Victims of Revenge | 4AH

Narrative

The Battle of Uhud enabled the non-Muslim elements of Madinah and its surroundings to become emboldened in their attitude towards the Muslims. Then came news that the Bani Asad, a powerful tribe from Najd, were planning a raid on Madinah. Thus, the Prophet  took care to remain abreast of any such developments and to demonstrate to the rest of Arabia that the Muslims derived strength from Uhud rather than weakness.

The Prophet swiftly dispatched a force of a hundred at fifty well armed warriors into their northern territory under the command of Abu Salamah with instructions to do all in his power to take the camp of Banu Asad by surprise. Abu Salamah found his enemy unprepared and shortly before dawn, he inspired his men to holy war, and they attacked. The Bedouin army quickly withdrew and scattered in all directions while the Muslims collected the booty returning to Madinah victorious.

About the same time news came of the danger of another projected raid from further south; but in this instance the Prophet judged that all the hostility was concentrated in one remarkably evil man, Khalid ibn Sufyan, the chief of the Lihyanite branch of Hudhayl. If they could rid themselves of him, the danger from that quarter would become negligible. He commanded Abdullah ibn Unais to seek out this man, describing to him some of his features. In the course of his mission, he unexpectedly found Khalid relaxing in the company of women. Having managed to separate Khalid from his men, on the pretext of joining his ranks, Abdullah swiftly assassinated him. This solitary campaign had the great effect of silencing the Banu Lihyan branch of the Hudhayl tribe.

All idea of the projected raid against Madinah was now abandoned, but it was no doubt in revenge for this death of one of their chiefs that in the following month some men of Hudhayl attacked six Muslims who were on their way to give religious instruction to two of the smaller neighbouring tribes. The encounter took place in Raji’, a watering place not far from Makkah. Three of the Prophet’s men died fighting, and three were taken captive, one of whom was subsequently killed when he tried to escape.

The first captive was Khubaib about whom it was unanimously decided to crucify him. Before his execution, he requested he be allowed some time in which he offered two units of prayer. Upon completion, he turned to his executioners and informed them that he would have prayed longer were it not that they would assume he was afraid of death. Abu Sufyan then asked him whether he wished Muhammad were here in his place, to which Khubaib answered that he would not even want a thorn to prick the Prophet that he might thereby be sitting with his family. Surprised with his response, the Quraysh ordered ‘Uqbah bin Al-Harith, whose father had been killed by Khubaib himself, to crucify him. During the ordeal Khubaib called upon God saying, “O Lord! Count them one by one, and exterminate them to the last one.”

The second captive was Zayd and was purchased by Safwan ibn Umayyah in order to be killed in revenge for his father, Umayyah ibn Khalaf.

Later this year the Prophet married Zainab, daughter of Khuzaymah of the Bedouin tribe of ‘Amir. A fourth apartment was made for her in his house adjoining the Mosque, and it was doubtless in connection with this new alliance that the Prophet now received a visit from Abu Bara, the ageing chief of Zaynab’s tribe. He appealed to him to accept Islam and though he did not convert, he was inclined to the message reaching his people.  Inevitably, the Prophet remained weary given what had just happened at Raji’ and therefore rejected Abu Bara’s request. Abu Bara replied stating that he would personally be their guardian and protector as chief of ‘Amir. Given his notable influence the Prophet chose forty from the foremost Muslim ranks, placing in command of them a man from Khazraj, Mundhir ibn ‘Amr.

It was not known in Madinah that Abu Bara’s leadership was disputed within the tribe, and his nephew, who aspired to be chief in his place, killed one of the Companions who had been sent ahead with a letter from the Prophet, and called upon his tribe to slaughter the others. His tribesmen refused to violate the protection already extended by Abu Bara, and so Amir summoned other tribes who had been in recent hostilities with the Muslims. They immediately sent out a detachment of horse and massacred the whole delegation of unsuspecting Muslims in their camp by the well of Ma’unah, except for two men who had been away to pasture the camels. They were dismayed to see vultures in great numbers circling low above their camp and found their Companions laying  dead in their own blood.

The fall of the Muslim martyrs at the well of Ma’unah deeply grieved the Prophet. His blaming Abu Bara’ incensed the latter given that he had given his word. So Abu Bara, for his part, was extremely wrathful against Amir ibn Tufayl for violating his protective covenant with the Muslims and sent his own son, al Raji’, to kill Amir in vengeance for the violated honour.

This persisting culture of treachery also afflicted the Jews of Banu al Nadir. The Prophet on seeking their assistance in the payment of blood-libel (in accordance with the clauses of the treaty that both parties had already signed), went to them near Quba along with ten of his prominent companions. The Jews, on their part, pretended to comply with the Prophet’s requirement, although their true intention was to assassinate the Prophet by dropping a large millstone on his head. However, the Prophet was informed of their iniquitous plot by Gabriel and he, along with his Companions, returned back to Madinah. The Prophet admonished the Jews of Banu al Nadir and commanded them to leave Madinah. They were given ten days to evacuate after which any Jew seen in Madinah would be killed. However, no Jew left the city, and instead they readied for a siege believing that they could easy outlive it. So the Muslims took up arms and began to fight the Jews. For twenty days and nights the hostilities ensued and in realising that they were overcome, the Jews requested the Prophet to guarantee their lives and properties and to give them safe passage out of Madinah. The Prophet mercifully complied and the Jews left for Tabuk.

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