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The people of Najd massacre the Missionaries of Islam

By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani

The third year of migration, with all its bitter and instructive events, came to an end and the fourth year started with the sighting of Muharram moon. In the month of Safar of the same year Abu Bara'a came to Madina and the Prophet invited him to embrace Islam. To this he did not agree, but he also did not seek aloofness. He said to the Prophet: "If you send a strong missionary force to the people of Najd it may be hoped that they will embrace Islam as they are much inclined to it". The Prophet replied: "I am afraid of the deceit and enmity of the people of Najd. I apprehend that the tragedy of Raji', which resulted in a number of learned and missionary persons being killed may be repeated". Abu Bara'a said: "The force to be deputed by you will be under my protection and I guarantee that I will protect them from every harm".
Forty learned Muslims who had memorized the Holy Qur'an and various religious tenets of Islam left for Najd under the leadership of Munzir and encamped by the side of Bi'r Ma'unah. The Prophet wrote a letter (consisting of invitation to the religion of Islam) to one of the chiefs of Najd named 'Amir. Not only that 'Amir did not read the letter but he also put its bearer to death. He also sought assistance from the adjoining tribes, and the area where the missionary force had encamped was encircled by his men.
The persons forming the missionary force of Islam were not only senior and proficient missionaries but they were also considered to be brave and war-like persons. They, therefore, thought it a shame for themselves to surrender. Hence, they took up arms and all of them, except one, met martyrdom after giving a tough fight. The only survivor was Ka'b bin Zayd who reached Madina with a wounded body and gave information about what had happened.[1]
These two tragic events were the evil results of the defeat sustained by the Muslims at Uhud, which encouraged the adjoining tribes to resort to their killing.

The orientalists, who make capital of a scratch on the face of an idolater and cast aspersions on Islam and the Muslims to prove that Islam was spread with the force of sword, close their lips with regard to these two tragic events and do not utter even a word about them.
Where in the world learned and sacred people are put to sword? If Islam has flourished under the shadow of sword what for did these missionary groups sacrifice their lives?
These two events possess certain vital and instructive points. The strength of faith, self-sacrifice, valour and moral heroism of these great souls is the ground on which the fate of the Muslims is based. It deserves their admiration and should serve as an example for them.
The tragic events of Raji' and Bi'r Ma'unah which culminated in the murder of the missionary force of Islam grieved the Muslims very much. At this juncture most of the readers may be automatically inclined to ask as to why the Prophet resorted to this action. When he had bitter experience of the first event (Raji') why did he send forty persons to Bi'r Ma'unah? Had not the Prophet himself said: "A true believer is never stung from the same hole twice?"
Reply to this question becomes clear when we refer to the texts of history, because the safety of the second group had been guaranteed by Abu Bara'a 'Amir bin Malik bin Ja'far who was the chief of the tribe of Bani 'Amir, and a tribe never acted against the intentions of its chief. Furthermore, in order to give more assurance, he himself decided to remain in Madina till the return of the missionary party.
The plan drawn out by the Prophet was correct and capable of yielding results. The fact is that the members of the Muslim missionary party were not killed at the hands of the tribesmen of Abu Bara'a. No doubt his nephew viz. 'Amir bin Tufayl instigated the tribe of Abu Bara'a against the missionary party but none of them listened to him and all of them said: "Your uncle has guaranteed their safety". Eventually 'Amir bin Tufayl obtained help from other tribes like Salim and Zakwan and killed the members of the missionary party of Islam.
When the Muslim missionary party proceeded to the region of Abu Bara'a they selected two persons from amongst themselves named 'Amr bin Umayyah and Harith bin Simmah[2] so that they might take the camels for grazing and look after them. These two persons were performing the duty entrusted to them and were not aware of the fate of their companions. Suddenly 'Amir bin Tufayl fell upon them. As a result of this Harith bin Simmah was killed, whereas 'Amr bin Umayyah escaped.
While on his way back to Madina 'Amr bin Umayyah came across two men and felt sure that they belonged to the tribes whose members had killed the missionary party of Islam. He, therefore, killed both of them while they were asleep and then returned to Madina.
'Amr had made a wrong conclusion. Those persons belonged to the tribe of Abu Bara'a (Bani 'Amir tribe) who respected the blood of the Muslim missionaries because of the respect which they had for their own chief.
This incident also added to the grief of the Prophet and he decided to pay the blood money for the two men.
[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi, vol. I, pp. 349-364.
[2] As quoted by Ibn Hisham in his Seerah, vol. II, page 186, it was Munzir bin Muhammad.

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