Chapter 4 :A General Account of the Prophet's Battles

A general account of the prophet's battles in Which He Himself Participated, and for Which He Sent Detachments. The Main Events of His Life Until He Departed This World, the Signs of HisProphethood Which Occurred During That Time, and Proofs of His Veracity and Apostleship.

Biographers of the Prophet and Qur'an commentators have reported that the number of the battles: which the Messenger of Allah himself led was twenty-six. As for the detachments which he sent out for battle but in which he himself did not take part, they were thirty-six. In nine of his battles, he himself took part in the fighting. These were: Badr, Uhud, al-Khandaq (the Trench), the battle against the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah, al-Mustaliq, Khaybar, al-Fath (the Conquest of Mecca), Hunayn and the battle of at-Ta'if. 

The first detachment which the Prophet dispatched, consisting of thirty horsemen, was led by Hamzah ibn `Abdu'l-Muttalib. The men travelled until they reached the coast of the land of Juhaynah (a tribe), where they encountered Abu Jahl ibn Hisham with one hundred and thirty horsemen of the Associators. A man called Majdi ibn `Amr al-Juhani came between the two groups, which then separated without any outbreak of fighting.

The first engagement which the Messenger of Allah led took place in Safar, the second month of the year.2/623, twelve months after he arrived in Medina. He set out to attack the Quraysh and the tribe of Banu Damrah but returned without encountering the enemy, having reached al-Abwa' (a mountain between Mecca and Medina). He remained in Medina the rest of Safar and half of Rabi `u 'l-Awwal (that is, the following month). During this time, he dispatched `Ubaydah ibn al-Harith with sixty horsemen of the Immigrants; not even one of the Ansar was among them. The first war standard which the Messenger of Allah raised was also in that battle. He also met the Associators in battle at a spring called Ahya. They exchanged arrows, the Associators being led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. The Messenger of Allah also undertook another raid during the next month of Rabi `u 'l-Akhir. He set out seeking the men of Quraysh, going as far as Buwat (a mountain range of Juhaynah a few dozen miles from Medina), but he encountered no hostilities.

After this, the Prophet led an engagement known as Ghazwatu'l-`Ushayrah (a place between Mecca and Medina) at the valley of Yanbu'. He also sought the men of Quraysh, staying the rest of the month of Jumada'l-Ula and a few days of Jumada'l-Akhirah. There he made a peace agreement with the tribe of Banu Mudlij and their allies of the tribe of Banu Damrah.

It is related. on the authority of `Ammar ibn Yasir who said: "I was with 'Ali, as we were companions during the raid of al-`Ushayrah. 'Ali said to me: `Would you like, O Abu Yaqzan, that we go and see the men of Banu Mudlij working in their orchards near a spring of water belonging to them?'

We went and observed them for a while until we were overcome by sleep. Then we went to a but made of palm branches, in a barren spot, where we slept. We did not wake up until the Messenger of Allah nudged us with his foot. We sat up startled and covered with the soil of that barren place. Seeing `Ali thus, the Prophet called him, `O Abu Turab (man of the soil or dust)!' He then asked, `Shall I tell you who is the most miserable of humankind?' `Yes, O Apostle of Allah', we said. He went on: `They are the Uhaymar of Thamud who slew the she-camel [47], and he who shall smite you, O 'Ali, here (and he placed his hand upon his head) until this (and he placed his hand upon his beard) shall be soaked with blood!' "

The Messenger of Allah returned from al-`Ushayrah to Medina, where he remained not more than ten nights before a man called Kurz ibn Jabir al-Fihri led an assault on a suburb of Medina. The Messenger of Allah went out after him until he reached a valley called Safwan near Badr. This was the first battle of Badr. The bearer of the Prophet's banner was 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, and his representative in Medina was Zayd ibn al-Harithah. Kurz, however, escaped, and the Messenger of Allah returned to Medina. He remained at home for the months of Jumada, Rajab and Sha'ban. During this period he dispatched Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas with eight men, but they encountered no hostilities.

After that the Messenger of Allah dispatched `Abdullah ibn Jahsh to a place called Nakhlah (on the road to Mecca), ordering him to remain there until he returned with news of the Quraysh. But he did not command him to fight, because it was the sacred month (that is, Rajab). He handed him a letter and told him: "Set out with your Companions until you have travelled a journey of two days; then open your letter and see what it says, and execute my command." After having travelled for two days he opened the letter, which said: "Continue on until you arrive at Nakhlah. Bring us back whatever news of the Quraysh may reach you." `Abdullah exclaimed before his Companions, after having read the letter, "I hear and obey! Let any one of you desiring martyrdom set out with me." The people accompanied him until they reached Nakhlah. A man called `Amr ibn al-Hadrami passed by them with al-Hakam ibn Kaysan, and `Uthman and al-Mughirah - the two sons of `Abdullah -carrying goods which they had bought in at-Ta'if: raisins and condiments. When the people saw them, Waqid ibn `Abdillah came forth and stood before them. He had previously cut his hair (which was a sign of entering into, or being released from, the state of consecration). Thus `Amr and his Companions said to one another: "These men are here to perform the lesser pilgrimage; you have nothing to fear from them."

The Companions of the Apostle of Allah consulted among themselves - it being the last day of Rajab - saying: "If you kill them, you would have killed during a sacred month. Yet if you were to let them go, they would enter Mecca tonight and would be well protected against you." They thus agreed to kill them. Waqid ibn `Abdillah shot `Amr ibn al-Hadrami with an arrow and killed him. `Uthman ibn `Abdillah and al-Hakam ibn Kaysan requested and obtained a pact of security. As for al-Mughirah, he escaped, and they were unable to capture him.

`Abdullah ibn Jahsh and his Companions brought the camels and the two captives to the Apostle of Allah. He said to them: "By Allah, I did not command you to engage in any fighting during the sacred month! " He then withheld the two captives and the camel loads, and did not touch them. The people themselves were filled with remorse. This is because they thought that they would perish with their transgression. The people of Quraysh also reproached the Muslims saying: "Muhammad has violated the sanctity of the sacred month." Allah, therefore, sent down the verse: They ask you concerning the sacred month, shall there be fighting in it? . . . [Qur'an 2:217] . When this verse was revealed, the Messenger of Allah accepted the goods and the ransom of the two captives. The Muslims said: "We can never hope for the reward in the hereafter for this battle, but only for the material reward of the booty." Thus Allah sent down to console them: Those who have accepted faith and have migrated. . . until He says: such are those who hope in Allah's mercy [ Qur'an 2 218 ] . This event took place two months before the Battle of Badr.

The Great Battle Of Badr

The Battle of Badr took place as the Messenger of Allah learnt that Abu Sufyan ibn Harb with a caravan of forty horsemen of the Quraysh carrying goods from Syria was returning to Mecca. The Messenger of Allah went out to meet them with three hundred and some men. The majority of his Companions, however, went out on foot, having only one horse and eighty camels. It is reported that the horse belonged to al-Miqdad (a well-known Companion). Men took turns riding the few camels available. The Messenger of Allah himself shared one camel with Marthad ibn Abi Marthad al-Ghanawi.

This great battle took place in the month of Ramadan 2 /624. When the Prophet left Medina, Abu Sufyan, having heard the news, directed the caravan to travel along the coast to Mecca to seek help from the people of Quraysh. About one thousand men from the various clans of Quraysh responded to his call and went out with him. They had with them two hundred horses. They were also accompanied by young maidens singing poems to the accompaniment of tambourines denigrating the Muslims. al-Akhnas ibn Shurayq ath-Thaqafi who was an ally of the Quraysh, turned back along the way taking with him Banu Zuhrah. So the Quraysh were left with nine hundred and ninety fighters, among them al-`Abbas (the Prophet's uncle), `Aqil (son of Abu Talib ), and Nawfal ibn al-Harith ibn `Abdi 'l-Muttalib. These, however, went out under duress. The most honoured elders of the Quraysh were al-`Abbas ibn `Abdi'l-Muttalib, `Utbah ibn Rabi'ah, Tu'aymah ibn `Adiyy, Abu'l-Bakhtari ibn Hisham, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, Hakim ibn Hizam, an-Nadr ibn al-Harith ibn Kaladah, Abu Jahl ibn Hisham and Suhayl ibn `Amr.

When the Prophet reached Badr, a well so called after a man of the tribe of Ghifar by that name, he learnt of the escape of the caravan and the coming of the army of Quraysh. He thus consulted with his Companions as to whether they should encounter them or turn back, and they all said, "We leave the decision to you. If you so wish, we shall confront the people! " He confronted the people of Quraysh at the well of Badr on the seventeenth of Ramadan. The Apostle raised a white standard which was carried by Mus'ab ibn `Umayr. His banner was entrusted to `Ali.

Allah strengthened the Muslims with five thousand angels. Moreover, He made the Muslims look many more than their actual number to the rejecters of faith, and diminished the number of the Associators in the eyes of the people of faith. This He did in order that they might not lose heart. The Messenger of Allah took a handful of dust and threw it at them exclaiming: "Let these faces be disgraced!" There was not one among them but that he was preoccupied with rubbing his eyes. 

Allah caused approximately seventy of the Associators to be slain and the same number to be captured. Among these were al-`Abbas ibn `Abdu 'l-Muttalib, `Aqil ibn Abi Talib and Nawfal ibn al-Harith, all of whom accepted Islam. Two others `Uqbah ibn Abi Mu'ayt and an-Nadr ibn al-Harith, the Messenger of Allah had slain in a nearby spot called as-Safra'. He said to al-`Abbas, "Ransom yourself, your two nephews `Aqil and Nawfal, your ally `Utbah ibn `Amr and the man of the tribe of al-Harith ibn Fihr, for you are a man of great wealth. al -`Abbas answered, "I was a Muslim, but the people coerced me! " The Prophet answered: "Allah knows best your Islam; if it were true, He shall reward you for it. As for your manifest action, it was against us." al -`Abbas retorted: "I have no wealth! " The Prophet asked, "Where is the wealth which you entrusted to Umm al-Fadl in Mecca, when no one was with you? You then said to her, `If I shall be slain on this journey, this wealth shall be given to my sons al-Fadl, `Abdullah and Qutham.'

" al-`Abbas exclaimed with amazement: "O Apostle of Allah, I now know that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah ! For this is something which no one else besides me and Umm al-Fadl knew! Calculate then, O Apostle of Allah, the amount of wealth which falls to you as booty from me. I had with me twenty ounces (of precious metal)." The Messenger of Allah said: "May that which Allah has granted us through you be never exhausted!" al -`Abbas then ransomed himself with one hundred ounces and each of the others with forty.

'Ali slew among the Associators in the Battle of Badr al-Walid ibn `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah, who was a brave warrior. He also killed al-`As ibn Said ibn al-`As ibn Umayyah, the father of Said ibn al-`As and Tu'aymah ibn `Adiyy ibn Nawfal, whom he pierced with a spear. As he did so, `Ali exclaimed: "By Allah, this man shall never contend with us concerning Allah after today!" 'Ali also killed Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid, who before the hijrah had tied Abu Bakr and Talhah together with a rope and tortured them for a whole day. Nawfal was the paternal uncle of az-Zubayr ibn al`Awwam (the well-known Companion and relative of the Prophet). When the fighting abated, the Prophet rose and exclaimed: "Praise be to Allah Who answered my prayers concerning him."

Jabir [ibn `Abdillah al-Ansari, a notable Companion and supporter of `Ali and his descendants] related on the authority of `Ali that he said: "I marvelled at the bravery of the people on the day of Badr. No sooner had I slain al-Walid ibn `Utbah then Hanzalah ibn Abi Sufyan rushed at me. As he drew close to me, I struck him with my sword so that his eyes ran down on his face and he fell dead on the ground. The people who were with Hanzalah were also killed. They were Zam'ah ibn al-Aswad, al-Harith ibn Zam'ah, `Umayr ibn `Uthman, Ka'b ibn Taym, the uncle of Talhah ibn `Ubaydillah, and `Uthman and Malik, who were the brothers of Talhah. They had with them thirty-six men."

Hamzah ibn `Abdi 'l-Muttalib killed Shaybah ibn Rabi `ah ibn `Abd Shams and al-Aswad ibn `Abd al-Aswad al-Makhzumi. `Amr ibn al-Jamuh killed Abu Jahl ibn Hisham. He struck him with his sword on his leg and severed it. Then `Abdullah ibn Mas'ud came and slew him with his sword, and carried his head to the Apostle of Allah, saying: "I found him breathing his last, and I recognized him. I then placed my foot on his neck, and said: `Has Allah not now disgraced you, O enemy of Allah?' He answered: `You little shepherd! You have now reached high status.' " Ibn Mas'ud continued: "I then cut off his head and brought it to the Messenger of Allah and said: `This is the head of the enemy of Allah, Abu Jahl.' " Also, `Ammar ibn Yasir killed Umayyah ibn Khalaf.

The Messenger of Allah ordered that those who were slain of the Quraysh be thrown in the well of Badr. He then stood over them and called out to them one by one by their names and the names of their fathers. He then exclaimed: "We have indeed found what our Lord had promised us to be true! Have you too found what your Lord had promised you to be true? " The Prophet then said to his Companions: "They hear as you hear, but they have been prevented from uttering a response."

Fourteen men among the Muslims were martyred in the Battle of Badr. Among them were `Ubaydah ibn al-Harith ibn `Abdi 'l-Muttalib, Dhu'sh-Shimalayn `Amr ibn Nadlah, the ally of Banu Zuhrah, Mihja` [ibn Salih] [The client of `Umar [ibn al-Khattab] was also killed by an arrow; he was the first martyr of the Muslims. (ed.)], `Umayr ibn Abi Waqas and Safwan ibn Abi 'l-Bayda'. All these were of the Immigrants; the rest were of the Ansar.

The Messenger of Allah returned to Medina where he rested only for seven nights before he himself led a detachment against the tribe of Banu Sulaym. When he arrived at one of their water springs called al-Kudr, he remained for three nights before returning to Medina. This mission met with no resistance.

The Prophet remained in Medina the rest of Shawwal and Dhu'l-Qi'dah (the tenth and eleventh month, which are sacred months during which no fighting is allowed). During this respite, the Prophet ransomed most of the Muslims captured by the men of Quraysh during the Battle of Badr.

The next military engagement of the Muslims with the people of Quraysh was known as the Battle of Suwayq. This was provoked by Abu Sufyan who had vowed after the defeat of Badr that he would never perform the ritual washing (after sexual intercourse) until he had waged war against Muhammad. He therefore set out with a hundred horsemen of the Quraysh in order to fulfill his vow. When he was a short distance from Medina, he went by night to the quarter of the tribe of Banu 'n-Nadir, and knocked at the door of Huyayy ibn Akhtab, who refused to let him in. He thus left him and went to Sallam ibn Mishkam, who was the chief of Banu'n-Nadir. He requested and was granted permission to enter, and thus went in and spoke secretly to him.

Abu Sufyan returned next morning to his men and sent a few men as raiders to Medina. They came to a spot called al-`Arid, where they came upon a man of the Ansar and his ally, both of whom they killed, and then ran away. The men of Medina also vowed revenge. The Messenger of Allah went out after them until he reached Qarqaratu'l-Kudr near the quarter of the tribe of Sulaym, about eight miles from Medina. The Prophet, however, returned without overtaking Abu Sufyan. The Muslims found some provisions which Abu Sufyan and his men had left on the road in order that they might lighten their load and thus run more swiftly to safety. The Muslims asked the Apostle of Allah when they returned to Medina: "O Apostle of Allah, do we deserve to consider this a battle (that is, an act of jihad in Allah's way)?" "Yes", he replied.