The third year of migration began with minor encounters and some scattered battles which had a defensive aspect and were fought with a view to nip the conspiracies of the idolatrous tribes in the bud. However, the Battle of Uhud deserves attention amongst the events of the third year. This battle is a glaring example of the defence of the sacred religion of Islam, belief in the 'Oneness of Allah' and the freedom of faith.
It is not at all appropriate to give the name of 'battle' or 'Ghazwah' to the sacrifices made by Muslims, because they had not planned to fight a battle, but had resorted to arms only to defend Islam and to ensure freedom of faith.
They repulsed, after sustaining heavy losses, those people, who had come from Makkah and the adjoining areas, and had attacked Madina to destroy the worshippers of Allah and the seekers of freedom, and the Muslims had no alternative left but to reply to the cruel tyrants and oppressors with force and with fiery arms.
The collective attack by the idolaters was the result of a chain of internal and external factors which brought a strong army to Madina to take revenge.
A dangerous element by the name of Ka'b bin Ashraf kindled this fire. He was a Jew from his mother's side, but himself professed to be an idolater. He enjoyed the protection of the Islamic State and did not meet any harm in the Battle of Badr, but on account of the enmity which he had against the Prophet of Islam he went to Makkah and shed crocodile tears in the assemblies of Quraysh and reminded them how their chiefs had been killed and captured. He displayed so much dexterity in this task that the old and young of Quraysh became ready to fight with the Prophet and to topple down the Islamic State.
In order to rouse the passions of the Makkans Ka'b praised the beauty of Muslim women in such a way that all the Makkans expressed a wish to fight against the Muslims so that they might defeat them and capture their women to satisfy their base desires. He also sang some verses in this behalf and inserted in them, with utter shamelessness, the names and particulars of Muslim women and gave indecent descriptions about them. After having carried out his plan he returned to Madina and took refuge in his fortress.
What was the duty of the Prophet and the Muslims with regard to this man, who provoked these passions? He kindled a fire, whose flames reduced to ashes seventy brave soldiers of Islam including Hamzah, and caused the blood of the righteous persons to flow in the land of Uhud.
Men of Aws tribe decided to relieve the Muslims of the mischief of Ka'b. Two persons named Muhammad bin Maslamah and Abu Na'ilah arrived in his fortress in the guise of friends and blamed the Prophet and his religion. They added that since the arrival of the Prophet in Yathrib all of them had been encircled by calamities and their persons and belongings had been destroyed.
They enlarged on this topic so much that Ka'b felt that their views on the subject were identical with his. Then they said: "We have come now to purchase some grains from you and are obliged to pawn something, because we do not possess any cash at present".
Ka'b agreed to sell grains, but as regards the things to be given as security he uttered words which clearly displayed his base and impure spirit, for he said with utter shamelessness: "Your women and children should remain under my control by way of pledge". His remark disturbed the two persons so much that they said in reply: "Is it possible?"
These two persons did not actually want to purchase grains. They came back to chalk out a plan to murder him. They, therefore, made an offer at once to leave their weapons with him as security. Their object in making this offer was that when the armed persons approached his fortress he should imagine that they had come to leave their weapons with him as security and not that they had conspired against him.
At night an armed group of the men of Aws gathered round his fortress, ostensibly with the purpose of purchasing grains. Muhammad bin Maslamah, who was Ka'b's foster-brother, called him. Ka'b's wife objected to his going out in the darkness of night, but in view of the conversation which Ka'b had already had with them he came out of the fortress with perfect confidence and did not entertain any doubt on account of their being armed.
Having encircled him they proceeded to a valley as if to show the commodity or to take possession of it. They had not yet gone far from the fortress when the men of Aws suddenly fell upon him and cut him to pieces. In this way a dangerous enemy, a mischievous spy and a dreadful element, whose most ardent desire had always been to inflict a blow upon the Muslims, was removed from their path.
Soon after the murder of Ka'b a Jew named Abu Rafe', who followed in Ka'b's footsteps and was one with him in the matter of spying and instigating, was also killed. Ibn Athir has recorded the details of this event in his history.1
Seeds of subversion and disturbance had already been sown in Makkah for quite some time. Prohibition of mourning had strengthened the sense of revenge. Closure of the trade route of the people of Makkah via Madina and Iraq had made them extremely uneasy. Ka'b bin Ashraf added fuel to this fire and set it ablaze.
For these reasons Safwan bin Umayyah and 'Ikramah bin Abi Jahl suggested to Abu Sufyan that as the chiefs and soldiers of Quraysh had been killed for the sake of the protection of the trade caravan of Makkah, it was expedient that everyone of those who owned a part of the merchandise which was carried by their caravan should contribute his share to meet the expenses of war. This proposal met Abu Sufyan's approval and was put in action immediately.
The chiefs of Quraysh who were aware of the strength of the Muslims and had observed their bravery and self-sacrifice from a very near quarters in the Battle of Badr, considered it expedient to face Muhammad with an organized army consisting of brave and experienced men of various tribes.
Amr bin As and some others were deputed to contact the tribes of Kananah and Saqif and to seek their help. They were instructed to invite their brave men to fight with Muhammad, fully equipped, and to promise them that the expenses of war and all necessities of the journey would be provided by Quraysh.
They succeeded, after a good deal of activity, in procuring the services of a number of brave men belonging to the tribes of Kananah and Tahamah and in preparing an army consisting of three to four thousand men to participate in the battle.2
What has been stated above is the number of men only, who participated in the battle, and if the number of the women, who were present on the scene, is added, the figure will go up. It was not the custom amongst the Arabs to take women to the battlefield, but this time women also participated in the battle along with men. And their plan was that they should walk between the formations of the troops, beating drums, and instigate them to take revenge, by reciting verses and making moving speeches.
They had brought the women along with them so that the path for soldiers fleeing the battlefield might be closed, because fleeing meant leaving the girls and women to be captured by the enemy, and the element of bravery in the Arabs could not yield to such a disgrace.
A large number of slaves joined the army of Quraysh on account of tempting promises made to them. Wahshi bin Harb was an Ethiopian slave of Mut'am. He possessed extraordinary skill in the use of javelin and had been promised freedom if he killed anyone of the three towering personalities of Islam (namely Muhammad, Ali, or Hamzah). In short, after taking great pains, they organized an army which consisted of seven hundred armour-clad men, three thousand camel-soldiers, a cavalry of two hundred men, and a group of foot-soldiers.
Abbas, uncle of the Prophet, who was in fact a Muslim but had not yet declared his faith openly, informed him about the war plans of Quraysh. He wrote a letter under his signature and seal, handed it over to a messenger belonging to the tribe of Bani Ghifar taking promise from him that he would deliver it to the Prophet within three days.
The messenger brought the sealed letter to the Prophet when he was in a garden outside the city and handed it over to him after paying his respects to him. The Prophet read the letter but did not mention its contents to his companions.3
Allamah Majlisi quotes from Imam Sadiq4 that the Prophet did not write but could read a letter. Evidently it was necessary for the Prophet to inform his companions about the plan of the enemy as early as possible. Hence, on his return to the town, the letter was read over for their information.
The army of Quraysh decided to move and after covering some distance reached Abwa where the mother of the Prophet lies buried. Some frivolous men from Quraysh insisted that her body might be exhumed. However, the far-sighted amongst them severely condemned this suggestion and added: "It is possible that this may become a custom in future and our enemies belonging to the tribes of Bani Bakr and Bani Khuza'ah may open the graves of our dead".
The Prophet deputed Anas and Munis bin Fazalah to go and bring information about Quraysh. These two persons brought the news that the army of Quraysh had reached near Madina and they had left their animals of mount in the fields of Madina to graze. Hubab bin Munzir brought information that the advance guard of the army of Quraysh had reached near Madina.
Thursday afternoon it was confirmed that most of the army of Quraysh had advanced towards Madina. The Muslims were afraid lest the enemies should harm the Prophet by carrying out a night-attack. The chiefs of Aws and Khazraj, therefore, decided to arm themselves and to spend the night in the mosque so as to guard the house of the Prophet and the gates of the city till they were assigned other duties according to war plans after sunrise.
The big and lengthy valley which joined the trade route of Syria with Yemen is called Wadiul Qura. Different Arab tribes and the Jews took up their abode at a spot where necessities of life were available. A number of villages, therefore, came into existence and their sides were fenced by stones. Yathrib (which was later named Madinatur Rasul i.e. city of the Prophet) was considered to be the centre of these villages.
Whoever came from Makkah to Madina was obliged to enter there from the southern side. However, as this region was stony and it was difficult for an army to move into it, the army of Quraysh bent its route and established itself in the north of Madina in the valley named 'Aqiq, situated at the foot of Mt. Uhud. This area was fit for all sorts of military operations as there was no palm-grove in it and the land was also even. Madina was more vulnerable from this side because there were very few natural obstacles in this part.
The forces of Quraysh encamped at the foot of Mt. Uhud on Thursday, the 5th of Shawwal, 3 A.H. The Prophet remained in Madina on that day and also on the night preceding Friday. He formed a military council on Friday and asked the officers and other experienced men to offer suggestions regarding the defence of the city.
Almighty Allah had ordered the Prophet of Islam to consult his companions in important matters and to keep their suggestions in view while taking decisions and by doing so he set a great example for his followers and created a spirit of democracy, truthfulness and realism amongst them. Did he profit from their views or not? The learned ulemah and scholars of scholastic theology have given replies to this question.
However, it is an established fact that these consultations are living examples of our constitutional regulations which have come down to us from the Prophet. This method of his was so instructive and impressive that the caliphs of Islam also followed it after his death and accepted in toto the lofty views of Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, with regard to military matters and social problems.
In a big assembly in which the officers and brave soldiers of the army of Islam were present, the Prophet said, "Let me have your views" i.e. he asked the officers and soldiers to express their views regarding the protection of Islam which was being threatened by Quraysh.
Abdullah bin Ubayy, who was one of the hypocrites of Madina, suggested fortified defence. It meant that Muslims should not go out of Madina but make use of towers and buildings, the women should stone the enemy from the roofs of the buildings and the towers and the men should fight hand to hand in the streets.
He said: "In the past we used to practice the method of fortified defence and women helped us from the roofs of the houses and it is for this reason that the city of Yathrib has remained untouched. The enemy has not so far been able to utilize this method. Whenever we defended ourselves in this way we were victorious and whenever we went out of the city we met with harm".
The old and experienced persons from amongst the Muhajirs and the Ansar supported this view. However, the young people, and especially those who had not participated in the Battle of Badr and were keen to be engaged in a battle, severely opposed this view and said: "This method of defence will encourage the enemy and we shall lose the honour which we acquired in the Battle of Badr. Is it not a shame that the brave and self-sacrificing worshippers of Allah should confine themselves to their homes and allow the enemy to reach there?
At the time of the Battle of Badr our strength was far less than the present one and in spite of that we were victorious. We have been waiting for long for such an opportunity and now we have got it".
Hamzah, the brave officer of Islam, said: "By Allah, who has revealed the Qur'an, I shall not take my meals today until I have fought against the enemy outside the city". This group insisted that the army of Islam should go out of the city and give a fight to the enemy.5
A pious old man named Khaysamah stood up and said: "O Prophet of Allah, Quraysh have been active for full one year and have been able to align the Arab tribes with themselves. If we don't go out now to defend this place it is quite possible that they may besiege Madina. It is also possible that they may lift the siege and return to Makkah.
However this very thing will encourage them and we shall not remain secure from their attacks in future. I am sorry that I could not participate in the Battle of Badr when my son and I were both very keen to take part in it and each one of us wished to steal a march on the other.
In the Battle of Badr I said to my son: "You are young and have many aspirations and can spend the vigour of your youth in such a way that you may gain the pleasure of Allah. So far as I am concerned my life is now almost finished and my future is not bright. It is, therefore, necessary that I should participate in this sacred jihad (Battle of Badr) and you should shoulder the responsibilities with regard to my dependents".
"However, my son was so keen to participate in the battle that we decided to draw lots. The lot fell upon him and he met martyrdom in the Battle of Badr. Last night every one was talking about the siege by Quraysh and I went to sleep with these thoughts in my mind. I saw my son in a dream. He was walking in the gardens of Paradise and was enjoying its fruits. He addressed me with great love and said "Dear father! I am waiting for you ".
"O Prophet of Allah! My beard has become grey and my bones have lost flesh. I request you to pray to Allah for my martyrdom in the path of truth".6
You will come across many such brave and self-sacrificing persons in the pages of the history of Islam. The training schools, which are not founded on faith and belief in the Almighty, and in the Day of Judgement, can rarely train self-sacrificing soldiers like Khaysamah.
This spirit of self-sacrifice, which makes a soldier seek his death in the path of righteousness with tears in his eyes, cannot be inculcated in any school except in the school of godliness. In the industrial countries of the world today great importance is attached to the living conditions of the officers and other ranks of the armed forces.
However, as the object during the modern wars is better life and maintenance for them, their main aim is to save their lives. In the school of the godly people, however, the object of fighting is to seek the pleasure of Allah and, if this object can be achieved by being killed, the soldier of Allah faces all dangers unswervingly.
The Prophet treated the view of the majority to be final and preferred going out of the city instead of resorting to fortified defence and hand to hand fight. It was not at all appropriate that after all the insistence by officers like Hamzah and Sa'd bin 'Ubadah he should accord preference to the suggestion of Abdullah Ubayy, who was one of the hypocrites of Madina.
Although, from the viewpoint of defence and war principles, his suggestion guaranteed victory, or at least ensured that the Muslims should not meet defeat, but it was totally erroneous from the psychological viewpoint for the following reasons:
1. Disorderly hand to hand fighting in the narrow streets of Madina and allowing women to participate in these defensive operations and to remain confined in their homes and leaving the path open to the enemy would have been a sign of the weakness and helplessness of the Muslims and would not have been in keeping with the strength displayed by them in the Battle of Badr.
2. The siege of Madina by the enemy and his control over the roads of the city and the silence of the Muslim soldiers in the face of all this could have very well killed the spirit of warfare in them.
3. It was not impossible that Abdullah Ubayy who nursed a grudge against the Prophet, wished to give him a hard blow by this means.
After determining the line of defence the Prophet entered his house. He put on the coat of mail, girded a sword, put a shield on his back, hung a bow on his shoulder, held a spear in his hand, and, having thus equipped himself, reappeared before the people. This scene gave a severe jolt to the Muslims. Some of them thought that their insistence on going out of the city was not in accordance with Islamic principles and they had persuaded the Prophet unnecessarily to go out for fighting.
To make amends, therefore, they said that they submitted to his views and would abide by whatever decision he might take i.e. if it was not expedient to go out they were prepared to remain in the city. The Prophet, however, replied "When a Prophet wears a coat of mail it is not proper for him to take it off unless he has fought against the enemy".7
The Prophet offered Friday prayers and then left Madina for Uhud with an army consisting of one thousand men. He did not take with him persons like Usamah bin Zayd Harith and Abdullah bin Umar on account of their tender age, but two young men named Samurah and Rafe', who were not more than fifteen years of age, participated in the battle, because, in spite of their being young, they were good archers.
On the way some Jews, who were allies of Abdullah Ubayy, expressed their desire to participate in the defence of the city, but the Prophet did not consider it expedient, for some reasons, to allow them to do so. In the meantime Abdullah Ubayy also declined to participate in jihad on the excuse that the Prophet had accepted the suggestion of young men in preference to his. He, therefore, returned from half-way along with three hundred men belonging to the tribe of Aws, who were his kinsmen.
The Prophet and his companions were keen to proceed by the shortest route so as to reach their camping-place soon. For this purpose they were obliged to pass through the garden of a hypocrite named Jumuh. He expressed great annoyance in a mulish way on account of the entry of the Islamic army into his property and was disrespectful to the Prophet. The companions of the Prophet wanted to kill him but the Prophet said: "Leave alone this misguided and obstinate person".8
At one point the Prophet reviewed his soldiers. Their self-sacrificing mettle and brilliant faces were shining through the lights of the swords. The army which the Prophet brought to the foot of Mt. Uhud consisted of persons in whose ages there was much divergence. Most of them were old men with white heads and faces but there could also be seen brave boys, whose ages did not exceed fifteen years.
The thing which prompted these persons to participate in the battle was nothing else except the love for perfection which could be achieved only under the auspices of the defence of Islam. In support of this statement we narrate hereunder the stories of two persons i.e. an old man and a young man who had been married only one night earlier.
1. 'Amr bin Jumuh: He was an old man with a bent back, whose physical strength was exhausted and one of whose feet had also been injured in an incident. He had four brave sons whom he had sent to the battlefield and he was happy that they were fighting for the sake of truth and reality.
However, he thought within himself that it was not proper for him to remain away from the battle and thus to lose the blessings (of jihad). His kinsmen severely objected to his participating in the battle and said that the laws of Islam had absolved him from all such responsibilities. Their words did not, however, satisfy him and he approached the Prophet personally and said: "My kinsmen prevent me from participating in jihad. What is your view in the matter?"
The Prophet replied "Allah considers you to be excused and no responsibility devolves upon you". He, however, insisted and entreated for the acceptance of his request. While his kinsmen were encircling him, the Prophet turned to them and said: "Don't prevent him from meeting martyrdom in the path of Islam". When he came out of his house he said: "O Allah! Make me successful in laying my life in Your path and don't make me return to my home".
A person who goes to meet death with open arms is sure to achieve his end. The attacks of this lame person were very exciting. He attacked in spite of his lame foot and said: "I am desirous of Paradise". One of his sons was also advancing along with him. Consequently both of them fought till they achieved the honour of martyrdom.9
2. Hanzalah: He was a young man who had not yet completed twenty four years of his age. It has been said: "He brings into existence pure children from impure parents". He was the son of Abu 'Amir, an enemy of the Prophet. His father participated in the Battle of Uhud from the side of Quraysh and was one of those mischievous elements who instigated Quraysh to wage war against the Prophet. He worked against Islam till his death and was one of the founders of Masjid-i Zirar. A detailed account of it will be given in connection with the events of the ninth year of migration.
Filial sentiments did not make Hanzalah deviate from the right path. The night preceding the day on which the Battle of Uhud took place was his wedding night. He had married the daughter of Abdullah Ubayy, the well-known member of the tribe of Aws and was obliged to consummate the marriage rites the same night.
When he heard the call to jihad he was perplexed. He found no alternative but to seek permission from the supreme commander to spend that night in Madina and reach the battlefield on the following day.
As quoted by Allamah Majlisi10 the following verse was revealed about him:
The true believers are those who have faith in Allah and His Messenger, and when they are dealing with the Messenger in important matters, they do not leave without his permission. Muhammad, those who ask your permission believe in Allah and His Messenger. When they ask your leave to attend to their affairs, grant permission to whomever you please and implore Allah to forgive them. Allah is forgiving and merciful. (Surah al-Nur, 24:62)
The Prophet granted him permission for one night to consummate the nuptial rites. In the morning he reached the battlefield even before taking ceremonial bath. When he wished to come out of his house tears came in the eyes of the bride whose marriage had taken place only a night earlier. She put her arms round the neck of her husband and asked him to wait for a few moments. She then called four persons, who had stayed on in Madina on account of some excuse, to witness that marriage had taken place between them during the previous night.
When Hanzalah went, the bride turned to the four persons mentioned above and said: "Last night I dreaMt. that the sky was split and my husband entered it and thereafter the two parts of the sky rejoined each other. I feel, on account of this dream, that my husband and his soul will fly to Paradise".
Hanzalah joined the army. His eyes fell on Abu Sufyan who was parading between the two armies. He made a brave attack on him with his sword but it struck the back of Abu Sufyan's horse and he himself fell down.
The cries of Abu Sufyan attracted the attention of the soldiers of Quraysh. Shaddad Dulaythi attacked Hanzalah, as a consequence of which Abu Sufyan made good his escape.
A spearhead from amongst the soldiers of Quraysh attacked Hanzalah and thrust his spear into his body. In spite of the wound Hanzalah pursued that man and put him to the sword. He himself also fell down on the ground and breathed his last on account of the wound sustained by him.
The Prophet said: "I have seen that the angels were washing Hanzalah". That is why he is called 'Ghasilul Mala'ikah' (i.e. one who was washed by the angels). When the people of the tribe of Bani Aws recounted the causes of their glory and honour they used to say: "One of us was Hanzalah who was washed by the angels".
Abu Sufyan used to say: "If they killed my son Hanzalah in the Battle of Badr I also killed Hanzalah of the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud".
No doubt the mentality, sincerity and faith of this couple is surprising, because their fathers were the sworn enemies of Islam. The father of the bride was Abdullah bin Ubayy Salul, who was the chief of the hypocrites of Madina, and Hanzalah was the son of Abu 'Amir, who was a monk during the Age of Ignorance and after the advent of Islam joined the idolaters of Makkah. He was the person who invited Hercules to attack and destroy the newly-formed Islamic State.11
In the morning of the 7th of Shawwal, 3 A.H., the Islamic forces arrayed themselves opposite the invading and aggressive forces of Quraysh. The Muslim army selected as their camping-place a point which had a natural barrier and protection at the back of it in the shape of Mt. Uhud. There was, however a particular gap in the middle of the mountain and it was probable that the enemy forces might turn round the mountain and appear at the back of the Muslim army through that gap and might attack them from behind.
In order to obviate this danger the Prophet posted two groups of archers on a mound and addressed their Commander Abdullah Jabir in these words: "You should drive away the enemies by shooting arrows. Don't allow them to enter the battlefield from behind and take us by surprise. Whether we are victorious or defeated, you should not vacate this point.
The events of the Battle of Uhud show clearly that this passage was extraordinarily sensitive and the defeat of the Muslims after they had achieved victory was due to the fact that the archers displayed indiscipline and vacated this important passage and the defeated and retreating enemy made a quick surprise attack through it.
The strict orders given by the Prophet to the archers not to move from their place were an evidence of his perfect knowledge of the principles of warfare. However, a commander's knowledge of the principles of warfare does not guarantee victory if the soldiers display indiscipline.
The Prophet did not ignore strengthening of the morale of the soldiers in the battles. This time, too, when seven hundred Muslims were arrayed against three thousand persons, he strengthened their morale by an address. The great Historian of Islam, Waqidi, says: "The Prophet posted fifty archers on the isthmus of Ainayn and kept Mt. Uhud in the back and Madina in front of the Muslim forces. While walking on foot he arrayed the troops and fixed the place of every officer. He kept one group in the front and another in the rear. He arrayed the rows so minutely that if the shoulder of any soldier was ahead of others he immediately asked him to move behind.
After arraying the rows the Prophet addressed the Muslims in these words: "I advise you to follow what has been enjoined by Almighty Allah in His Book. I remind you to obey the orders of Allah and refrain from opposing Him ".
Then he added: "It is a difficult and onerous task to fight with the enemy, and there are very few, who can remain steadfast before them except those, who have been guided and supported by Allah, for Allah is with those, who obey Him and Satan is with those, who disobey the Almighty. Above anything else you should remain steadfast in jihad and should acquire by this means the blessings, which Allah has promised you. The messenger, the Archangel Jibreel has said to me that none dies in this world unless he has eaten the last little bit of his daily portion fixed by Providence ............And until orders are given to start fighting none should resort to it".12
Abu Sufyan divided his army into three parts. He placed the armour-clad infantry men in the middle, a group under the command of Khalid bin Walid on the right and another group under the command of 'lkrimah on the left. He also posted a special platoon in front of the army by way of vanguard, and this group also included the standard-bearers, all of whom belonged to the tribe of Abdud Dar.
Then he addressed them saying: "Victory of an army depends on the steadfastness and perseverance of the standard-bearers. On the Day of Badr we were defeated in this field. If the tribe of Abdud Dar don't display competence in protecting the standard, it is possible that the honour of bearing the standard may be transferred to another tribe". Talhah bin Abi Talhah, who was a brave man and the first standard bearer felt these words. He stepped forward immediately and challenged the adversary to fight.
Before the battle commenced the Prophet held a sword in his hand and, in order to stir the blood of the brave soldiers, turned his face towards them and said: "Who is the person, who holds, this sword in his hand, and gives it its due? " Some persons stood up but the Prophet did not hand over the sword to them. Then Abu Dujanah, who was a brave soldier, stood up and said: "What is due to this sword and how can we give it?"
The Prophet said: "You should fight with it so much that it should bend". Abu Dujanah said: "I am prepared to pay its due". Then he tied to his head a red handkerchief which he called 'the handkerchief of death' and took the sword from the Prophet. Hence, by tying this head-band to his head he meant that he would fight till his last breath. He walked like a proud leopard and was very happy to receive the honour which he did and the red handkerchief added to his dignity.13
No doubt such ostentation is the best stimulant to encourage an army, which fights for the defence of truth and spirituality, and which has no aim other than the spreading of freedom of faith, and no motive except the love for perfection. Perhaps this action of the Prophet was not only to stimulate the person of Abu Dujanah, for by this means he also encouraged others and impressed upon them that their bravery and determination too should be of such a standard that they should deserve such military medals.
Zubayr Awam, who was himself a brave soldier, felt somewhat uneasy because of the Prophet's not giving the sword to him. He, therefore, said to himself: "I should pursue Abu Dujanah to see the standard of his bravery".
He said: "I followed him in the battlefield. He cut down every warrior that faced him". Then he said: "There was a champion amongst Quraysh, who quickly cut off the heads of wounded Muslims, and I was very much disturbed on account of this unusual act of his. By some lucky chance he came face to face with Abu Dujanah.
A few blows were exchanged between them and eventually the champion of Quraysh was killed at the hands of Abu Dujanah. Abu Dujanah said: "I saw someone encouraging Quraysh to fight. I went up to him and when he saw the sword hanging on his head he began to bewail and cry. Suddenly I realized that it was a woman (Hind wife of Abu Sufyan) and I considered the sword of the Prophet too pure to be struck on the head of a woman (like Hind)".14
Ibn Hisham writes:15 "The battle commenced through Abu 'Amir who was one of those who had fled Madina. He belonged to the tribe of Aws but, on account of his enmity with Islam, had taken refuge in Makkah and fifteen persons of Bani Aws were with him. He was under the impression that if the people of Aws tribe saw him they would desert the Prophet. He, therefore, stepped forward to achieve this end. However, when he confronted Muslims he had to face their taunts and abuses. After a short fighting, therefore, he kept himself aloof from the front.
Self-sacrifices of some warriors in the Battle of Uhud are well-known amongst the historians, and the sacrifices made by Ali are specially worthy of appreciation. Ibn Abbas says: "In all the battles Ali was the standard-bearer and a standard-bearer was always selected from amongst experienced and steadfast persons and in the Battle of Uhud the standard of Muhajirs was in the hands of Ali".
According to many historians, after Mus'ab bin Umayr, the standard-bearer of the Muslims, was martyred the Prophet gave the standard to Ali and the reason for Mus'ab having held the standard in the first instance was perhaps that he belonged to the family of Bani Abdud Dar and the standard-bearers of Quraysh also belonged to the same family". (This view has been taken from Balazari).
Talhah Abi Talhah, who was called Kabshul Katibah (a man equal to a vanguard of an army) entered the battlefield shouting and said: "O companions of Muhammad! You believe that our people, who are killed, go to Hell whereas yours go to Paradise.
In the circumstances is there anyone amongst you whom I may send to Paradise or he may send me to Hell?" His voice was ringing in the battlefield. Ali went forward and after the exchange of some blows Talhah fell down.
After Talhah was killed, his two brothers became the standard-bearers, one after the other. However, both of them succumbed to the arrow shots of 'Asim bin Thabit.
It is learnt from the speech which Ali made before the consultative body which was formed to select a caliph after the death of the Second Caliph that the army of Quraysh had kept nine persons in reserve for the office of standard-bearer and it had been decided that they would bear the standard in a specified order and if the first person was killed the second would bear the standard and so on and so forth.
All these standard-bearers who belonged to the tribe of Bani Abdud Dar were killed at the hands of Ali. After them an Ethiopian slave named Sawab, who had a frightening figure and a dreadful mien, picked up the standard and asked for an adversary. He too fell to a blow of Ali.
In a big assembly, in which the companions of the Prophet were present, Ali said: "Do you remember that I relieved you of the mischief of nine persons of the tribe of Bani Abdud Dar, everyone of whom held the standard by turn and asked for an adversary?" All those present confirmed the statement of Ali, the Commander of the Faithful.16
He added: "Do you remember that after the nine persons, the Ethiopian slave Sawab entered the field and had no object but to kill the Prophet of Allah. He was so furious that his mouth was emitting foam and his eyes had become red. On seeing that dreadful warrior all of you were astonished and retreated, whereas I went forward and, striking a blow on his back, brought him to the ground". Those present confirmed these remarks as well.17
It is learnt from the verses, which Hind and other women were reciting with tambourines to instigate the warriors of Quraysh and to incite them to blood-shed and revenge, that these people were not fighting for the sake of spirituality, purity, freedom and moral virtues. On the contrary they were prompted by sexual and material consideration.
The song which the women sang with tambourine and a particular tune amongst the rows of the army was: "We are the daughters of Tariq. We walk on costly carpets. If you face the enemy we shall sleep with you, but if you show your back to the enemy and flee, we shall disengage ourselves from you".
It is an admitted fact that there is a clear contrast and a vast difference between people, whose warfare is prompted by sexual desires and who have no aim other than the satisfaction of material gains and beastly pleasures and the people, who fight for a sacred spiritual object like establishing freedom, raising the level of thinking and relieving man of the worship of wood and stone.
On account of the two different stimulants which existed in the minds of these two groups it was not long before as a consequence of the self-sacrifice of the brave officers of Islam like Ali, Hamzah, Abu Dujanah, Zubayr and others, the army of Quraysh threw their weapons and provisions on the ground and ran away disgracefully from the battlefield. Another glory was thus achieved by the warriors of Islam.18
We may mention here as to why the warriors of Islam were victorious. It was due to the fact that till the last moment of their victory they had no motive except that of jihad in the path of Allah, acquisition of His pleasure, conveying the message of Allah and the removal of every impediment in its path.
Why were they defeated thereafter? It was because, after achieving victory, the aim and intention of most of the Muslims underwent a change. Attention towards the booty, which the army of Quraysh had themselves thrown in the battlefield and had fled, affected the sincerity of a large group and they ignored the orders given by the Prophet.
Here are the details of the event: While explaining the geographical conditions of Uhud we had mentioned that there was a particular gap in the middle of Mt. Uhud and the Prophet had entrusted fifty archers under the command of Abdullah Jabir to guard the valley behind the battle front and had given these orders to the commander of the group: "Prevent the enemy from passing through the gap in the mountain by shooting arrows and don't vacate this point at any cost whether we are defeated or victorious".
The fire of warfare blazed up on both the sides. Every time the enemies wished to cross his valley they were repulsed by the archers.
When the army of Quraysh threw away their weapons and property on the ground and ignored everything else to save their lives, a few brave officers of Islam whose oath of allegiance was perfectly sincere pursued the enemy outside the battlefield. But the majority ignored the pursuit and placing their weapons on the ground began collecting the booty and imagined that the battle had come to an end.
The persons guarding the valley behind the battle front also decided to avail of the opportunity and said to themselves: "It is useless for us to stay here and it is profitable that we too should collect the booty". Their commander, however, reminded them that the Prophet had ordered that whether the Muslim army gained victory or was defeated they should not move from their post.
Majority of the archers, who were guarding the passage, opposed their commander and said: "Our staying here is useless and the Prophet meant only that we should guard this passage when the battle was in progress, but now the fighting has ended".
On the basis of this false presumption forty men came down from the vigilance post and only ten persons remained there. Khalid bin Walid, who was a brave and experienced warrior and knew from the very start that the mouth of the passage was the key to victory and had attempted many times to reach at the back of the war-front through it, but had to face the archers, took advantage of the small number of the guards this time.
He led his soldiers towards the back side of the Muslim army and making a surprise attack reached at the party of the Muslims. The resistance by the small group which was stationed above the mound could not prove effective till all the ten persons after putting up a tough fight were killed at the hands of the troops of Khalid bin Walid and 'Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl. Soon after that the unarmed and neglectful Muslims were subjected to a severe attack of the enemy from behind.
After having gained possession of the sensitive point Khalid sought the collaboration of the defeated army of Quraysh, which was in a state of flight, and strengthened the spirit of resistance and perseverance of Quraysh with repeated shootings and cries. On account of disruption and confusion which prevailed in the ranks of the Muslims, the army of Quraysh soon surrounded the Muslim warriors and fighting commenced between them once again.
This defeat was due to the negligence of those persons who vacated the passage for their material gains and unintentionally cleared the way for the enemy in such a manner that the mounted soldiers under orders of Khalid bin Walid entered the field from behind.
The attack by Khalid was supported by an attack by 'Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl and unprecedented and surprising disorder prevailed in the forces of Islam. The Muslims had no alternative but to defend themselves as a scattered group. However, as liaison with the command had also been disrupted they did not succeed in defending themselves and suffered heavy casualties, so much so that some Muslim soldiers were inadvertently killed by other Muslims.
The attacks by Khalid and 'Ikrimah strengthened the morale of the army of Quraysh. Their retreating forces reentered the field and lent them support. They encircled the Muslims from all sides and killed a number of them.
A brave warrior of Quraysh named Laythi attacked Mus'ab bin Umayr, the daring standard-bearer of Islam, and after exchange of a number of blows between them the standard-bearer of Islam was killed. As the Muslim warriors had hidden their faces Laythi thought that the person killed was the Prophet of Islam. He, therefore, shouted and informed the chiefs of the army that Muhammad had been killed.
This rumour spread from man to man in the army of Quraysh. Their chiefs were so happy that their voices were ringing in the battlefield and all of them were saying "O people! Muhammad has been killed! O people! Muhammad has been killed! "
Publicity of this false news encouraged the enemy and the army of Quraysh came into motion. Everyone of them was keen to participate in cutting the limbs of Muhammad so that he might secure a high status in the world of polytheism.
This news weakened the morale of the warriors of Islam much more than it gave strength to the morale of the army of the enemy, so much so that a considerable majority of Muslims abandoned fighting and took refuge in the mountains and none of them, except a few, who could be counted on fingers, remained in the field.
It is not possible to deny that some companions fled the field and the fact that they were companions of the Prophet or that later they acquired status and honour amongst the Muslims should not prevent us from accepting this bitter reality.
Ibn Hisham, the famous historian, writes thus "Anas bin Nazr, the uncle of Anas bin Malik says: "When the army of Islam came under pressure and the news of the death of the Prophet was afloat, most of the Muslims thought of their own lives and every person took refuge in one corner or the other".
He adds: "I saw a group of Muhajirs and Ansar, including Umar bin Khattab and Talhah bin Ubaydullah Taymi, who were sitting in a corner and were anxious for themselves. I said to them with a tone of protest: "Why are you sitting here?" They replied, "The Prophet has been killed and it is, therefore no use fighting". I said to them: "If the Prophet has been killed it is no use living. Get up and meet martyrdom in the same path in which he has been killed".19
According to many historians, Anas said: "If Muhammad has been killed his Lord is alive". And then he added: "I saw that my words had no effect on them. I put my hand to my arms and began to fight with determination". Ibn Hisham says that Anas sustained seventy wounds in this battle and none could identify his dead body except his sister.
A group of Muslims were so much depressed that in order to ensure their safety they planned to approach Abdullah Ubayy so that he might obtain security for them from Abu Sufyan.20
The verses of the Holy Qur'an tear the veils of fanaticism and ignorance and make it abundantly clear that some companions thought that the promise given by the Prophet about victory and success was baseless and the Almighty Allah says thus about this group:
To some others (a group of companions) of you, your lives were so important that, you, like ignorant people, began thinking suspiciously of Allah saying, 'Do we have any say in the matter?" (Surah Ale Imran, 3:153 )
You can learn the hidden facts about this battle by studying the verses of Surah Ale Imran. These verses fully bear out the facts in which the Shi'ah believe. The Shi'ah believe that all the companions were not self-sacrificing or lovers of Islam, and some persons with weak faith were hypocrites who were amongst them. And at the same time there were among the companions a large number of true believers and pious and sincere persons.
Nowadays a group of Sunni writers attempt to draw a curtain on many of these unworthy acts of the companions (their specimens have been seen by you in connection with the events of this battle). They protect the position of all of them by offering unrealistic explanations which only show their fanaticism and cannot hide the real facts of history.
Who can deny the substance of this verse which says clearly:
(Believers, remember) when you were fleeing without even glancing to either side even though the Messenger was calling you back. (Surah Ale Imran, 3:152)
This verse is about the same persons, who were seen by Anas bin Nazr with his own eyes when they were sitting in a corner and were anxious about their future.
The following verse is more clear than that quoted above:
Those of you, who ran away on the day when the two armies met, must have been seduced by Satan on account of some evil they had done. But now Allah has pardoned them, He is Forgiving and Forbearing. (Surah Ale Imran, 3:154)
Allah reprimands in the following verse those persons who made the news about the Prophet's assassination an excuse for abandoning fight and were thinking of approaching Abu Sufyan through Abdullah bin Ubayy to guarantee their safety:
Muhammad is only a Messenger. Other Prophets have passed away before him. If he dies or be slain, would you then turn back to your pre-Islamic behaviour. Whoever does so can cause no harm to Allah. Allah will reward the thankful. (Surah Ale Imran, 3:144)
When we study the events of Uhud some bitter and sweet experiences are gained; the strength of the perseverance and steadfastness of one group and the instability of the other group can be clearly observed. The historians, annalists and others who record facts; it becomes crystal clear that all companions cannot be considered inherently pious and just, only because they were companions, hence, the persons, who vacated the mound of archers, and those, who climbed the mountain in delicate moments and ignored the call of the Prophet consisted of the same dignified companions.
The great historian of Islam, Waqidi, says: "On the day of Uhud eight persons swore allegiance to the Prophet assuring him of laying down their lives for him. Out of them three were Muhajirs (Ali, Talhah and Zubayr) and the remaining five were Ansar and with the exception of these eight persons took to their heels at the delicate moment".
Ibn Abil Hadid writes:21 In the year 608 A.H. I was present in an assembly in Baghdad in which some persons were reading the book of Mughazi-i Waqidi in the presence of the great scholar Muhammad bin Ma'ad 'Alavi.
When they reached the stage at which Muhammad bin Maslamah narrates clearly: "On the day of Uhud I saw with my own eyes that the Muslims were climbing the mountain and the Prophet was calling them with their particular names and was saying: 'O such and such! O such and such!' But not even one of them gave a positive reply to the Prophet's call".
The teacher said to me: "By 'such and such' the same persons are meant who acquired position and office after the Prophet", and the narrator has not mentioned their actual names on account of fear, and because of the respect, which he was expected to accord to them".
He has also narrated in his commentary that most of the narrators are agreed upon it that the Third Caliph was one of those persons who were not constant and stable in the battlefield at delicate moments.
Later you will read a sentence of the Prophet about a self-sacrificing lady of Islam named Nasibah who defended the Prophet in the battlefield of Uhud. In that sentence there is also an allusion to the lowering of the position and personality of those who had run away. We have not to settle accounts with any one of the companions of the Prophet.
Our object is to bring realities to light and to state facts. We blame their running away to the same extent to which we praise the perseverance and steadfastness of the other group and consider their character to be commendable.
At the time when the army of Islam was faced with disorder and chaos, the Prophet was being attacked from all sides. Five notorious men of Quraysh determined to put an end to his life at any cost. They were:
1. Abdullah bin Shahab who wounded the forehead of the Prophet.
2. 'Utbah Abi Waqqas who, by flinging four stones, broke his ruba'iyat teeth of the right side.22
3. Ibn Qumi'ah Laythi who inflicted a wound on the face of the Prophet. The wound was so severe that the rings of the Prophet's helmet penetrated into his cheeks. These rings were extracted by Abu 'Ubaydah Jarrah with his teeth and he lost four of his own teeth in doing so.
4. Abdullah Hamid, who was killed, at the time of attack, at the hands of the hero of Islam, Abu Dujanah.
5. Abi Khalf. He was one of those persons who fell at the hands of the Prophet himself. He faced the Prophet at the time when he (the Prophet) had managed to reach in the valley and some of his companions had come round him, on having identified him. Abi Khalf advanced towards the Prophet. The Prophet took a spear from Hasis bin Simmah and thrust it in the neck of Abi Khalf as a consequence of which he fell down from his horse.
Although the wound sustained by Abi Khalf was minor, he had become so much terrified that when his friends consoled him he could not compose himself and said: "l said to Muhammad in Makkah that I would kill him and he said in reply that he would kill me, and he never tells a lie". All was over with him on account of the wound and fear, and after some time he breathed his last on his way back to Makkah.23
No doubt this event indicates one extreme meanness of the polytheists. Notwithstanding the fact that they admitted that the Prophet was truthful and never uttered a lie, but as they had become his enemies, they wanted to shed his blood.
The Prophet did not move from his place. He remained as firm as a rock and continued to defend his own person as well as Islam. Notwithstanding the fact that the distance between his life and death had become extraordinarily short and he could very well see that the army of the enemy was turning towards him like a wave, he did not move from his place nor uttered any word which might betray any fear or anguish on his part.
Only at the time of cleansing his forehead of blood he said: "How can the people achieve salvation if they besmear the face of their Prophet with blood when he invites them to the worship of Allah". And this shows his extreme compassion and kindness even for his enemies.
Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, says: "The Prophet was nearest to the enemy in the battlefield and provided us asylum as and when matters became difficult. Hence one of the reasons for the Prophet remaining safe was his defending himself and Islam personally, but there was another reason, which guaranteed his life, and that was the self-sacrifice of a few of his sincere and faithful friends and companions who purchased his life at the cost of their own lives, and kept this luminous candle safe from being extinguished. The Prophet gave a tough fight on the Day of Uhud and shot all the arrows in his quiver, so much so that his bow was broken and its bow-string was also severed.24
The number of those who defended the Prophet did not exceed a few persons.25 However, the steadfastness of all of them is not indisputable, but it is definite from the viewpoint of the art of history. What is definite and final amongst the historians is the perseverance of a very small group. An account of the defence conducted by them is given here.
It will not be inappropriate if we give the name of 'renewed victory' to this part of the history of Islam. What is meant by this victory is that contrary to the expectations of the enemies, the Muslims succeeded in saving the Prophet from death. And this was the renewed victory which fell to the lot of the army of Islam.
If we are associating this victory with the entire army of Islam we are doing so as a mark of respect to the warriors of Islam. In fact, however, the heavy burden of this victory fell on the shoulders of a few persons who could be counted on fingers. These were the persons who protected the Prophet by risking their own lives and in fact it was due to the self-sacrifice of this minority that the State of Islam remained intact and this luminous candle did not extinguish.
Here is a brief account of the feats of these self-sacrificing persons:
1. The first constant and steadfast person was a brave officer, who had by then completed only twenty six years of his life, and who had been in attendance upon the Prophet since his very childhood up to the moment of the death of the Prophet and did not forsake self-sacrifice and assisting him even for a moment. This senior officer and real devotee was Imam Ali, the Chief of the Pious and the Commander of the Faithful, whose services and devotion to the cause of Islam has been recorded in history
Basically this renewed victory was achieved, like the first victory, by means of the valour and self-sacrifice of that devoted person, because it is evident that the cause of the flight of Quraysh in the initial stages of the battle was that their standard-bearers were killed, one after the other, at the hands of Ali and as a consequence of it the army of Quraysh became so much aghast that they lost their power of stay and resistance.
The contemporary Egyptian writers, who have analysed the events, have not done justice to Ali commensurate with his position or with the real facts recorded in history and have considered the services of the Commander of the Faithful to be at par with those of others. We, therefore, consider it necessary to give here a brief account of his devotion and the sacrifices made by him.
Ibn Athir says:26 "The Prophet became the object of the attack of various units of the army of Quraysh from all sides. Ali attacked, in compliance with the Prophet's orders, every unit that made an attack upon him (the Prophet) and dispersed them or killed some of them, and this thing took place a number of times in Uhud.
In the meantime the Archangel Jibreel came and praised the devotion of Ali before the Prophet and said: 'It is the height of sacrifice which this officer is displaying'. The Prophet confirmed the remark of Jibreel and said 'I am from Ali and Ali is from me'.
Then a voice was heard in the battlefield saying: La Saifa illa Zulfiqar, La Fata illa Ali (i.e. There is no sword which renders service except Zulfiqar (which was in the hands of Ali) and there is no brave man except Ali).
Ibn Abil Hadid has given a more detailed account of this event and says: "Everyone of the units which were trying to kill the Prophet consisted of fifty persons and although Ali was on foot he dispersed them all".
Then he has given an account of the coming of Jibreel and says: "Besides the fact that this event is an admitted phenomenon from the viewpoint of history, I have read about the coming of Jibreel in Muhammad bin Ishaq's book entitled Kitabul Ghzawat and chanced to enquire one day about its authenticity from my teacher Abdul Wahhab Sakinah.
He said: 'It is correct'. I then asked him: 'Why has this tradition not been mentioned by the compilers of the Sihah?' (the six authentic books of Hadith amongst Ahle Sunnat). He replied: 'We have a number of authentic traditions which the compilers of the Sihah have neglected to insert in their books".27
In the detailed speech which Ali delivered for "Ra's al-Yahud" in the presence of a group of his own companions he refers to his sacrifices in these words: "....When the army of Quraysh attacked us like one single force the Ansar and the Muhajirs proceeded to their homes and I sustained seventy wounds defending the Prophet".
Then he (Ali) drew aside his garment and pointed out the places where the signs of the wounds were still present.28 Moreover, as recorded in 'Ilalush Shara'i'29 Ali, while defending the Prophet, exhibited so much valour and self-sacrifice that his sword broke into two. The Prophet then gave him his own sword named Zulfiqar and with this sword he continued jihad in the path of Allah.
In his valuable book30 Ibn Hisham has mentioned the figure of those killed from amongst the idolaters to be twenty two and has also mentioned their names and particulars giving also the name of tribe etc. Out of these twenty two persons twelve were killed by Ali and the remaining ten were killed by other Muslims. The said biographer has mentioned clearly the names and particulars of those who were killed.
We admit that it has not been possible for us to depict in these pages the services rendered by Ali as mentioned in the books of both the sects and especially in the book entitled Biharul Anwar.31 It is learnt from the study of different narratives and traditions that in Uhud none was as constant as Ali and even Abu Dujanah who was a brave and valiant officer of Islam could not equal him in the matter of defence.
2. Abu Dujanah: After the Commander of the Faithful, Abu Dujanah was the second officer who defended the person of the Prophet in such a manner that he made himself a helmet for him. Arrows were settling on his back and he was thus protecting the Prophet from becoming their target.
The late Sipahr, has recorded a sentence about Abu Dujanah in his book entitled Nasikhut Tawarikh,32 it has not been possible for us to locate its source. He writes: When the Prophet and Ali were encircled by the idolaters the Prophet's eyes fell upon Abu Dujanah and he said to him: "O Abu Dujanah! I absolve you from your allegiance. However, Ali is mine and I am his".
Abu Dujanah wept bitterly and said: "Where should I go? Should I go to my wife who has to die? Should I go to my house which will be ruined? Should I go to my wealth and property which will be destroyed? Should I run towards death which must come?"
When the Prophet saw tears in the eyes of Abu Dujanah he permitted him to fight and both he and Ali protected the Prophet from the severe attacks of Quraysh.
In the books on history we also come across the names of other persons like 'Asim bin Thabit, Sahl Hunayf, Talhah bin 'Ubaydullah etc. in the capacity of those who remained steadfast, and some historians have mentioned the number of such persons to be near thirty six.
However, what is decisive from the viewpoint of history is the constancy of Ali, Abu Dujanah, Hamzah and the lady named Umme 'Amir and the constancy of those excepting these four persons is suspected and in some cases dubious.
3. Self-sacrifice of a brave officer: There have been a number of brave and self-sacrificing officers and strong and powerful champions in the army of Islam but the bravery of Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib is recorded in the pages of history and in fact constitutes the golden leaves of the history of the battles of Islam.
Hamzah, the uncle of the Prophet of Islam, was one of the most brave men of Arabia and a well-known officer of Islam. It was he, who insisted earnestly that the army of Islam should go out of Madina and fight against Quraysh. It was Hamzah, who protected the Prophet in Makkah during the delicate moments with all his might and in order to avenge the insult and harm done to the Prophet by Abu Jahl, he broke, the latter's head in a big assembly of Quraysh and none dared to oppose him.
He was the same senior and valiant officer who killed the brave champion of Quraysh Shaybah and others and also wounded a group of the enemies in the Battle of Badr. He had no object in mind except to defend truth and virtue and to maintain freedom in the lives of human beings.
Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, was the daughter of 'Utbah. She nursed a grudge against Hamzah and was determined to take her father's revenge on the Muslims at any cost.
Wahshi, an Ethiopian warrior, was the slave of Jabir Mut'am and an uncle of Jabir had also been killed in the Battle of Badr. He (Wahshi) had been appointed by Hind to help achieve her object by hook or by crook. She asked him to kill one of the three persons (viz. the Prophet, Ali or Hamzah) so that she might avenge her father's death.
The Ethiopian warrior said in reply: "I cannot approach Muhammad at all, because his companions are nearer to him than anyone else. Ali too is extraordinarily vigilant in the battlefield. However, Hamzah is so furious that, while fighting, he does not pay any attention to any other side and it is possible that I may be able to make him fall by some trick or by taking him unawares".
Hind was contented with this and promised that if he was successful in performing the job she would set him free. Some believe that Jabir made this promise with his slave (Wahshi) as his (Jabir's) uncle had been killed in the Battle of Badr.
Wahshi, the slave, says: "On the Day of Uhud I was pursuing Hamzah. He was attacking the centre of the army like a ferocious lion. He killed every one whom he could approach. I hid myself behind the trees and stones, so that he could not see me. He was too busy in fighting. I came out of ambush.
Being an Ethiopian, I used to throw my weapon like them (i.e. like the Ethiopians) and it seldom missed the target. I, therefore, threw my javelin towards him from a specific distance after moving it in a particular manner. The weapon fell on his flank and came out from between his two legs.
He wanted to attack me but severe pain prevented him from doing so. He remained in the same condition till his soul departed from his body. Then I approached him very carefully and having taken out my weapon from his body returned to the army of Quraysh and waited for my freedom.
After the Battle of Uhud I continued to live in Makkah for quite a long time until the Muslims conquered Makkah. I then ran away to Ta'if, but soon Islam reached that area as well. I heard that however grave the crime of a person might be, the Prophet forgave him. I, therefore, reached the Prophet with Shahadatayn on my lips (i.e. I testify that there is no god but Allah and I also testify that Muhammad is His Prophet).
The Prophet saw me and said: "Are you the same Wahshi, an Ethiopian?" I replied in the affirmative. Thereupon he said: "How did you kill Hamzah?" I gave an account of the matter. The Prophet was moved and said: "I should not see your face until you are alive, because the heart-rending calamity fell upon my uncle at your hands".
It was the same great spirit of the Prophet of Islam which made him set this man free although he could execute him on many grounds.
Wahshi says: "So long as the Prophet was alive I kept myself hidden from him. After his death the battle with Musaylimah Kazzab took place. I joined the army of Islam and used the same weapon against Musaylimah and succeeded in killing him with the help of one of the Ansar. If I killed the best of men (i.e. Hamzah) with this weapon, the worst man, too, did not escape its horror"
The participation of Wahshi in the battle against Musaylimah is something which he himself claims, but Ibn Hisham says: "During the last days of his life Wahshi was like a black crow who was always hated by Muslims on account of his being a drunkard and was punished twice on account of drinking wine. On account of his indecent actions his name was struck off the army records and Umar Khattab used to say: "The murderer of Hamzah does not deserve to be pardoned in the other world".33
4. Nasibah, the self-sacrificing lady: It is indisputable that jihad is unlawful for women in Islam. It may be mentioned in this connection that a representative of the women of Madina who had the honour of presenting herself before the Prophet spoke to him about this deprivation and complained in these words: "We meet all the needs of life of our husbands and they participate in jihad with a peaceful mind, whereas we women are deprived of this great blessing".
Thereupon the Prophet sent the following message, through her, to all the women of Madina: "If you are deprived of this great blessing on account of some natural and social reasons you can acquire the blessing of jihad by carrying out the responsibilities of married life". In this connection he also uttered the following historical sentence:
"Performance of the duties of married life (by a woman) in a proper manner is equal to jihad in the path of Allah".
At times, however, some experienced women came out of Madina with the mujahids (who were mostly their sons, brothers and kinsmen) to help them, and they assisted the Muslims in achieving victory by providing water to the thirsty, washing the clothes of the warriors and dressing the wounds of the wounded.
Umme 'Amir, whose real name was Nasibah, says: "I joined (the Battle of Uhud) to provide water to the warriors and saw that the fragrant air of victory was blowing towards the Muslims. But, soon afterwards, the tables were suddenly turned and the defeated Muslims began to flee. I also saw that the life of the Prophet was in danger, and I considered it my duty to save his life even at the cost of my own. I, therefore, placed the water-skin on the ground and began repelling the attacks of the enemy with a sword which had come into my hand. At times I also shot arrows".
Then she mentions the wound which she had sustained on her shoulder and says: "At the time when the people had turned their backs to the enemy and were running away the eyes of the Prophet fell upon a person who was in the condition of flight and he said to him: "Now that you are running away throw your shield on the ground". He did so and I picked it up to utilize it myself.
Suddenly I saw a man named Ibn Qumi'ah shouting and saying: 'Where is Muhammad?' He recognized the Prophet and rushed towards him with a drawn sword. Mus'ab and I prevented I him from achieving his purpose. In order to keep me back he struck a blow on my shoulder. Although I also gave him some blows but his blow had a serious effect on me; it continued for one year, while my blow had no effect on him as he was wearing two coats of mail.
The blow which I received on my shoulder was very serious The Prophet saw that blood was flowing profusely from my wound. He at once called one of my sons and asked him to bandage my wound. He did so and I again resorted to fighting.
In the meantime I came to know that one of my sons had been wounded. I at once picked up the pieces of cloth which I had brought with me to dress the wounds of the wounded including that of my son. However, as the life of the Prophet was in danger every moment I turned to my son and said to him: "My son! Get up and engage yourself in fighting".
The Prophet was very much surprised to see the bravery and valour of this self-sacrificing woman. When, therefore, he saw the person who had struck her son he at once pointed him out to her and said: "This is the man who struck your son".
The cheerless mother who was hovering round the Prophet just as a moth hovers round a candle at once attacked that man like a ferocious lion and struck a blow on his calf which brought him to the ground. This time the surprise of the Prophet about the bravery of the woman increased further and he laughed on account of this in such a manner that his hind-most teeth became visible and then he said to her: "You have avenged the attack made on your son".
On the following day, when the Prophet made his army corps march towards Hamra'ul Asad, Nasibah wished to go with the army, but the severe wound, which she had sustained, did not permit her to do so. On return from Hamra'ul Asad the Prophet sent someone to the house of Nasibah to enquire about her health and was very much pleased to learn that her condition was better.
As a reward for all these sacrifices this lady requested the Prophet to pray to Allah that she might be allowed to remain in his service in Paradise. The Prophet prayed for her and said; "O Lord! Make them my companions in Paradise".34
The way in which this lady fought was so much delightful to the Prophet that he said about her: "Today the position of Nasibah daughter of Ka'b is better than that of such and such persons ".
Ibn Abil Hadid says: "The narrator of this tradition has been dishonest with the Prophet, because he has not mentioned clearly the two persons whom the Prophet named on this occasion".35
I, however, think that the words 'such and such persons' refer to the same persons who acquired high positions amongst the Muslims after the Prophet's death and the narrator has not mentioned their names openly on account of the respect and the fear demanded by their position.
The Prophet's life was saved from the real danger by means of the self-sacrifice of a minority. Fortunately the majority of the enemies were under the impression that the Prophet had been killed and they were making a search for his dead body amongst the martyrs. And as regards the minority among the enemies who were aware of his being alive their attacks were being repulsed by Ali and Abu Dujanah and (possibly) by some others.
In the meantime it was decided that the news of the death of the Prophet might not be denied and the Prophet should move to the valley along with his companions. While on his way to the valley the Prophet fell down in a pit which had been dug by Abu 'Amir for the Muslims. Ali held his hand at once and brought him out of the pit. The first man to recognize the Prophet was Ka'b Malik. He saw the eyes of the Prophet shining from under his helmet and shouted at once: "O Muslims! The Prophet is here! He is alive! Allah has saved him from being harmed by the enemies!"
As the publicity of the news of the Prophet's being alive was likely to invite renewed attacks by the enemies, the Prophet advised Ka'b to keep the matter secret. He, therefore, kept quiet, till the Prophet reached the valley. In the meantime the Muslims who were in the neighbourhood of that place were very happy to find the Prophet alive and felt ashamed in his presence.
Abu Ubaydah Jarrah pulled out two rings of the helmet which had penetrated into the face of the Prophet whereas Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, filled his shield with water to enable the Prophet to wash his face. While washing his face (the Prophet) uttered these words: "The wrath of Allah became severer on the people who besmeared the face of their Prophet with blood"
When the Muslims were faced with a great defeat at Uhud the enemy seized the opportunity and started such devices against the Islamic view of Oneness of Allah as had an immediate influence on simple-minded persons.
A contemporary writer says: "No opportunity is more favourable for influencing the beliefs and thoughts of the people than the time when they are faced with defeat, adversity, affliction and great distress. At the time of severe hardship the morale of an afflicted people becomes so weak and unstable that their intellect loses the power of decision and assessment and it is at such time that evil propaganda influences the minds of the defeated people".
Abu Sufyan, 'Ikrimah and others, who were holding big idols in their hands and were feeling very jubilant, fully availed of this opportunity and cried: "Exalted be Hubal! Exalted be Hubal!" (Hubal was the name of an idol). By this they wished to tell the Muslims that their victory was on account of their worshipping idols and if there had been any other god and the worship of One Allah had been the true religion, the Muslims should have been victorious.
The Prophet realized that the enemies were propagating something very dangerous in those delicate moments and were taking full advantage of the opportunity which they had got at that time. He, therefore, forgot all his sufferings, and immediately ordered Ali and other Muslims to reply to this proclamation of idolatry in these words: "Allah is Great and Powerful" (i.e. this defeat suffered by us is not due to the fact that we worship Allah but is the result of some persons disobeying the orders of the commander).
Abu Sufyan did not, however, stop propagating his venomous ideas and said: "We have an idol like Uzza whereas you do not have its like". The Prophet seized this opportunity and ordered the Muslims to say in reply: "Allah is our Lord and you don't have a lord like Him". (i.e. if you depend on an idol which is nothing more than a piece of stone or wood we depend on "Allah" who is Great and Powerful).
The proclaimer of polytheism said for the third time: "This day is in retaliation for the Day of Badr". To this the Muslims replied in compliance with the Prophet's orders: "These two days are not equal to each other, because our brothers who have been killed are in Paradise, whereas yours are in Hell".
Abu Sufyan was very much upset by these sharp replies which were coming out of the throats of hundreds of Muslims. Hence, after saying: "We shall meet again next year" he left the battlefield and decided to return to Makkah.36
The Muslims, of whom seventy were killed and many wounded, were, however, obliged to perform their Divine duty (noon and afternoon prayers). On account of excessive weakness the Prophet offered the prayers in congregation in a sitting posture, and then performed shrouding and burial of the martyrs.
The flames of warfare were put out, and the two parties separated from each other. The casualties of Muslims were three times as many as those of Quraysh. It was necessary for them to perform the requisite religious duties and to bury their dear ones as early as possible.
Before the Muslims were able to bury their dead, the women of Quraysh, who had seen the battlefield free from all sorts of criminal acts, had resorted to very great crimes after victory . Crimes which are unparalleled in the history of mankind. They were not contented with their apparent victory and, in order to take more revenge, cut off the limbs, ears and noses of the Muslims who were lying dead on the ground and thus settled a shameful stain on their character.
In all the nations of the world the dead ones of the enemy, who are helpless and undefended, are accorded respect. However, the wife of Abu Sufyan made a necklace and earrings of the limbs of the Muslims. She also pierced the belly of the devoted officer of Islam, Hamzah, and took out his liver. She tried her best to chew and eat it, but failed to do so.
This action of hers was so shameful and abominable that even Abu Sufyan said: "I renounce this act and did not give orders that this should be done. However, I am not much displeased with this thing either".
On account of this indecent act, Hind became known amongst the Muslims as 'Hind, the liver-eater' and later her children also became known as 'children of the liver-eating woman'.
The Muslims arrived in the battlefield along with the Prophet to bury their dead. The Prophet's eyes fell on the corpse of Hamzah and he was moved extraordinarily to see his tragic condition. A storm of anger rose up in his mind and he said: "The anger and wrath which I am feeling in myself now is unprecedented in my life".
The historians and exegetes write unanimously that the Muslims pledged their word (and at times they also include the Prophet amongst them) that if they gained control over the idolaters they would treat their killed ones in the same manner and would mutilate the bodies of thirty of them as against one of a Muslim. Soon after their determination to do so the following verse was revealed:
If you want retaliation, let it be equal to that which you faced. But if you exercise patience it will be better for you. (Surah al-Nahl, 16:126)
By means of this verse, which is in itself an established principle of Islamic justice, Islam once again displayed its spiritual and sentimental aspect and proved that this Divine faith (Islam) is not a religion of vengeance. It does not ignore the principles of justice and moderation even in the most difficult moments, when one is overpowered by wrath; and implements justice in all events.
Safiyah, the sister of Hamzah, insisted on seeing the dead body of her brother, but, as ordered by the Prophet, her son Zubayr prevented her from approaching it. She said to her son: "I understand that they have mutilated his body. I swear by Allah that if I come near him I shall not display any annoyance and shall bear this calamity in the path of Allah".
This trained lady came near the dead body of her brother with a dignified composure, offered prayers for him, prayed for his salvation and returned.
No doubt the strength of faith is the greatest strength. It controls the most severe excitement and tension and lends dignity and solace to the afflicted person. This in itself is a separate topic which has been discussed by the scholars in connection with prophethood and doctrines of faith.
Thereafter the Prophet offered prayers for the martyrs of Uhud and then buried them singly or in pairs. He ordered in particular that 'Amr bin Jumuh and Abdullah 'Amr might be buried in one grave, as they were friends when alive, and it would be better if they also remained together after death.37
Sa'd Rabi' was one of the sincere followers of the Prophet. His heart was imbued with faith and devotion. When he fell down on the ground after having sustained twelve wounds, a man passed by him and said: "They say Muhammad has been killed". Sa'd said to him: "Even if Muhammad has been killed the Lord of Muhammad is alive and we are performing jihad to spread the Divine religion and to defend monotheism".
When the flames of war were extinguished the Prophet thought of Sa'd Rabi' and said: "Who can bring me news about Sa'd?" Zayd bin Thabit undertook to bring authentic news for the Prophet about Sa'd's being alive or killed.
He found Sa'd lying amongst those who had been killed and said to him: "The Prophet has deputed me to ascertain your condition and to communicate to him the correct news about you". Sa'd replied: "Convey my salam (regards) to the Prophet and tell him that not more than a few moments of the life of Sa'd are now left and O Prophet of Allah! May Allah give you the best recompense worthy of a Prophet".
He also added: "Convey my salam to the Ansar and to the companions of the Prophet and tell them that in case the Prophet meets any harm while they are alive they will not be extenuated by Almighty Allah". The man deputed by the Prophet had not yet left Sa'd when the latter breathed his last.38
The love of man for himself is so strong that he never forgets his own self and sacrifices everything belonging to himself for its preservation. However, the power of faith and love for one's object and interest in one's ideal is something stronger, because as clearly stated in history, this brave soldier forgot himself at the most critical moment when he was not far away from death and remembered the Holy Prophet, whose protection was the greatest means of the achievement of his ideal. And the only message which he sent through Zayd bin Thabit was that the companions of the Prophet should not be negligent of his safety and protection even for a moment.
The sun is moving towards the west and throws its golden rays on the other side of the hemisphere. Uhud is now perfectly calm and quiet. The Muslims, some of whose companions have been killed and others wounded, are obliged to return to their homes to regain their strength and to dress the wounds of the wounded.
The supreme commander gave orders to his men for moving to Madina. The Prophet as well as the Muhajirs and the Ansar later arrived in the city of Madina-the same city from some of the houses the cries of the bereaved mothers, and of the wives, who had lost their husbands, could be heard.
The Prophet reached the houses of Bani Abdul Ashhal. The wailings of their women moved him. Tears began to flow from his eyes and he said in an undertone: "It gives me great pain that none is weeping for Hamzah".39
When Sa'd Mu'az and some others became aware of what the Prophet desired they asked some women to observe mourning for Hamzah, the devoted soldier of Islam. When the Prophet became aware of this he prayed for the women and said: "I have always enjoyed the material and spiritual assistance of Ansar". Then he asked the women to return to their homes.
The life of self-sacrificing women in the early period of Islam is something wonderful and inspiring. When we say that it is wonderful, it is because we rarely find women like them in the modern history.
Nowadays slogans of bravery and heroism come out of the throats of the women of the world, and they claim to possess strength and stability enough to face the shaking events of the time, but they cannot equal the faithful and self-sacrificing women of the early days of Islam. This strength and stability of those women was the direct result of their faith in the Divine Judgement and their hope of recompense in the Hereafter.
A lady belonging to the tribe of Bani Dinar, who had lost her husband, father, and brother, was sitting amongst some women and shedding tears, and the other women were bewailing. Suddenly the Prophet chanced to pass by that group of women. This bereaved lady enquired about the Prophet from the people, who were present near her.
All of them replied: "Thanked be Allah, he is quite well". She said, "I am keen to see him from a near distance". The place where the Prophet was standing was not far off. They therefore, pointed her out the Prophet. When the woman saw the face of the Prophet she immediately forgot all her woes and said something from the core of her heart, which created a revolution in the minds of those present there. She said: "O Prophet of Allah! All unpleasant things and adversities are easy in your path". (i.e. if you are alive we consider every calamity, which befalls us to be insignificant, and we ignore it).
Praised be this steadfastness and praised be this faith which keeps a person safe from instability just as an anchor keeps a boat safe from storms while it travels over the seas!40
In the foregoing pages we have made a brief mention of 'Amr bin Jumuh. Although he was lame and it was not obligatory for him to perform jihad, he insisted upon taking part in it and, having obtained permission from the Prophet, he joined the vanguard of the mujahids (soldiers of Islam). It was not only he who joined the rows of the mujahids, but his son Khallad and his brother-in-law (wife's brother) Abdullah bin 'Amr also participated in this sacred jihad and all of them met martyrdom.
His wife Hind, daughter of 'Amr bin Hazm and paternal aunt of Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari, came to Uhud. She picked up the dead bodies of her martyrs and dear ones from the battlefield, loaded them on a camel and left for Madina.
The rumour had spread in Madina that the Prophet had been killed. The women left for Uhud to gain the correct news about the Prophet. On the way Hind met the wives of the Prophet who enquired from her about the Prophet's welfare. Notwithstanding the fact that she was carrying the corpses of her husband, brother and son on the camel she said to them with great composure, as if no calamity had befallen her: "I have a happy news for you. The Prophet is alive and as compared with this blessing all hardships are insignificant. Secondly Allah turned back the unbelievers while they were filled with anger and wrath.41
Then she was asked about the dead bodies which she was carrying on the back of the camel. She replied: "They are related to me. One of them is my husband, the other is my son and the third is my brother. I am carrying them to Madina to bury them there".
Here we find, in the history of Islam, one of the sublimest marks of faith (i.e. considering all calamities to be easy, and bearing all sorrows and hardships for the achievement of one's spiritual aim). The school of materialism cannot train such self-sacrificing men and women. These persons fight for the achievement of a spiritual purpose and not for material gains or for acquiring status.
The latter part of this story is even more wonderful and does not at all agree with the material criteria and with the principles which materialism has laid down for the analysis of historical problems. Only the godly persons and those who have firm belief in Allah and His assistance can analyse the following story and consider it to be totally true.
She (Hind) had the bridle of the camel in her hand and was driving it to Madina. However, the camel was moving with great difficulty. One of the wives of the Prophet said: "The burden on the camel is certainly heavy". Hind replied: "This camel is very strong and can carry the load of two camels and there is certainly some other reason for its doing so, because whenever I turn it to Uhud it walks quite easily, but whenever I turn it to Madina it is either moves on great difficulty or kneels down on the ground.
Hind decided to return to Uhud and to inform the Prophet of the matter. She, therefore, came to Uhud along with the camel and the dead bodies and informed the Prophet about the condition of the camel. The Prophet said: "What did your husband pray for to Allah when he was going to the battlefield?" She replied: "He said: O Lord! Don't make me return to my home".
The Prophet said: "The reason for (the camel's) refusal to go to Madina has become clear. Your husband's prayer has been granted. Allah does not desire that this dead body should go to Amr's home. It is necessary that you should bury all the three dead bodies in this land of Uhud and you should know that these three persons will remain together in the other world also". Hind, while tears were trickling from her eyes, requested the Prophet to pray to Allah that she too might be with them.42
The Prophet arrived in his house. The eyes of his dear daughter Fatimah Zahrah fell on his wounded face and tears began to flow from her eyes. The Prophet gave his sword to his daughter so that she might wash it.
Ali bin 'Isa Arbali, the traditionalist and historian of the 7th century writes: "The Prophet's daughter brought water to wash off blood from her father's face. The Commander of the Faithful poured water and Zahrah washed blood from the sides, but as the wound on the face was deep, the blood did not stop. At last a piece of mat was burnt and its ashes were applied to the wounds and then the blood stopped flowing from the wounds of his faced.43
The night, during which the Muslims rested in their houses in Madina after the event of Uhud, was a very delicate night. The hypocrites and the Jews and the followers of Abdullah bin Ubayy were jubilant over this happening. The cries and wailings of the bereaved persons could be heard from most of the houses.
Above all there was a danger that the hypocrites and the Jews might revolt against the Muslims, or might at least destroy the political unity and integrity of the centre of Islam by creating differences and dissensions amongst its inhabitants.
The harm which is done by internal differences is much more than that which is caused by the attacks of external enemies. It was, therefore, necessary that the Prophet should admonish the internal enemies and make them understand that the strength of Islam could not be weakened by disorder and chaos and every activity or propaganda which threatened the foundation of Islam would be nipped in the bud with full force.
The Prophet was ordered by Allah to pursue the enemy on the day following that night. He, therefore, appointed a person to make a proclamation in all parts of the city in these words:
"Persons who were in Uhud yesterday should get ready to pursue the enemy tomorrow. However, those who didn't participate in the battle have no right to join us in this jihad".44
No doubt this restriction was imposed with some good purposes in view, which cannot remain hidden from intelligent political-minded persons; firstly this restriction was a sort of attack upon those persons who had failed to participate in the Battle of Uhud; it was in fact a negation of the competence of that group, which did not possess worthiness for defence and for participation in a battle; and secondly it was a chastisement for those, who had participated in the Battle of Uhud.
As Islam had suffered this blow on account of their indiscipline it was necessary that they themselves should make amends for this defeat so that they might not display such indiscipline in future.
The announcement made by the Prophet's proclaimer reached the ears of a man belonging to the tribe of Bani Abdul Ashhal, when he was sleeping, with his wounded body, along with his brother. This proclamation shook both of them in such a manner that though both of them had no means of transport except one animal for riding and their departure was also difficult for certain reasons, they said to one another: "It is not at all proper that the Prophet should proceed for jihad and we should remain behind". Although these two brothers had to perform the journey by riding alternately they managed to join the soldiers of Islam.45
The Prophet appointed Ibn Umme Maktum as his representative in Madina and encamped at Hamra'ul Asad which is at a distance of eight miles from Madina. Ma'bad Khuza'i, the chief of the Khuza'ah tribe, although a polytheist, offered his sympathy to the Prophet.
The members of the tribe of Khuza'ah, including Muslims or non-Muslims, had always supported Islam. In order to render service to the Prophet, Ma'bad went from Hamra'ul Asad to Rowhah, the headquarters of the army of Quraysh, and met Abu Sufyan. He found that Abu Sufyan was
determined to return to Madina and destroy the remaining strength of the Muslims. Ma'bad dissuaded him from doing so and said: "O Abu Sufyan! Beware of Muhammad, who is in Hamra'ul Asad now. He has come out of Madina with a larger army and those, who didn't participate in the battle yesterday, are also with him today. I have seen faces which are flushed with anger and I have not seen similar faces throughout my life. They are very much regretful for the disorder which took place yesterday". He dilated so much upon the apparent strength and the high morale of the Muslims that he made Abu Sufyan abandon his decision.
The Prophet, along with his companions, remained in Hamra'ul Asad during the first part of the night and ordered that fire might be kindled at various spots in the desert so that the enemy might imagine that the strength of the Muslims was greater than that which they had witnessed in Uhud. Safwan Umayyah addressed Abu Sufyan thus: "The Muslims are angry and vexed. It is better that we should content ourselves with what we have already achieved and should return to Makkah".46
The above sentence is the resume of the remarks of the Prophet who said: "A true believer is not stung from the same hole again". He said these words when Abu 'Azza Jumahi requested him for freedom. He had been captured in the Battle of Badr and the Prophet had set him free and had taken a promise from him that he would not join the idolaters in their activities against Islam.
However, he broke the promise by participating in the Battle of Uhud against Islam. It so happened that, while returning from Hamra'ul Asad, the Muslims again captured him. This time also he requested the Prophet to forgive him and to set him free.
The Prophet did not, however, pay any heed to his request and by uttering the above sentence (viz: A true believer is not stung from the same hole twice) gave orders for his execution. With this the tragedy of Uhud, which was perfectly instructive, came to an end.47