abu Dajjanah demonstrated heroic valour.
Wahshi, an Abyssinian slave, had been commissioned by Hind, wife of Abu Sufyan, to kill either Muhammad, Ali, or Hamzah (in order to avenge the death of her father, ‘Otbah ibn Rabi’ah, her brother, al-Walid, as well as that of Hanzalah son of Abu Sufyan at Badr at their hands). He was lurking behind a rock when he singled Hamzah out and, seeing him engaged in a duel with Saba ibn ‘Abd al-’Uzza, a Meccan hero, threw a spear at him which pierced his ‘Abdomen, killing him instantly. At that juncture, Ali assigned the command of the various regiments of the army to Abu Dajjanah, Mus’ab ibn ‘Omayr, and Sahl ibn Hunayf. They collectively launched an attack against the Meccan army, breaking its center. The Meccans now wavered, and Ali and his heroes gained the enemy's camp. The Meccans were seen turning to their heels, leaving their camp to the Muslims who proceeded to overrun it.
The Meccans were now losing heart till one of their women, ‘Omra daughter of ‘Alqamah, took up the standard herself. The Meccans again rallied behind her but they were crushed by the Muslims. The Meccans, having paid a heavy toll, fell back in disarray and the Muslims started gathering the booty.
Their eagerness for spoil, however, turned the tide of victory which was almost already at hand. Thinking that the battle was over, most of the archers who were guarding the passage in the hill left their posts lured by the spoils even against the orders of their leader ‘Abdullah ibn Jubayr. Khalid ibn al-Walid was fleeing when he saw such an opportunity and, gathering a group of men, he killed the few remaining defenders of the pass.
Then he launched a furious attack from the rear. The Muslims were taken so much by surprise that they did not know what to do. In the general melee, their ranks became disorganized. The retreating Meccan forces rallied again and launched a fresh onslaught from the front. The Muslims' standard-bearer, Musa’ab ibn ‘Omayr was killed. He bore a great facial resemblance to the Prophet. Up went Ibn Suraqah's cry that Muhammad had been killed.
This threw the Muslims into further confusion and utter dismay with some saying that had Muhammad been a true prophet, he would not have been killed, as is recorded in Tarikh al-Khamis. Others were talking of going to Abu Sufyan and apologyzing to him, trying to win his amnesty. Even many of their famous personalities lost heart. ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab threw his sword away saying that there was no use fighting since the Prophet was no more. He fled towards the mountain and, in his own words, he was jumping from one boulder to another like hill goats.
Anas ibn Nazar, uncle of the renown sahabi Anas ibn Malik, saw how ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab and Talhah ibn ‘Obaydullah were sitting leisurely along with others, so he asked them what they were doing. “We have nothing to do,’ they replied, “since Muhammad has been slain.’ “But my friends!,’ said Anas, “Even if Muhammad were killed, certainly Muhammad's Lord lives and never dies; therefore, do not value your lives only because the Prophet is dead. Rather, you should fight for the cause for which he fought.’ Then he cried out, “O God! I am excused before You and acquitted in Your sight of what they say!’ Drawing his sword, he fought valiantly. It was in reference to this incident of how some people deserted the Prophet and how others fought beside him to the last that the following verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed there and then: And Muhammad is no more than a Prophet; prophets have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heel will by no means harm Allah in the least, and Allah will reward the grateful. And a soul will not die except with the permission of Allah; the term is (already) fixed, and whoever desires the reward of this world, I shall give him of it, and whoever desires the reward of the hereafter, I shall give him of it, and I will reward the grateful. And how many a prophet has fought (and) with whom were (present) many worshippers of the Lord? So they did not become weak-hearted on account of what befell them in Allah's way, nor did they weaken, nor did they abase themselves, and Allah loves those who are patient. (Qur'an, 3:144-146)
Abu ‘Obaydah, Abu Bakr, and ‘Uthman fled away, too. The latter returned to Medina three days later.
Many valiant soldiers, renouncing all discretion, entered the thick of the Meccan ranks determined to fight to the end. This went on till Ka’b ibn Malik (or some say Anas ibn Nazar) saw the Prophet and shouted at the top of his voice that the Prophet was still alive. The spirit of the Muslims revived, but the Prophet now became the chief target of the Meccan forces. ‘Abdullah ibn Qam advanced towards the Prophet and struck a sword on his head with such force that two links of his helmet penetrated the Prophet's face.
‘Otbah ibn Abu Waqqas threw a stone at the Prophet, further injuring his face and dislodging his two upper teeth. The Prophet now had fallen in a pit where Ali ibn Abu Talib found him and protected him against the continuous furious onslaughts of the Meccans. When the Prophet saw this sacrificing spirit of Ali, he asked him as to why he, too, did not flee like the others. Ali replied: “Should I become a kafir after having accepted Islam?’ Anas ibn Nazar continued fighting till he was martyred. And when Ali's sword broke down, the Prophet gave him his own sword, Thul-Fiqar. It was then that a voice was heard from above saying, “There is no sword except Thul-Fiqar. There is no brave man except Ali.’
At the same time, arch-angel Gabriel told the Prophet that it was the height of loyalty and bravery which Ali was demonstrating to the Prophet. The Prophet said: “Why not? Ali is from me and I am from Ali.’ Gabriel said: “And I am from you both.’
Later, some Muslims like Sa’d, Zubayr, Talhah, Abu Dajjanah and Ziyad, gathered around the Prophet. Faithful companions, including the brave lady Umm ‘Ammarah, prevented others from getting too close to the Prophet. With their bodies did they shield him against the rain of arrows. Standing in such a great peril, the Prophet cried to God: “O God! Forgive my people, for they know not!’ There was no rancor, no bitterness, no ill-will in his heart against his mortal enemies even in such a precarious situation. An overwhelming compassion for the people and a burning desire to lead them to the right path actuated all his deeds and sayings. Then some other Muslims arrived where the Prophet was being defended at fearful odds by the small band of his companions. After some furious fighting, they managed to retreat to the security of the heights of Uhud.
Meanwhile, the word had reached Medina that the Prophet was killed. The Prophet's daughter, Fatima al-Zahra, surrounded by a group of Muslim women, hurried to Uhud. To her great relief, Fatima found her father alive but his forehead and face were covered with his blood. Ali brought water in his shield and Fatima cleansed and dressed the wounds.
The Meccan forces had turned the tables but they were too exhausted to drive their advantage home either by attacking Medina or by driving the Muslims from the heights of the mountain. They satiated their desire for vengeance by committing ghastly brutalities upon the slain and the injured, cutting off their ears and noses and mutilating their bodies. The brave Hamzah was amongst the slain. His heart was torn out by Hind, wife of Abu Sufyan, who also cut off his ears and nose and took out his heart and liver. She tried to chew the liver but Allah made it so hard that she could not do so… She had to throw it out. The horrible scene was so revolting that the Prophet forbade forever the practice of mutilation.
With victory almost within their grasp, the Muslims had suffered a heavy blow. They were shaken in body and in spirit. But the Prophet preached to them fortitude and endurance.
In this battle, seventy Muslims were martyred and an equal number wounded. Ali received sixteen serious sword wounds. On the list of martyrs were: Mus’ab ibn ‘Omayr, Sa’d ibn al-Rabi’, ‘Ammarah ibn Ziyad, and Hanzala son of Abu ‘Amir, the first archer to defend Muslim lines. The Meccans lost 30 (or 22) warriors twelve of whom at the hands of Ali.
For those who laid their lives in the way of Allah, the following glad tiding had been revealed: And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are sustained by their Lord. (Qur'an, 3:169)
Having finished his engagements at Uhud in five or six days, the Prophet returned to Medina where he heard the wailing of the women of Banu ‘Abd al-Ash-hal for their dead. He expressed his regret that Hamzah the valiant had none to mourn him in the city. Sa’d ibn Mu’ath felt the same, so he went at once to his women and brought them to the Prophet's house so that they would mourn the death of Hamzah, and the Prophet blessed them for it. Their example was followed by all the women of the Ansar. This is recorded by al-Tabari and Ibn Athir.
While retreating to Mecca, Abu Sufyan had bribed a traveller going towards Medina to inform the Prophet that the Meccans were again assembling a great force to attack Medina. Hearing the news, Ali said: “Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent Protector is He.’
The Prophet went out at once, taking with him only those seventy warriors who were wounded in Uhud, to pursue the Meccan forces. He stayed for three days at a place called Hamra'ul-Asad but did not find any trace of the Meccans, so he returned. The Qur'an mentions this episode in the following ayat: Those who responded to the call of Allah and the Messenger even after the wound had afflicted them, those among them who do good and guard (themselves against evil) shall have a great reward. Those to whom the people said: Surely men have gathered against you; therefore, fear them, but this only increased their faith, and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent Protector is He. So they returned with favour from Allah and (His) grace; no evil touched them, and they followed the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.(Qur'an, 3:172-174)
The defeat at Uhud did, indeed, create serious problems for the Muslims. It emboldened the nomadic tribes on the one hand to make forays upon Medina and, on the other hand, encouraged the Jews of Medina to foment further trouble. Yet it was not disastrous for the Muslims. While a defeat at Badr, when the Muslims were yet a handful, would have wiped them out and rang the death knell of the Prophetic mission, a defeat here and there after Islam had gained strength only put the Muslims in the testing crucible so that they might emerge more determined and cured of any complacency and vanity to which they might have otherwise fallen prey.
The Meccans were determined to annihilate the Muslims. This objective they could not achieve. Their infantry had suffered such losses that they could not even drive home the advantage they gained in the last stages of the battle. They had thought they were the masters of all western Arabia, but they could do nothing more than hold their own against the Muslims. It is not surprising, therefore, that they marched back to Mecca frustrated and discouraged.
The Meccans realized that on their own they could not crush the Islamic movement. They now started instigating other tribes to make common cause with them. Most of the tribes were already inimical to Islam. They practiced idolatry while Islam forbade it and enjoined worship of one God. Raiding and plundering were the general means of their livelihood while Islam dictated an orderly society, forbidding oppression, exploitation, and foul play. It enjoined its followers to seek honest means of livelihood. The influence of Quraish extended far and wide and all the tribes came into contact with them at the time of the annual pilgrimage. The Jews were also constantly instigating the tribes against the Muslims.
The victory of the Muslims over Quraish at Badr had overawed nomadic tribes but their defeat at Uhud emboldened them to show their hands and a number of skirmishes followed.
Muhammad Marries Hafsa
As mentioned earlier, ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab was trying for some time to get the Prophet to marry his daughter Hafsa (607 - 667 A.D.). It was in the month of Sha’ban of the same year, 3 A.H., corresponding to January 625 A.D., that such marriage finally took place. She was widow of Jaish ibn Huthaifah al-Sahmi who had died in Medina shortly after the Battle of Badr wherein he had participated. ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab had first offered her to Abu Bakr to marry her, then to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, but she was rejected by both. ‘’Omar mentioned such rejection to the Prophet once by way of a complaint, so he, in order to oblige him, accepted her as his wife. She was, however, divorced by the Prophet on account of her temper at a later time then, on the entreaties of her father, the Prophet took her back. She died in the month of Sha’ban, 45 A.H. (November 665 A.D.) at the age of 60.
Hasan Son of Ali is Born (625 A.D.)
In the month of Ramadan of the same year (February 625 A.D.), Hasan was born to Ali and Fatima, Muhammad's only daughter. In the next year (4 A.H./626 A.D.), his borther Husain (junior Hasan) was born. Both were named after Shabar and Shubayr, sons of aron, brother of Prophet Moses.
Sariat Abu Salmah (626 A.D.)
Talhah and Khalid instigated their tribe, Banu Asad, to attack Medina on the first of Muharram of 4 A.H./June 16, 625 A.D. The Prophet dispatched a force of one hundred and fifty men to intercept them. The invaders dispersed on seeing this force and there was no engagement.
Sariyat ibn Anis (626 A.D.)
Sufyan ibn Khalid of the Banu Lahyan made preparions to attack Medina in the same month (4 A.H.). The Prophet sent ‘Abdullah ibn Anis with a force to meet him. ‘Abdullah was killed. Hostile critics say that the Prophet got the chiefs of some tribes killed to overawe them. They quote Arab historians like al-Waqidi, Ibn Hisham and Ibn al-Athir in recounting the names of the persons killed, but they very conveniently omit the details and circumstances given by the same authorities regarding the raids they were committing or the preparations they were making to assault Medina. The Prophet could not ignore the danger that surrounded the Muslims; he would not allow them to be exterminated.
Treachery at Bi'r Ma'unah (625 A.D.)
The tribes were not only repeatedly raiding Medina but also employing treacherous methods to deplete the Muslim's ranks and resources. In Safar of 4 A.H./July of 625 A.D., Abu Bara' ‘Amir ibn Malik ibn Ja’far, chief of Banu ‘Amir ibn Sa’sa’ah, came to Medina and offered a present to the Mesenger of Allah who declined to accept it. “I do not accept a present from a polyetheist,’ Muhammad said to him, “therefore, accept Islam so that I may accept your present.’
Then the prophet recited for him some Qur'anic verses, but the man neither accepted Islam nor went away. Instead, he said, “O Muhammad! What you are inviting to is beautiful and good; so, if you send some of your men to the people of Nejd to invite them to accept it, I hope that they will.’ “I fear for them what the people of Nejd may do to them,’ said the Prophet. ‘Amir ibn Malik said, “I guarantee their safety; so, send them away so that they may invite people as you invite them.’
The Prophet sent al-Munthir ibn ‘Amr of Banu Sa’idah with seventy of the best Muslims including al-Harith ibn al-Sammah, Haram ibn Milhan, ‘Orwah ibn Asma ibn al-Salt al-Salami, Nafi’ ibn Budayl ibn Warqa' al-Khuza’i, ‘Amir ibn Fuhayrah, slave of Abu Bakr, in the month of Safar, four months after the Battle of Uhud. With the exception of one person, namely Ka’b ibn Zayd, the entire party was put to death when it reached Bi'r Ma’unah. They were killed by the tribesmen of Banu ‘Asiyyah, Banu Ra’la, and Banu Thakwan. Having been injured, Ka’b ibn Zayd lay down pretending to be dead. He survived to take part in the Battle of Khandaq wherein he received the honour of martyrdom.
The Foul Play at Raji'
Likewise, the tribes of Adh’al and al-Deesh sent a deputation to the Prophet headed by one Murthid ibn Abu Murthid al-Ghanawi to inform him that they had accepted Islam and needed some instructors. He sent ten disciples with them. On reaching Raji’, the deputation was attacked by men of Banu Lahyan, a branch of the Huthayl tribe. Seven of the disciples were killed and the rest were captured. The Muslims defended themselves, killing seven of their attackers, by they were soon overwhelmed by a much larger number of foes.
The captives were sold in Mecca and those who purchased them put them to death. One of the captives was Zayd ibn al-Dathnah. A crowd, including Abu Sufyan, assembled to see him being slaughtered. Abu Sufyan inquired of him if he would not have considered himself lucky had Muhammad been there to be slaughtered in his place. The devoted attachment of Zayd to the Prophet can be gauged from the reply he gave. He said: “By God, I do not value my life even this much that in its place a thorn may pierce the sole of the Prophet's foot.’ He was thereupon slashed to death. Abu Sufyan could not help saying, “By Allah! Never have I found people loving their fellow more than the people who follow Muhammad.’ 
For a long time, the Jews were masters of Medina. The tribes of Aws and Khazraj (the Ansar) had settled there later. Gradually, these tribes gathered strength and equaled the Jews in power and prestige. The internecine war of the Bu’ath, however, weakened them, and the Jews again assumed ascendancy. The Jews were a prosperous people and money lending at exorbitant rates of interest was one of their main occupations. With the deterioration in the economic situation of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, many of them became heavily in debt to the Jews.
The position of authority and eminence, which their material superiority and strength gave to the Jews, received a big setback when Islam started spreading in Medina. The expansion of Islam was, therefore, viewed by them with great indignation and apprehension. This has always been their attitude and will always remain so.
Certainly you will find the most violent of all people in enmity for theose who believe (Muslims) to be the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe to be those who say: We are Christians. This is so because there are priests and monks among them and because they are not arrogant. (Qur'an, 5:82)
In this verse, the Muslims are told by the Almighty that their most bitter enemies are the Jews, and that their best friends may be from among the Christians who, unlike the Jews, are not characterized by arrogance. Despite this verse, we see many leaders of Muslim countries vying with each other to lick the Jews' shoes when they are supposed to be guarding themselves against their mischief.
Expediency had actuated the Jews to enter into a pact with the Muslims, but soon they began plotting against Islam. They would distort the words and verses of the Qur'an and mock and jeer at the Muslims. But the Prophet was bidden to bear it patiently: …. And you shall certainly hear from those who have been given the Book before you and from those who are polytheists much annoying talk, and if you are patient and guard (yourself against evil), surely this is one of the matters of great resolve.(Qur'an, 3:186)
The Prophet tried his best to maintain friendly ties with the Jews. He even prayed for one of them (who had lended him some money) once that the Almighty would safeguard his beauty. Till his heath at the age of 80, that Jew's hair never turned gray. Read this incident on p. 15, Vol. 18, of Bihar al-Anwar. It is also recorded in the classic reference titled Al-Kharaij. The Qur'an stressed the fundamental unity between both religions, Islam and Judaism, and asked the Jews to come to terms with the Muslims: Say: O people of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: That we shall not worship any but Allah and (that) we shall associate nothing with Him, and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah, but if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.(Qur'an, 3:64)
Neither kindness nor fair dealing on the part of the Prophet could, however, conciliate the Jews. They tried to revive the rift between the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. Some Jews would accept Islam one day and renounce it the next in order to show that there was nothing significant in Islam.
And a party of the people of the Book says: Profess faith in that which has been revealed to those who believe in the first part of the day and disbelieve therein at the end of it, perhaps they will go back on their religion.(Qur'an, 3:72)
They conspired with the munafiqun and sent emissaries to the enemies of Islam. Apprehension and envy at the growing power of the Muslims following their victory at Badr rankled in their hearts, and they redoubled their efforts to exterminate the new religion. Quraish were further instigating them to do so, sending a threatening epistle to them: “You possess arms and fortresses. You should fight our enemy (Muhammad); otherwise, we will attack you and nothing will prevent us from grabbing the arms of your women.’
Ka’b ibn Ashraf, Jewish chieftain of Banu Nadir, was a poet of considerable fame and fortune. Like so many others, he was bitterly hostile to Islam. With his fiery poems, he began to incite the people to rise up against the Muslims. After the battle of Badr, he composed a number of eulogies mourning the Meccan chiefs slain in the battle. He used to recite them at every gathering. He contacted Abu Sufyan with a view to making a combined effort to wipe out the Muslims. He openly recited a number of poems derogatory to the Prophet.
As poetry had a high place in the life of the Arabs and could deepen influence and sway feelings, Ka’b ibn Ashraf had become not only a nuisance but a serious menace. We have it on the authority of al-Ya’qubi and hafiz Ibn Hajar that Ka’b plotted to kill the Prophet. When this plot became known to the Prophet, he consulted his companions and it was decided that Ka’b should be silenced forever. Muhammad ibn Maslamahh undertook to carry out the job and, on getting an opportunity, he killed Ka’b ibn Ashraf on Safar 14, 3 A.H./August 9, 624 A.D.
Banu Qinaqa’, the most powerful Jewish tribe, were the first to resile from the alliance with the Muslims. Says Ibn Sa’d, “The Jews attempted sedition during the battle of Badr and were envious of the Muslims, retracting from their pact with them.’
An incident in 2 A.H./623 A.D. led to a flare-up. A veiled Muslim lady had gone to the shop of a Jew. She was pestered and her clothes thrown up. A Muslim standing nearby was unable to tolerate this indecent behaviour, so he killed the Jew. The Jews, thereupon, killed the Muslim. The Prophet remonstrated with them but they defiantly replied that they were not (as weak as) Quraish (who were defeated in Badr) and would show him what battle was. Within the security of their fortress, they started making preparations for war. The fortress was besieged by the Muslims for fifteen days and the Jews had to sue for peace, promising that they would accept the Prophet's decision.
The Prophet decided to kick them out of Medina for good, giving them ten days to depart to Greater Syria on the pain of death, allowing them to take all their movable possessions except their arms. First they paid no heed to his order and were resolved to resist. They were besieged within the walls of their fortresses for fifteen days following which they surrendered and were expelled in the Summer of 4 A.H./625 A.D. Most of them proceeded to Khaybar where they had possessed landed property; some of them marched to Syria and Palestine.
Their immoveable property was confiscated. Buildings were distributed among the Muhajirs who still had no houses of their own in Medina since the date of their migration from Mecca. Some Ansar who also had no dwellings of their own were provided with the dwellings. Some of them did not like the idea of leaving their houses to be occupied by the Muslims, so, they demolished them. The Qur'an refers to the various aspects of this expulsion in Surat al-Hashr: He (Allah) it is Who caused those (Jews) who disbelieved (in Muhammad) from among the People of the Book (Torah) to get out of their homes in the first banishment; you did not think that they would get out, while they were certain that their fortresses would defend them against Allah, but Allah came to them from where they did not expect and cast terror into their hearts; they demolished their houses with their own hands and the hands of the believers; therefore, take a lesson, O you who have eyes! And had it not been that Allah had decreed for them the exile, He would certainly have punished them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have the chastisement of the Fire. This is so because they opposed Allah and His Prophet (Muhammad), and whoever opposes Allah, then surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil).(Qur'an, 59:2-4)
Some European critics see only the immediate cause, that is, the indecent behaviour with the Muslim lady and, ascribing it to boyish prank, they try to minimize it. In their view, therefore, the punishment was too harsh, but they fail to take notice of the constant efforts of the Jews to undermine the Islamic movement. It was not one incident but a series of events that had brought on the final clash.
Expulsion of Banu Nadir (625 A.D.)
Medina's Jews plotted to kill the Prophet, encouraged by the Meccans and by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay. The Prophet was once with some of his companions when he paid the Jews a visit, seeking their help in arranging the payment of blood-money of two persons from the tribe of Banu ‘Amir. The Jews asked the Prophet to come inside their fortress, but the Prophet did not like the idea. Instead, he sat outside the fortress's wall. They sent one man to climb the wall from inside the fortress and kill the Prophet by throwing a big boulder on his head.
The Prophet, through divine revelation, came to know of this treacherous scheme in the nick of time and immediately left the place.
Then he sent Banu Nadir an ultimatum with Muhammad ibn Maslamah: Since they had broken their treaty, they should leave Medina within ten days. They wanted to migrate when ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay encouraged them not to leave Medina, promising them help with 2,000 warriors. The Jews then refused to leave Medina. The following ayat refers to this promise of help: Have you not seen those who have become hypocrites? They say to those of their brethren who disbelieve from among the people of the Book: If you are driven forth, we shall certainly go forth with you, and we will never obey anyone concerning you; and if you are fought, we will certainly help you, and Allah bears witness that they are most surely liars. Certainly, if these are driven forth, they will not go forth with them, and if they are fought, they will not help them, and even if they help them, they will certainly turn (their) backs, then they shall not be helped.(Qur'an, 59:11-12)
Their fortress was besieged, and ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay did nothing to help them as predicted in the Qur'anic verses cited above. After 15 days, they agreed to leave Medina. They were allowed to take away all their movables which they could take except weapons of war.
They passed through Medina's market singing and beating drums to show that they were not disheartened by that banishment and that they would soon avenge this defeat. Some of them went to Syria while others settled with the Jews of Khaybar.
Since there was no war, according to the command of Allah (see Sura 59, verses 6 to 10), all the wealth left by them became the personal property of the Prophet who, having consulted with the Ansar, distributed all movable property to poor Muhajirun and three poor companions from the Ansar: Sahl ibn Hani, Abu Dajjanah and Zayd. He gave the immovable property to Ali ibn Abu Talib who made it waqf (trust) for the descendants of Fatima.
The 59th Chapter of the Qur'an (The Banishment) describes various aspects of Banu Nadir's expulsion as quoted above.
Battle of Khandaq (627 A.D.)
Upon settling down at Khaibar, Banu Nadir decided to seek revenge against the Muslims. They contacted the Meccans, and 20 leaders from the Jews and 50 from Quraish made a covenant in the Ka’ba that as long as they lived, they would fight Muhammad. Then the Jews and Quraish contacted their allies and sent emissaries to a number of tribes. Banu Ghatfan, Banu Asad, Banu Aslam, Banu Ashja’, Banu Kinanah and Banu Fizarah readily responded. The Meccans, four thousand strong, including thre hundred cavaliers and fifteen hundred camels, were joined by six thousand allies from among the Jews and the bedouin tribes. The three armies set out, ten thousand strong, under the command of Abu Sufyan in the beginning of the month of Shawwal, 5 A.H. (the end of February 627 A.D.) to attack Medina.
When news of these preparations reached Medina, the Prophet consulted his companions, as he always did during such situations. There was hardly sufficient time to make preparations for the war. He decided this time to remain within the city and fight back. The stone houses of the city were built adjacent to one another so as to make a high and continuous strong wall for a long distance except in the north-west where a wide open space could afford the enemy an easy entry. At this place, with the suggestion of Salman al-Farisi, who was familiar with the mode of defending cities in other countries such as his (Persia), a trench, fifteen feet in width and fifteen feet in depth, was dug. Muslims were divided into parties of 10 each, and each party was allotted 10 yards to dig.
The Prophet himself participated in this task, carrying the excavated earth away. The khandaq (moat) was completed in nick of time: just 3 days before the host of the enemies reached Medina. The houses outside the city were evacuated, and the women and children were accommodated for safety on the tops of the double-storied houses at the entrenchment. Muslims could muster only three thousand men to face this huge army, and they immediately took cover behind the ditch. The Propeht camped in the center of the entrenchment in a tent of red leather on a space shaped like a crescent. The camp had the rising ground of Sila’ on its rear and the trench in the front.
Huyaiy ibn Akhtab, head of Banu Nadir, met secretly with Ka’b ibn Asad, head of Banu Quraizah, a Jewish tribe which was still in Medina. Huyaiy was the most antagonistic Jew towards the Prophet. Banu Quraizah, on his instigation, tore down the treaty which they had concluded with the Muslims. The Jews decided that they would assist the pagan Quraishites after ten days' preparations and would attack the rear of Muhammad's army from the north-western side of the city which was located on the south-east side of their fortress and which was easily accessible to them.
Rumours reached the Prophet about the Jews' schemes, so he sent two chiefs, one from the Aws and one from the Khazraj: These were Sa’d ibn Mu’ath and Sa’d ibn ‘Abadah respectively to ascertain the truth. Both men proceeded to meet the Jews. Having made searching inquiries and some scouting of their own, they returned to report to the Prophet that the temper of the Jews was even worse than it had been feared. This news alarmed the Prophet. It was then necessary to take precautions against any surprise attack or treachery from the side of those Jews.
The north-western part of the city, which was located on the side of the Jewish stronghold, was the weakest of all defences. In order to prtoect the families of his followers throughout the city, the Prophet, as a meager measure of safeguard, had no choice except to send a considerable number of his men from his already small army of three thousand to afford them such a protection. His men's supplies were hardly adequate due to the length of the entrenchment that formed his defense line. Still, he had no choice except to detach two parties, one of three hundred men under the command of Zayd ibn Harithah, his freed slave and adopted son, and another of two hundred men under the command of a chieftain from Medina. Their job was to patrol the streets and the alleys of the city night and day.
This treachery and danger from inside Medina, when Muslims were surrounded by the combined armies of pagans and Jews of all of Arabia on the outside, had a telling effect on the Muslims. The enemy was astonished to see the moat because it was a novel military tactic for the Arabs. They camped on the outside for 27 (or 24) days. Their number increased day by day, and many Muslims were extremely terrified, as the Qur'an portrays for us. Surat al-Ahzab describes various aspects of this siege. For example, read the following verses: When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes turned dull, and the hearts rose up to the throats, you began to think diverse thoughts about Allah. There, the believers were tried, and they wee shaken a tremendous shaking.(Qur'an, 33:10-11)
At that time, many hypocrites, and even some Muslims, asked permission to leave the ranks of the Muslims and to go home: And when a party of them said: O people of Yathrib! There is no place for you to stand, and a party of them asked permission of the Prophet saying: Verily our houses are exposed, and they were not exposed; they only described to flee away.(Qur'an, 33:13)
The bulk of the army, however, steadfastly withstood the hardship of inclement weather and rapidly depleting provisions. The coalition's army hurled arrows and stones at the Muslims.
Finally, a few of Quraish's more valiant warriors, ‘Amr ibn ‘Abdwadd, Nawfal ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Mughirah, Dhirar ibn Khattab, Hubairah ibn Abu Wahab, ‘Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl and Mirdas al-Fahri, succeeded in crossing the moat.
‘Amr called for battle; nobody responded; he was considered equal to one thousand warriors. History accounts state that all the Muslims were as though birds were sitting on their heads: they were too afraid to raise their heads.
Three times did the Prophet exhort the Muslims to battle ‘Amr. Three times it was only Ali who stood up. In the third time, the Prophet allowed Ali to go. When Ali was going to the battlefield, the Prophet said: “The whole faith is going to fight the whole infidelity; the embodiment of the former bounds is to crush the entirety of the latter.’ The Prophet put his own turban on Ali's head, his own coat of mail over Ali's body, and he armed Ali with his own sword, Thul-Fiqar, then he sent him to meet his opponent. Then the Prophet raised his hands to supplicate thus: “O Allah! ‘Obaydah, my cousin, was taken away from me in the Battle of Badr, Hamzah, my uncle, in Uhud. Be Merciful, O Lord, not to leave me alone and undefended. Spare Ali to defend me. You are the best of defenders.’
Ali invited ‘Amr to accept Islam or to return to Mecca, or to come down from his horse since Ali had no horse and was on foot.
“Nephew,’ said ‘Amr to Ali, being a friend of Ali's father Abu Talib, “By God I do not like to kill you.’ Ali replied, “By God, I am here to kill you!’ ‘Amr, now enraged at this reply, alighted from his horse. Having hamstrung his horse, a token of his resolve never to run away from the battlefield but either to conquer or to perish, he advanced towards Ali. They were immediately engaged in a duel, turning the ground underneath them into a cloud of dust, so much so that for a good while, only the strokes of their swords could be heard while they themseles could not be seen. ‘Amr succeeded once in inflicting a serious cut on Ali's head. At last, Ali's voice was heard shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!’
That was his cry of victory. It always is Muslims' cry of victory. Seeing how the most brave among them has been killed by Ali, the other pagans who crossed the moat now took to their heels with the exception of Nawfal whose horse failed to leap; it fell into the moat. As the Muslims showered him with a hail of stones, he cried out thus: “I rather die by the sword than by the stones!’ Hearing this, Ali leaped into the moat and fulfilled his last wish, dispatching him to hell!
Ali, contrary to the Arab custom then, did not, however, strip either men from their armour or clothes. When ‘Amr's sister came to her brother's corpse, she was struck with admiration at the noble behaviour of her slain brother's adversary and, finding out who he was, she felt proud of her brother having met his fate at the hands of the person who was known as the unique champion of spotless character. She said, as recorded in Tarikh al-Khamis, “Had his conqueror been someone else other than the one who killed him, I would have mourned ‘Amr for the rest of my life. But his opponent was the unique spotless champion.’
Ali, the “Lion of God,’ thus distinguished himself as on previous occasions: in the battles of Badr and of Uhud. About this battle, the Prophet said: Verily, one attack of Ali in the Battle of Khandaq is better than the worship of all human beings and jinns up to the Day of Resurrection.
No further activity was atempted by the enemy that day, but great preparations were undertaken during the night. Khalid ibn al-Walid, with a party of cavaliers, attempted during the night to clear the ditch for crossing the next day. The next morning, the Muslims found the entire enemy force arrayed in fighting formations along their line of entrenchment. The enemies tried to overrun the Muslim side of the trench but were repelled at every point. The ditch served its purpose; it could not be crossed. During the entire military campaign, by the way, only five Muslims were martyred. The Muslims' vigilance paralyzed the enemies despite their numeric superiority. Numeric superiority is not always a prerequisite for victory. The Almighty grants victory to whosoever He pleases.
But the Muslims were running out of provisions. The Prophet had to tie a stone on his stomach in order to minimize the pangs of hunger. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: “Our hearts had reached our throats in fear and in desperation.’ On the other hand, the besieging army was getting restive, too; it could not put up any further with the rain and cold; its horses were perishing daily and provisions nearing depletion. The Prophet went to the place where the Mosque of Victory (Masjidul-Fath) now stands and prayed to Allah. Said the Prophet, “O Lord! Revealer of the Sacred Book, the One Who is swift in taking account, turn the confederate host away! Turn them to flight, O Lord, and make the earth underndeath them quake!’
A fierce storm raged, uprooting the tents of the enemies; their pots and belongings went flying in all directions; it blew dust in their faces, extinguished their fires, and their horses were running around as though they were possessed. An unbearable terror was cast in their hearts. In the fourth night, after having finished his prayers, Muhammad asked Abu Bakr if he would go to the enemy's camp to discern and report their activities. He replied saying, “I ask pardon of Allah and of His Messenger.’ The Prophet promised Paradise to be the reward of anyone who would venture out for that purpose, then asked ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab if he would do it.
‘Omar's answer was similar to that of Abu Bakr. The Prophet's request is actually an order, a divine one, since it is coming from one who does not say anything or do anything without the Will of the Almighty. These facts are recorded in Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthur, Al-Sira al-Muhammadiyya, Al-Sira al-Halabiyya, Tarikh al-Khamis, and Rawdat al-Ahbab for all to review. The third person the Prophet asked was Huthayfah al-Yemani who readily responded to the request and proceeded to the enemy camp in the darkness of the night where he saw the devestation wrought by the storm. He saw Abu Sufyan looking very depressed. When he came back to his camp and reported in detail to the Prophet what he had seen, the Prophet was delighted to find out that his plea to Allah was answered.
Either feeling the pain of the severity of the weather or struck with terror at that storm which was interpreted as a manifestation of the Divine Wrath, Abu Sufyan decided to lift the siege and to march back at once. Summoning the chiefs of his allies, he announced his decision to them, issuing orders to dismantle the camp. He and all the Meccans with him, as well as the pagan tribes that allied themselves under his command, fled away. The first to flee was Abu Sufyan himself who was so upset that he tried to ride his camel without first untying its rope. Khalid ibn al-Walid guarded the rear of the armies with two hundred cavaliers against a pursuit. The Ghatfan tribesmen and the bedouin allies returned to their deserts; not a single person remained on the battlefield in the morning. It was with great joy that in the morning the Muslims discovered the sudden disappearance of the enemy, finding themselves unexpectedly relieved. The siege lasted for twenty-four long days ending in March of 627 A.D.
This episode is referred to in the Qur'an in this ayat: O ye who believe! Remember the bounty of Allah unto you when came upon you the hosts, so We sent against them a strong wind and hosts that ye saw not, and Allah sees all what you do. (Qur'an, 33:9)
And also in ayat 25 which says: And God turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not achieve any advantage, and Allah sufficed for the believers in fighting, and Allah is Strong, Mighty.(Qur'an, 33:25)
‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud was interpreting this thus: “And God sufficed the believers (through Ali ibn Abu Talib) in their fight,’ as we read in Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthur.
As a direct result of this defeat of the infidels' combined forces in the Battle of Khandaq (moat, or the Battle of Ahzab, coalitions), Quraish's influence waned, and those tribes who were till then hesitating to accept Islam out of fear of Quraish began to send deputations to the Prophet. The first deputation came from the tribe of Mazinah, and it consisted of four hundred persons. They not only accepted Islam but were ready to settle down in Medina. The Prophet, however, advised them to return to their homes.
Likewise, a deputation of a hundred persons came from the Ashja’ and embraced Islam. The tribe of Juhainah lived near them, so they were influenced by their conversion. One thousand of the latter's men came to Medina to join the fraternity.
Banu Quraizah Defeated (627 A.D.)
According to the terms of the treaty which Banu Quraizah had contracted with the Muslims, they were bound to assist the Muslims against outside aggression. But, not to speak of assisting the Muslims or even remaining neutral, they had sided with the Meccans and joined the besieging foe. What was worse, they had tried to attack the fortress where Muslim women and children had been lodged for safety. Living in such a close proximity to Medina, they had become a serious menace.
Having put aside his armour after his return from the site of the Battle of Khandaq, the Prophet, on the same day when the battle had come to a close, was washing his hands and face at the house of his beloved daughter Fatima whom he used to visit before proceeding to his own house and whenever he returned from an expedition or an expedition. It was then and there that arch-angel Gabriel brought him the divine command to proceed immediately against the Jews of Quraizah. He instantly sent Ali with his standard, then he followed in person with his army and laid the siege of their fortress, a siege which the enemy had not expected, thinking that the Muslims were already worn out following one of their most exhausting battles.
First, Quraizah Jews resisted, but the siege of twenty-five days sufficed to bring them to their knees and prepare them to pay for their treachery. They ultimately opened the gates of their fortresses on the condition that their fate should be decided by Sa’d ibn Mu’ath, chief of the Aws, a long time friend and ally of the Jews. Sa’d had been wounded during the battle of the moat and was still under treatment when he was brought to decide the fate of Banu Qurayzah.
He came riding a mule and looking quite weak. He could not walk, so he was supported by some of his friends. He was surrounded by men of his tribe who were all urging him to be lenient towards Jewish prisoners, reminding him of their services to the Aws when the war of Bu’ath was raging. Basing his judgement upon the verses of the Old Testament itself, Sa’d ruled that the fighting men, six hundred in number according to some accounts, should be killed, the women and children be taken captive, and their possessions be confiscated and divided among the besieging troops. The sentence was carried out.
Ibn ‘Abbas narrates the following with reference to the Prophet's conquest over Banu Qurayzah: When the Messenger of Allah called Ka’b ibn Asad so that he would be beheaded, he said to him, “O Ka’b! Did you avail yourself of the advice of Ibn Hawash who came from Syria? He (Ibn Hawash) said, “I have left wine and all intoxicants and came to misery and dates for the same of a Prophet to be delegated. His advent will be in Mecca, and this (Medina) is the place to which he will migrate. He is the one who smiles quite often, and who quite often kills.
A bit of bread and a few dates suffice him. He rides the donkey without a saddle. In his eyes there is redness. He puts the sword on his shoulder and does not care who faces him. His domain will reach so far that nobody can go beyond it.'‘ Ka’b said, “Yes, all of this is true, O Muhammad! Had the Jews not taunted me of being too coward to fight you, I would have believed in you and followed you, but I am a follower of Judaism; a Jew do I live, and a Jew shall I die.’ The Messenger of Allah then said, “Bring him forward and strike his neck,’ and so it was.
It was in reference to this conquest that the following ayats were revealed: And He drove down those of the people of the Book who backed them from their fortresses, and He cast awe into their hearts: some you killed and some you took captive. And He made you inherit their land and their dwellings and their possessions, and (to) a land which ye have not yet trodden, and God has power over all things.(Qur'an, 33:26-27)
Some critics had described this punishment as harsh. But what other punishment could be meted out to them? They had violated the pact and, instead of helping the Muslims, they joined the forces of their enemies and had actually besieged the Muslims. There were no prisons where prisoners of war could be detained nor any concentration camps where they could be put to forced labor, and the capture of women and children, though allaying to the notions of the present age, was probably the only method known in those days to provide sustenance to them when the earning members of their families had lost their lives. At any rate, this was the cust’Omary aftermath of a war.
One of the greatest losses suffered by the Muslims in the Battle of Khandaq (Moat) is the death of Sa’d ibn Mu’ath one month after the end of the battle under the weight of his wounds. That was in 5 A.H./626 A.D. Ubayy has narrated saying that Sa’d ibn ‘Abdullah quotes Ibrahim ibn Hashim quoting al-Husain ibn Yazid al-Nawfali quoting Ziyad al-Sukuni quoting Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq who in turn quotes his father Imam Muhammad al-Baqir saying that the Prophet performed the funeral prayers for Sa’d ibn Mu’ath then said,
Ninety thousand angels, including Gabriel, have attended the funeral of Sa’d ibn Mu’ath today to bless him and pray for him. I asked Gabriel, “What did he do to deserve your prayers, all of you, today?!’ Gabriel said, “He used to recite Surat al-Ikhlas (Ch. 112 of the Holy Quran) standing, sitting, riding, walking, going or coming.’
May Allah have mercy on Sa’d ibn Mu’ath.
Jews of Banu Mostaliq (627 A.D.)
The Jews of Banu Mostaliq were neighbours of Banu Qurayzah. Although they saw what had happened to the latter, they did not learn a lesson from it and started making preparations to invade the part of Medina where the Muslims were residing. Having come to know of their designs, Prophet Muhammad sent them Buraydah ibn al-Hasib in order to verify the reports that had reached him. Upon his return, Buraydah confirmed the truth of what the Prophet had heard. A pre-emptive war was imminent. With Ali as the standard bearer, the Prophet led his troops on Sha’ban 2, 5 A.H./December 30, 626 A.D. to battle the Banu Mostaliq Jews.
The fighting broke out, and ten Jews were killed, including the leader of Banu Mostaliq, namely al-Harith ibn Abu Zarar. Having seen their leader being killed, the Jews took to flight but not before the Muslims captured two hundred of them along with one thousand camels and five hundred sheep. Juwayriyya, daughter of the slain Jewish chief, was among the captives. Before the fight began, her father had already pleaded to the Prophet not to sell her in the slave market as was usually done in those days. Captives who could not buy their ransom or get someone to pay it on their behalf used to be auctioned at the slave market. Juwayriyya embraced Islam and was married to the Prophet who safeguarded her dignity and treated her like a queen. In order to please her even more, Muhammad set all her relatives free.
Treaty of Hudaybiya (627 A.D.)
On the first day of the month of Thul-Qi’dah, of the same year, 5 A.H./March 27, 627 A.D., a month in which no fighting was to take place according to the ancient Arabian custom, the Prophet saw in a dream that he and his followers were mcircling the Ka’ba and performing all the rituals of the pilgrimage. The next morning, he communicated his dream to his followers who were very glad to have such good news. Particularly happy were the Muhajirun who had not forgotten about their families and relatives whom they had left behind in Mecca and whom they very much longed to see. Almost six years had passed since they had seen the Ka’ba and their families, relatives and friends.
The Prophet decided to perform the ‘Omrah (the lesser pilgrimage) to the Ka’ba which had been till then denied to the Muslims due to the hostility of the Meccans. About fourteen hundred Muhajirun and Ansar expressed their readiness to go with him. Lest there should be any misgivings in any quarter about his intentions, he directed the Muslims not to carry any arms other than travellers' sheathed swords, and he himself put on the robes of ihram and took his wife Umm Salamah with him. He also took seventy camels to sacrifice. On the way, they halted at Thul Holayfa. Then the Muslims reached Hudaybiya, ten miles from Mecca, where the Prophet's she-camel Qaswa stopped on her own, knelt down and refused to go any further. Some people said that she was exhasuted, but the Prophet interpreted it as a Divine sign that he should not proceed any further. He, therefore, camped at Hudaybiya.
There was no water available in the place where they had camped. There were some wells there, but they were all filled up with sands. Taking an arrow from his quiver, the Prophet planted it in one of those wells. Immediately water came out to the great relief of everybody.
An envoy was sent to the Meccans to obtain their permission to visit the Ka’ba but it was rejected. Instead, the Meccans collected a force of 200 cavaliers under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid and ‘Ikrimah son of the infamous Abu Jahl to prevent the Muslims from entering Mecca. Soon the Prophet and his companions were face to face with this force. The Quraishites sent Budayl ibn Warqa' al-Kuza’i with a number of men from his tribe Khuza’ah to tell the Prophet that he was not allowed to visit the Ka’ba. “I have left behind me,’ said Budayl, “Ka’b ibn Lu'ayy and ‘Amir ibn Lu’ayy, accompanied by a powerful host, and they shall fight you and prohibit you from reaching the sanctuary.’
The Prophet said, “We did not come here to fight anyone; rather, we came to perform the ‘umra. War has exhausted and harmed Quraish. If they wish, we can agree on a period of truce so that they may leave me and the people alone. If they wish to embrace what other people have embraced, they may do so; otherwise, I swear by the One Who holds my life in His grip, I shall fight them in defence of my mission till I perish or Allah carries out His command.’ Budayl said, “I shall convey to them what you have just said.’
Quraish deputed ‘Orwah ibn Mas’ud al-Thaqafi to have a talk with the Prophet, but nothing came out of it. The Prophet then sent Karrash ibn Umayyah to Quraish to assure them that they had no hostile intentions at all, only to perform the ‘Omra. He rode his own camel Tha’lab, but he was mistreated and his camel maimed, and it was only with difficulty that he was able to escape with his life. He could have been killed had no Ethiopians interferred and assisted his escape.
At that juncture, the Prophet thought that the best person to speak to the haughty Quraishites would be ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab, so he asked him to be his emissary to those who used to be his bosom friends, but ‘’Omar asked to be excused saying that he was not on good terms with Quraish and suggested that his friend ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan would be a more suitable envoy. ‘Uthman, who belonged to the same clan to which Abu Sufyan belonged, was sent to persuade Quraish to allow the Muslims to visit the Ka’ba. He told the riders that Muhammad had come only to visit the sacred sanctuary and that after slaying the sacrificial camels, he and his followers would all return.
But the Quraishites replied that they had sworn not to allow Muhammad to enter the city that year and that if he, ‘Uthman, wished to visit the Ka’ba himself, he could do so. ‘Uthman declined their offer saying that he could not do so without the Prophet first performing the rites of the lesser pilgrimage. He then returned to the camp. Since it took so long for ‘Uthman to return, rumour was in the Muslim camp that he had been murdered by the Meccans, and the Prophet was quite upset.
The vanguard of Quraish, only eight in number, but some accounts say forty, attacked the Muslims from the direction of the Tan’eem mountain with the intention to massacre them as they were performing the early morning prayers, but the attackers were captured. The Prophet demonstrated great clemency and generosity, setting them all free. The Muslims took a pledge on the hands of the Prophet, known as “Bay’at al-Ridwan’, to stand by him to the last. Referring to this pledge, the Qur'an says: Indeed God was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to thee under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility on them and rewarded them with a near victory.(Qur'an, 48:18)
Those who study the Islamic history impartially will conclude that there were many who swore the pledge of “Bay’at al-Ridwan’ and who forgot it or claimed to have forgotten it as soon as the Prophet died… Surely these will be called to account before the Almighty on the Day of Judgment and to answer to the deviation they caused in the march of Islam, reverting to the jahiliyya, the pre-Islamic era, following their own inclinations and seeking their own vested interests rather than implementing the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah… ‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal, an eye witness to Bay’at al-Ridwan, said that the Prophet took a pledge from them not to flee from the battle again, since some of them had done just that before, leaving him an easy target to the mischief of his foes and the foes of his Lord.
It came to be known later that the news of ‘Uthman's murder was not true. After considerable difficulty, a treaty was ultimately signed with Suhayl ibn ‘Amr, Quraish's envoy, on the following terms reproduced in almost all the Arab Chronicles:
(1) Muslims should return to Medina that year without performing the pilgrimage.
(2) They could return the next year but their stay should not exceed three days.
(3) The Muslims should not bring any arms with them except sheathed swords.
(4) There would be no war between Quraish and the Muslims for ten years.
(5) Muslims residing in Mecca would not be allowed to migrate to Medina, but if any Muslim wanted to settle in Mecca, he should not be prevented from doing so.
(6) Any idolater or Meccan Muslim migrating to Medina without the permission of his clan will be sent back to Mecca, but a Muslim of Medina going back to Mecca without permission will not be allowed to return.
(7) Any tribe in Arabia will be free to join any of the parties to the pact, and the allies also will be bound by this treaty.
Although these terms were apparently disadvantageous to the Muslims, the Prophet accepted them.
Ali wrote the peace treaty himself, and it was witnessed by a number of the most prominent companions of the Prophet (sahaba) despite the fact that they had their own reservations in its regard, considering it a most unfavourable and humiliating one.
Some Muslims were unhappy about this treaty. ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab talked very rudely to the Prophet. “Are you not a true Prophet of Allah?,’ ‘’Omar asked the Prophet. “I am, no doubt,’ answered the Prophet. “Are we not right and the adversaries are wrong?’ he asked the Prophet again. Muhammad answered him in the affirmative, whereupon he went on to ask one more time, “Why should we, then, obliterate our faith and bear the brunt of humiliation?’ The Prophet answered, “I am only a messenger of Allah, and I can do nothing against His will; He will help me.’
‘’Omar, however, was not satisfied with the Prophet's answers. Ibn Hisham, the renown historian, goes on to record the dialogue between ‘’Omar and his friend Abu Bakr wherein the former exclaimed: “Is not Muhammad the Messenger of Allah? Are we not Muslims? Are they not infidels? Why should our divine religion be thus humiliated?’ Al-Waqidi, who also researched this topic, cites ‘’Omar adding, “Had these terms been fixed by anyone other than Muhammad himself, even by a commander whom I appoint, I would have scorned to listen to them.’ Afterwards, he used to say: “Never did I have doubt (about the truth of Islam) since my acceptance of Islam except on that day (of Hudaybiya).’ A copy of the agreement was given to Suhail, whereas the original remained with the Prophet.
No sooner had the terms been agreed upon than a critical occasion arose. Abu Jundal son of Suhail had been imprisoned by his father for having accepted Islam and was being severely mistreated. He managed to escape and, with his fetters on, reached Hudaybiya just before the treaty was signed. His father, Suhail ibn ‘Amr, the emissary of the Meccans, demanded his return according to the terms of the treaty. The Muslims said that the treaty had by then not signed yet. Suhail said that if his son was not returned to him, there would be no treaty at all. Abu Jundal pleaded with the Muslims in the name of mercy not to throw him back to the tyranny of the Meccans and showed them the injuries they had inflicted on him.
The Muslims were moved to plead his cause and ‘’Omar made an impassioned appeal, but the Prophet silenced them by declaring that he could not break a treaty. He consoled Abu Jundal by saying that God would create some way for his deliverance. ‘’Omar Leaped to comfort the young man thus: “These infidels' blood is no better than the dogs' blood,’ encouraging him to kill his father so that the whole peace treaty would amount to nothing… Abu Jundal, however, did not consent to undo what the Messenger of Allah had just done; the peace treaty has to be respected.
Having concluded the Hudaybiya peace treaty, the Prophet wanted to perform as many of the rituals relevant to the lesser pilgrimage as possible. He ordered his sahaba to slaughter their sacrificial animals and to shave their heads, but he was sorely grieved to see that nobody paid heed to his command. It grieved him so much that he mentioned it to his wife Umm Salamah. But when he sacrificed his animals and shaved his head, removing the robes of ihram, they, too, did likewise, though reluctantly.
After three days' stay at Hudaybiya, the Muslims returned to Medina. On the way back, Surah 48 titled “Victory’ was revealed describing the treaty as an open victory for the Muslims. Later events confirmed that it was really a great victory for them. The first six of its 29 verses are: In the Name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful
Surely We have bestowed upon you a clear victory so that Allah may forgive your past faults and those to follow and complete His favour upon you and keep you on a right course. And so that Allah may help you with a mighty victory. He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers so that they may have more faith added to their faith, and Allah's are the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Knowing, Wise, so that He may cause the believing men and the believing women to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein (forever) and to wipe out their sins, and that is a grand achievement with Allah. And so that He may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, those who entertain evil thoughts about Allah. On them is the evil turned, and Allah condemns them and has cursed them and prepared hell for them, and evil is its resort. (Qur'an, 48:1-6)
There were, unfortunately, a number of hypocritical men with the Prophet at Hudaybiya, those opportunists who pretended to be more zealous about Islam than they really were, and their future actions proved so.
Till then, idolaters and Muslims had not been mixing with each other. By virtue of this treaty, they started doing so freely. Muslims, now more than ever before, openly declared their faith and invited others to embrace it. The enemies of Islam were silenced; they could not freely persecute the Muslims. On account of their family ties and trade connections, the Meccans started visiting Medina, and many of them stayed there for months. Peace became a reality, and both parties started enjoying its fruits. Non-Muslims were getting acquainted with the teachings of Islam and were deeply impressed by the righteous conduct and moral integrity of the Muslims.
The Muslims of Medina who were visiting Mecca left behind them similar impressions. The result was that the Meccans were themselves attracted to Islam and many of them embraced the new religion. It is recorded that during two years after this treaty, more people accepted Islam than all those who did so during the nineteen years since the inception of the mission put together. A clear proof is found in the fact that while only 1,400 Muslims had accompanied the Prophet for the lesser pilgrimage when the treaty of Hudaybiya was concluded, two years later, that is, when Mecca fell in the hands of the Muslims, he was accompanied by at least 10,000 Muslims.
Immediately after the signing of the treaty, Banu Khuza’ah, who for a long time were inclined to the new faith, openly embraced it, entering further into an alliance with the Prophet in 629 A.D. This, in fact, was the first practical benefit of the treaty.