THE INVASION OF TABUK IN RAJAB, IN THE YEAR 9 A.H.
The invasion and the conquest of Makkah was considered a decisive one
between the truth and the error. As a result of which, the Arabs had no
more doubt in Muhammad’s mission. Thus we see that things went contrary
to the pagans’ expectations. People started to embrace Islam, the religion
of Allâh, in great numbers. This is manifested clearly in the chapter
— The delegations, of this book. It can also be deduced out of the enormous
number of people who shared in the Hajjatul-Wadâ‘ (Farewell
Pilgrimage). All domestic troubles came to an end. Muslims, eventually
felt at ease and started setting up the teachings of Allâh’s Laws and
intensifying the Call to Islam.
The Byzantine power, which was considered the greatest military
force on earth at that time, showed an unjustifiable opposition towards
Muslims. As we have already mentioned, their opposition started at killing
the ambassador of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), Al-Harith
bin ‘Umair Al-Azdi, by Sharhabeel bin ‘Amr Al-Ghassani. The ambassador
was then carrying a message from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the
ruler of Busra. We have also stated that the Prophet consequently dispatched
a brigade under the command of Zaid bin Haritha, who had a fierce fight
against the Byzantines at Mu’tah. Although Muslim forces could not have
revenge on those haughty overproud tyrants, the confrontation itself had
a great impression on the Arabs, all over Arabia.
Caesar — who could neither ignore the great benefit thMu’tah
Battle had brought to Muslims, nor could he disregard the Arab tribes’
expectations of independence, and their hopes of getting free from his
influence and reign, nor he could ignore their alliance to the Muslims
— realizing all that, Caesar was aware of the progressive danger threatening
his borders, especially Ash-Sham-fronts which were neighbouring Arab lands.
So he concluded that demolition of the Muslims power had grown an urgent
necessity. This decision of his should, in his opinion, be achieved before
the Muslims become too powerful to conquer, and raise troubles and unrest
in the adjacent Arab territories.
To meet these exigencies, Caesar mustered a huge army of
the Byzantines and pro-Roman Ghassanide tribes to launch a decisive bloody
battle against the Muslims.
No sooner news about the Byzantine’s preparations for a decisive
invasion against Muslims reached Madinah than fear spread among them.
They started to envisage the Byzantine invasion in the least sound they
could hear. This could be clearly worked out of what had happened to ‘Umar
bin Al-Khattab one day.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had taken an oath to stay
off his wives for a month in the ninth year of Al-Hijra. Therefore, he
deserted them and kept off in a private place. At the beginning, the Companions
of the Messenger of Allâh were puzzled and could not work out the reason
for such behaviour. They thought the Prophet (peace be upon him) had divorced
them and that was why he was grieved, disturbed and upset. In ‘Umar’s
version of the very story he says: “I used to have a Helper friend who
often informed me about what happened if I weren’t present, and in return
I always informed him of what had taken place during his absence. They
both lived in the high part of Madinah. Both of them used to call at the
Prophet alternatively during that time of suspense. Then one day I heard
my friend, knock at the door saying: “Open up! Open up!” I asked wondering,
“What’s the matter? Has the Ghassanide come?” “No it is more serious than
that. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) has deserted his wives.”
In another version, ‘Umar said, “We talked about Ghassanide
preparations to invade us. When it was his turn to convey the news to
me, he went down and returned in the evening. He knocked at the door violently
and said ‘Is he sleeping?’ I was terrified but I went out to meet him.
‘Something serious had taken place.’ He said. ‘Has the Ghassaindes arrived?’
Said I. ‘No,’ he said, ‘it is greater and more serious. The Messenger
of Allâh (peace be upon him) has divorced his wives.’”
This state of too much alertness manifests clearly the seriousness
of the situation that Muslims began to experience. The seriousness of
the situation was confirmed to a large degree by the hypocrites behaviour,
when news about the Byzantines’ preparations reached Madinah. The fact
that the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) won all the battles he
fought, and that no power on earth could make him terrified, and that
he had always proved to be able to overcome all the obstacles that stood
in his way - did not prevent the hypocrites, who concealed evil in their
hearts, from expecting an affliction to fall upon the Muslims and Islam.
They used to harbour evil and ill-intentions against the
whole process of Islam and the Muslims. On grounds of illusory hopes of
destroying this great religious edifice, they erected a hotbed of conspiracy
and intrigue in the form of a mosque — Masjid-e-Darar (the mosque
of harm). They approached the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the request
that he should come and consecrate the place by praying in it himself.
As he was at the moment about to start for Tabuk, he deferred compliance
with their request till his return. Meanwhile he came to know through
Divine Revelation that it was not a Mosque for devotion and prayer but
a meeting place for the anti-Islamic elements. On his return, therefore,
the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a party to demolish the new structure.
A magnified image of the prominent danger threatening the
Muslims life was carried to them by the Nabateans who brought oil from
Ash-Sham to Madinah. They carried news about Heraclius’ preparations and
equipment of an enormous army counting over forty thousand fighters besides
Lukham, Judham and other tribes allied to the Byzantines. They said that
its vanguard had already reached Al-Balqâ’. Thus was the grave situation
standing in ambush for the Muslims. The general situation was aggravated
seriously by other adverse factors of too much hot weather, drought and
the rough and rugged distance they had to cover in case they decided to
encounter the imminent danger.
The Messenger of Allâh’s (peace be upon him) concept and
estimation of the situation and its development was more precise and accurate
than all others. He thought that if he tarried or dealt passively with
the situation in such a way that might enable the Byzantines to paddle
through the Islamic controlled provinces or to go as far as Madinah, this
would — amid these circumstances — leave the most awful impression on
Islam as well as on the Muslims’ military credibility.
The pre-Islamic beliefs and traditions (Al-Jahiliyah)
which were at that time dying because of the strong decisive blow that
they had already had at Hunain, could have had a way to come back to life
once again in such an environment. The hypocrites who were conspiring
against the Muslims so that they might stab them in the back whereas Byzantines
would attack them from the front. If such a thing came to light and they
succeeded in their evil attempts, the Prophet and his Companions’ efforts
to spread Islam would collapse and their profits which were the consequences
of successive and constant fights and invasions would be invalidated.
The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) realised all that very well.
So — in spite of the hardships and drought that Muslims were suffering
from — the Prophet (peace be upon him) was determined that the Muslims
should invade the Byzantines and fight a decisive battle at their own
borders. He was determined not to tarry at all in order to thwart any
Roman attempt to approach the land of Islam.
When the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) had made
up his mind and took his final decision, he ordered his Companions to
get ready for war and sent for the Makkans and the other Arab tribes asking
for their assistance.
Contrary to his habit of concealing his real intention of
the invasion by means of declaring a false one, he announced openly his
intention of meeting the Byzantines and fighting them. He cleared the
situation to his people so that they would get ready, and urged them to
fight in the way of Allâh. On this occasion a part of Surat Bara’a
(Chapter 9 — The Repentance) was sent down by Allâh, urging them to steadfastness
On the other hand, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon
him) cherished them to pay charities and to spend the best of their fortunes
in the way of Allâh.
No sooner had the Muslims heard the voice of the Messenger
of Allâh (peace be upon him) calling them to fight the Byzantines than
they rushed to comply with his orders. With great speed they started getting
ready for war. Tribes and phratries from here and there began pouring
in Madinah. Almost all the Muslims responded positively. Only those who
had weakness at their hearts favoured to stay behind. They were only three
people. Even the needy and the poor who could not afford a ride came to
the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) asking for one so that they
would be able to share in the fight against the Byzantines. But when he
“...‘I can find no mounts for you’ they turned back
while their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they could
not find anything to spend (for Jihad).” [9:92]
The Muslims raced to spend out money and to pay charities
to provide this invasion. ‘Uthman, for instance, who had already rigged
two hundred, saddled camels to travel to Ash-Sham, presented them all
with two hundred o(of gold) as charity. He also fetched a thousand dinars
and cast them all into the lap of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon
him), who turned them over and said: “From this day on nothing will harm
‘Uthman regardless of what he does.” Again and again ‘Uthman gave till
his charity toped to nine hundred camels and a hundred horses, besides
the money he paid.
Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf, on his side, paid two hundred silver
ounces, whereas Abu Bakr paid the whole money he had and left nothing
but Allâh and His Messenger as a fortune for his family. ‘Umar paid half
his fortune. Al-‘Abbas gifted a lot of money. Talhah, Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah
and Muhammad bin Maslamah, gave money for the welfare of the invasion.
‘Asim bin ‘Adi, on his turn, offered ninety camel-burdens of dates. People
raced to pay little and much charities alike. One of them gave the only
half bushel (or the only bushel) he owned. Women shared in this competition
by giving the things they owned; such as musk, armlets, anklets, ear-rings
and rings. No one abstained from spending out money, or was too mean to
grant money or anything except the hypocrites:
“Those who defame such of the believers who give charity
(in Allâh’s cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to
give charity (in Allâh’s cause) except what is available to them,
so they mock at them (believers).” [9:79]
Upon accomplishing the equipment of the army, the Messenger
of Allâh (peace be upon him) ordained that Muhammad bin Maslamah Al-Ansari
should be appointed over Madinah — in another version Siba‘ bin ‘Arftah.
To ‘Ali bin Abu Talib he entrusted his family’s safety and affairs and
ordered him to stay with them. This move made the hypocrites undervalue
‘Ali, so he followed the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) and caught
up with him. But the Prophet made ‘Ali turn back to Madinah after saying:
“Would it not suffice you to be my successor in the way that Aaron (Harun)
was to Moses’?” Then he proceeded saying: “But no Prophet succeeds me.”
On Thursday, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) marched
northwards to Tabuk. The army that numbered thirty thousand fighters was
a great one, when compared with the previous armies of Islam. Muslims
had never marched with such a great number before.
Despite all the gifts of wealth and mounts the army was not
perfectly equipped. The shortage of provisions and mounts was so serious
that eighteen men mounted one camel alternatively. As for provisions,
members of the army at times had to eat the leaves of trees till their
lips got swollen. Some others had to slaughter camels — though they were
so dear — so that they could drink the water of their stomach; that is
why that army was called “The army of distress”.
On their way to Tabuk, the army of Islam passed by Al-Hijr
— which was the native land of Thamud who cut out (huge) rocks in the
valley; that is “Al-Qura Valley” of today. They watered from its well
but later the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) told them not to
drink of that water, nor perform the ablution with it. The dough they
made, he asked them to feed their camels with. He forbade them to eat
anything whatsoever of it. As an alternative he told them to water from
that well which Prophet Salih’s she-camel used to water from.
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar: “Upon passing by Al-Hijr the
Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Do not enter the houses of those who erred themselves
lest what had happened to them would afflict you, but if you had
to do such a thing let it be associated with weeping.”
Then he raised his head up and accelerated his strides till
he passed the valley out.”
Shortage of water and the army’s need to it made them complain
to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) about that. So he supplicated
Allâh, who sent a rainful cloud. It rained and so all people drank and
supplied themselves with their need of water.
When they drew near Tabuk, the Prophet said: “If Allâh will,
tomorrow you will arrive at Tabuk spring. You will not get there before
daytime. So whoever reaches it should not touch its water; but wait till
I come.” Mu‘adh said: “When we reached the spring it used to gush forth
some water. We found that two men had already preceded us to it. The Messenger
of Allâh (peace be upon him) asked them: ‘Have you touched its water?’
They replied: ‘Yes’. He said what Allâh inspired him to say, then he scooped
up little water of that spring, thin stream which gathered together, he
washed his face and hand with it and poured it back into it; consequently
plenty of water spouted out of it so people watered. ‘Mu‘adh’, said the
Messenger of Allâh, ‘if you were doomed to live long life you will see
in here fields full of vegetation.’
On the way to Tabuk, or as soon as they reached Tabuk, the
Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) said: ‘Severe wind will blow tonight,
so none of you should stand up. Whoever has a camel should tie it up.’
Later on when the strong wind blew, one of the men stood up and the wind
carried him away to Tai’ Mountain.
All the way long the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him)
was intent on the performance of the combined prayer of noon and the afternoon;
and so did he with sunset and evening prayers. His prayers for both were
either pre-time or post-time prayers.
Arriving at Tabuk and camping there, the Muslim army was
ready to face the enemy. There, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon
him) delivered an eloquent speech that included the most inclusive words.
In that speech he urged the Muslims to seek the welfare of this world
and the world to come. He warned and cherished them and gave them good
tidings. By doing that he cherished those who were broken in spirits,
and blocked up the gap of shortage and mess they were suffering from due
to lack of supplies, food and other substances.
Upon learning of the Muslims’ march, the Byzantines and their
allies were so terrified that none of them dared set out to fight. On
the contrary they scattered inside their territory. It brought, in itself,
a good credit to the Muslim forces. That had gained military reputation
in the mid and remote lands of Arabian Peninsula. The great and serious
political profits that the Muslim forces had obtained, were far better
than the ones they could have acquired if the two armies had been engaged
in military confrontation.
The Head of Ailah, Yahna bin Rawbah came to the Messenger
of Allâh (peace be upon him), made peace with him and paid him the tribute
(Al-Jizya). Both of Jarba’ and Adhruh peoples paid him tribute,
as well. So the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) gave each a guarantee
letter, similar to Yahna’s, in which he says:
“In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
This is a guarantee of protection from Allâh and Muhammad
the Prophet, the Messenger of Allâh, to Yahna bin Rawbah and the people
of Ailah; their ships, their caravans on land and sea shall have the
custody of Allâh and the Prophet Muhammad, he and whosoever are with
him of Ash-Sham people and those of the sea. Whosoever contravenes
this treaty, his wealth shall not save him; it shall be the fair prize
of him that takes it. Now it should not be lawful to hinder the men
from any springs which they have been in the habit of frequenting,
nor from any journeys they desire to make, whether by sea or by land.”
The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) dispatched Khalid
bin Al-Waleed at the head of four hundred and fifty horsemen to ‘Ukaidir
Dumat Al-Jandal and said to him: “You will see him hunting oryxes.” So
when Khalid drew near his castle and was as far as an eye-sight range,
he saw the oryxes coming out rubbing their horns against the castle gate.
As it was a moony night Khalid could see Ukaidir come out to hunt them,
so he captured him — though he was surrounded by his men — and brought
him back to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), who spared his
life and made peace with him for the payment of two thousand camels, eight
hundred heads of cattle, four hundred armours and four hundred lances.
He obliged him to recognize the duty of paying tribute and charged him
with cit from Dumat, Tabuk, Ailah and Taima’.
The tribes, who used to ally the Byzantines, became quite
certain that their dependence oinn their former masters came to an end.
Therefore they turned into being pro-Muslims. The Islamic state had therefore
enlarged its borders to an extent that it, touched the Byzantines’ and
their agents’ borders. So we see that the Byzantine agents role was over.
The Muslim army returned from Tabuk victoriously, undeceived
or wronged. That was because Allâh had sufficed them the evils of fight.
On the way back and at a mountain road, twelve hypocrites
sought the Prophet’s life and that was while he was passing along that
mountain road with only Ammar holding the rein of his she-camel and Hudhaifa
bin Al-Yaman driving it, at the time that people had already gone down
into the bottom of the valley.
The hypocrites seized that opportunity to seek the Prophet’s
life. As the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) and his two companions
were moving along, they heard thrusts of people coming towards him from
behind with their faces veiled. Hudhaifa, who was sent by the Prophet
to see what was going on, saw them and stroke their mounts’ faces with
a crook in his hand and Allâh cast fear into their hearts. They fled away
and overtook their people.
However, Hudhaifa named them to the Messenger of Allâh (peace
be upon him) and informed him of their intentions. So that was why Hudhaifa
was called the “confidant” of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him).
About this event Allâh, the Exalted says:
“And they resolved that [plot to murder Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him)] which they were unable to carry out.” [9:74]
When his headquarters, Madinah, began to loom at the horizon,
the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “This is a cheerful sight. This
is Uhud, which is a mountain, we like it and it likes us.” When the Madinese
learnt of their arrival they set out to meet the army. Women, youths,
youngsters and small children went out of town to celebrate their home-return
“The full moon shone down upon us, through the traits
of Al-Wada‘ Mountain.
Thanks is due to us, as long as a supplicator invokes to Allâh..”
The Messenger of Allâh ’s march to Tabuk was in Rajab and
his return in Ramadan. So we see that this Ghazwah took fifty days,
twenty days of which were spent in Tabuk and the others on the way to
and fro. Tabuk Invasion was the last one made by the Prophet (peace be
Due to its particular circumstances, this invasion was a
peculiar severe trial provided by Allâh only to try the believers’Faith
and sort them out of others. This is Allâh’s permanent Will in such circumstances.
In this respect He says:
“Allâh will not leave the believers in the state in
which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good.”
Lagging and hanging back from full participation in that
invasion amounted to the degree of hypocrisy. Whenever the Messenger of
Allâh (peace be upon him) was informed of a man’s lingering, he would
say: “Leave him alone! If Allâh knows him to be good He will enable him
to follow you; but if he were not so, Allâh would relieve us of him.”
Nobody stayed behind except those who were either hindered
by a serious excuse or the hypocrites who told lies to Allâh and His Messenger.
Some of those hypocrites’ lingering was due to an excuse
based on forgery and delusion. Some others tarried but didn’t ask for
an instant permission. But there were three believers who unjustifiably
lingered. They were the ones whom Allâh tried their Faith, but later on
He turned to them in mercy and accepted their repentance.
As soon as the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) had
entered Madinah, he prayed two Rak‘a then he sat to receive his
people. The hypocrites who were over eighty men came and offered various
kinds of excuses and started swearing. The Prophet acknowledged their
excuses and invoked Allâh’s forgiveness for them but he entrusted their
inner thoughts and Faith to Allâh.
As for the three faithful believers — Ka‘b bin Malik, Murara
bin Ar-Rabi‘, and Hilal bin Omaiyah — who favoured telling the truth,
the Messenger of Allâh Őáě Çááĺ Úáíĺ ćÓáă bade his Companions not to talk
Consequently they were subject to a severe boycott and were
excluded from the life of the community. Everybody turned them their back.
So they felt as if the whole land had become constrained to them in spite
of its spaciousness and they felt awkward and uneasy. The hard times they
lived and which lasted for over forty days were towered by an order to
them to forsake their wives. After fifty days’ boycott Allâh turned to
them and revealed that in Qur’ân:
“And (He did forgive also) the three [whom the Prophet
(peace be upon him)] left (i.e. he did not give his judgement in
their case, and their case was suspended for Allâh’s Decision) till
for them the earth, vast as it is, was straitened and their ownselves
were straitened to them, and they perceived that there is no fleeing
from Allâh, and no refuge but with Him. Then, He accepted their
repentance, that they might repent (unto Him). Verily, Allâh is
the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” [9:118]
Allâh’s turning to them was a great joy for both Muslims
and the three concerned. The joy of the stayers behind was unaccountable
in aim and degree. It was the happiest day in their lives. The good tiding
cherished them and filled their hearts with delight. As for those who
lingered due to disability or sickness or any other serious excuse, Allâh,
the Exalted said about them:
“There is no blame on those who are weak or ill or
who find no resources to spend [in holy warfare (Jihad)],
if they are sincere (in duty) to Allâh and His Messenger.” [9:91]
When he approached Madinah, the Messenger of Allâh (peace
be upon him) said:
“Inside Madinah, there are certain men, who though
being left back due to serious excuses, they have, all the time,
been with you. Lingerers as they are, they have been while you were
passing valleys or walking along roads.” “Do you mean that they
have done that while they are still in Madinah?” They wondered.
“Yes though they are in Madinah.” The Prophet said.
The effect of this invasion is great as regards extending
and confirming the Muslims’ influence and domination on the Arabian Peninsula.
It was quite obvious to everybody that no power but Islam’s would live
long among the Arabs. The remainders of Jahiliyin and hypocrites
— who used to conspire steadily against the Muslims and who perpetually
relied on Byzantine power when they were in need of support or help —
these people lost their expectations and desires of ever reclaiming their
ex-influence. Realizing that there was no way out and that they were to
submit to the fait accompli, they gave up their attempts.
From that time on, hypocrites were no longer treated leniently
or even gently by the Muslims. Allâh not only bade Muslims to treat them
severely but He also forbade them to take their gift charities or perform
prayer on their dead, or ask Allâh’s forgiveness for them or even visit
their tombs. Allâh bade the Muslims to demolish the mosque, which they
verily appointed and used as a hiding place where they might practise
their plots, conspiracy and deceit. Some Qur’ânic verses were sent down
disclosing them publicly and utterly so that everybody in Madinah got
to know their reality.
The great impact that this invasion produced could be perceived
in of the great number of delegations who came successively to meet the
Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him). Naturally, deputations used to
come to meet him at the end of an invasion particularly after Makkah Conquest
but they were not as many as these nor were they as frequent as they were
then in the wake of Tabuk event. It was certainly the greatest.
Many a verse of Bara’a (Tauba) Chapter
handling the event of Tabuk were revealed. Some verses were revealed before
the march, while others after setting out for Tabuk, i.e.in the context
of the battle. Some other verses were also revealed on the Prophet’s arrival
in Madinah. All of which covered the incidents that featured this invasion:
the immanent circumstances of the battle, exposure of the hypocrites,
the prerogatives and special rank earmarked for the strivers in the cause
of Allâh, acceptance of the repentance of the truthful believers who slackened
and those who hung back, etc.
Some Important Events that featured
During this year many events of great significance took
place. They were:
- After the Messenger’s return from Tabuk, the sworn allegation
of infidelity between ‘Uwaimir Al-‘Ajlani and his wife took place.
- Pelting with stones the Ghamidiyah woman who confessed
committing adultery. She was pelted with stones only after weaning her
child off her breast milk.
- Negus Ashama; the king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), died
so the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed prayer in absentia for
- The death of Umm Kulthum, the daughter of the Prophet
(peace be upon him), the Prophet felt extremely sad at her death. “Had
I got a third daughter, I would let you marry her.” He said to ‘Uthman.
- The death of ‘Abdullah bin Abi Salool, the head of hypocrites,
after the Prophet’s return from Tabuk. The Messenger of Allâh (peace
be upon him) asked Allâh’s forgiveness for him. He also prayed for him
in spite of ‘Umar’s disapproval and his attempt to prevent him from
doing that. Later on a Qur’ânic verse was revealed attesting to ‘Umar’s