The Battle of Badr
Towards the second year of the hijrah, the idolaters of Mecca began a series of hostile acts against the Muslims of Medina. They sent men in parties to commit depredations on the fruit trees of the Muslims of Medina and to carry away their flocks. Now came the moment of severest trial to Islam. It became the duty of the Prophet to take serious measures to guard against any plot rising from within or a sudden attack from without. He put Medina in a state of military discipline. He had to send frequent reconnoitering parties to guard against any sudden onslaught.
No sooner did the Prophet organize his state than a large well-equipped army of the Meccans was afield. A force consisting of one thousand men marched under Abu Jahl, a great enemy of Islam, towards Medina to attack the city. The Muslims received timely notice of their enemies’ intention. A body of three hundred adherents, of whom two thirds were citizens of Medina, was gathered to forestall the idolaters by occupying the valley of Badr, situated near the sea between Mecca and Medina. When the Prophet saw the army of the infidels approaching the valley, he prayed that the little band of Muslims might not be destroyed.
The army of the Meccans advanced into the open space which separated the Muslims from the idolaters. According to Arab usage, the battle was begun by simple combats. The engagement then became general. The result of the battle was that the Meccans were driven back with great loss. Several of their chiefs were slain, including Abu Jahl. A large number of idolaters remained prisoners in the hands of the Muslims. They were, contrary to all usage and traditions of the Arabs, treated with the greatest humanity. The Prophet gave strict orders that sympathy should be shown them in their misfortune and that they should be treated with kindness. These instructions were faithfully obeyed by the Muslims to whose care the prisoners were confided. Dealing with this event, Sir William Muir, in his book Life of Muhammad, quotes one of the prisoners saying: “Blessing be on the men of Medina; they made us ride, while they themselves walked; they gave us wheaten bread to eat, when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates.”
The Battle of Badr – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah said: And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr, when you were a weak little force. So fear Allah much abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden and love Allah much, perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained that you may be grateful. (Remember) when you (Muhammad) said to the believers, “Is it not enough for you that your Lord (Allah) should help you with three thousand angels; sent down? Yes, if you hold on to patience and piety and the enemy comes rushing at you; your Lord will help you with five thousand angels having marks (of distinction). Allah made it not but as a message of good news for you and as an assurance to your hearts. And there is no victory except from Allah the All-Mighty the All-wise. That He might cut off a part of those who disbelieve, or expose them to infamy so that they retire frustrated. ” Surah 3: 123-127
A Little Insight on the Battle of Badr
The remarkable circumstances which led to the victory of Badr and the results which followed from it made a deep impression on the minds of the Muslims: the angels of heaven had battled on their side against their enemies. The division of the spoils created some dissension between the Muslim warriors. For the moment, the Prophet divided it equally among all. Subsequently, a Qur’an revelation laid down a rule for future division of the spoils. According to this rule, a fifth was reserved for the public treasury for the support of the poor and indigent, while the distribution of the remaining four fifths was left to the discretion of the Chief of the State.
The Battle of Uhud
The Battle of Uhud – First Day
The next battle between the Quraish and the Muslims was the battle of Uhud, a hill about four miles to the north of Medina. The idolaters, to revenge their loss at Badr, made tremendous preparations for a new attack upon the Muslims. They collected an army of three thousand strong men, of whom seven hundred were armed with coats of mail, and two hundred horses. These forces advanced under the conduct of Abu Sufyan and encamped at a village six miles from Medina, where they gave themselves up to spoiling the fields and flocks of the Medinites. The Prophet, being much inferior to his enemies in number, at first determined to keep himself within the town and to receive them there; but afterwards, the advice of some of his companions prevailing he marched out against them at the head of one thousand men, of whom one hundred were armed with coats of mail; but he had no more than one horse, besides his own, in his whole army. With these forces he halted at Mount Uhud. He was soon abandoned by ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubai, the leader of the Hypocrites, with three hundred of his followers. Thus, the small force of the Prophet was reduced to seven hundred.
At Mount Uhud the Muslim troops passed the night, and in the morning, after offering their prayers, they advanced into the plain. The Prophet contrived to have the hill at his back, and, the better to secure his men from being surrounded, he placed fifty archers on the height in the rear, behind the troops, and gave them strict orders not to leave their posts whatever might happen. When they came to engage, the Prophet had superiority at first. But afterward, his archers left their position for the sake of plunder, thus allowing the enemy to attack the Muslims in the rear and surround them. The Prophet lost the day and very nearly lost his life. He was struck down by a shower of stones and wounded in the face by two arrows, and one of his front teeth was broken. Of the Muslims, seventy men were killed, among whom was the Prophet’s uncle Hamza. Of the infidels, twenty two men were lost.
The Quraish were too exhausted to follow up their advantage, either by attacking Medina or by driving the Muslims from the heights of Uhud. They retreated from the Medinite territories after barbarously mutilating the corpses of their dead enemies.
Allah’s Message to the Believers at the Battle of Uhud
Almighty Allah said: So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers. If a wound (and killing) has touched you, be sure a similar wound (and killing) has touched the others. And so are the days (good and not so good), We give to men by turns, that Allah may test those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the Zalimeen (polytheists and wrongdoers).
And that Allah may test (or purify) the believers (from sins) and destroy the disbelievers. Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are patient? You did indeed wish for death (Ash-shahadah – martyrdom) before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes. Surah 3: 139-143
Allah’s Message to the Cowards – Qur’anic
Allah the Exalted also said: We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah for which He had sent no authority their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zalimeen (polytheists and wrong-doers). And Allah did indeed fulfill His Promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His Permission; until (the moment) you lost your courage and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you (of the booty) which you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them (your enemy), that He might test you. But surely He forgave you, and Allah is most Gracious to the believers.
(And remember) when you ran away (dreadfully) without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger (Muhammad) was in your rear calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for that which had befallen you. And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.
Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves (as how to save their ownselves, ignoring the others and the Prophet) and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance. They said, “Have we any part in the affair?” Say you (0 Muhammad): “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair none of us would have been killed here.” Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,” but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to Mahis to test, to purify to get rid of that which was in your hearts (sins), and Allah is All-Knower of what is in (your) breasts. ” Surah 3: 151-154
Muhammad’s Orders His Army
Narrated Al-Baraa’ Ibn Azib: ‘The Prophet appointed Abdullah Ibn Jubair as the commander of the infantry men (archers) who were fifty on the day (of the battle) of Uhud. He instructed them: ‘Stick to your place, and don’t leave it even if you see birds snatching us, till I send for you; and if you see that we have defeated the infidels and made them flee, even then you should not leave your place till I send for you.’ Then the infidels were defeated. By Allah I saw the women fleeing lifting up their clothes revealing their leg-bangles and their legs. So, the companions of ‘Abdullah Ibn Jubair said: ‘The booty! 0 people, the booty! Your companions have become victorious, what are you waiting for now?’ Abdullah Ibn Jubair said: ‘Have you forgotten what Allah’s Messenger said to you?’ They replied: ‘By Allah! We will go to the people (i.e. the enemy) and collect our share from the war booty.’ But when they went to them, they were forced to turn back defeated. At that time Allah’s Messenger in their rear was calling them back. Only twelve men remained with the Prophet, and the infidels martyred seventy men from us.
The Prophet and his companions caused the Pagans to lose one hundred forty men, seventy of whom were captured and seventy were killed. Then Abu Sufyan asked three times: ‘Is Muhammad present among these people?’ The Prophet ordered his companions not to answer him. Then he asked three times: ‘Is Ibn Abu Quhafa present amongst these people?’ He asked again three times: ‘Is Ibn Al-Khattab present amongst these people?’ He then returned to his companions and said: ‘As for these (men), they have been killed.’
Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan): ‘You told a lie, by Allah! 0 enemy of Allah! All those you have mentioned are alive, and the thing which will make you unhappy is still there.’ Abu Sufyan said: ‘Our victory today compensates for yours in the Battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents. You will find some of your (killed) men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed.’ After that he started reciting cheerfully: ‘0 Hubal, be superior!’ On that the Prophet said (to his companions): ‘Why don’t you answer him back?’ They said: ‘0 Allah’s Messenger! What shall we say?’ He said: ‘Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime.’ (Then) Abu Sufyan said: ‘We have the (idol) Al-Uzza, and you have no ‘Uzza.’ The Prophet said: (to his companions): ‘Why don’t you answer him back?’ They asked: ‘0 Allah’s Messenger! What shall we say?’ He said: ‘Say Allah is our Helper and you have no helper.”
Various Disbelievers Slander Islam
The moral effect of this disastrous battle was such as to encourage some neighboring nomad tribes to make forays upon the Medinite territories, but most of these were repelled.
The Jews also were not slow to involve in trouble the Prophet and his followers. They tried to create disaffection among his people and slandered him and his adherents. They mispronounced the words of the Qur’an so as to give them an offensive meaning. They also caused their poets, who were superior in culture and intelligence, to use their influence to sow sedition among the Muslims. One of their distinguished poets, called Ka’b, of the Bani An-Nadir, spared no efforts in publicly deploring the ill-success of the idolaters after their defeat at Badr.
By his satires against the Prophet and his disciples, and his elegies on the Meccans who had fallen at Badr, Ka’b succeeded in exciting the Quraish to that frenzy of vengeance which broke out at Uhud. He then returned to Medina, where he continued to attack the Prophet and the Muslims, men and women, in terms of the most obscene character. Though he belonged to the tribe of Bani AnNadir, which had entered into the compact with the Muslims and pledged itself both for the internal and external safety of the State, he openly directed his acts against the commonwealth of which he was a member.
Another Jew, Sallam by name, of the same tribe, behaved equally fiercely and bitterly against the Muslims. He lived with a party of his tribe at Khaibar, a village five days’ journey northwest of Medina. He made every effort to excite the neighboring Arab tribes against the Muslims. The Muslim commonwealth with the object of securing safety among the community, passed a sentence of outlawry upon Ka’b and Sallam.
Jewish Tribes Break the Medina Contract
The members of another Jewish tribe, namely Bani Qainuqa, were sentenced to expulsion from the Medinite territory for having openly and knowingly infringed the terms of the compact. It was necessary to put an end to their hostile actions for the sake of maintaining peace and security. The Prophet had to go to their headquarters, where he required them to enter definitively into the Muslim commonwealth by embracing Islam or to leave Medina. To this they replied in the most offensive terms: ‘You have had a quarrel with men ignorant of the art of war. If you are desirous of having any dealings with us, we shall show you that we are men.” They then shut themselves up in their fortress and set the Prophet and his authority at defiance. The Muslims decided to reduce them and laid siege to their fortress without loss of time. After fifteen days they surrendered. Though the Muslims at first intended to inflict some severe punishment on them, they contented themselves by banishing the Bani Qainuqa.
The Bani An-Nadir had now behaved in the same way as Bani Qainuqa’. The had likewise, knowingly and publicly, disregarded the terms of the Charter. The Prophet sent them a message similar to that which was sent to their brethren, the Qainuqa’. They, relying on the assistance of the Hypocrites’ party, returned a defiant reply. After a siege of fifteen days, they sued for terms. The Muslims renewed their previous offer, and the Jews of An-Nadir chose to evacuate Medina. They were allowed to take with them all their movable property, with the exception of their arms. Before leaving Medina, they destroyed all their dwellings in order to prevent the Muslims from occupying them. Their immovable property and arms which they could not carry away with them were distributed by the Prophet with the consent of the Ansar and the Emigrants. A principle was henceforth adopted that any acquisition not made in actual warfare should belong to the state and that its disposal should be left to the discretion of the ruling authorities.
The Division of War Booty – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah said: (And there is also a share in this booty) for the poor emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their property seeking Bounties from Allah and to please Him. And helping Allah (i.e., helping His Religion) and His Messenger (Muhammad). Such are indeed the truthful (to what they say); – And those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madina) and had adopted the Faith, – love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (from the booty of Bani An-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful. Surah 59: 8-9
Blocking Attacks After the Battle of Uhud
The expulsion of the Bani An-Nadir took place in the fourth year of the hijrah. The remaining portion of this year and the early part of the next were passed in repressing the hostile attempts of the nomadic tribes against the Muslims and inflicting punishment for various murderous forays on the Mdinite territories. Of this nature was the expedition against the Christian Arabs of Dumat Al-Jandal (a place about seven days’ journey to the south of Damsacus), who had stopped the Medinite traffic with Syria and even threatened a raid upon Medina. These marauders, however, fled on the approach of the Muslims, and the Prophet returned to Medina after concluding a treaty with a neighboring chief, to whom he granted permission of pasturage in the Medinite territories.
The Third Major Battle with the Quraish
In the same year, the enemies of Islam made every possible attempt to stir up the tribes against the Muslims. The Jews also took an active, if hidden, part in those intrigues. An army of ten thousand well-equipped men, marched towards Medina under the command of Abu Sufyan. They encamped near Mount Uhud, a few miles from the city. The Muslims could gather only an army of three thousand men. Seeing their inferiority in numbers on the one hand, and the turbulence of the Hypocrites within the town on the other, they preferred to remain on the defensive. They dug a deep moat round the unprotected quarters of Medina and encamped outside the city with a trench in front of them.
They relied for safety of the other side upon their allies, the Quraiza, who possessed several fortresses at a short distance towards the south and were bound by the compact to assist the Muslims against any raiders. These Jews, however, were induced by the idolaters to violate their pledge and to join the Quraish. As these Jews were acquainted with the locality and could materially assist the raiders, and as the Hypocrites within the walls of the city were waiting for an opportunity to play their part, the situation of the Muslims was most dangerous.
The siege had already lasted for twenty days. The enemy made great efforts to cross the trench, but every attempt was fiercely repulsed by the small Muslim force. Disunion was now rife in the midst of the besieging army. Their horses were perishing fast, and provisions were becoming less every day. During the night, a storm of wind and rain caused their tents to be overthrown and their lights extinguished. Abu Sufyan and the majority of his army fled, and the rest took refuge with the Quraiza.
The Muslims, though they were satisfied with the failure of their enemies, could not help thinking that the victory was unsatisfactory so long as the Quraiza, who had violated their sworn pledge, remained so near. The Jews might at any time surprise Medina from their side. The Muslims felt it their duty to demand an explanation of the violation of the pledge. This was utterly refused. Consequently, the Jews were besieged and compelled to surrender at discretion. They only asked that their punishment should be left to the judgment of Sad Ibn Muadh, the prince of the tribe of Aws. This chief, who was a fierce soldier, had been wounded in the attack and, indeed, died of his wounds the following day. Infuriated by the treacherous conduct of the Bani Quraiza, he gave judgment that the fighting men should be put to death and that the women and children should become the slaves of the Muslims. The sentence was carried into execution.