Archive for April, 2011

Migration to Madinah | 1AH


After the hajj pilgrimage, the new converts from Yathrib returned home to await the arrival of the Muslim fugitives. In Makkah Muhammad began to persuade the believers to migrate, but stopped short of commanding it. It was an irrevocable and frightening step and anybody who felt it to be beyond his or her strength, was free to remain behind.

During  the summer in 622 CE, about seventy Muslims set off with their families to Madinah, where they were lodged in the houses of the Ansar, the Muslims of Madinah, until they could set up their own homes.

When Quraysh realised the plan, they sought to prevent certain individuals from leaving; though they fell short of a concerted effort to detain the Muslims. They saw the departure of Muhammad  as a serious threat, fearing that under his wise and farsighted leadership, the people of Yathrib might even seek to attack Makkah, or at least, cut off their trade route to Sham. Hence, the Quraysh decided that there was really no alternative but rid of themselves of this nuisance once and for all. They concluded at the Nadwah (meeting house) that the best solution would be for each one of their clans to delegate a strong youth and arm him with a sharp sword so that they would all kill Muhammad  together with one stroke; and therefore, the responsibility for his death would be equally divided amongst them all, thus making vengeance on the part of Banu ‘Abd Manaf, the clan of the Prophet, virtually impossible.

When the iniquitous resolution had been passed, the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad  and revealed to him their plot. He then gave him God’s permission to leave Makkah, bidding him to leave that night and not sleep in his bed. At noon, the Prophet went to inform his companion Abu Bakr who at once knew that the time had come to leave Makkah. His daughter, ‘Aisha, saw the delight in her fathers eyes at the prospect of accompanying the Prophet as they sat and made their plans. The Prophet then returned to his house and told ‘Ali that he was about to leave for Yathrib and that he should stay behind in Makkah in order to give back all the goods which had been entrusted to the Prophet. As night advanced, the Quraysh posted assassins around the Prophet’s house. Thus they kept vigil all night long, waiting to kill him the moment he left his house early in the morning.

The Prophet and ‘Ali were soon aware of their presence; and the Prophet took up a cloak in which he used to sleep and gave it to ‘Ali, telling him to sleep in it and that no harm would come to him. Just before dawn, Muhammad left without being noticed; he cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Quran, “And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.” Then together along with Abu Bakr they left for Madinah southward towards the cave of Thawr.
For three long days, the pair remained in the cave and the Quraysh persistently looked for them without avail. Nobody knew of their hiding place in the cave except the family of Abu Bakr. On the third day the silence of their mountain sanctuary was broken by the faint sound of men’s voices gradually drawing closer. As they approached their hideout the Prophet looked at Abu Bakr, and said: “Do not fear; God is with us.” They could now hear the sound of footsteps which drew nearer and then stopped: the assassins were standing outside the cave. They then turned back; all in agreement that there was no need to enter the cave, since no one could possibly be there. To their amazement the two climbed up to the mouth of the cave to find its entrance covered with a spiders web.

When they felt certain that Quraysh had called off the hunt for them in the vicinity, Muhammad and Abu Bakr commanded their servant to bring them their camels for a final escape. Together with their servant and guide they headed south towards Madinah taking unknown paths to cover their tracks.

Meanwhile, Quraysh declared a hundred camels as a reward for whoever would bring back Muhammad, dead or alive. Such an immense sum spurred many individuals to try their luck, from amongst them was Suraqah ibn Malik. Upon hearing that the Prophet  had been spotted, he decided to pursue him, secretly mounting a swift horse and riding northwest. As he caught sight of them his horse began to stumble and continued to do so a number of times. He conceded that this was indeed a bad omen, however, with the prize in mind he obstinately continued. Now so close that he could hear the Prophet reciting verses of the Quran the two forelegs of his horse began to sink into the sand causing Suraqah to fall off; awakened to the situation,he realized his inability in the face of divine protection. He approached the travelling group with a penitent heart and begged of the Prophet  for forgiveness in all humility. The Prophet forgave him and asked him to keep their matter a secret. Suraqah hurried back to Makkah a Muslim and tried to foil the attempts of those who were in pursuit of Muhammad.

For seven consecutive days they travelled with great haste under the cover of night until they reached the quarters of Banu Sabin, close to Madinah. Their fears lessened and for the first time, their hearts delighted with the hope and assurance of victory. They had almost reached their destination.

During Prophet Muhammad’s  long and exhaustive trip, the news reached his companions in Yathrib that he had emigrated from Makkah in order to join them. Aware of the enmity of Quraysh and of their attempts to follow and seize the Prophet, the Muslims waited anxiously for his arrival and looked forward to hearing the details of his escape. Many of them had never seen the Prophet  before, although they had heard a great deal about his message and resolution.  For many days before his arrival, they would go out to the outskirts of the city at dawn to spend the morning seeking signs of the Prophet’s arrival at a place called al-Harrah. Abu Bakr and Muhammad  had now reached the town of Quba on the outskirts of Madinah were they stayed for a few days. During this interval, he founded a Mosque and before he left for Medina, ‘Ali had joined his party.

On Monday 27 September 622 CE, as the Muslims awaited the arrival of Muhammad, a Jew of Yathrib announced to them,”O People of Arabia, your man has finally arrived.” A joyous cry swept Madinah as the news soon spread through the city and people left their homes wearing their best attire to receive their noble guest. Yathrib, would now be known as Madinah (which is a shortening of Madinatu Nabi, or City of the Prophet).

A number of notables invited the Prophet to stay with them but the Prophet  respectfully declined and for fairness allowed his camel to stroll freely through the city. It continued until it stopped at an enclosure belonging to two orphans of Banu al Najjar which he bought from them. There, the Prophet’s Mosque was built in earnest, along with the his living quarters.

The Emigrants and residence built the Mosque from the trunk of palm trees that were used as pillars to support a roof of palm branches, and a greater part of the courtyard was left open. But the Emigrants and the Helpers, as the residence of Madinah would now be known, needed a more formal bond than simply a song and a shared activity. The Prophet enjoined upon the two parties a tie of brotherhood, pairing each of them into a bond that would supersede past tribal ties; the Quraysh, the Madani tribes of Aws and Kasraj, now formed one Ummah. Islam was building a force for unity and seeking to eradicate all  division.

Lessons & Wisdoms:

After the second pledge at Aqabah, were the people of Yathrib swore an oath of allegiance for the duties of war, the Prophet began to encourage his followers in Makkah to emigrate to Yathrib. The Muslims of Quraysh began to emigrate in considerable numbers and it was not long before all his closest Companions had left Makkah except  Abu Bakr and Ali. The Qurashites did what they could to stop the emigrations and succeeded in preventing a few who they managed to coerce into denouncing Islam. God revealed then to them that the door of repentance was still open and so when news reached them of this they renewed their Islam and waited for their opportunity to escape.
The following lessons can be drawn from this episode of the biography:
1) The first migration to Abyssinia which occurred nine years ago, was a practical form of training the disciples; they learnt firsthand the hardship of having to leave behind their homeland.

2) Though the pledge of protection was secured by the Prophet, he chose not to migrate in haste but rather wait for Divine Instructions. One of the wisdoms behind the delay was to allow the appointed preachers in Madinah time to gather momentum and spread the message amongst it’s people such that a great many of them would long for the Prophets arrival.

3) The Prophet utilized every means at his disposal to avoid being detected and to make his migration a success; but he never once feared for his well-being. Such action is part and parcel of having true reliance on God, as His help and aid is for those who strive by taking the means but then place their trust upon Him for the desired outcome. When there is no recourse to a means than reliance upon God is still required. This is like the time when Abraham was thrown into a fire and God caused the fire to become cool for him.

4) The migration to Madinah was perhaps the most significant occurrence in the history of mankind. In later years the Muslims would conquer a multitude of lands but it would all begin with Madinah. This year was thus chosen to demarcate the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

5) The arrival of the Prophet signified the end of one phase of his Call and the beginning of an entirely new phase. The focus of his Call would now be to establish a flourishing community of principled Believers who would uphold the Islamic teachings and propagate them to the rest of the world.

6) Upon reaching Madinah the Prophet enjoined bonds of brotherhood upon the Emigrants with the Helpers, the new converts of Madinah, and thus unified them. The unity of the Ummah, Muslim Nation, was to reflect the Divine Unity, which Muslims were also commanded to build in their own personal lives.

The first task the Prophet undertook in Madinah was the construction of the mosque which made public the religious practices of Islam. This clearly shows us that the mosque is one of the most important facets of an Islamic society. Though the Prophet’s mosque was primarily setup for worship it had a number of other functions, such as:

– A shelter for the poor, as a special section of the mosque called as-Suffah was made for them.

– A refuge for women

– A place for educational activities

– A place where prisoners were often kept, though not for punishment but rather rehabilitation.

– A place for medical treatment, as in the case of those injured in war

– A place to conduct meetings with foreign delegates and dignitaries

– A place for military planning

– A place for the masses to visit their leader

So why is it the case now that many mosques’ are used only for prayer?

Edicts & Rulings:

The Prophet spoke of a dream in which the migration to Yathrib was foretold to him. He said to his wife ‘Aisha, “I have been shown the land to which you will migrate: it has palm trees between the two lava fields; the two stony tracts.” – The dreams of the Prophets are part of Revelation from God.

The Quranic chapter al-Ankaboot is generally recognised as being one the last chapters to be revealed during the Makkan phase. We find that the Muslims were instructed to preach and debate with the People of the Book with wisdom and good manners as they were now their neighbours in Madinah:

Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way, except in the case of those of them who do wrong‚ saying, ‘We have faith in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him.’

Despite all the worldly means that the Prophet and Abu Bakr took to ensure their migration was kept as secret as possible, they in no way depended or relied upon the ability of their own efforts; on the contrary, their hearts were firmly reliant upon God, hoping for his Help and Support. Muhammad & Abu Bakr received reassurance from the Heavens when they feared the Quraysh were about to spot them hiding in the cave of Thawr. The following Quranic verse from the chapter at-Tawba speaks of a Divine help and support that came to their aid:

when these two were [hiding] in the cave, [and] the Apostle said to his companion, “Grieve not: verily, God is with us.” And thereupon God bestowed upon him from on high His gift of inner peace, and brought utterly low the cause of those who were bent on denying the truth, whereas the cause of God remained supreme: for God is almighty, wise
God also revealed to the Prophet at this time verse 80 from the chapter of al-Isra:
Say: ‘My Lord, make my entry (into Madinah) sincere and make my leaving (Makkah) sincere and grant me from Thy Presence an authority to aid (me).”

It is reported that at this point the regular prayers of  zuhr, asr, and isha were changed from being units of two to units of four.


The Battle of Badr | 2AH


As soon as the Muslims undertook the Hijra they knew that they would have to be prepared to fight.

As mentioned early on, the ghazu or raid was an accepted way of making ends meet, among the Arabs, when times were hard.  Raiders would invade the territory of an enemy tribe and capture their livestock and other goods, taking care to avoid bloodshed. Madinah was ideally placed to attack the Makkan caravans, often guarded by only a few merchants. Muhammad despatched two raiding parties of Emigrants,  to attack their caravans because  the Quraysh had usurped the wealth they left behind when fleeing Makkah. These early raids were not entirely successful but sent a clear message to the Makkans of defiance.

The raids didn’t deter Abu Sufyan who led a great caravan towards Sham; the goods were estimated at 50,000 dinars with all the Makkan merchants having bought a share in it. The Muslims received the news of the caravan and the Prophet set out with three hundred odd men to intercept it at the well of Badr, near the Red Sea coast. Abu Sufyan caught wind of the ambush and instead of taking his usual route across the Hijaz, he turned sharply away from the coast and dispatched a local tribesman to Mecca to get help.The change of plan proved successful as he managed to elude the Muslims and take the caravan beyond their reach. He sent word that the merchandise was safe and that military help was no longer needed. But Abu Jahl would have none of this. “By God!” he cried. “We will not go back until we have been to Badr. We will spend three days there, slaughter camels, and feast and drink wine. The Arabs will hear that we have come and will respect us in the future.” But not even Abu Jahl was expecting a full fledged battle.
When news reached the Muslims that the Quraysh had come out in force, the Prophet called a council of war as the Muslim volunteers had come out to take part in a Ghazu (raid), not a pitched battle.
After Abu Bakr and Umar presented their views, Miqdad ibn Amr stood up and said:

“O Prophet of God, press forward toward that which God has shown you. We are with you. By God, we shall never say to you, as the Jews had said to Moses, ‘Go alone with your Lord and fight with Him for us, while we remain here and await your return.’ Rather, we say, ‘Go forth, you and your Lord to fight, for we fight with you’.”

Al Miqdad’s speech, on behalf of the Emigrants, was followed by silence. The Prophet said: “Speak out, O men, and give me your counsel.” He was especially anxious to hear the Ansar’s view who, on the day of Aqaba, pledged to protect him as they would their children and women but not to permit any aggression with him outside their own area. When the Ansar realized that he was waiting for them to speak, Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, their leader, rose and addressed the Prophet:

“Does it seem, O Prophet of God, that you are seeking to hear our view?” The Prophet answered, “Indeed.”
Sa’d said, “We have believed in you, and we have witnessed that what you have brought to us is the truth. We have covenanted with you to hear and to obey. Go ahead with whatever you decide, for we are with you. By Him who sent you as a Prophet, if you were to ask us to cross the sea and you plunged into it, we would plunge into it with you, and not a man would stay behind. We do not fear that you cause us to face our enemy tomorrow. We shall hold fast to our ground and stand firm or press forward toward the enemy in solid ranks. We hope that God will show you such of our deeds as you may not be disappointed therein but may be proud of. Lead us forth with God’s blessing.”

Sa’d had hardly finished when the Prophet’s  face radiated with joy saying, “Proceed and be hopeful, for God had promised me one of the two: either the caravan or the Makkan army.” Ali, al Zubayr, and Sa’d were dispatched with a number of other companions to the well of Badr to seek out fresh news. The group returned with two water-carriers who revealed that  Quraysh’s army stood behind the hill on the further side and that the leaders of Quraysh were all present.
The next day news reached them that the caravan had in fact passed them by on a different route and that Quraysh’s army were still in the vicinity close by. With this news, whatever hopes for booty some of them may have entertained collapsed. The Prophet discussed with his companions whether or not they should now return to Madinah and not force a showdown with Quraysh’s army. In  connection with this, the following verses of the Quran were revealed: “And remember when God promised you one of the two parties (of the enemy i.e. either the army or the caravan) that it should be yours, you wished that the one not armed (the caravan) should be yours, but God willed to justify the truth by His Words and to cut off the roots of the disbelievers.”

Quraysh asked themselves the same question. However, Abu Jahl insisted that the fight should go ahead so that Muhammad can be routed and destroyed. There was some hesitation in the camp of Quraysh with one tribe returning to Makkah, but the rest followed Abu Jahl and set up camp behind a sand dune. The Muslims hurried to the springs of Badr. When they reached the first water well, Muhammad dismounted with the intention of camping there. Recognising the area, Al Hubab ibn al Mundhir approached the Prophet and suggested that the Muslims reach the well closest to the enemy. There they would bring a trough to it, to fill with water and then fill the well with sand. Thus in the engagement the Muslims would fight the enemy having possession of all of the water. The Prophet immediately agreed and rose to go forward with his force.

On realising that the Muslims were moving into position, Quraysh arranged and readied themselves for battle. A shower of rain hardened the ground and made it easier for the Muslims to move but more difficult for the Makkans, who had to toil uphill. Some of the men of Quraysh, although acknowledging that the Muslims numbered a mere 300, feared for the heads of Quraysh as they had all joined the battle. ‚ ‘Utbah bin Rabi’ah advised his peers to return to their homes and leave Muhammad alone amongst the tribes. But when Abu Jahl heard these words of ‚ ‘Utbah, he raged in anger, inciting Quraysh to drive towards the Muslims.

As always in Arabia, the battle of Badr began with single combats. Al Aswad sprang out of the ranks of  Quraysh toward the Muslims seeking to destroy the trough and drink from the well of Badr but Hamzah stood ready striking him with his sword, cutting off his legs and killing him.

As soon as Al Aswad fell, other members of Quraysh sprang forth challenging the Muslims to duel wanting to fight their own tribesmen. At this, Hamzah, ‚ ‘Ali, and ‘Ubaydah ibn al Harith advanced forth and slew their opponents. No sooner had they charged were all three men of Quraysh lying dead on the ground. ‘Ubaydah received a lethal blow to his leg, severing it. As the marrow oozed from it’s stump he had only one thought. “Am I not a martyr, O Messenger of God?” he said as the Prophet came to his aid. “Indeed you are,” he answered. When the Quraishite army saw this, they advanced and the two armies collided.

The Prophet prayed to his Lord ceaselessly and persistently to come to their help and when the engagement grew fierce he again began to supplicate his Lord saying, “O God! Should this group of Muslims be defeated today, You will no longer be worshipped.”

When the believers were ordered to charge, they did not charge alone, for the Prophet had been promised through the Quran: “When you sought aid from your Lord, so He answered you: I will assist you with a thousand of the angels following one another.” The presence of the Angels was felt by all, but that presence was only visible or audible to a few, and in varying degrees.

During the course of battle, Bilal killed Umayyah ibn Khalaf, his previous master who would torture him by placing a large rock on his chest and letting him burn under the scorching sun in order to force him to renounce Islam.  Mu’adh ibn ‘Amr killed Abu Jahl. Hamzah, Ali and other Muslim heroes penetrated deeply into enemy lines, forgetting themselves, their small numbers, and their being surrounded by the enemies. Muslims hurled themselves into the encounter chanting, “God is one! God is one!” By midday Quraysh, who had expected to have to make a show of force, panicked and fled in disarray, leaving about fifty of their leading men, including Abu Jahl himself, dead on the field. When the dust begun the settle and the unbelievers had fled the battle field, the Muslims collected the dead of  Quraysh and buried them on the spot. The Prophet and his companions spent that night on the battlefield burying their dead, collecting the booty and keeping watch of the captives. The outcome of the battle was a humiliating defeat for the polytheists. They sustained heavy casualties, seventy were killed and a like number taken prisoners. Many of the principal men of Makkah, and some of the Prophet’s bitterest opponents were among the slain.

Fourteen Muslims were killed, of who six were from the Emigrants, Muhajirun, and eight from the Helpers, Al Ansar.
The question as to what to do with the captives troubled the Prophet  and he submitted the matter to the Muslims and sought their advice. Abu Bakr appealed to The Prophet’s  gentleness and stirred his compassion. He pleaded,
“O Prophet of God, you are dearer than my father and my mother. Your captives consist of men who are parents, sons, cousins, uncles and brothers of your own people. The most removed of them is still a member of your clan and a blood relative. Be good to them and forgive them. God will forgive you and be good to you. Otherwise allow them to be ransomed and take from them that which would increase the Muslims in power. Perhaps, by such action, God will soften their hearts toward Islam.”

Umar, coming after Abu Bakr, sat in his place and pleaded: “O Prophet of God, these are the enemies of God. They have belied you, fought you, and banished you. Strike their necks. They are the leaders of idolatry and misguidance. By this course God will consolidate Islam and bring low the idolaters.” The Prophet then decided to ransom the captives, to which God revealed,

“It does not behove a Prophet to hold captives; nor to tyrannise in the world. You seek the advantages of this world whereas God wishes you to seek the advantages of the other. God is almighty and all-wise.”

Lessons & Wisdoms:

After more than fourteen years of struggling without permission to retaliate physically, God then revealed to the Prophet to take up arms against the enemy. This legislation of physical struggle contained many wisdoms; of them we find,

1) A means of protecting the right of freedom of belief in & practice of Islam, and to facilitate the betterment of the call to Islam.
2) A means of overcoming injustice and corruption on the Earth
3) A means of distinguishing the believers from the hypocrites
4) A means of increasing the communities faith and subservience to God as well as facilitating the path to martyrdom

What we learn from the Battle of Badr

When the revelation was revealed there could be no question of anything but raids and though information about caravans was seldom precise, there had come news of a rich Meccan caravan that was returning from Syria laden with goods, under the command Abu Sufyan. The Prophet set out with three hundred odd men in earnest but an informant from within had already sent word to Abu Sufyan who in response called on his fellow Qurashites to muster up as much help as they could. What followed was the epic battle of Badr and it brought with it many lessons and morals. Of the most important ones are,

1) The Prophet sought the advise and counsel of his companions when forming his military strategy thus showing us the importance of the islamic concept of consultation. In fact, the Prophet cultured the companions to feel confident in expressing their views; it was upon the advice of one of the companions that the Muslims were able to gain the upper hand by blocking off the water supply to the enemy.

2) The event of Badar shows us the power of Divine Decree in that neither the Prophet nor the Qurashites had actually intended for war, but rather God had ordained the battle take place and through it make His religion victorious. God even made the number of Qurashite fighters seem few in number to the Prophet and his disciples and likewise made the Muslims seem few in number to the Qurashites. This illusion only served the purpose of making each party more enthusiastic to fight.

3) It was because of the Prophet and his disciples’ detailed preparation and reliance upon God that God bestowed upon them the help of angels to increase them in morale and faith on the battlefield.

4) The intimate form of guidance the Prophet received from God prevented him from erring in matters of religion. In the incident of the prisoners of war, God revealed to the Prophet, by way of a Quranic verse, the more correct choice he should have made and so the Prophet corrected himself accordingly.

Edicts & Rulings:

The first Quranic verse of Jihad was revealed in chapter al-Hajj, verses 39-40:
Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged, truly God has the power to come to their support, those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, ‘Our Lord is God’

The Quranic chapter al-Anfal (Spoils of War) was revealed after the incident of Badr, in Ramadan of 2 AH. It constituted a unique divine commentary on this battle.

When Ubaydah Amir ibn Jarrah took the life of his own father in the battle of Badr, God revealed the following verse of the chapter Mujadalah:
You will not find people who have faith in God and the Last Day having love for anyone who opposes God and His Messenger, though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their clan. God has inscribed faith upon such people’s hearts and will reinforce them with a spirit from Him and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever. God is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. Such people are the party of God. Truly it is the party of God who are successful.

In the month of Sha’ban during this second year of the Islamic calendar, fasting the month of Ramadan was obliged through the following Quranic verse of chapter al-Baqara, verse 184:
You who have faith! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you will attain piety & God consciousness

After praying towards Jerusalem for around sixteen months revelation came down about a change in prayer direction, found in the chapter of al-Baqara, verse 144:
So turn your face in the direction of al-Masjid al-Haraam (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction

The following injunctions were decreed through the Prophetic tradition:
i. It is Sunnah to stay at the place of victory for three days in order to ward off a counter attack, bury the martyrs, and apportion the spoils of war.
ii. The martyr is buried at his place of death without the Funeral Prayer or ritual bathing.
iii. The call to prayer [athaan] had begun to be observed in the Muslim community.
iv. A form of obligatory charity known as zakah al-fitr which was to be paid at the end of Ramadan was obliged.
v. It is said that the Muslim community celebrated their first ever Eid in Shawwal (Eidul Fitr) this year.

The Battle of Uhud | 3AH


Ever since the victory at Badr, the Prophet knew full well that the Quraysh would have to avenge the humiliation if they were to survive as a great Arab power. The Muslim community had now phased into a new era of the struggle-jihad. But the Prophet still desired that the Quraysh be guided and eventually enter into the fold of Islam.

It was now nearing the anniversary of Badr and in the last days of Ramadan the Prophet received a sealed letter from a horseman who had ridden from Makkah to Madinah in three days. It was from his uncle ‘Abbas, warning him that an army of three thousand men was on the point of marching out towards Madinah.By the time the letter had arrived the Quraysh had already set out. Abu Sufyan, the commander-in-chief, took with him his wife Hind and also a second wife, as did other notables. They also brought along an expert at throwing javelin, Wahshi, the Abyssinian slave who had seldom been known to miss his mark. His mission was to assassinate Hamza.

Quraysh and their allies began their march against Muhammad equipped with great amounts of armour, two hundred horses, and three thousand camels. The Emigrants and Helpers were extremely apprehensive, and the next morning the Prophet called a counsel of war. Through mutual consultation it became evident that the majority were not in favour of fighting from within the city walls, and so the Prophet decided to attack. At noon they assembled for the Friday prayer, and the theme of his sermon was Jihad and all that it demands of earnestness and effort; thereafter he said that victory would be theirs if they remained steadfast and commanded them to make preparations for war; in the name of God.

The Prophet set out with his army in the direction of Uhud in search of an advantage point for his army and when they were half-way the sun began to set. The Prophet gave instructions that the army should be ready to move off shortly before dawn. But, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, had been in consultation with some of his nearest followers during the night, and when it was time to raise camp he turned back to Madinah with three hundred of the hypocrites and doubters without even speaking to the Prophet. Reduced now to seven hundred against the three thousand Makkan fighters the believers marched on.

When the Muslim force reached Uhud the Prophet ordered his companions in rows and placed fifty of his best archers on the side of the mountain, in case of a surprise attack from the rear. He explicitly ordered the archers to protect that side under all circumstances and never to leave it until he commanded them otherwise. Thus the two parties were poised for battle. Hamzah gave the war cry, “Die! Die!” and charged into the ranks of the Quraysh. Ali engaged Talhah, carrier of the Makkan flag, and killed him with a single stroke. The Prophet’s archers shot a volley of arrows into Khalid ibn Walid’s cavalry.

Quraysh’s forces advanced fiercely and the disproportionately numbered sides began their engagement. Hamzah, who was unmistakable for his unusually powerful stature was recognised by Wahshi, who had found him out. He threw his javelin aiming for a tiny chink in his armour and fatally pierced Hamza’s abdomen. The great warrior staggered a few paces forward and fell to the ground in the throes of death.

But the Muslims continued in valour, and upon killing all the flag bearers who rose to hold the banner of the allies, the enemy realised defeat was imminent and began to flee. However, defeat is followed by booty and the archers whom the Prophet had commanded to remain behind on the hill now sought to join their comrades and gain their share. Abdullah ibn Jubayr appealed to them to remain on the hill but they descended to the plain with only ten men keeping their ground. This provided Khalid, commander of the Makkan cavalry, the prime opportunity to attack and seize the mountainside where the archers were. By doing so, he managed to flank the believers and take them by surprise. After he occupied the mountainside, Khalid signalled to Quraysh to attack again as he advanced upon the Muslims from the rear. The defeated Makkans rallied to his call, and the Muslims soon found themselves in trouble; disunited on the battle field. With the believers being attacked from every direction, all sense of strategy started to crumble, and with the cry that Muhammad was killed, chaos reigned supreme and the Muslims began to flee.

However, those with steadfast faith stood close to the Prophet drawing a close circle around him for his protection. The Prophet had been hit with a stone thrown by Utbah ibn Abu Waqqas which caused him to fall to the ground with a wounded face and a broken tooth.  It’s sheer force pushed two links of the Prophet’s helmet into his wound and Abu Ubaydah broke his own front teeth trying to force the links out of the Prophet’s cheek. He and his companions then began to retreat toward the mountain of Uhud while fighting their pursuing enemies.

Both sides regrouped and a stalemate began to form. Before his army moved off, Abu Sufyan heard the disappointing news that Muhammad had not been killed after all. The struggle with Madinah was not over. ‘Next year at Badr!’ he cried, as a final challenge, and on behalf of Muhammad one the companions cried-‘Yes, it is an appointment between us!’

Lessons & Wisdoms:

Preparations for Uhud had begun straight after Badr with plans being accelerated by the raiding of caravans by the Muslims. The Quraysh had lined up an an irresistible attack on Madinah and a letter of their intentions arrived to the Prophet shortly after the anniversary of Badr; leaving the Muslims with just over a week for preparations! The battle saw the Companions being tried with a plethora of emotions and physical endurance. And though they suffered their first defeat at the hands of the Qurashites, many lessons, morals, and wisdoms were learnt from this battle:

1) The demise of the Muslims on the battlefield made them realize the serious nature of disobeying the leader or general. The disobedience of the archers was in fact a sin which resulted in much harm afflicting the entire Muslim army. This illustrates the ugly nature of sin in that it’s consequences can affect an entire community, though it was carried out by only a portion from amongst them.

2) God decreed a defeat befall the Muslims after a victory and not the other way around. A wisdom in this is to firstly encourage the Muslims to continue their struggle with good stead and not to become disheartened from the outset but a following defeat would help intensify humility to God and prevent feelings of pride and self-sufficiency from God. Through this defeat the disciples learnt great lessons and never again made the same mistakes; in the end the ultimate victory was theirs.

3) Through this epic battle the hypocrites became known to the rest of the community as a great many of them broke off from the army to return back home just before the onset of battle. Before the battle this body of vociferous individuals had operated covertly managing to sow seeds of discontent amongst the Muslim ranks. It is said that God makes apparent that which resides in the heart and then judges based on that, for that is the justice of God.

4) Amidst the thick of the battle a rumor spread of the Prophet’s death, leaving many disciples deeply distressed to the point of shock. However, for others it brought about the realization of the real goal behind the struggle which was subservience to God with or without the Prophet. It also prepared them for the actual and inevitable passing away of the Prophet.

5) Despite the heavy losses the believers had sustained, the Prophet would not let them part the battlefield without a show of defiance and strong will. For three days, they followed the Meccan army and at night he ordered them to spread out and light fires, to create the illusion of a vast army taking camp there. The spectacle deterred those of the Quraysh who wanted to return to Madinah for further combat.

6) It is said that God prepares in paradise lofty stations of bliss for certain individuals which they will only ever attain through trials and tribulations and likewise God has prepared horrifying stations of punishment in Hell that an evil person may only reach by putting such believers to trial. And thus does God exact His decree.

Edicts & Rulings:

The great scholar Ibnul Qayyim said that an entire portion of the Quranic chapter aal-‘Imran was revealed concerning the battle of Uhud. The narrative-like theme begins from verse 137 to verse 179 and contains messages of counsel, comfort and admonition for the Companions of the Prophet. Moreover, the verses revealed to us the thoughts and deepest feelings of those participating in the battle, making the narrative very unique. The following verses illustrate the above:

Verse of console:

Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be uppermost if you are true believers

Verse explaining the wisdoms behind the outcome:

If you have received a wound, they have already received a similar wound. We deal out such days to people turn by turn, so that God will know those who have faith and can gather martyrs from among you; God does not love wrongdoers

Verse of admonition:

Remember when you were scrambling up the slope, refusing to turn back for anyone, and the Messenger was calling to you from the rear. There did God give you one distress after another by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escapes you, nor for that which has befallen you. And God is aware of what you do.

Surely, those of you who turned back on the day when the two troops faced each other, Satan had but made them slip for some of their deeds. Of course, God has forgiven them. Certainly, God is Most-Forgiving, Very-Forbearing

The fourth pillar of Islam, alms giving [zakah], was comprehensively obliged. Before this, a general obligation of charity to be given to the poor was set in Makkah.

In this year the Prophet married Zainab bint Khuzaimah