THE BATTLE OF BADR
THE Muslims who had gone to Medina, had left all their belongings behind in Mecca and these had been taken by their enemies. Thus, when the Muslims heard that Abu Sufyan, one of the leaders of Quraysh, was on his way back to Mecca from Syria with a large caravan of goods, they decided that the time had come for them to retrieve some of their losses. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) gave the Muslims permission for this attack and everyone began to get ready for the raid, for it had been revealed:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful Permission to fight is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is surely able to give them victory; (Koran xxii.39)
The Revelation had mentioned that a thing most serious with Allah was
to turn (men )from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Holy Mosque, and to drive his people from there. . .for persecution is worse than killing. (Koran ii.2I7)
The retrieval of their goods, however, was not their only reason for wanting to attack the caravan. The Muslims did not think they should simply remain safely in Medina; they wanted to spread the message of Islam. They thus felt that if Quraysh wanted freedom to trade in safety, then the Muslims must also have freedom to believe in Allah, to follow His Messenger (p.b.u.h.), and spread His Word. It was, therefore, thought that the best, and only way to get Quraysh to understand this was to attack what was most important to them -- a caravan.
Abu Sufyiin, in the meantime, heard about the Muslims' plan and quickly sent a message to Quraysh in Mecca, telling them that the caravan was in danger and asking for help. As a result nearly all Quraysh came out to help him defend the caravan. There were a thousand men and two hundred horses. The women also went along to cheer the men on with their singing.
Unaware of this, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) set out with his followers. It was the month of Ramadan and the Muslims were fasting. There were only three hundred and five of them, most of them Ansar, men from Medina. With them they had three horses and seventy camels, on which they rode in turns.
They arrived in the area of Badr , some distance from Medina where they made camp and waited for news of the caravan. Then they heard that Quraysh had set out from Mecca with a strong army. The situation had suddenly changed. They were no longer going to make a raid on a caravan they were going to have to fight Quraysh.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) gathered his men around him to find out what they wanted to do. First Abu Bakr, and then 'Umar, spoke for the Muslims who had come from Mecca. They said they would obey the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). But the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) wanted to hear the opinion of the Ansar, because he did not want to force them into doing something they did not want to do.
Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, one of the leaders of the Ansar, got up and said, 'We believe in you and we swear before all men that what you have brought is the truth. We have given you our word and agreement to hear and obey. So go where you wish, we are with you even if you should lead us into the sea!'
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was greatly encouraged by these words and so it was agreed to fight.
Abu Sufyan learned where the Muslims were camped. He changed the course of the caravan and quickly took it out of their reach. He then sent word to Quraysh telling them that the caravan was safe and that they should return to Mecca. But the leaders of Quraysh were proud and stubborn men. They refused to return as they had made up their minds to show everyone how powerful they were by destroying the Muslims.
Now there was a wadi, or valley, at Badr, with wells on the side nearest Medina, and it was here that the Muslims took up position facing the valley with the wells behind them. Quraysh meanwhile placed themselves on the other side of the valley. The Muslims then dug a reservoir, filled it with water from one of the wells, and made a barrier around it. Then they stopped up the wells. In this way the Muslims had enough drinking water for themselves, while the Meccans would have to cross the valley and fight the Muslims in order to get water.
The night before the battle, while the Muslims slept peacefully, a heavy rain fell.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When He made the slumber fall upon you as a reassurance from Him and sent down water from the sky upon you, in order that He might purify you, and remove from you the fear of Satan, and strengthen your hearts and make firm ( your) feet thereby. (Koran viii.II)
On the morning of Friday, the 17th of Ramadan, 2 A.H., (March 7th, 623 A.D), the two armies advanced and drew closer to one another. The rain had been heavier on the side of Quraysh, making the ground soft and movement difficult. On the side of the Muslims, however, the rain had packed the sand down hard, making it easy for them to march. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) preferred the men to fight in ranks. As they prepared to march he noticed that someone had stepped out in front of the others. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) prodded him in the side with an arrow, saying, 'Stand in line!'
The man, Sawad, exclaimed, 'You have hurt me, 0 Messenger of Allah! Allah has sent you to be just and good.’
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) lifted his shirt and said, 'Then do the same to me.’
The man approached and kissed him on the spot instead, saying, '0 Messenger of Allah, you see what is before us and I may not survive the battle. If this is my last time with you, I want the last thing I do in life to be this.’ Shortly after he went into battle, Sawad died a martyr.
Having examined the ranks, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) then went to a shelter made of palm branches from which he could command the battle. Abu Bakr stayed with him, while Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, with several of the Ansar, stood outside guarding the hut. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saw the enormous Quraysh army descending the hill into the valley, with all their banners and drums, he began to pray for the help which Allah had promised him. These were some of his words. '0 Allah, here come Quraysh full of vanity and pride, who oppose Thee and call Thy Messenger a liar. 0 Allah, if this little band (the Muslims) perishes today, there will be none left in the land to worship Thee.'
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When ye sought help of your Lord and He answered you ( saying): I will help you with a thousand of the angels, rank on rank. Allah appointed it only as good tidings, and that your hearts might thereby be at ease. Victory cometh only by the help of Allah. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran viii.9-10)
At first the battle began in single combat when one of Quraysh swore that he would drink from the Muslims' reservoir and then destroy it, or die in the attempt. Hamzah, the Prophet's uncle, came forward to face him and killed him. Three of the most important men of Quraysh then stepped forward and gave out a challenge for single combat. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) sent out ‘Ali, Hamzah, and ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Harith, to face them. It was not long before Hamzah and ‘Ali had killed their opponents. As for ‘Ubaydah, he had wounded his enemy but was wounded himself, and so his two companions killed the wounded Meccan and carried ‘Ubaydah back to the safety of the Muslim ranks.
After this, the two armies attacked each other and fighting broke out all around. The sky was filled with arrows. The Muslim army held its ground against the great army of Quraysh and even though the Muslims were much fewer in number, they gained a great victory, destroying the Meccan army and killing most of its leaders. Among the leading Meccans who died were Abu Jahl and Umayyah ibn Khalaf, who was killed by his former slave, Bilal. Seeing that their leaders were nearly all dead, the remainder of Quraysh retreated.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) sent word to Medina to tell them of the victory. He then gathered up the spoils of war and divided them equally among the Muslims. Some of the Meccans had been taken prisoner and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) gave orders that they should be treated well until their relatives from among Quraysh came to fetch them.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Ye (Muslims) did not slay them, but Allah slew them. And thou Muhammad threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw, so that He might test the believers by a fair test from Him. Lo! Allah is All-hearing, All-Knowing. (Koran viii.17)
UHUD -- DEFEAT COMES FROM DISOBEDIENCE
WHEN the survivors of the defeated Quraysh at Badr returned to Mecca, they gathered to speak with Abu Sufyan. They said, ‘Muhammad has killed our best men, so help us to fight him so that we may avenge those we have lost.' In order to do this it was agreed that everyone who had had a share in the caravan should put his profits towards the cost of a new army, which would be three times as big as the one at Badr.
Among those who joined the new army was an Abyssinian slave called Wahshi. who was known for his accuracy with the spear. His master, Jubayr ibn al-Mut'im, said to him, 'Go with the army and if you kill Hamzah, the uncle of Muhammad, in revenge for my uncle's death, I will set you free.' When Hind, Abu Sufyan's wife, heard about this she sent a message to Wahshi to say that she would clothe him in gold and silk if he would carry out his master's wish, for she, too, wanted Hamzah dead because he had killed both her father and brother.
While the Meccans made their plans, the Prophet's uncle, 'Abbas, one of the few Muslims still living in Mecca, sent a letter of warning to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) in Medina. He told him that Quraysh were setting out with a huge army for Uhud, a place just outside Medina. On receiving this timely warning, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) gathered his companions around him to discuss what they should do. He thought it would be better to wait for the enemy inside the city rather than go out to meet them, because it would be easier to defend Medina from inside the city walls. But the young Muslims were eager to go out and face Quraysh. They said, '0 Prophet of Allah, lead us out against our enemies, or else they will think we are too cowardly and too weak to fight them.'
One of the rulers of Medina, 'Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, however, agreed with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and advised him to remain in the city, saying, 'Whenever we have gone out to fight an enemy we have met with disaster, but none has ever come in against us without being defeated.’
But when the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saw that the majority were in favor of going out to meet Quraysh, he decided to do so, and after the Friday prayer he put on his armor. The Muslims then set out with one thousand men in the direction of Mount Uhud which overlooks Medina. The enemy was camped on the plain below the mountain where they were laying waste the crops of the Muslims.
'Abd Allah ibn Ubayy was angry that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had not followed his advice and after going part of the way, turned back for Medina, taking one third of the entire army with him. This left the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with only seven hundred men to meet the enormous Meccan army, which numbered three thousand.
The remainder of the Muslims went on until they reached the mountain of Uhud. There the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered them to stand in ranks in front of the mountain, so that they would be protected from behind. He then positioned fifty archers on top of the mountain, giving them the following order: 'Keep the Meccan cavalry away from us with your arrows and don't let them come against us from the rear, whether the battle goes in our favor or against us. Whatever happens keep to your places so that we cannot be attacked from your direction, even if you see us being slain or booty being taken.’
When the Muslims were in position, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) held up his sword and said, 'Who will use this sword with its right?' This was a great honor and many men rose to claim it, but the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) decided to give it to Abu Dujanah, a fearless warrior. Then the battle commenced.
The Muslims were well organized and had the advantage, because although Quraysh had more than four times as many men, they were tired from their journey and thus not ready to fight. As a result, the Muslims were able to make a surprise attack, led by Abu Dujanah, who was wearing a brilliant red turban. As the fighting increased the Quraysh women, led by Hind, began to beat their drums to urge their men on. They called out poems to encourage their men to be brave.
'If you advance, we hug you, spread soft rugs beneath you; if you retreat, we leave you. Leave and no more love you.'
Abu Dujanah said: 'I saw someone urging the enemy on, shouting wildly, and I made for him, but when I lifted my sword against him he screamed and I saw that it was a woman; I respected the Apostle's sword too much to use it on a woman.’ That woman was Hind.
As usual, Hamzah, the Prophet's uncle, fought with great courage, but while leading the Muslims in a fierce attack, which nearly defeated the Meccans, he was suddenly and cruelly struck down by the slave Wahshi. Later, Wahshl told how it happened: 'I was watching Hamzah while he was killing men with his sword. I...aimed my spear until I was sure it would hit the mark and hurled it at him. He came on towards me but collapsed and fell. I left him there until he died, then I came and took back my spear. Then I went back to the camp because I did not want to kill anyone but him. My only aim in killing him was to gain my freedom.'
The Quraysh warriors were soon scattered and forced to retreat. It looked as though they had been defeated! Seeing this, forty of the fifty Muslim archers on top of the mountain ran down from their position to collect booty, for the Quraysh army had left many of their belongings behind. The archers rushed to take what they could, forgetting the Prophet's orders.
Khalid ibn al-Walid, Commander of the Quraysh cavalry, saw what was happening and quickly turned his men around and ordered them to attack the Muslims from behind. The Muslims were taken completely by surprise. The Quraysh then began attacking from both sides at once. Many Muslims were killed and instead of winning they began to lose the battle.
To add to the confusion, it was rumored that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had been killed. When the Muslims heard this they were at a loss to know what to do. Then a man named Anas called out, 'Brothers! If Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) has been killed what will your lives be worth without him? Don 't think about living or dying. Fight for Allah. Get up and die the way Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) died!' and on hearing these words the Muslims took courage.
There had been several cavalry attacks on the position held by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his companions and the Prophet's cheek had been badly gashed. As the Meccans closed in again he called out, 'Who will sell his life for us?' At this, five Ansar got up and fought until they were killed, one by one. Their places were soon taken, however, by a number of Muslims who drove off the attackers. Amongst the defending Muslims was Abu Dujanah who put his arms around the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and made himself into a human shield. Throughout the remainder of the battle he held on to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), but as the fighting drew to a close he suddenly let go. Abu Dujanah was dead, killed by the many arrows in his back that had been aimed at the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
With the defeat of the Muslims, Quraysh were at last avenged. As they left the field of battle Abu Sufyan called out to his men, 'You have done well; victory in war goes by turns-today in exchange for Badr!'
When he heard this, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told' 'Umar to answer him, saying, ‘Allah is Most High and Most Glorious. We are not equal. Our dead are in Paradise and your dead are in Hell!' The Muslim soldiers then followed the departing Quraysh part of the way to make sure they were not going to attack Medina.
After the enemy had left, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) made his way around the battlefield to see the extent of the Muslim losses. Many of the most faithful Muslims had been killed. Among the dead, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) found the body of his closest friend and uncle, Hamzah, who had been killed by the slave, Wahshi. At the sight of this, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, 'There will never be a moment as sad for me as this.' Hamzah's sister, Safiyya, came to pray and ask forgiveness for her brother, saying 'We belong to Allah and to Allah we are returning.'
After the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had prayed over the many dead, he said, 'I tell you that no one has been wounded in Allah's cause but Allah will remember him and on the Day of Resurrection will raise him from the dead. Look for the one who has learned most of the Koran and put him in front of his companions in the grave.' They were buried where they had fallen as martyrs. Of them Allah says:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Do not Think that those, who were killed for Allah's sake are dead. Nay, they are alive. With their Lord they have provision. Jubilant (are they) because of that which Allah hath bestowed upon them of His bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those that have not yet joined them because they have nothing to fear or grieve over.
(Koran iii. 169-70)
It is said that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) swore that no Muslim who had died for his beliefs would want to come back to life for a single hour, even if he could own the whole world, unless he could return and fight for Allah and be killed a second time.
The Muslims realized that their defeat had been caused by their disobedience to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). The Koran tells us that the Muslims had been tested by Allah at Uhud and had failed but that Allah forgave them their weakness.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Some of you there are that desire this world, and some of you there are that desire the next world. Then He turned you from them, that He might try you ; and He has forgiven you; and Allah is bounteous to the believers. (Koran iii. 145)
People living nowadays should learn from the lessons learned by the early Muslims at Uhud. Disobedience to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and love for the things of this world caused their defeat. The same can happen to us as well. Even if we have no battle like Uhud to fight, we can still die for Allah's sake by fighting what is bad in ourselves.
When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) came back from a battle he said to his men, 'We have returned from the lesser war to the greater war.' He meant by this that the struggle that goes on within every human being to become a better person is the more difficult battle.
THE BATTLE OF THE TRENCH
WHEN the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) first arrived in Medina, the Jews who were living there had welcomed him. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had returned their greeting, as he wished to be on good terms with them. An agreement was also reached between the Muslims and the Jews, which gave the Jews the freedom to practice their religion and which also set out their rights and their duties. Among these duties was that in the case of war with Quraysh, the Jews would fight on the side of the Muslims.
Despite this agreement, however, some of the Jewish tribes, who resented the Prophet's presence in Medina, soon began to cause trouble amongst the Muslims. They tried to set the Muslim Emigrants from Mecca and the Ansar against each other. The troublemakers were given many warnings but they continued to be a nuisance. In the end, the Muslims had no choice but to drive them from Medina. A new agreement was offered those Jews who remained but the trouble did not end there. One of the Jewish tribes, the Bani Nadir, plotted to murder the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but their plan was discovered and they, too, were exiled from the city.
Knowing that they could not defeat the Muslims themselves, some of the leaders of the exiled Jews secretly went to Mecca to enlist the help of Quraysh. Knowing what the Meccans would like to hear, they pretended to believe in the same things. They said that they thought that the old Arab tradition was better than the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and that they believed that the Quraysh religion of worshipping many idols was better than the Prophet's with only one God. Then the Jews told them that if all the Arab tribes attacked Medina, the Jews inside the city would help to defeat the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Islam once and for all.
The leaders of Quraysh were pleased to hear all this and seizing on what seemed to them a very good opportunity, agreed to the plan and began to gather together a formidable army. In the meantime in Medina, only one Jewish tribe, the Bani Qurayzah, refused to betray the Muslims.
Eventually the Muslims learned of the preparations being made for war in Mecca and of the plotting of the Jews within Medina itself. The betrayal of the Muslims by the Jews did not surprise the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), who said of them: 'The hearts of the Jews have become closed to the truth. They have forgotten what Moses taught them long ago-that there is only one God.’
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
The likeness of those who are entrusted with the Law of Moses, yet apply it not, is as the likeness of the ass carrying books. Evil is the likeness of the people who deny the revelations of Allah. And Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (Koran Ixii.5)
The Muslims wondered how they could defend Medina. They heard that Abu Sufyan was coming to attack them with an enormous army which included many other Arab tribes, as well as Quraysh. What were they to do with only a single week to prepare? The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his men knew that it would be impossible for them to fight off all these tribes! The only thing they could do was to stay inside the city and try to defend it as best they could.
Now among the people of Medina was a Persian named Salman, who had come to live in the city some time before the Prophet's arrival there. As a convert to Christianity he had traveled to Medina after Christian sages had told him that a Prophet would be born in Arabia. On arriving in Medina he was, however, sold into slavery by the merchants with whom he had traveled. Later he became a Muslim, gained his freedom and became a member of the Prophet's household.
When the people gathered to discuss a plan of action against the approaching enemy, Salman was present and it was he who suggested that they should dig a trench around the city. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) thought this a good idea, so the Muslims set to work, although it was in the middle of winter. They worked day and night, digging the trench as quickly as possible. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) himself carried rocks and when the men were tired he gave them the will to carry on. Someone later recalled how beautiful he looked, dressed in a red cloak with dust upon his breast and his dark hair nearly reaching his shoulders.
There was little food at this time and the men were often hungry as they worked. On one occasion, however, a little girl gave some dates to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), which he spread out on a cloth. The men were then called to eat and the dates kept increasing in number until everyone had been fed. Even after everyone had eaten their fill, the dates continued to increase so that there were more than the cloth could hold.
Similarly, there is the story of the lamb, that has come down to us from one who was there:
'We worked with the Apostle at the trench. I had a half-grown lamb and I thought it would be a good thing to cook it for Allah 's Messenger. I told my wife to grind barley and make some bread for us. I killed the lamb and we roasted it for the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). When night fell and he was about to leave the trench, I told him we had prepared bread and meat and invited him to our home. I wanted him to come on his own, but when I said this he sent someone to call all the men to come along. Everyone arrived and the food was served. He blessed it and invoked the Name of Allah over it. Then he ate and so did all the others. As soon as one lot were satisfied, another group came until all the diggers had eaten enough, but still there was food to, spare.’
On March 24, 627 A.D., Abu Sufyan arrived with more than ten thousand men. The Muslims numbered only three thousand. Quraysh and their allies surrounded Medina but between the two armies was the long, wide trench. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his men stayed behind this trench for nearly a month defending the city against their more powerful enemy. Many times enemy warriors tried to cross the trench and enter the city, but each time they were pushed back by the Muslims. The Muslims were afraid that if any did manage to cross over, the Jews inside Medina would join forces with them and the Muslims would be beaten. The Jewish tribe of Bani Qurayzah, who had stood by the agreement with the Muslims, were pressed by a Jewish emissary from the enemy without, to break their promise. Eventually they agreed to do so and when the news of this reached the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his Companions they were greatly troubled. Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, the leader of the tribe of Aws, was sent by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with two other men to find out if this were true. When they arrived in the part of Medina where the Jews lived, they found that things were even worse than they had previously thought. Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, whose tribe was closely allied with the Bani Qurayzah, tried to persuade their leader not to break the treaty with the Muslims, but he refused to listen. This meant that the Muslims could not relax their guard for one moment, for they were now threatened not only by the enemy beyond the trench, but by the Bani Qurayzah, within the walls of the city.
Things became more difficult for the Muslims day by day. It was extremely cold and food began to run out. To make matters worse, the Bani Qurayzah began openly and actively to join forces with the other Jews and cut off all supplies to the Muslims, including food. The enemies of Islam then planned how to capture Medina.
The situation looked desperate and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) prayed to Allah to help the Muslims defeat their enemies. That very night a sandstorm blew up which buried the tents of Quraysh. The storm continued for three days and three nights making it impossible for the enemy to light a fire to cook a meal or warm themselves by.
On one of these dark nights the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) asked one of his men, Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman, to go on a dangerous mission. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told him to make his way across the trench to the enemy camp where he should find out what they were doing.
With much difficulty Hudhayfah crossed the trench and made his way to a circle of Quraysh warriors talking in the darkness. He sat near them, but as there was no fire, no one noticed him. He then heard Abu Sufyan 's voice: 'Let us go home!' he said. 'We have had enough. The horses and camels are dying, the tents keep blowing away, most of the equipment has been lost, and we cannot cook our food. There is no reason to stay!' Shortly after hearing this Hudhayfah made his way quickly and quietly back across the trench and the next morning the Muslims rejoiced to find that what he had overheard had come true-Quraysh and their allies had gone away! The siege of Medina had ended in a great victory for Islam.
But this was not to be the end of the difficulties, for the Archangel Gabriel came to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and told him that he should punish the Bani Qurayzah for betraying him and the Muslims. On hearing this, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered the Muslims to march against the Bani Qurayzah as they hid in their fortress. The Muslims besieged them for twenty-five days until they finally gave in. On surrendering, they asked the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to let someone judge their case, and he agreed. He also allowed them to choose who would give the ruling.
The man chosen to judge the Bani Qurayzah was Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, leader of the Aws, a tribe which had always protected the Qurayzah in the past. Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, who had himself been wounded in the battle, decided that the Jews should be tried by their own Holy Law , according to which anyone who broke a treaty would be put to death. As a result all the men of the Bani Qurayzah were executed and the women and children made captive.
If the Jews had succeeded in their pact, Islam would have been destroyed. Instead, from that day on, Medina became a city where only Muslims lived.
Very soon after peace had been restored to Medina, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh died of his wounds. It was said that the Archangel Gabriel came in the middle of that night and said to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) '0 Muhammad, who is this dead man? When he arrived, the doors of heaven opened and the Throne of Allah shook.'
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) got up as soon as he heard this, but found that Sa'd was already dead. Although he had been a heavy man, the men who carried his body to the grave found it quite light. They were told that the angels were helping them. When he was buried, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said three times 'Subhan Allah!' (Glory be to Allah!), and' Allahu Akbar!' (Allah is Most Great!) When asked why he did this, he replied, 'The grave was tight for this good man, until Allah eased It for him.’ This is one of the rewards that Allah gives to martyrs and good Muslims.
THE TREATY OF HUDAYBIYAH
QURAYSH had tried to destroy Islam but had failed. The number of Muslims grew and their armies increased from three hundred at the battle of Badr, seven hundred at the battle of ‘Uhud, to three thousand at the battle of the Trench.
After the annual fast of Ramadan, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had a dream which indicated that the Muslims should go to Mecca for the pilgrimage. One thousand and four hundred Muslims got ready to go with him on the Lesser Pilgrimage called 'the ‘Umra'. They dressed in white and went unarmed to show Quraysh that they had come to make the pilgrimage and not to fight. When Quraysh heard that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was on his way, they sent troops with Khalid ibn al- Walid to stop the Muslims from entering the city. To avoid meeting this small army the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) changed his route and led the men through rugged mountain passes. When they reached easier ground he told them, 'Say, we ask Allah 's forgiveness and we repent towards Him.' At Hudaybiyah, south of Mecca, the Prophet's camel knelt down and refused to go any further. The Muslims thought she was either stubborn or tired, but the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: 'The same power that once stopped the elephant from entering Mecca is now stopping us!' He then ordered them to make camp, which they did, although they all hoped they would travel on to the sacred Ka’bah the following day.
On setting up camp, the believers were dismayed to find that the springs were almost dry. When he heard this the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) instructed a man called Najiyah to take the bowl of water in which he had performed his ablutions, pour it into the hollows where the small amount of spring water lay, and stir it with his arrows. Najiyah did as he was told and the fresh water gushed up so suddenly that he was hardly able to get out of the way in time.
Messengers were sent to Quraysh to tell them that the Muslims had come only for the pilgrimage, to worship Allah at the Holy Ka'bah, and that they wanted to enter the city peacefully. But Quraysh took no notice. Finally, the Prophet's son-in-law, 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, a wise and respected man, was chosen to go, and the Muslims settled down to wait and see what news he would bring back. After they had waited a long time, the Muslims became very worried. At last they decided that he must have been killed. A state similar to that of Revelation then came upon the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). He gathered the Muslims around him under an acacia tree and asked them to swear their allegiance to him, which they did. This pact, which is mentioned in the Koran, became known as the Treaty of Radwan (which means Paradise). Shortly after, 'Uthman ibn 'Affan returned and the Muslims were relieved to see that no harm had come to him.
Some Meccan warriors tried to attack the Muslim camp but were captured and brought before the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), who forgave them when they promised to stop attacking the Muslims. Soon after this, official messengers came from Quraysh and talks began for a peaceful settlement. A man called Suhayl ibn 'Amr was sent by the Meccans to work out a treaty. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) asked 'Ali to write 'In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful', on the top of the page, Suhayl objected, saying 'Write only: bismik Allahumma (in Thy name, O Allah). I don't know him as al-Rahman (the Most Gracious), al-Rahim (the most Merciful).'
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) agreed and dictated: 'This is a treaty between Muhammad the Messenger of Allah and Suhayl ibn 'Amr.'
‘Stop!' cried Suhayl, ‘I don't believe that you are Rasulallah (the Messenger of Allah). If I thought you were Allah's Messenger, I wouldn't be fighting against you, would I?'
Calmly, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) agreed that he should be referred to in the treaty as Muhammad', son of 'Abd Allah. The Muslims were very upset at this, and 'Umar furiously cried out, ‘Are you not Allah's Messenger, and are we not Muslims? How can we accept such treatment when we are right and they are wrong? This will make people laugh at our religion!'
But the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) knew what was best and the Treaty of Hudaybiyah was signed.
In this treaty the two sides agreed to stop fighting for a period of ten years. It was also agreed that the Muslims should go back to Medina immediately but that they could return the following year for the pilgrimage. This pilgrimage would last three days. In addition, the treaty allowed Muslims wishing to leave Islam and return to Mecca to do so. It also permitted Meccans to leave and become Muslims provided they had the permission of their guardians. The Muslims agreed to send any Meccan who did not have their guardian's permission back to Mecca.
Suhayl's son had come with his father with the idea of joining the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but when the treaty was signed he was, of course, forced to return to Mecca. He cried bitterly. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, '0 Abu Jandal, be patient and control yourself. Allah will provide relief and find a way out for you and others like you.’
The majority of the Muslims were very disappointed when they heard the terms of the agreement and thought that it should not have been accepted. They did not realize that this was in fact a great victory for the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), which Allah would later confirm in a Revelation. The agreement made sure that the following year they would enter Mecca peacefully, and in time would result in Muslims becoming stronger and more respected throughout Arabia. At the time the treaty was signed the Muslims could not have foreseen that the number of people who would travel to Medina to become Muslims in the following year would be greater than in all the years before.
Before the Muslims departed, they followed the Prophet's example of making sacrifice and either shaving or cutting their hair. Even though they were unable to visit the sacred mosque, their pilgrimage was accepted by Allah because it had been their true intention. On the return journey to Medina, the 'Victory' chapter of the Koran was revealed to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). It begins:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Surely We have given thee (0 Muhammad) a clear victory, That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin That which is past and that which is to come, And may complete His blessings upon thee, And may guide thee on the right path, And that Allah may help thee with mighty help. (Koran xlviii. 1-3)
Now most of those who left Mecca to join the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) without the consent of their guardians and were turned back by him as agreed, did not in fact return to Mecca, but lived instead in groups along the seashore. There they were joined by others who had left Mecca but these groups began to endanger Quraysh caravans which were passing by and disrupted their trade. Because of this, Quraysh told the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) that if he wanted to take these new Muslims, they would not ask for them to be returned. The young men, therefore, joined the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and the people in Mecca and Medina grew more at ease with one another. The young men from the seashore were shortly followed by those Muslims who were still living in Abyssinia, and soon the numbers of believers in Medina had doubled.
About this time, Khalid ibn al- Walid, the great warrior who had defeated the Muslims at Uhud, set out from Mecca for Medina. Along the way he met 'Amr ibn al-'As, the clever speaker who had pursued the Muslims when they fled to Abyssinia. 'Amr, who had attempted to find asylum in Abyssinia, had just returned from that country, the Negus having urged him to enter Islam. He asked Khalid, 'Where are you going?' Khalid replied, 'The way has become clear. The man is certainly a Prophet, and by Allah, I am going to become a Muslim. How much longer should I delay?' ‘Amr ibn al-'As answered, 'I am traveling for the same reason.'
So they both traveled on to Medina to join the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). The two men were, however, worried about meeting the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) because of having fought against the Muslims in the past. Therefore, when ‘Amr came before Allah's Messenger he said, '0 Prophet, will my past faults be forgiven and no mention made of what has gone before?' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) replied, ‘'Amr, Islam wipes away everything that happened before, as does the hijrah.’
A year after the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was able to lead two thousand pilgrims on the 'Umra. Quraysh vacated Mecca and watched the rites from the hills above the city. The agreed period of three days was observed, after which the Muslims returned to Medina.
THE peace which the Treaty of Hudaybiyah guaranteed for ten years, meant that people could travel from all over Arabia to visit the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and a great many came to declare their Islam. Also, during this period the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) decided that the time had come for his message to be taken to other countries, so he sent trusted companions with letters, telling of his message, to the leaders of the most powerful nations of the day. It is recorded that he said, ‘Allah has sent me as a mercy to all men, so take the message from me that Allah has mercy on you.' It is also recorded that some time before, when the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was digging before the Battle of the Trench, three flashes of lightning had blazed forth from a rock he had been striving to remove. These flashes had shown him the fortresses of the civilizations to the South, East, and West which were soon to come into Islam.
Now at the time the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) sent out his message, Abu Sufyan and some other members of Quraysh were trading in Syria, a province of the Eastern Roman Empire (later to be called Byzantium). Also, at about this time the Emperor Heraclius, ruler of this Empire, had a dream, and sadly told visitors to his court in Syria: 'I saw our Empire fall and victory go to a people who do not follow our religion.' At first he thought this must refer to the Jews, and he even had it in mind to kill all the Jews living under his rule. But then an envoy from the governor of Basra arrived with a message for the Emperor: '0 Emperor Heraclius, there are some Arabs in the city who are speaking of wonderful happenings in their country', and he then told of what he had heard about the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
On hearing this Heraclius commanded his soldiers: 'Go and find me someone who can tell me more about this.' The soldiers, however, did not find those who had been talking about the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), but instead found Abu Sufyan and some of his companions and brought them before the Emperor. Heraclius asked, 'Is there anyone among you who is a close relative of the Prophet Muhammad (p,b.u.h.)?'
Abu Sufyan replied, 'I am.'
So the Emperor addressed all the questions to him, thinking he would know the Prophet (p,b.u.h.) best. He said, 'Tell me what is the Prophet's position in your tribe?'
Abu Sufyan said, 'He is a member of our most respected family.'
'Did anyone before him say the kinds of things he says?' the Emperor went on.
No', was the reply.
‘And was he ever accused of lying or cheating?' 'Never.'
And then the Emperor asked: ' And what about his ideas and opinions, and his powers of reasoning?'
'No one has ever had cause to doubt him or find fault with his reasoning', replied Abu Sufyan.
'Who follows him, the proud or the humble?' 'The humble.' 'Do his followers increase or decrease?' 'They increase', said Abu Sufyan, 'none of his followers leave him.'
The Emperor then turned to other matters and asked: 'If he makes a treaty, does he keep it?' 'Yes', Abu Sufyan replied. 'Did you ever fight against him?' enquired the Emperor. To which Abu Sufyan answered: 'Yes. Sometimes we won, sometimes he won, but he never broke his word in any agreement.' The Emperor then asked: 'What does he say people must do?' 'To worship one God', said Abu Sufyan. 'He forbids people to worship as their fathers worshipped, and says they must pray to Allah alone, give alms, keep their word, and fulfil their duties and responsibilities.’
Abu Sufyan had spoken the truth even though he was an enemy of the Prophet (p,b.u.h.), and did not become a Muslim until the very end of his life. But he was afraid to lie before the members of his caravan who were also there with him. The meeting ended with these words from the Emperor, 'I see from this that he is indeed a Prophet (p.b.u.h.) You said that his followers do not leave him which proves they have true faith, for faith does not enter the heart and then go away. I knew he was coming and if what you say is true, he will surely conquer me. If I were with him now, I would wash his feet. You may leave now.’
It was not long after this that the messenger, Dihyah, arrived at the Syrian court bearing the Prophet Muhammad's letter which said, 'If you accept Islam you will be safe, and Allah will give you a double reward. If you do not, you will have to live with the results of your decision.'
Heraclius grabbed the letter. He was so upset he could hardly control himself. He said to Dihyah, 'I know your master is a true Prophet of Allah. Our books tell of his coming. If l were not afraid that the Romans would kill me, I would join Islam. You must visit Bishop Qaghatir and tell him everything. His word is more respected among the people than mine.'
So Dihyah related the message to the Bishop and when he heard it, Qaghatir said, 'Yes, your master, whom we call Ahmad, is mentioned in our scriptures.' He then changed from his black robes into white ones and went and spoke to the people gathered in the church. '0 Romans, a letter has come to us from Ahmad, in which he calls us to Allah. I bear witness that there is no divinity but Allah and that Ahmad is his slave and messenger.' (Ahmad is another name for the Prophet Muhammad.) But on hearing this the crowd grew angry and attacked Qaghatir, beating him until he was dead.
Heraclius was afraid that the same thing would happen to him, so he spoke to his generals from a balcony saying, '0 Romans! A man has written to me calling me to his religion. I believe he is truly the Prophet we have been told to expect. Let us follow him so that we can be happy in this world and the next.' The Romans cried out in anger when they heard this, so Heraclius quickly said, 'I was only pretending; I wanted to see how strong your faith was. I am pleased to see that you are true to your religion.' Heraclius then suggested that they pay a tax or give land to the Muslims in order to maintain peace, but the Romans refused. Realizing that he could do no more, and knowing that one day Islam would conquer Syria, Heraclius left the province and returned to Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. As he rode away he turned around to look back and said, 'Goodbye for the last time, 0 land of Syria!'
Meanwhile, another of the Prophet's messengers arrived at the palace of Chosroes, the Shah (or King) of Persia, where he was told by the royal guard: 'When you see the Shah, you must bow and not lift your head until he speaks, to you. To this the Prophet's messenger replied, 'I will never do that. I bow only to Allah.' 'Then the Shah will not accept the letter you bring', they said. And when the time came for the messenger to see him, the Shah was indeed very surprised to see the man holding his head high and refusing to kneel respectfully before him like everyone else. Nonetheless, the Shah still read out the letter:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful
from Muhammad, Messenger of Allah to Chosroes, Shah of Persia.
Peace be upon those who follow the truth, who believe in Allah and His Prophet and who testify that there is no divinity but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. I ask you in the Name of Allah, because I am His Messenger, to warn your people that if they do not accept His Message, they must live with the consequences. Become Muslim and you will be safe. If you refuse to tell them you will be to blame for the ignorance of your subjects.
The Shah was furious when he read this and tore the letter into little pieces. When the messenger returned to Arabia and told the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) what Chosroes had done, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, 'May Allah also tear his kingdom into little pieces. ' And several years later it happened just as the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had said it would. As with Syria and Persia, a messenger was also sent to the Negus (or King) of Abyssinia, with the following letter:
Peace. Praise be to Allah, the King, the All-Holy, the Peacemaker, the Keeper of Faith, the Watcher.
He is Allah, there is no divinity but He, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, the All-peaceable, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the All-sublime. Glorified be Allah from all that they associate with Him. (Koran lix.23)
And I testify that Jesus, son of Mary, is the spirit of Allah and His Word which He cast to Mary the Virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. Allah Created him from His Spirit and His Breath as He created Adam by His Hand and His Breath. I call you to Allah, the Unique, without partner, to His obedience, and to follow me and to believe in that which came to me, for I am the Messenger of Allah. Peace be upon all those who follow true guidance.
The King of Abyssinia was a very wise man, and was thought by the world to be a good Christian. He had, of course, already heard of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his religion from the Muslims who had sought refuge in his country years before. He was deeply moved by the letter and when he came down from his throne it was not just to show his respect but also to declare that he was already a Muslim.
He answered the Prophet's letter with one of his own.
To Muhammad the Prophet of Allah from the Negus al-Asham, King of Abyssinia.
Assalamu aleikum O Prophet of Allah wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu There is none like Him who has guided me to Islam. I received your letter, O Messenger of Allah. Some of your followers, as well as your cousin Ja’far, still live here. I believe you are truly the Messenger of God and reaffirm the pledge of allegiance I made to you some time ago before your cousin Ja'far, at whose hand I joined Islam and surrendered to the Lord of the Worlds.
A fourth messenger had, in the meantime, traveled by boat to Alexandria to meet the Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt, who was a Coptic Christian. In his letter, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) invited the Muqawqis to accept Islam, because a Christian who believed in the message of Jesus should also believe in him, for he had come with the same message from Allah. It read:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful,
from Muhammad, son of 'Abd Allah to the great Copt.
Peace be upon whoever follows the Truth. I beseech you to accept Islam. Become a Muslim. Allah will reward you twice. If you refuse, you will carry the blame for not allowing your people to share in this blessing.
The Muqawqis showed respect for what the letter said. He treated the messenger well, and sent many presents with him for the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), but he did not become a Muslim.
Although only Abyssinia responded to the Prophet's call to Islam, all was not lost, for a few years later Persia, Syria and Egypt all became Muslim countries.
THE ENTRY INTO MECCA
When the Muslim army, which numbered ten thousand, set out for Mecca, it was the month of Ramadan in the eighth year of the Hijrah. Many of the men kept the fast, even though they were not obliged to because they were traveling. Everyone was jubilant because they were going to Mecca, especially as some of them had not seen their homes in the city for eight long years.
In the meantime, the Prophet's uncle, al-'Abbas, had decided that the time had come for him and his wife to leave Mecca and join the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) in Medina. They did not, however, have to go far as after a distance of only twenty-five kilometres they came across the Muslim camp. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saw them he said, 'Uncle, your emigration is the last emigration. My prophecy is the last prophecy.' Al-'Abbas then joined the army and his wife went on to the safety of Medina.
Night fell and the Muslims made fires to light their camp. The Meccans, looking out of the city, were amazed to see the many fires, and Abu Sufyan went all over Mecca trying to find out whose camp it was. Suddenly he saw al-'Abbas riding towards him from the direction of the fires. He was returning as a messenger of peace from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and said to Abu Sufyan, 'The Muslims have come with a large army. They do not wish to fight, only to enter the city. It would be better to surrender and not fight. Come under my protection and meet the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).’
Abu Sufyan agreed, and got up behind al-‘Abbas, who was riding the Prophet's white mule. It was still night as they entered the Muslim camp. Each time they passed a fire, someone would call out, 'Who goes there?' None of them recognized the stranger as the leader of their enemy but all knew al-'Abbas and so let them through.
As they passed by ‘Umar, however, he immediately recognized Abu Sufyan and yelled out, ‘Abu Sufyan! The enemy of Allah!' He ran after them intending to kill his enemy but al-‘Abbas made the mule go faster. They reached the Prophet's tent just before ‘Umar, who rushed in after them quite out of breath. ‘Umar begged the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), '0 Messenger of Allah, let me end the life of Abu Sufyan, this enemy of Islam, who has led the Quraysh armies in their attacks on us!’
Al-‘Abbas interrupted, saying, 'I have sworn to protect him during his time here', whereupon the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told his uncle to take Abu Sufyan to his tent for the night.
In the morning Abu Sufyan was taken to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who said, ‘Abu Sufyan! Have you not yet realized that there is no divinity but Allah?'
To this Abu Sufyan replied, 'If there had been another he surely would have helped me by now.' 'Shame on you, Abu Sufyan', responded the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), 'it is time you realized that I am truly Allah's Messenger.' After a moment or two, Abu Sufyan, who remembered how ‘Umar had not been allowed to kill him, replied: 'I can see you are a generous and forgiving man but I still cannot be sure of that.'
At this, al-'Abbas, who had been standing nearby turned to him and said: 'Believe, as I do now.’
Abu Sufyan stood quietly for a moment, then in a calm, clear voice swore in front of everyone, 'There is no divinity but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) then told Abu Sufyan to go back to Mecca and tell the people that the Muslims would enter the city the next morning. Before he left, however, al-'Abbas suggested to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) that as Abu Sufyan was a proud man, it would be good to give him an honorable position. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) took this advice, saying to Abu Sufyan, 'Tell the people that when we enter, anyone seeking refuge in your house will be safe.' This was a great honor for Abu Sufyan. In addition, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told him to assure the Meccans that those who remained in their own homes or at the Ka'bah would also be protected.
Abu Sufyan returned quickly to the city. He made straight for the hill Hagar had climbed in her search for water and from which the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) later spoke, and called upon Quraysh to come to him. Abu Sufyan then spoke to the people, '0 people of Mecca, the fires we saw all around us were the camp fires of Muhammad and his men. He has come with a strong army and there are too many for us to fight. It is best, therefore, to surrender. Anyone who stays in my house, or in his own home, or at the Ka'bah will be safe.'
Early next day, the Muslims entered Mecca from all sides. They had been ordered to cause no harm unless anyone tried to stop them entering. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) arrived, he got off his camel, bowed down on the ground and thanked Allah for this victory. When the unbelievers saw this, they knew that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had come in peace. People began leaving their homes and running towards the Ka'bah. When they arrived there, they found the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) performing the ritual encircling of the Ka 'bah, the tawaf, on his camel, surrounded by the Muslims. When he had finished, he said, 'There is no divinity except Allah and He has no partner. Men and women of Quraysh, be not proud for all are equal; we are all the sons of Adam, and Adam was made of dust. ' Then he recited this verse to them:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes so you may know each another. Surely the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is All-knowing, All-aware. (Koran xlix. I 3)
After this he said to them: '0 Quraysh, what do you think I am going to do to you?'
The people thought carefully before answering because they knew that according to the laws of war they could all be taken prisoner. They also knew, however, that the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was generous, so they replied, 'You will treat us as a kind nephew and a generous brother would.'
To this he' replied with the words used by the Prophet Joseph when his brothers came to Egypt: 'God forgives you and He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful.' Later the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) went to the hill of Safa and there the crowd followed him and surged forward, taking his hand one by one, to declare themselves Muslim.
He then turned to the Ka’bah and, pointing his staff at the three hundred and sixty-five idols which were placed there, recited from the Koran:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful .
. . Truth has come and falsehood has vanished away. Lo! Falsehood is ever bound to vanish. (Koran xvii.8I)
At this, each idol fell over onto its face. Together with his followers the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) then proceeded to purify the Ka’bah, after which he ordered Bilal to climb on top of it and perform the call to prayer. Since then the call to prayer has been heard five times a day in Mecca. The Ka’bah, the House of Allah, has served the purpose for which it was built by Abraham thousands of years ago, as a sanctuary for the worship of Allah, our Creator, and Mecca continues to be the spiritual centre of Islam.
On the day Mecca was conquered, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) addressed the people, saying:
‘Allah made Mecca holy the day He created heaven and earth and it is the Holy of Holies until the Resurrection Day. It is not lawful for anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day to shed blood therein, nor to cut down trees therein. It was not lawful for anyone before me and it will not be lawful for anyone after me. Indeed it is not lawful for me except at this time, only Allah's anger against his people makes it permissible. Mecca has now regained its former holiness. Let those here now go forth and tell others.'
THE LESSON OF PRIDE AT THE VALLEY OF HUNAYN
ISLAM flourished in Mecca and the Muslims became stronger and stronger. But south of Mecca lived a tribe of warriors called Hawazin, who had not become Muslim. They made an agreement with another tribe from Ta'if, called Thaqif, to fight the Muslims and destroy them before they could spread their religion throughout Arabia.
The Thaqif, who were known for their courage, soon won the support of other tribes living around the Ta'if area, especially when such tribes were told: 'Look what has happened! If Quraysh, the largest tribe of all, have fallen to Muhammad, it is only a matter of time before the same will happen to the rest of us. We should strike now before the Muslims are established in Mecca and have the support of Quraysh.'
The Chief of one of these tribes, a fearless warrior called Malik ibn 'Awf, was chosen as the leader. He put forward a plan: 'You should all go out to battle accompanied by your families, your tents, your sheep and goats, for with all your belongings at stake, none of you will dare give up the fight.'
Everyone agreed with Malik except an old, blind man called Dorayd. He had been a great warrior in his day and because o fhis experience and valuable advice, still accompanied the men into battle. 'I don't like Malik's plan', he insisted. 'If a man is so cowardly as to leave a battle, then he will leave his family as well. The women and children will be a great worry to us and if we are defeated all our wealth will fall into enemy hands.' But Malik ignored this advice and stuck to his original plan.
When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) heard what the enemy tribes were planning, he found himself forced to fight and ordered his army towards Ta'if. He had twelve thousand men and the enemy only four thousand. The Muslims were proud of their strength and as they looked around at their number, said to themselves, 'We will never be defeated!' On hearing this the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) knew that the Muslims had become too proud and because of this would not succeed. He warned them, 'Look to Allah and not to your own strength.'
The time for battle came. The Muslim army advanced along the Hunayn path, a narrow way in the rugged mountains, towards the valley where the Hawazin and the other tribes were waiting. It was very early morning and not yet light. The Muslims were unaware that, under cover of darkness, the Hawazin warriors had already climbed up the mountain and were waiting for them. As soon as all the Muslims were trapped in the narrow passage-way below, the Hawazin ambushed them. First they threw rocks down upon them and then attacked with arrows and swords.
In surprise and fear, the Muslims started to retreat. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was bitterly disappointed to see them fleeing in terror but he stayed firmly in his place with Abh Bakr, ‘AIi, his uncle al-‘Abbas, and a few companions at his side. AI-‘Abbas then called to the Muslims to return and not to abandon the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Ashamed at what they had done, and seeing the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) facing the enemy almost alone, the Muslims quickly returned to fight. Then Allah sent His angels-the hosts ye cannot see-to their aid. A fierce battle followed. The Muslim warriors advanced, attacking furiously, driving the Hawazin back from the path into the valley, where the fighting went on long and hard. At the end of the day the Muslims won but not before having learnt a hard lesson about the danger of pride.
Just as the old man had predicted, the defeated enemy fled, leaving their families and possessions to be captured. Later all the leaders of the tribes except one came to ask for them back and to declare their acceptance of Islam. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) forgave them and returned their families to them, but not their belongings.
The one exception was the leader of Hawazin. He fled to Ta'if, where he sought protection in the castle, but the Muslims pursued him and surrounded the city, which they besieged for about three weeks. They tried to break into the castle but after losing many men in the attempt the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered a withdrawal. The story did not end there, however, for shortly afterwards Hawazin and most of the other tribes came to Mecca and declared themselves Muslim, including Malik ibn ‘Awf, who had led them in battle and whom the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) now made their leader.
After the battle of the Hunayn Valley, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) distributed what goods had been taken between the people of Quraysh and the other Bedouin tribes. The Ansar from Medina, who had been his only support during the long hard years before the conquest of Mecca, received nothing. They felt angry about this and went to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to complain. He said to them, 'What is this I hear of you? Do you think badly of me? Did I not come to you when you did not know the truth and Allah guided you; when you were poor and Allah made you rich; when you were enemies and Allah softened your hearts? Are you covetous for the things of this world that I must use to gain people's trust so that I can then lead them to Islam? Surely for you Islam is enough? Are you not satisfied that while some men take away flocks and herds you take Allah's Messenger back with you to Medina?'
On hearing this, all the men felt very contrite and began to weep. Then with great humility and reverence their spokesman said: 'We are indeed well pleased to have Allah's Messenger as our gift in this life.'
Perhaps we could ask ourselves the same question. Are we not blessed to have the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and the Book, guiding us in what really matters forever and ever? Is this not so much more important than thinking about the momentary pleasures of the day?
Shortly after this the Ansar left for Medina accompanied by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). He could have stayed among his own people and lived out his days in Mecca, but he returned as he had promised, to live among the people of Medina, which was a great blessing for them.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful Allah
gave you victory on many fields and on the day of Hunayn, when you exulted in your great numbers it was of no help to you, and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you; then you turned back in flight; Then Allah sent His peace of reassurance down upon His Messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts you could not see, and punished those who did not believe. Such is the reward of disbelievers. Then afterwards Allah will relent toward whom He will; for Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran ix.25-27)
TABUK -- THE TEST OF FAITH
NEWS of the growing power of the Muslims, as more and more of Arabia followed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), eventually reached Heraclius, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Romans saw the uniting of the Arabs in Islam as a possible threat to their Empire and the Emperor's advisors and generals, therefore, decided that the best thing to do would be to attack the Muslims from the north and east at the same time and destroy Islam once and for all. Two years had passed since Heraclius had told them of the Prophet's letter asking them to submit to Islam, but just as then, they were in no mood now to listen to such ideas.
When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) heard of the Romans' plans, he decided that it would be better to meet the Roman army in Tabuk, some 500 kilometres from Medina on the route to Syria, than to await an attack on Medina. One reason for this decision was that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) felt that if the Muslims were defeated at Medina, the city as well as the army would be taken, which would mean the end of Islam. This was a very hard decision for him to make because not only was Tabuk a very long way away, but it was also harvest time and a particularly hot year. Added to this was the fact that the enemy had an enormous army.
Now at this time there were some people living in Medina who were not true believers. They were called 'hypocrites' because they pretended to believe but hid what was truly in their hearts. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) called everyone to war, these hypocrites tried to create fear and doubt among the Muslims, saying 'How can we hope to defeat the Romans whose great empire stretches over vast areas of the world? And even if we could, we will not get the chance because the long journey and the heat will defeat us first. In any case, our crops and fruits are ready to be harvested; how can we leave them? We will be ruined if we do!'
All that the hypocrites said severely tested the Muslims. Who would continue to fight for his religion against such odds? Who would have the courage to give his wealth to help equip an army? This test of faith would indeed show who the true Muslims were. On this question, Allah revealed the following verse:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
O you who believe! What aileth you that when it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of Allah, you are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Do you take pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter. (Koran lx.38)
To form and equip an army the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) needed a great deal of money and despite all that the hypocrites had said, many Muslims, especially the Prophet's close friends, were willing to help. 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, for instance, generously provided horses and arms for ten thousand soldiers and Abu Bakr gave all that he had in the world. 'Umar, too, gave a great deal, and in this way the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was able to equip an army of forty thousand soldiers.
Finally everything was ready but just as they were about to leave, seven more men came to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to ask if they could go with him. Unfortunately, he had to refuse because there were no animals for them to ride. The seven men were so upset that they wept as they left. With nothing more to be done, the army moved off, but just then several spare camels were found. On learning of this, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) sent for the seven men, who were overjoyed to find that they could join him in his fight.
By now the Romans had heard that the Muslims were coming out to meet them. They felt even more sure of victory when they heard this because they believed that it would be quite impossible for an army to cross a waterless desert in the scorching summer sun. Even if by some miracle the Muslims succeeded, they would be so exhausted that it would be easy to defeat them.
As it happened, the heat was so intense and the journey so difficult that several Muslims did turn back. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and most of the others, however, continued until they finally ran out of water. The expedition now seemed hopeless as the men grew thirstier and thirstier. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) prayed to Allah for help and, as he finished his prayer, the first drops of rain came splashing down. The rain continued to fall until all the Muslims had drunk their fill. That night they slept soundly for the first time in days, refreshed by the water and confident that Bilal would wake them as usual for the dawn prayer. But Bilal slept so deeply that he did not wake up. It was the first time that the Muslims had missed a prayer and they were very upset. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.), however, was not angry with Bilal and told the Muslims that they need not be upset because they had not intentionally missed the prayer.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his army continued their trek across the desert and finally arrived at the oasis of Tabuk. When they got there, however, they were surprised to find that the Roman army had retreated in fear on hearing of the miraculous crossing of the desert by the Muslims. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) waited at the oasis for a while but when it became apparent that the Romans were not going to fight, he gave the order to return home. The enemy was not pursued because the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) only fought when attacked.
The long march to Tabuk had been yet another test of faith for the Muslims. Even so, there were still some among those who made that heroic journey who were hypocrites, pretending to be sincere while being enemies of Islam in their hearts. No one could have suspected that anyone who had made that journey across the desert with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would be an enemy of his. Realizing this, several hypocrites plotted to kill the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) by pushing him off the top of a high, rocky passage that ran between the mountains at 'Aqabah.
Before the army reached this rocky passage, however, Allah warned the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) about this wicked plan. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.), therefore, ordered the entire army to travel through the valley while he and his two guards went by way of the cliff. As the plotters approached, he shouted to them so that they could see that he knew of their plan, whereupon they quickly ran back to the army and tried to hide among the rest of the soldiers.
Later, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) gathered his followers around him and told them what had happened. He picked out the men who had plotted against him and even told them the exact words they had spoken to each other. Some of the Prophet's companions said that these men should be killed, but the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) forgave them.
As soon as he arrived back in Medina, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) went to the mosque and prayed. Many of the hypocrites and the lukewarm who had not gone with him to Tabuk came to give their reasons for not having done so. Three men of spiritual value who had not joined the army were subjected by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to the discipline of waiting for Allah's forgiveness. For fifty days no one spoke to them. Finally, Allah revealed a verse to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) which declared that these three men were forgiven:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Allah hath turned in mercy to the Prophet, and to the Muhajirin and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of hardship. After the hearts of a party of them had almost swerved aside, then He turned unto them in mercy. Lo! He is full of Pity, Merciful. And to the three also (did He turn in mercy) who were left behind, when the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for them, and their own souls were straitened for them till they understood that there is no refuge from Allah save toward Him. Then He turned unto them in mercy that they (too) might turn (repentant unto Him). Lo! Allah! He is the Relenting, the Merciful. O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful. (Koran iX.117-119)
THE FAREWELL PILGRIMAGE
THE Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had become the most powerful leader in the whole of Arabia. After the idols in the Ka'bah had been smashed and Quraysh had become Muslim, most of the other tribes of Arabia came to declare their Islam. The year in which they came was later to be called the Year of Deputations. As each tribe joined Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) sent his men to teach them about their new religion.
Many people also came to Medina to question the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) himself. One tribe sent a man called Dimam, who was large and strong. On arriving in Medina, he went straight to the mosque, where the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) was sitting with some of his companions, and stood over the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). In a loud, rough voice he asked, 'Which of you is the son of 'Abd al-Muttalib?' When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) answered him Dimam went on, 'I am going to ask you a hard question, so do not misunderstand me. I ask you to swear by Allah, your Allah, the Allah of those before you and the Allah of those who will come after you, has He sent you to us as a messenger?'
'Yes, He has', replied the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
'Has Allah instructed you to order us to serve Him; to pray these five prayers; to pay alms; to fast; to make the pilgrimage and to follow the other laws of Islam?' continued Dimam.
When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) answered that Allah had indeed instructed him in this way, Dimam became a Muslim and, as he left, added, 'Then I will do the things we are told to do and avoid the things we are forbidden-no more and no less.'
As Dimam mounted his camel to leave, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told the people around him, 'If this man is sincere, he will go to Paradise. ' When Dimam reached his people they all thought he had gone mad but by nightfall, after he had finished speaking, there was not one among them that had not accepted Islam.
When the time came for the yearly pilgrimage, it was proclaimed that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would be going to Mecca. The Muslims flocked to Medina from all over Arabia to join him on his journey to the Ka’bah. As the tribes arrived they camped around the city until they finally numbered more than thirty thousand. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) went out with his family and friends to meet them and to lead them on the pilgrimage, but before setting off, he led all the Muslims in prayer. After the prayers, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) got on his camel and headed towards Mecca followed by the pilgrims, all of whom, for the first time in centuries, worshipped Allah, the One God.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his companions were deeply moved by the sight of the huge number of Muslims accompanying them to Mecca, carrying no arms, and fearing no one. They could not help but remember their original flight from Mecca when they had been so few in number and were forced to leave in order to avoid the anger of Quraysh.
Throughout the journey the Muslims repeated a prayer taught to them by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), which he in turn had received from the Archangel Gabriel. This prayer, the talbiyah, has been part of the Hajj ritual ever since. It is in answer to the call Abraham was commanded to make when he and Ishmael finished building the Ka’bah.
Labaik alahumma labaik, labaik la sharika laka labaik in al-hamd wa al-nifamatu laka wal-mulk, la sharika laka.
Here I am, O Allah, at Thy service. Here I am, Thou art without partner, here I am. All Praise and blessings are thine, and Dominion! Thou art without partner!
After ten days the pilgrims marched at sunset through the same pass by which they had entered on the Day of Conquest of Mecca. When they reached the Ka’bah, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) stood before it in prayer, then he and all the Muslims walked around it seven times saying their prayer aloud. Next, just as Abraham had done, they went towards the Mount of Mercy at ‘Arafah, which the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ascended on a camel.
From the mountain he led the people in prayer and then spoke to them as they stood assembled on the vast plain below. What the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said is known as the 'Farewell Sermon', because it was the last speech the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) made before he died. He said, 'Surely you will meet your Lord and He will question you about your works. ' He asked the Muslims to take their guidance from the Koran and from his own example. This, he said, was the best way to live. He ordered them to cease living in the way they had before Islam. Revenge, one of the oldest traditions in Arabia, was ended forever; usury was prohibited; property was to be respected. Things which previously were forbidden during the four sacred months of the year were now forbidden at all times. He then commanded, 'Know that every Muslim is a Muslim 's brother', which was a completely new idea to the tribes who had so often quarreled in the past. He also said, ‘Allah has given everyone his due--exactly what each one deserves.' After each point the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) asked, 'Have I explained it well? Is it perfectly clear?'
Everyone answered, 'Yes. ' For these were the people who would have to pass on the Prophet's message and instructions to those who were unable to be present that day and to future generations. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, 'I have left you two things. If you hold on to them you will be saved. They are Allah's Book and the words of your Prophet (p.b.u.h.)' He then asked, 'Have I not conveyed the message?'
The multitude shouted out, 'By Allah, yes!' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ended, '0 Allah! Bear witness to that.'
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
. . . This day those who disbelieve are in despair of (ever harming) your religion; so do not fear them, but fear Me! This day I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as a religion AL-ISLAM . . . (Koran v.3)
Many Muslims started to shed tears, knowing that if the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had completed his message, his life must be near its end.
After spending the rest of the 'Day of 'Arafah' in prayer and contemplation, the Muslims began to complete the pilgrimage by returning to Mecca with the talbiyah prayer still on their lips. The first night of the return journey was spent at Muzdalifah. Here they gathered pebbles, which they carried with them the next day to Mina. There they stood before a huge rock and stoned it in remembrance of Abraham 's meeting with the Devil in that very place. When Abraham received the order from Allah to sacrifice his son Ishmael as a test of his faith, the Devil had tried to convince him not to do it. He came to Abraham at Mina, as he was on his way to carry out Allah's command, but Abraham took some stones and hurled them at the Devil to drive him away. Since the casting of stones at Mina on the Prophet's 'Farewell Pilgrimage', this has become another ritual which Muslims perform on the annual pilgrimage to remind them that they, too, must continue to drive the Devil away when he tries to prevent them from being obedient to Allah.
After throwing the stones, the pilgrims sacrificed sheep and camels and gave the meat to the poor. In this way the great faith of Abraham was remembered, for when he had been ready to sacrifice Ishmael, Allah had sent a sheep in his place. The Muslims then completed the pilgrimage by again circling the Ka’bah seven times. They then cut their hair and nails and changed out of their white clothes to show they had returned to their daily lives. Before returning to Medina, the Muslims spent three nights in the valley at Mina, where the final preparations were made for the journey home.
As for the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), he made one final visit before leaving Mecca. This was to the grave of his devoted wife, Khadijah, who had been the first person to believe in Allah's Revelation through him. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) knew that this would be the last time he would see the grave, or Mecca, because during the pilgrimage he had received the chapter of the Koran called 'Help', from which he knew that his death was not far away.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When Allah's help and triumph comes And thou seest mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops, Then hymn the praises of thy Lord, and seek forgiveness of Him. Lo! He is ever ready to show mercy. (Koran CX.1-3)
THE PROPHET'S DEATH
ONE NIGHT, shortly after his return to Medina, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) woke up at midnight and asked his servant 'Abd Allah to saddle his mule. They then left the house and went to the Baql al-Gharqad, the burial ground of the Muslims. There the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) stood in front of the graves and, as though he could see the Muslims buried in them, spoke to them and prayed over them. Later, 'Abd Allah reported, 'The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told me that he was ordered to pray for the dead and that I was to go with him.'
After the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had prayed he turned to 'Abd Allah and said, 'I can choose between all the riches of this world, a long life, and then Paradise, or meeting my Lord and entering Paradise now.' 'Abd Allah begged him to choose a long, rich life, followed by Paradise, but the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told him that he had already chosen to meet his Lord now rather than remain in the world.
The following morning the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) awoke with a terrible headache, but despite this he led the prayers at the mosque. From what he said afterwards to the people assembled there, they understood that his death was near. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) praised his best friend, Abu Bakr, who had begun to weep, and told everyone that he knew they would all meet again at a pool in Paradise. He added, however, that although he was sure they would always worship Allah alone, he feared that the pleasures of the world would attract them, and they would begin to compete with one another for material possessions, forgetting spiritual things.
Soon after, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) requested that he be moved to the room of 'A'ishah, one of his wives. As the days passed his fever grew worse, until one day he was so ill that he could not even get to the mosque, which was next to where 'A'ishah lived. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told 'A'ishah to tell the Muslims to let Abu Bakr, her father, lead the prayer, which made them very sad for this was the first time anyone had taken the Prophet's place.
Later, on the 12th day of Rabi al-Awal, in the 11th year of Islam (June 8th 632 A.D.), the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) heard the voices of the people in prayer. With great effort he got up and looked from his door at all the Muslims who were assembled in rows behind Abu Bakr; he smiled with great satisfaction. Abu Bakr saw him and stepped back to give the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) his place. The Muslims were happy, thinking he was going to pray with them as before, but the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), who looked radiantly beautiful that day, signaled to them to continue on their own. He prayed in a sitting position at the right of Abu Bakr, after which he went back inside and lay his head on 'A'ishah's lap. He was in such pain that his daughter Fatimah cried out in pity. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, 'There is no pain for your father after this day; truly, death has appeared to me. We must all suffer it till the Day of Judgement.' As he lay there, 'A'ishah remembered that he had once said, ’Allah never takes a Prophet to Himself without giving him the choice. 'Then she heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) speak. His last words were, 'Nay, rather the Exalted Communion of Paradise.'
‘A’ishah then said to herself, 'So, by Allah, he is not choosing us!'
When the people in the mosque heard that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was dead, they were filled with grief. ‘Umar could not, and would not, believe it, and exclaimed that it was not true. Abu Bakr then went out and spoke gently to the people, saying 'All praise belongs to Allah! O people, whoever worshipped Muhammad, Muhammad is dead. But for him who worships Allah, Allah is living and never dies. ' He then recited this verse from the Koran which had been revealed after the battle of Uhud:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dies or is slain, you will turn back on your heels? He who turns back does no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful.
No soul can ever die except by Allah' s permission and at a term appointed. Whoso desires the reward of the world, We bestow on him thereof; and whosoever desires the reward of the Hereafter, We bestow on him thereof We shall reward the thankful. (Koran iii. 144-45)
After this the people pledged their loyalty to Abu Bakr, whom the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had chosen to lead the prayer. Abu Bakr accepted and concluded what he had to say with these words:
'Obey me so long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. But if I disobey Allah and His Messenger, you owe me no obedience. Arise for your prayer, Allah have mercy upon you!'
The people rose and asked him: 'Where will the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) be buried?' Abu Bakr remembered that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had said, 'No Prophet dies who is not buried on the spot where he died. ' And so the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was buried in a grave dug in the floor of 'A'ishah's room, in the house next to the mosque. The spot became known as the Haram al-Nabawi and Muslims from all over the world go there to pray and to give their blessings and greetings of peace to the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.).
And Lo! thine verily will be a reward unfailing. And Lo! thou art of a tremendous nature. (Koran lxviii.3-4)