THE PROPHET ON THE BATTLEFIELD
The Quraishites, mortified at the escape of the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) along with his devoted companions, and jealous of his growing power
in Madinah, kept a stringent watch over the Muslims left behind and persecuted
them in every possible way. They also initiated clandestine contacts with
‘Abdullah bin Uabi bin Salul, chief of Madinese polytheists, and president
designate of the tribes ‘Aws and Khazraj before the Prophet’s emigration.
They senthim a strongly-worded ultimatum ordering him to fight or expel
the Prophet, otherwise they would launch a widespread military campaign
that would exterminate his people and proscribe his women.
His pride wounded and kingship no longer his, ‘Abdullah bin Uabi bin
Salul, a priori responded positively to his Quraishite co-polytheists.
He mobilized his supporters to counteract the Muslims. The Prophet (Peace
be upon him) on hearing about this unholy alliance, summoned ‘Abdullah
and admonished him to be more sensible and thoughtful and cautioned his
men against being snared in malicious tricks. The men, on grounds of cowardice,
or reason, gave up the idea. Their chief, however, seemingly complied,
but at heart, he remained a wicked unpredictable accomplice with Quraish
and the envious Jews. Skirmishes and provocations started to pave the
way for a major confrontation between the Muslims and polytheists. Sa‘d
bin Mu‘adh, an outstanding Helper, announced his intention to observe
‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) and headed for Makkah. There
Omaiya bin Khalaf provided tutelage for him to observe the ritual circumambulation.
Abu Jahl, an archenemy of Islam saw him in the Sacred Sanctuary and threatened
he would have killed him if he had not been in the company of Omaiya.
Sa‘d, fearlessly and defiantly, challenged him to committing any folly
at the risk of cutting their caravans off.
Provocative actions continued and Quraish sent the Muslims a note threatening
to put them to death in their own homeland. Those were not mere words,
for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) received information from reliable
sources attesting to real intrigues and plots being hatched by the enemies
of Islam. Precautionary measures were taken and a state of alertness was
called for, including the positioning of security guards around the house
of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and strategic junctures. ‘Aishah (May
Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allâh’s Messenger (Peace be upon
him) lay down on bed during one night on his arrival in Madinah and said:
Were there a pious person from amongst my Companions who should keep a
watch for me during the night? She [‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with
her)] said: We were in this state when we heard the clanging noise of
arms. He [the Prophet (Peace be upon him)] said: Who is it? He said: This
is Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas. Allâh’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said to
him: What brings you here? Thereupon he said: I harboured fear (lest any
harm should come to) Allâh’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), so I came
to serve as your sentinel. Allâh’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) invoked
blessings upon him and then he slept.
This state of close vigilance continued ceaselessly until the Words of
Allâh were revealed saying:
“Allâh will protect you from mankind.”[5:67]
Here, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) peeped from the dome of his house
asking his people to go away, and making it clear that Allâh would take
the charge of protecting him.
The Prophet’s life was not the only target of the wicked schemes, but
rather the lives and the whole entity of the Muslims. When the Madinese
provided the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his Companions with safe
refuge, the desert bedouins began to look at them all in the same perspective,
and outlawed all the Muslims.
At this precarious juncture with Quraish, intent on pursuing their aggressive
and devilish plans, Allâh, the All-High, gave the Muslims the permission
to take arms against the disbelievers:
“Permission to fight is given to those (i.e. believers against
those disbelievers), who are fighting them, (and) because they (believers)
have been wronged, and surely Allâh is Able to give them (believers)
This verse was revealed in a larger context of Divine instructions to
eradicate all aspects of falsehood, and hold in honour the symbols and
rites of Allâh:
“Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land,
(they) order for Iqamat-as-Salât: [i.e. to perform Salât
(prayer) — the five compulsory, congregational prayers (the males
in Mosques)], to pay the Zakat (obligatory charity), and
they enjoin Al-Ma‘ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that
Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief,
polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the
Qur’ân as the Law of their country in all the spheres of life].”
Doubtlessly, the permission to fight was revealed in Madinah after emigration,
not in Makkah, still the exact date where of is in doubt.
The permission to fight was already there, but in the light of the status
quo, it was wise for the Muslims to bring the commercial routes leading
to Makkah under their control. To realize this strategic objective, the
Prophet (Peace be upon him) had to choose either of two options:
- Entering into non-aggression pacts with the tribes inhabiting either
the areas adjacent to the routes or between these routes and Madinah.
With respect to this course of action, the Prophet (Peace be upon him)
had already signed, together with the Jews and other neighbouring tribes,
the aforementioned pact of cooperation and good neighbourliness.
- Despatching successive armed missions for harassment along the strategic
With a view to implementing these plans, the Muslims commenced real military
activities, which at first took the form of reconnaissance patrols delegated
to explore the geopolitical features of the roads surrounding Madinah
and others leading to Makkah, and building alliances with the tribes nearby.
The Prophet wanted to impress upon the polytheists and Jews of Madinah
as well as the bedouins in its vicinity, that the Muslims had smashed
their old fears, and had been too strong to be attacked with impunity.
He also wanted to display the power of his followers in order to deter
Quraish from committing any military folly against him which might jeopardize
their economic life and means of living, and to stop them from persecuting
the helpless Muslims detained in Makkah, consequently he would avail himself
of this opportunity and resume his job of propagating the Divine Call
The following is a resume of these missions and errands:
On that occasion, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) accredited the first
flag in the history of Muslims. It was white in colour and was entrusted
to Kinaz bin Husain Al-Ghanawi, to carry.
- Saif Al-Bahr Platoon sent in Ramadan 1 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. led by
Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and comprising 30 Emigrants with a definite
task of intercepting a caravan belonging to Quraish. It was a caravan
of 300 people including Abu Jahl bin Hisham. The two parties encountered
each other and aligned in preparation for fighting. Majdi bin ‘Amr,
on good terms with both sides, happened to be there and managed to prevent
an imminent clash.
It is interesting to note that two Muslims, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr Al-Bahrani
and ‘Utbah bin Ghazwan Al-Mazini, defected from the caravan of Quraish
and joined the ranks of ‘Ubaidah. The Muslims had a white flag carried
by Mistah bin Athatha bin Al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Munaf.
- In Shawwal, 1 A.H., i.e. April 623 A.D. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace
be upon him) despatched ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith bin Al-Muttalib at the
head of 60 horsemen of Emigrants to a spot called Batn Rabegh where
they encountered Abu Sufyan at the head of a caravan of 200 men. There
was arrow shooting but no actual fighting.
In the process of this campaign, he contracted a non-aggressiopact
with ‘Amr bin Makhshi Ad-Damari. The provisions of the pact go as follows:
“This is a document from Muhammad, the Messenger of Allâh concerning
Bani Damrah in which he established them safe and secure in their
wealth and lives. They can expect support from the Muslims unless
they oppose the religion of Allâh. They are also expected to respond
positively in case the Prophet sought their help.”
- In Dhul Qa‘dah 1 A.H., i.e. May 623 A.D. the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) despatched Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas at the head of 20 horsemen, and
instructed them not to go beyond Al-Kharrar. After a five-day march
they reached the spot to discover that the camels of Quraish had left
the day before; their flag, as usual, was white and carried by Al-Miqdad
- Ghazwa Al-Abwa’ or Waddan. It was in Safar 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. The
Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) set out himself at the head of
70 men, mostly Emigrants, to intercept a camel caravan belonging to
Quraish, leaving behind Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah to dispose the affairs in Madinah.
When he reached Waddan, a place between Makkah and Madinah, he found
This was the first invasion under the leadership of the Messenger
of Allâh. It took fifteen days, with a white flag carried by Hamzah
bin ‘Abdul Muttalib.
“They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months (i.e. 1st,
7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar). Say, ‘Fighting
therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression)
with Allâh is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allâh,
to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm
(at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah
is worse than killing.” [2:217]
- Buwat Invasion. It took place in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), at the head of 200 companions, marched
for Buwat to intercept a caravan belonging to Quraish comprising 100
Quraishites, Omaiya bin Khalaf among them, and 2500 camels. When he
reached Buwat, the caravan had left. Before leaving Madinah, he mandated
Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh to dispose the affairs until his return.
- Safwan Invasion. In Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. Karz bin
Jabir at the head of a small group of polytheists raided the pastures
of Madinah and looted some animals. The Prophet (Peace be upon him)
at the head of 70 men left Madinah to fight the aggressors. He went
in their pursuit till he reached a place called Safwan near Badr but
could not catch up with them. This invasion came to be known as the
preliminary Badr Invasion. During his absence, the Prophet (Peace be
upon him) entrusted Zaid bin Harithah with the disposition of the affairs
in Madinah. The standard was white in colour and entrusted to ‘Ali bin
Abi Talib to carry.
- Dhil ‘Ushairah Invasion. It was in Jumada-al-Ula and Jumada-al-Akhirah
the first or second 2 A.H., i.e. November-December 623 A.D. The Prophet
(Peace be upon him) at the head of 150-200 Muslim volunteers, with 30
camels which they rode turn by turn, set out to intercept a Quraishite
caravan. He reached Dhil ‘Ushairah but the camels had left some days
before. These camels were the same that he went out to intercept on
their return from Syria, and were the direct reason for the break out
of the battle of Badr. In the process of this campaign, the Prophet
Őáě Çááĺ Úáíĺ ćÓáă contracted a non-aggression pact with Bani Madlij
and their allies Bani Dhumrah. Abu Salama bin ‘Abd Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi
was mandated to rule Madinah in his absence.
- The Platoon of Nakhlah. It took place in Rajab 2 A.H., i.e. January
624 A.H. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) despatched ‘Abdullah
bin Jahsh Asadi to Nakhlah at the head of 12 Emigrants with six camels.
‘Abdullah was given a letter by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) but
was instructed to read it only after two days. He followed the instructions
and discovered that he was asked to go on to a place called Nakhlah
standing between Makkah and At-Ta’if, intercept a caravan for Quraish
and collect news about their intentions. He disclosed the contents of
the letters to his fellows who blindly obeyed the orders. At Nakhlah,
the caravan passed carrying loads of raisins (dried grapes), food stuff
and other commodities. Notable polytheists were also there such as ‘Amr
bin Al-Hadrami, ‘Uthman and Naufal, sons of ‘Abdullah bin Al-Mugheerah
and others... The Muslims held consultations among themselves with respect
to fighting them taking into account Rajab which was a sacred month
(during which, along with Dhul Hijja, Dhul Qa‘da and Muharram, war activities
were suspended as was the custom in Arabia then). At last they agreed
to engage with them in fighting. ‘Amr bin Al-Hadrami was shot dead by
an arrow, ‘Uthman and Al-Hakam were captured whereas Naufal escaped.
They came back with the booty and the two prisoners. They set aside
one-fifth of the booty assigned to Allâh and His Messenger, and took
the rest. The Messenger disapproved of that act and suspended any action
as regards the camels and the two captives on account of the prohibited
months already mentioned. The polytheists, on their part, exploited
this golden opportunity to calumniate the Muslims and accuse them of
violating what is Divinely inviolable. This idle talk brought about
a painful headache to Muhammad’s Companions, until at last they were
relieved when the Revelation came down giving a decisive answer and
stating quite explicitly that the behaviour of the polytheists in the
whole process was much more heinous and far more serious than the act
of the Muslims:
The Words of Allâh were quite clear and said that the tumult created
by the polytheists was groundless. The sacred inviolable sanctities had
been repeatedly violated in the long process of fighting Islam and persecuting
its adherents. The wealth of the Muslims as well as their homes had already
been violated and their Prophet (Peace be upon him) had been the target
of repeated attempts on his life. In short, that sort of propaganda could
deservedly be described as impudence and prostitution. This has been a
resume of pre-Badr platoons and invasions. None of them witnessed any
sort of looting property or killing people except when the polytheists
had committed such crimes under the leadership of Karz bin Jabir Al-Fahri.
It was, in fact, the polytheists who had initiated such acts. No wonder,
for such ill-behaviour is immanent in their natural disposition.
Shortly afterwards, the two captives were released and blood money was
given to the killed man’s father.
After this event, Quraish began to realize the real danger that Madinah
could present with. They came to know that Madinah had always been on
the alert, watching closely their commercial caravans. It was then common
knowledge to them that the Muslims in their new abode could span and extend
their military activities over an area of 300 miles. and bring it under
full control. However, the new situation borne in mind, the Makkans could
not be deterred and were too obstinate to come to terms with the new rising
power of Islam. They were determined to bring their fall by their own
hands and with this recklessness they precipitated the great battle of
The Muslims, on the other hand, and at the behest of their Lord, were
ordered to go to war in Sha‘ban 2 A.H:
“And fight, in the way of Allâh those who fight you; but transgress
not the limits. Truly, Allâh likes not the transgressors. And kill
them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have
turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (polytheism or calamity) is
worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm
(the Sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there.
But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of
the disbelievers. But if they cease, then Allâh is Oft-Forgiving,
Most Merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah
(disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allâh) and (all
and every kind of ) worship is for Allâh (Alone). But if they cease,
let there be no transgression except against Az-Zaliműn (polytheists,
and wrong-doers, etc.)” [2:190-193]
Before long, Allâh again sent the Muslims a different sort of verses
whereby teaching them ways of fighting, urging them to go to war and demonstrating
“So, when you meet (in fight - Jihâd in Allâh’s cause),
those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed
and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e.
take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity
(i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits
Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered
by Allâh to continue in carrying out Jihâd against the disbelievers
till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the
Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had
been Allâh’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them
(without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some
with others. But those who are killed in the way of Allâh, He will
never let their deeds be lost. He will guide them and set right
their state. And admit them to Paradise which He has made known
to them (i.e. they will know their places in Paradise more than
they used to know their houses in the world). O you who believe!
If you help (in the cause of) Allâh, He will help you, and make
your foothold firm.” [47:4-7]
Shortly afterwards, Allâh began to dispraise the hypocrites, the weak
at heart and cowardly elements:
“But when a decisive Sűrah (explaining and ordering things)
is sent down, and fighting (Jihâd — the holy fighting) is
mentioned (i.e. ordained) therein, you will see those in whose hearts
is a disease (of hypocrisy) looking at you with a look of one fainting
to death. ” [47:20]
The prevalent exigencies required as a top priority exhorting the Muslims
to fight. Any leader with a deep insight would order his soldiers to get
ready for any sort of emergency, let alone the All-Knowing Exalted Lord,
Who is at all times omniscient of the minutest details of affairs. The
event of that skirmish with the polytheists dealt a heavy blow to the
pride of Quraish and created a sort of horrible restlessness amongst them.
The aforementioned Qur’ânic verses, enjoining the Muslims to strive in
the cause of Allâh, betrayed the proximity of blood clashes that would
be crowned by a decisive victory for the Muslims, and final expulsion
of polytheists out of the Sacred City, Makkah. They referred to rules
pertinent to the treatment of captives and slaughtering the pagan soldiers
till the war ended and laid down its burdens. All of these could act as
clues to a final triumph that would envelop the strife of the Muslims
towards their noble objectives.
Another event of great significance featured the same month Sha‘ban 2
A.H., i.e. February 624 A.D., which was a Divine injunction ordering that
Al-Qiblah be changed from Jerusalem to the Sacred Mosque in Makkah.
That was of a great advantage to the Muslims at two levels. First, it
brought about a kind of social sifting, so to speak, in terms of the hypocrites
of the Jews and others weak at heart, and revealed their true nature and
inclinations; the ranks of the Muslims were thereby purged from those
discord-prone elements. Second, facing a new Qiblah, the Sacred
Mosque in Makkah, refers gently to a new role awaiting the Muslims to
take up, and would start only after the repatriation of the Muslims to
their Sacred City, Makkah for it is not logical for the Muslims to leave
their Qiblah at the mercy of non-Muslims.
The Muslims, therefore, at the behest of Allâh and on account of those
Divine clues, augmented their activities and their tendency towards striving
in the cause of Allâh and encountering His enemies in a decisive battle
were greatly intensified.