The department of Intelligence is a department which is responsible for acquiring and collecting all the information in matters pertaining to the enemy. This information especially covers: intention [of war], amassing [of forces], land where the enemy will fight, a detailed study of the acquired information and ensuring its accuracy – and different methods and tools of intelligence were employed to this end1.
The Holy Prophet (S) would, more than anything else before the battle, try to acquire intelligence [about the enemy] because gaining intelligence and complete information about the enemy was a requirement for the issuance of appropriate orders and commands. In order to get intelligence about the Quraysh, he (S) send numerous Sariya missions2 to different places3. These missions were charged with acquiring information about the number of enemy tribes4, and also [in preparation for the battles with non-Arabs] the Roman forces5. The forces who were sent kept an eye on the points of entry into and exit from Makkah6.
The supreme commander made various peace pacts with some of the tribes7 and sought their assistance against the enemy and at the same time commissioned them to keep watch over the borders of the neighboring state (i.e. Rome)8, just as he had done in the Battle of Dumat al-Jundal when he sent ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Auf to that area to gain the friendship of the Bani Kalb – a tribe that lived in on the border area – and also in the case of the peace treaty with Akeedar and others.
Interrogating the prisoners12, settling intelligence gathering forces in enemy territory13, studying their movements and transferring them at the appropriate time, were all other methods for acquiring intelligence. The Prophet (S) would never be heedless of any means of obtaining information about the enemy, and at times he would personally undertake to find out the latest information about them14. The goal of this was to achieve victory and gain accurate information.
One of the examples of success in the Holy Prophet’s information gathering was that he (S) would keep all the plans secret15 like in the case with the Sariya of ‘Abdullah bin Jahash16 and the Conquest of Makkah and more than this, even the intelligence officers and those charged with information gathering were unaware about some of these plans17. Just as in the Sariya of Abi Qatādah ibn Rabi’ al-Ansāri to the ‘Batn Adham’ he tried as much as possible to carry out this mission in total secret18, so he made only a few of his topmost commanders privy to the detailed planning of the mission19. In the Battle of Uhud, he kept the acquired information hidden from his own uncle ‘Abbās and he did the same thing during the Conquest of Makkah.
The supreme commander prepared the intelligence outfit and personnel very well20 and chose the most suitable people for such missions21 as in the Battle of Badr where he sent Talha bin ‘Abdillah and Sa’eed ibn Zayd to gather information from the trading caravan of the Quraysh; Ibn ‘Amr al-Jahni and ‘Uday bin Abi al-Za’bā’ to gather information from the heart of the enemy’s camp; ‘Ali bin Abi Tālib (‘a) and Sa’d bin Abi Waqqās to find out about the number of enemy soldiers and Habbāb ibn Mundhir to get information about their movements and the number of reinforcements.
The Prophet (S) was fully aware of all issues pertaining to the organization and strategies of the enemy, their goal, weapons, commanders and plans22. He obtained this detailed information by sending a Sariya mission under the command of ‘Abdullah bin Anees to assassinate Sufyān bin Khālid al-Hadhali23 and other leaders of the Quraysh in the Battle of Badr and also displayed them (i.e. what he had acquired from the enemy) in front of Abu Sufyān during the Conquest of Makkah.
When intelligence information was sent to the Holy Prophet (S), he would study and scrutinize it very carefully and would coordinate it with the reality of the current situations in the battle24. He showed this in the Battles of Badr and Uhud and also in the Battle of Ahzāb when the Bani Quraydha broke their allegiance and in the Conquest of Makkah when he gave permission to acquire information about the capabilities of the enemy, especially [about] their weapons etc.
He made a lot of effort to ensure that the intelligence division was highly active and dynamic and would always cooperate with the commander and those in charge25. For example in the Battle of Badr and the Conquest of Makkah, he used the intelligence to acquire every minor detail including the number of those animals slaughtered [for food]26 and when he sent secret missions, like the Sariya of Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, he did the exact same thing.
The Noble Prophet (S) would always give importance to acquiring information at all times, whether before, during or after battle, like in the Conquest of Makkah, and in all situations, however difficult they may be27, as in the Battle of Ahzāb where he ordered Hudhayfah bin al-Yamān to go and gather intelligence [about the enemy] in cold weather and harsh conditions.
The Prophet (S) insisted that intelligence gathering be done from near and without keeping a distance from the enemy28, like in the Battle of Uhud when he sent Anas and Munis29 to Dhu Hulayfah, the place where the Quraysh had encamped and ordered them to join the enemy’s camp and remain with them. Then, when they arrived at Aqd, near Uhud, he sent Habbāb bin Mundhir and in this way he would use intelligence agents to transfer intelligence and information about the enemy and order them to penetrate within the enemy ranks and at the same time he would station guards and his intelligence agents at the northern borders of the enemy.
The intelligence activities that were carried out by the Holy Prophet (S) were not only for obtaining information about the enemy, but also to negate any intelligence they may have acquired about him, and this was one of the most imperative steps he took which was most necessary and of the utmost importance30. He (S) would do this in the following ways:
Through ‘covert operations’31 while marching through routes that are filled with vegetation and trees in Madina; namely al-Manqā, al-Khubayth, Dhi Qasr, al-Kutayb and Dhi Amr, that took place in the Battle of Dhi Amr (also known as Ghatfān). In the two battles of Dhi al-‘Asheerah and Dumat al-Jundal the cover of darkness in the night was also benefitted from32. The Prophet (S) would advise the secret missions to take advantage of the darkness of night time, so they would mostly march at night, as is seen in the Sariya of Muhammad bin Maslamah against the Bani Bakr and that of Zayd ibn Hāritha against the tribe of Judhām and the mission of ‘Abd al-Rahmān bin ‘Auf against Dumat al-Jundal.
Speed and swiftness in movement, as was seen in the Battle of Dumat al-Jundal33.
Using shortcuts in order to arrive at the enemy’s camp faster as in the Battle of Bani Lihyān and the commanders who were sent in the Sariya of ‘Akāshah bin Muhsin to fight against the Bani Asad, and (the mission of) Qutbah ibn ‘Aāmir against the Khat’am.
Concealing the state of readiness and the initial mobilization of forces36, as was the case in the battles of Bani Saleem, Dhi Amr, Dhāt al-Ruqā’ and Bani Lihyān, and the Sariya of Abi Qatāda bin Rab’i al-Ansāri towards the Batn Adham.
Using secret codes and identification37 as was employed in the Battle of Badr and the Sariya of Usāma bin Zayd from the commander of the group.
Instructions to ensure that no noise was to be made that could alert the enemy of the approaching army38, like in the Battle of Khaybar where one of the soldiers was prevented from going ahead of the army and advancing alone.
Preventing the shining of weapons during the march and not passing in front of the inhabitants of the area39, just as he did in the Battle of Badr, Bani Saleem and the Sariya missions of ‘Abdullah bin Jahash and ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib (‘a) against the Bani Sa’d.
Ordering the army to march through uninhabited areas40 like the desert routes which were taken by the supreme commander in the battles of Bani Saleem and Bahrān and [the Sariya of] ‘Amr ibn ‘Aās in the fight against the Bani Qudhā’ah.
Issuing the command that secrets should be safeguarded and information about the battle-plan should be kept hidden41, like in the Conquest of Makkah and the Sariya missions of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahash, Abi Qatāda and others.
Diverting the enemy from the targets of attacks. This was carried out in various ways which would put the enemy in doubt and misguidance until they would assume that the Holy Prophet (S) is not marching against them42. This is precisely what happened in the battles of Bani Lihyān and Dumat al-Jundal and also took the inhabitants on Makkah and their leaders by surprise in the Conquest of Makkah as they were unsure if Muhammad (S) was marching towards Najd, Hawāzin or another region, therefore they were completely baffled and the matter was unclear to them.
Arresting the spies and intelligence agents of the enemy and preventing them from sending information43 as can be pointed out in the battles of Badr, Dumat al-Jundal and Bani al-Mustalaq. During the Conquest of Makkah, one of the spies of the Hawāzin was arrested before entry into Makkah and in the Battle of Khaybar, one of the bold spies of the enemy who had acquired a lot of intelligence was captured44.
The goals and objectives in terms of what the Holy Prophet (S) sought to learn about and concentrated on were:
He (S) would try to find out the goals and objectives of the enemy either through his intelligence agents who were always present among the enemies, like ‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib45, or by means of trickery46 and deception47. In the battles of Badr and Bani Lihyān, he kept the battle-plan, the time and the place secret and in the Battle of Khaybar, he deceived the tribe of Ghatfān in such a way that they returned back from whence they had come. In the battles of Uhud, Dhāt al-Ruqā’ and Khandaq, he learnt of the enemy’s goals by eavesdropping on the conversations of the [enemy] commanders and soldiers48. Sometimes information was gotten from the way the enemy conducted its exercises and the activities that is carried out openly49, or through allied tribes such as the Bani Dhumrah and Bani Mudlij. In the Battle of Dhāt al-Ruqā’ he got information from members of the Najd tribe and in the Battle of Tabuk he got information from the Mudhar tribe.
In this matter, the Prophet (S) would acquire his information from allied tribes50 or by means of his intelligence division51. Just like in the Battle of Uhud, he gave the responsibility to Habbāb ibn Mundhir to obtain information about the assembly and mobilization of the forces of the Quraysh. In the Battle of Khandaq, he used Zubayr ibn ‘Awām to get detailed information about the assembly of the confederates, their headquarters, the places where they were stationed and their level of intelligence52. In the same way he got information from the intelligence gathering groups of Habbāb ibn Mundhir in the Battle of Uhud, Buraydah ibn Haseeb in the Battle of Bani al-Mustalaq and Busr ibn Sufyān in the Battle of Hudaybiyya.
The Holy Prophet (S) would use the following ways to gain complete and detailed information:
Through the vanguard of the army53 like the action taken by the front-line of the contingent of ‘Abbād ibn Basheer in the Battle of Khaybar and of Khālid bin Walid in the Battle of Hunayn and others.
By using guides54 like the employment of Jabbār the guide in the Battle of Dhi Amr, Abi Khuthaymah al-Hārithi in the Battle of Uhud, Madhkur from the tribe of Bani Udhrah in the Battle of Dumat al-Jundal and Haseel bin Mudhirah in the Battle of Hudaybiyya.
The supreme commander would instruct the commanders to make use of guides, especially on routes and in areas that were not well known to them and also in routes that were outside the regular paths; or to use the prisoners55 who had valuable information as was done in the battles of Dumat al-Jundal, Bani al-Mustalaq, Khaybar etc. and in the various Sariya missions.
From the inhabitants of the area56. They would send people to them and by asking them questions, they would establish the movement patterns of the enemy and other issues, as was carried out in the battles of Badr and Khaybar. In the Battle of Tabuk too, they benefitted from the intelligence that the tribes who lived near the area where the enemy was marching had to share.
By sending patrols to far off areas to gather information57.
The supreme commander would complete his ‘identification’ using various intelligence apparatuses58 and would also personally get involved in this59 like in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khaybar and Khandaq. The most important ways that the Holy Prophet (S) used to obtain this information was using watchmen and eavesdroppers.
1. Watchmen: The lookout would be appointed in the intelligence gathering missions60. During this, they would keep watch over the enemy’s movements inside and outside the points of interest61 as well as possible areas in two tactical and strategic levels. Some of the sentries62 or watchmen would keep an eye on the routes taken by the enemy’s caravans63, just as was the case when one of the troops was posted at Nakhbār in order to keep an eye over the activities and movements of the enemy, or in the Sariya of Zayd bin Hāritha where they performed the duty of a lookout when he was encamped at ‘Ayyis64. These forces would stand in a place from where they could carry out their duties as watchmen and spies in an effective manner65.
In every situation, one sentry or spy was posted in a secret location, hidden from the eyes of the enemy66 and would take advantage of his senses of sight and hearing67. No amount of hardship, tribulation or affliction would prevent him from carrying out his duties68. Anees ibn Abi Murthad al-Ghanawi who was the sentry appointed in the Battle of Hunayn, remained steadfast despite all the hardships that he had to face. He also remained firm in the Sariya of Ghālib ibn ‘Abdullah al-Laythi despite having been shot and injured by an arrow.
2. Eavesdroppers: This was a method that the Holy Prophet (S) used during the night or in situations where visibility was low or when the weather was bad. In such cases, the intelligence agents and eavesdroppers would move in complete secret until they arrived at the enemy’s camp. They would eavesdrop on their conversations and then return and inform the Muslim army of what they had heard69. This is exactly what one of the members of a Sariya mission did for the Bani al-Maluh. Hudhayfa ibn al-Yamān also used eavesdropping against Abu Sufyān, the commander of the army of confederates.
What can be seen is that the responsibility of information gathering and eavesdropping needed to be given to men who had certain attributes and qualities, from bodily strength and courage to freedom from certain sicknesses such as coughing, being hard of hearing etc. that could prevent in their successfully carrying out the missions70.
The types of information that the Prophet (S) sought to obtain were:
2. Urgent information, for which the special military patrols would be brought in75. Just as in the battles of Badr, Dumat al-Jundal, Bani al-Mustalaq and the Conquest of Makkah, and the Sariya of ‘Akashah ibn Muhsin against the Bani Asad, that of Zayd bin Hāritha and other similar missions.
Sometimes this action would be carried out by those who were behind enemy lines as in the Battle of Uhud. The commander would turn to this when he did not have enough information about the enemy76, so he would capture some prisoners and would obtain the information from them77.
Reconnaissance would be carried out according to the different stages, meaning the Prophet (S) would conduct reconnaissance at the tactical level to make preparations for battle and during battle78 when the field of operation for the intelligence agents was limited to the front lines of the enemy, however reconnaissance at the strategic level was carried out by his forces deep within the enemy territory and among the enemies.
Additionally, in order to protect the troops during movement and encampment, he would post his intelligence patrols for reconnaissance in front and on the sides of the army79, as he had done when marching from Madina to Badr and from Madina towards Uhud and from Makkah towards the valley of Hunayn.
In the same way, he (S) would carry out reconnaissance of the territories and areas where the troops could camp with relative ease and their surrounding areas80, like in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khaybar and would select those people to keep watch whose duties among other things, was to prevent the enemy from finding out their numbers, to protect their base from the approaching enemy, protecting the commander and the troops from being taken by surprise and giving warning about the nearing enemy while at the same time not giving any opportunity to enemy spies and saboteurs81.
This guarding and protection was either stationary82, which would protect in sensitive and dangerous areas, or mobile83, which would offer protection in some areas that were considered to be of special importance militarily and during battle; and normally the former type would require fewer numbers of troops.
Operations personnel were all the units responsible for planning, command, training, upgrading weapons, equipment and war strategies and all matters related to these. We shall now proceed to give details about each one of these:
The Department of Operations was a division that was responsible for planning, military command and securing backup from the military and administrative standpoint84.
a) Orders of operations: Before or during battle, the Holy Prophet (who was also the supreme commander) issued orders to the army either verbally or in writing85, as he had done with ‘Abdullah ibn Jahash and Abi Salamah ibn ‘Abd al-Asad al-Makhzumi when sending them to the tribes of Bani Asad, or to the commander of the groups during the Battle of Hunayn and during their entry into Makkah.
These orders included the following:
1. Objective86: In all the orders of all the battles and military missions, the objective was specified.
2. The necessary measures to be taken during war87: as in the Battle of Badr, digging the trench in the Battle of Ahzāb, or before the start of the war like in the Battle of Tabuk.
3. Choosing the specific location88: For each operation, the area where the forces would remain and from which they would not cross would be specified, as in the Sariya of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahash towards Nakhlah and like the Battle of Dhi Amr towards the place where this tribe had settled and also in the ‘conquest’, towards Makkah.
4. Ways of reaching the goal89: It was necessary for the army to cross over certain points, lands and known areas, like in the battles of Badr, Saleem, Hudaybiyya and Khaybar.
5. Direction90: The Muslim army would march towards the places where the enemy had been mobilized or towards the areas where the supreme commander had specified for them, like in the Sariya of Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib towards the land of the Juhaynah, Abi Qatāda ibn Rab’i al-Ansāri towards Batn Adham and Kurz ibn Jābir Fahri towards the area where he could join the group of ‘Ikl and ‘Urayna, and also in the Battle of Bani Quraydha to the place where the Jews were living.
6. Locating the most appropriate place to set camp91: The most appropriate place for the army to set camp and create a base, where the required amenities were close by and from where administration and medical care could be given, was ascertained. Like in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khaybar.
7. Guarding and protection92: The number of guards, their commander, their orders, their position and all related issues were specified.
8. Secret code and identification93: In order to identify the forces of the (Muslim) army, secret codes were used, which were changed from battle to battle and from mission to mission, as was done in the battles of Badr and Khandaq and the Sariya missions of Abu Bakr against the Bani Kilāb and of Usāma bin Zayd towards the Abnā.
9. Changing the flag-bearer94: The flag-bearer would be appointed by the supreme commander and would be changed from battle to battle. The responsibility of carrying the flag was given to one of the soldiers who was known for his trustworthiness and reliability.
10. Commanding the rear95: For the rear of the army, a specific commander was appointed who was in charge of all the administrative matters [of that portion of the army]. Some of these commanders would always be given this responsibility [in every battle].
11. Command of Sariya missions96: For separate and independent intelligence gathering or military missions, a leader was chosen over a group of forces.
12. Special conditions97: These special conditions called for special measures, like giving an immediate response to the enemy in the Battle of Dhāt al-Suwayq and other battles, carrying out attacks and assaults like in the battles of Bahrān and Bani Lihyān, the conducting of suicide missions by ‘Umayr ibn ‘Uday bin Kharshah in order to assassinate ‘Asmā’, by Sālim ibn ‘Umayr in order to kill Abi ‘Akf, by Muhammad ibn Maslamah in order to kill Abi Ashraf and by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ateek to assassinate Salām ibn Abi al-Haqeeq.
13. Securing different requirements in the battlefield98: like securing intelligence information and administrative requirements in the battles of Badr, Khandaq and Tabuk.
14. Increasing the zeal99: When the orders would be issued, effort would be made to ensure that the spirit and zeal of the soldiers should be lifted while at the same time disheartening the enemy. Like the orders that were issued in the battles of Badr and Uhud.
15. Insisting on the steadfastness of the troops100: This can be clearly seen from the words of the supreme commander in all the battles.
16. Seek recourse in patience101: Patience is the prerequisite of victory and many a group consisting of few individuals has been led to victory over a large army of soldiers through patience.
17. Sacrificing one’s wealth and life102: These are the two prime ingredients of volitional warfare and for this reason, the Holy Prophet (S) put a lot of importance on these two factors in all his orders to the troops.
This was the summary of the orders given and we will now proceed to explain each one in detail:
Every war has ‘objectives’. The objectives of the Holy Prophet (S) in the battles were:
Invading the enemy caravans104.
Weakening the economic strength and cutting the lines of reinforcements105 from the west and east for the Quraysh and the Jews of Khaybar.
Securing freedom for the propagation and spread of Islām106 as was the case in the Sariya of Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and Khālid ibn Walid against the Bani Hārith and also that of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib (‘a) against the Bani Mudhjah.
Displaying the strength and might of the Muslim army107 as in the battles of Hamrā al-Asad, Hudaybiyya and Muta and that which was done against the Romans.
Instilling fear and terror in the hearts of those who allied themselves with the enemies of Islām or were preparing to do so108.
Enacting peace treaties with neighboring tribes109: like the Bani Dhumrah, Bani Juhaynah and Bani Mudlij as well as the treaty will Bani Kalb; meaning those who had come to fight in Dumat al-Jundal, Tabir and the outskirts of Shām. This was done in order to secure the success of the military operations.
Concentrating on the points and areas of tactical and strategic importance110 like the areas around the coast and towards the east after the Battle of Badr against the Bani Saleem who were a threat to the revolution and also towards the north in order to survey the area of Dumat al-Jundal and invading upon the enemy who were waiting for opportunity or had already begun working against the Muslim army111, like the Jews and the Romans.
Assassinating those who had evil intentions against the supreme commander, the army troops, the caretakers of the towns or the Islāmic revolution in general112.
Punishing the Jews of Bani Qaynuqā’113 because they broke their allegiance and their covenant for their own benefit, and similarly the Bani Nadhir114, Bani Quraydha115 and the inhabitants of Khaybar116. The Prophet (S) destroyed the pact of these four groups117 with each other as well as their pact with the enemy Arab tribes118.
Giving a strong reaction against Abu Sufyān and his forces: this was when they had the intention to invade Madina and ransack it in the Battle of Dhāt al-Suwayq119.
Dealing with the two tribes of Bani Saleem and Bani Ghatfān because they had declared their open enmity against Islām120.
Preventing other tribes from attacking Madina, such as the tribes of Bani Tha’labah and Muhārib and others121.
Teaching and training the children of the Ummah and purifying their hearts from filth, doubts and falsehoods.122
Creating fear against Rome and Persia123: The Prophet (S) made it his general policy in dealing with these two states and preparing for war with them before they launched an attack on the Muslim lands124 or gain control over the northern borders.
Taking the battle to the enemy territory125: The Prophet (S) would only fight against the enemy outside Madina and the moment he received information that the enemy intended to attack Madina, he would launch a pre-emptive strike on them before they could start marching from their own lands. This happened in many of the battles like Bani Saleem, Dhi Amr and Bahrān against the Arab tribes and in Muta and Tabuk against the Romans.
Taking revenge and punishing those who killed innocents126: As was the case in the Sariya of Kurz ibn Jābir Fahri in order to teach the ‘Ikl and ‘Urayna a lesson. Or in order to punish those who were acting against the rules and regulations of the leader and ruler127, like the opposition of the Jews of Bani Quraydha to the agreements and conditions of the homeland pact.
Realizing peace128: This was another objective. An example of this was the Battle of Hudaybiyya against the Quraysh and the Sariya of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Auf against the Bani Kalb.
Coming to the aid of the oppressed129: as was the case in the Battle of Dumat al-Jundal which took place on the orders and instructions of the supreme commander.
Belief in oneness and unity130: This was done by destroying the idols that were adorned and worshipped by the Arabs. An example was the Sariya of Khālid bin Walid in order to destroy the idol ‘Uzzā’, that of ‘Amr bin ‘Aās to destroy the idol Siwā’, of Sa’d ibn Zayd al-Ashal to destroy the idol Manāt, Tufayl ibn ‘Amr to destroy the idol Dhil Kiflayn and ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib (‘a) to destroy the idol al-Filis and all the idols of the Ka’bah.
Collecting taxes from the tribes that had accepted Islām131.
The Holy Prophet (S) arranged a number of military missions132 and battles133 or personally took on the responsibility of commanding them. On the tactical and strategic level he did the planning and expounded the short and long term goals134 and the primary and secondary objectives135, just as the primary objective of the Battle of Dumat al-Jundal was crushing the tribes of that area who were forcing the traders and travelers to pay a toll and the secondary objective was to instill fear in the hearts of the Romans.
The primary objective in the Battle of Khaybar was also to bring down Khaybar and deal with its inhabitants while the secondary objective was to prevent the Arab tribes from allying themselves to the Jews and preparation for war against the Quraysh in Makkah and those enemies who were deemed more dangerous136.
He (S) also planned ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ operations137 and would always use assaults and offense in every battle138. He made this something that was ingrained in the minds and hearts of the soldiers139. He would specify different stages of battle140, meaning he would not just attack the enemy at one go, rather he would launch assaults on them at different times. If the enemy did not launch an all-out attack against him141, he would launch successive and consecutive attacks on them and would fight each one independently while at the same time preventing others from joining forces with the enemy.
This is precisely what he did in his battle with the Jews. He started with the Bani Qaynuqā’ and ended with Khaybar. He employed the same tactic against the Arab tribes of Bani Tha’labah and Ghatfān in the Battle of Dhi Amr, Bani Saleem in the Battle of Bahrān and Bani al-Mustalaq in the Battle of Bani al-Mustalaq and others.
The Prophet (S) would command the troops using ‘new techniques’142 of warfare, including centralization of command, organizing the ranks, laying siege, mobile defense, pre-emptive, offensive and psychological warfare.
The Holy Prophet (S) would define the primary and secondary objectives for his commanders143 and would stress on the importance of achieving the primary objective144. His commanders would also adhere to this and issues of secondary importance would not deter them from their priorities. For example, when the supreme commander sent ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb145 to fight the ‘Ajz Hawāzin146, after doing this he refrained from invading the other related tribes saying, “The Prophet (S) only commanded me to fight against the Hawāzin147.’
Tufayl ibn ‘Amr148 also accomplished his primary objective149 which was to join with the army that was sent towards Tā’if as well as his secondary objective150 which was to break and destroy the idol Dhil Kiflayn and he never crossed over the limit that was determined for him. In the same way, he (S) specified the missions during the entry into Makkah by selecting the commanders of the different groups151, and in defining the priorities, he considered the personality of the commander, the type of enemy, the ordinances and the route to be taken.
The goals of the Holy Prophet (S) were numerous and various152 and all of them were geared towards the complete annihilation of the enemy both materially and spiritually and the spread of the message of Islām, which he accomplished with complete freedom and total success153. The Prophet’s enemies would always try to prevent him from attaining his goals, but they were not successful and he (S) was steadfast in guarding his goal154. The supreme commander would also require this from his commanders.
For example, he sent ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib (‘a)155 to destroy the idol of the tribe of Tā’i156 and also sent him in the second phase to spread Islām among the tribes of Yemen157. ‘Ali (‘a) arrived in their land. The tribes rose up in opposition to him, but he fought them and continued his important mission until he was able to secure his goal158. However, Khālid bin Walid159 did not remain steadfast in his mission to invite the Bani Judhayma to Islām160 and diverted from his goal. Despite not having been ordered to kill them, he slaughtered some of the men of the said tribe161.
The Prophet (S) would exhort the soldiers and fighters towards dedication and self-sacrifice, to the extent of their ability, and would try to strengthen their spirits, resolve and readiness before they entered into battle162. He would call on them to be just and fair in their dealing with those whom they were fighting. He would also encourage his soldiers and urge them to be brave163 and would recall the reward of those who were patient in the battlefield164.
This yielded many results, because the soldiers would jump into the heat of battle and in order to combat the enemy, would try to overtake death165. Many of them came to the battlefield with complete courage. In one of the battles, a soldier who had a date in his mouth spit it out166, another threw away his armor and fought courageously167. The youth would keenly prepare for battle168 and as a result, with a small force they were able to gain victory over large hoards.
The Liwā’169 was one sign that was carried by the most courageous and strong soldier in the Muslim army under the command of the supreme commander170. The flag-bearers, who were personally selected by the Holy Prophet (S)171, would be changed in every battle172. The color of the flag was white173 and its shape was quadrangular174.
As for the Rāyah175, it too was held by the bravest and strongest soldier of each tribe176 and depending on the number of tribes present at the time of organizing the army, it had various shapes and colors177. The Rāyah was normally smaller than the Liwā’. The flag was a means of strengthening the spirits of the forces, and as long as it was hoisted, the forces would continue fighting178. If the flag fell, the troops would be faced with defeat179, so the commander would insist on guarding the flag and self-sacrifice until death in order to safeguard it180.
The flag-bearer would strive to keep the flag hoisted even if it meant having his hand chopped off or giving up his life181. If one of the brave-hearted soldiers saw in himself the ability to rescue the army from defeat, he would raise the flag again after it had fallen182, and it would not be long before the dispersed army would again assemble and prepare to fight.
These were words by which the soldiers would recognize each other when battling against the enemy. This code word was changed from battle to battle183. In the Battle of Badr, the code was ‘Ahad… Ahad’ (one… one). The code word of the Khazraj was ‘O Bani ‘Abdillah’ and the code word of the Aus was ‘Bani ‘Ubaydillah’. In the Battle of Khandaq, the code word of the army was ‘Hum La Yunsarun’ and the code of the Muhājirs was ‘Ya Khaylullah’. In the Conquest of Makkah, Hunayn and Tā’if it was ‘O Bani ‘Abdul-Rahmān’.
The code word was used when the forces would communicate with each other and was especially necessary during the night, because the clothes were similar and there was the possibility of mistaking enemy patrols for friendly patrols184. Even today, code words are still used185. These secret codes are always different in each war, and when they are found out by the enemy, they are immediately changed. The mentioned codes were not limited to battles, rather the commander of Sariya missions would also give his troops different codes when sending them out on missions186. Just like what happened in the Sariya of Abu Bakr against the Bani Kilāb and that of Usāma against the Abnā.
This took the form of giving a quick response to the incursions of the enemy and not giving them an opportunity to accomplish their intended goals187. It was required of the soldiers that they should quickly assemble at the call (of the supreme commander) with their weapons, armor and means of transport ready to launch counter-attacks188. It is obvious that the Muslim army was prepared for battle with Kurz ibn Jābir Fahri when Madina was attacked and the strong response of the army when the supreme commander declared war against the Bani Quraydha189, therefore they were able to get prepared for battle within a short period of time.
The preparation included wearing armor, sharpening swords, carrying spears and getting the means of transport ready. After assembly, all the columns would move towards the enemy and would in the end come together. The Holy Prophet (S) was the first person who prepared for battle in this war (against the Bani Quraydha)190.
In the Battle of al-Ghābah191, the soldiers quickly became ready with their battle gear, weapons and mounted their horses and joined ‘Ayniyyah ibn al-Hisn192. The Muslim army displayed its mobilization and readiness in the Sariya of Usāma ibn Zayd193. At this time three thousand troops who were fully equipped194 came together on the orders of mobilization and assembled in one day195, something that is not seen even in today’s armies, because mobilizing such a large force cannot be done in less than three days. In reality, the zeal for war and martyrdom, discipline, sufficient training and constant preparedness for battle were the necessary pre-requisites for this higher level of readiness.
The general mobilization is the creation of a battle-plan and making the necessary preparations for the armed forces, mobilizing the human, material, psychological and spiritual resources for battle while at the same time being economically and materially prepared for it196. The Noble Prophet (S) would mobilize the people in groups or all together197 depending on the available resources and the type of enemy.
This is why he conducted a general mobilization198 during the battles of the conquest and Tabuk, while in the Battle of Badr, he only ordered a partial mobilization199. In most of the wars and battles, this would take place in secret200 but sometimes, as in the case of the Battle of Tabuk, it was conducted openly.
The armed forces would thus be prepared. When the order of mobilization reached the other Muslim tribes, they would all be called to prepare for battle201. Once the troops were organized, they would be ready for a new mission202; as had happened in the Conquest of Makkah and the Battle of Hunayn. The battle gear and weapons203 were taken on loan from Safwān ibn Umayya before the battle and some more was bought to make it more complete, and the people would also assist in the preparation out of their fervor by contributing what was required, and they would be encouraged to do so204.
The spirit among them would be strengthened205 and the faith in the righteousness of the battle that they are fighting would be ignited in them206, the love for battle and combat207 became intensified208, and when it was announced that certain equipment was required, it would be collected and sent to fight the battle against the enemy209. It was certain that the people would all answer the call to mobilize and none of them ever turned away210, and they would wear their battle armor in the quickest time possible211. In some of the battles, the speed of mobilization and preparation of the army was such that it was done in less than 24 hours212. The distinguishing feature of the mobilization of the Muslim army was that the forces would try to outdo each other in obedience (to the Prophet) and would act with complete love and devotion213.
The Holy Prophet (S) would retaliate against the enemy in various ways, among them were:
Preventive counter-measures214 which would be taken when information about an impending enemy attack on Madina was underway. This was seen in the battles and missions such as Bani Saleem, Dhi Amr, Bahrān, Dhāt al-Ruqā’, Dumat al-Jundal and Bani al-Mustalaq.
Disciplinary counter-measures215: These operations were conducted as a result of the breaking of pacts, heedlessness and impudence of the enemy against the rules and regulations of the Islāmic state. Of course it was normally the case that first warnings would be given, as in the case of the battles against the Bani Qaynuqā’, Bani Nadhir, Bani Quraydha and Khaybar.
Decisive and conclusive counter-measures216: This was a more serious and firm response to the enemy’s incursions, to such an extent that they should never again even think of carrying out similar attacks in the future. Like what was done to the Bani Quraydha after they broke their pact and mobilized themselves to fight against the Muslims in the Battle of Ahzāb, and as a result they were all killed, and also what transpired against Abu Sufyān, the commander of the enemy forces, when he tried to threaten the Muslims and the response to his threat was much stronger and more forceful.
Immediate counter-measures217: This would take place immediately and swiftly after the enemy’s incursion and would be forceful and strong, to such an extent that it would weaken the enemy’s base and inflict severe loss and casualties on them; like in the battles of Badr al-Awwal and al-Ghābah.
The Holy Prophet (S) would study and specify the routes (to be taken) from Madina to the enemy218, just as he had done in the Battle of Badr, Hudaybiyya and Khaybar, and he would also define the arrangement in which the forces would march219, and would also keep an eye over the main focal points220 like the movement of the forces from Madina towards Tabuk and from Madina towards Makkah, and would also select the places where ‘military parades’ would be held in the areas of settlement and assembly221.
In the Battle of Badr, the parade and review of the army in the area where it was assembled and camped was carried out in al-Buq’a. In the Battle of Uhud, the Muslim army was reviewed in Shaykhayn and in the Sariya of Usāma bin Zayd it was carried out in Jaraf. The places of rest for the forces in the daytime and nighttime222 and the places where the army should concentrate were also considered by him (S) as in the battles of Badr and Tabuk223. He (S) would select the shortest route to arrive at the goal and would keep it hidden from the view of the enemy224. At the same time, he would try as much as possible to choose routes that had wells and plenty of water supply throughout225.
The supreme commander would give the following instructions to the army when they set out:
To be careful not to make noise and avoid anything that would draw the attention of the enemy, like the bells worn around the necks of camels.
Not to use shiny and glittery tools.
Staying behind or moving ahead of the forces226.
Moving during the night in order to remain hidden from the enemy227.
Taking routes that would not bring them directly face to face with the enemy228, like in the Sariya of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahash and the Conquest of Makkah.
Moving swiftly229 in order to remain one step ahead of the enemy and arriving at the place of battle at the appropriate time.
At the same time, the movement of the forces would be such that a group of information gathering patrols would be kept at a distance in order to keep watch.230 During this march, the forces were either on foot or on riding on camels231.
This was a place which the Prophet (S) had chosen to conduct the following matters: assemble the forces232, organize them233, review them234, carry out a selection of some soldiers and ask others to return235, prepare the battle gear, weapons236, conduct a final check237, arrange the necessary food and water provisions238, prepare (the soldiers) physically and mentally239, make the battle-plan by taking all the possibilities and different battle scenarios into consideration240, select and announcing his deputy in Madina241, review the flags and banners and select those who will carry them242, determine the tribes who will participate in the battle243 and review the means of transport to be used by the forces244.
This was a place selected by the Prophet (S) for the army to set camp245. In the Battle of Badr it was in al-‘Adwat al-Dunyā, in the Battle of Uhud it was in front of the Mountain of Uhud246 and in the Battle of Khandaq it was near the Sala’ Mountain. The camping of the troops in a suitable place247, like an area which is fortified in three directions and keeps the enemies at bay; as in the Battle of Khandaq where only the northern area was accessible, and also selecting suitable places in battle, such that this place is in accordance with all the required conditions of a base camp. For example in the Battle of Khaybar, the said places were chosen by the inspection of the commanders248 and the decision was based on the following criteria:
Securing the ease of access and movement for friendly forces while at the same time making it hard to reach for enemy troops249.
Facing the direction which would cause the sun to be behind their own forces250; like in the Battle of Badr and other battles.
For the troops to be in front of a mountain or any other natural fortress251; as in the Battle of Uhud.
Keeping the base camp near sources of water and some major highways252.
Plentitude of grass and grazing ground in the area253.
Making sure the area is suitable medically and hygienically254.
Ensuring the ground is hard and with areas where the battle can be fought255.
Being far away from the reach of enemy arrows256; as in the battles of Bani Nadhir, Bani Quraydha and Khaybar.
Having the possibility of moving away in case there are no reinforcements257.
The ability to cut off the enemy supply routes and stopping them from obtaining it (supplies)258.
The possibility of securing the necessary cover and camouflage259.
Being able to fully control their own forces260.
Ease of movement in order to keep watch over the enemy and spy on them261.
In this area, the Prophet (S) placed the command post at an elevated position, so that it would be possible for him to have complete control and ability to supervise the war262. He (S) would arrange the forces in ranks263 according to their battle instructions264; like the cavalry, the infantry, the special forces, the vanguard, the archers, the rear and others.
The measures that were taken in the area when the base camp was set up included: review and assessment265; inspection of the troops266; assembling the troops and their accouterments267; organizing the ranks268; specifying the battle instructions269, and the necessary guarding and protection especially of the command post270; appointing the commanders of the ranks and contingents271 including those responsible for the command post and its protection; preparing the troops psychologically and spiritually272; encouraging them to fight273; specifying the secret code words for identification274; issuing the command to start the war275; the mode of co-operation276 between the forces as was done in the Battle of Badr - between the units like in the Sariya of Tufayl ibn ‘Amr, between the commanders who marched towards Tā’if after the Battle of Hunayn and between the units and contingents, as in the troops who entered Makkah during the Conquest of Makkah; conducting training exercises on the principles of archery277, attack or the techniques that the soldiers should use when they come face to face with the enemy278; specifying the time and place for war279 which would be before the enemy was well prepared and in the hours of twilight. Aside from these issues, in the command post the battle with the enemy would also be supervised280.
The Holy Prophet (S) would try very hard to conduct the military operations in a covert and clandestine manner. Therefore he would take extra measures to attain this goal. For this reason, the mobilization and preparation for war would take place in secret; like in the Sariya of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahash and the Conquest of Makkah etc. and aside from a select few who were known for their trustworthiness and their ability to keep secrets, nobody was aware what the intention and goal of the Holy Prophet (S) was281.
The Holy Prophet (S) would then issue brief instructions for the commander of the operations282 and would complete his orders to the commanders either by letter or verbally283. He (S) would also specify the time it should take for the mission to be conducted284 and the direction and ways by which they should divert the enemy285. He would keep the missions and preparations for some of the battles hidden and would not do them openly286. Aside from this, he would give instructions that the secrets should be kept hidden and the goal should not be announced until the appropriate time287.
He would disperse spies and intelligence agents288, arrest enemy spies in order to prevent them from sending information to the enemy289, blockade the routes used by the enemy spies so that they could not take information back to the enemy base290, and would actually not permit any of these forces from entering or exiting the said area291. In order that the intelligence apparatus may function even better, the Holy Prophet (S) would personally oversee these operations and would stress on their importance.
The assessment and specification of the battle grounds was linked to the military, economic and political prowess of the commanders and personnel. Strategically, a more prudent and complete, and from the tactical viewpoint, the enemy, the land and the battle strategy a firm position was selected292.
The Holy Prophet (S) would assess the battle readiness in all the ranks and would constantly seek information and updates about the enemy and his own forces in the battlefield293 and was completely aware of all the other military and political conditions294. As a result, his orders would only be issued after being supported by strong intelligence and various other means of affirming their prudence and correctness295.
Other matters that were examined and looked into by the Holy Prophet (S) included:
With regards to the enemy: their strength, assembly, preparation and weaponry296.
With regards to the friend: Furnishing complete battle gear and military equipment and making them equally trained and motivated297.
With regards to the land: ensuring that it is suitable for setting up camp and carrying out military operations298.
The Holy Prophet (S) would encourage his forces to co-operate with each other when he was readying them for battle299. He asked the soldiers and all the people to assist the army materially300. In the same way, he would instruct the commanders to work with those who were under them, the soldiers to co-operate with each other, the units to collaborate with one another, the cavalry to support the infantry, the rear to work with the vanguard and the contingents to work with the army. In the same way he would himself, as the supreme commander, work with the soldiers301 and in order to strengthen this bond302, he instituted a pact of brotherhood between the Muhājirs and the Ansārs303 and placed all the believers as one entity and one body304.
‘Invasion and attack’ was one of the military strategies of the Holy Prophet (S) that he would implement against the enemy. He (S) employed a state of constant offense and would attack the enemy continuously, and as a result he left them with no choice but to do things that would make their goals and intentions clear305. The Prophet’s goal in invading and attacking was displaying the strength and might of the Muslim army306, gaining the upper hand over the enemy307 and continuously encountering them (and countering their intended attacks)308.
The Sariya and military missions that he (S) would send was not for anything but invasion and attack309, the Battle of Hamrā’ al-Asad310 was only a show of strength and the Battle of Dumat al-Jundal311 was only fought to get information, learn about and test the strength and capability of the Roman army. The Muslim army fought Badr al-Aākhar312 only in order to gain the upper hand over the enemy and it was then that Abu Sufyān turned back on his promise of war and tried to give excuses (for not fighting)313. However, the Prophet (S) had decided to launch an attack and said: ‘I swear by He in whose hand my life is, even if nobody accompanies me, I will come out to fight314.’
One of the manifestations of attack is ‘psychological warfare’ which is actually an indirect type of warfare315 whose goal is instilling fear in the enemy316, weakening his spirits317 and preventing him from many of his aggressive plans318. The Noble Prophet (S) used various methods to gain information in order to create fear in the enemy319. In the battles of Hamrā’ al-Asad, Khandaq and the Conquest, by burning the dry date palms and plantations of the enemy320, he created a large fire321 and paraded the large number of troops and weapons322 he had in front of the enemy commander i.e. Abu Sufyān, before entering Makkah.
Before the Battle of Badr, while performing the Hajj al-Tamatu’, he slaughtered the camel that was linked to Abu Jahl323. During the Conquest, he performed the Sa’ee between Safā and Marwa quickly324, with his followers carrying sheathed swords325, he performed the circumambulation while riding on a camel326. Then he turned his cloak on the side and left his right arm open327, ordering the whole army to do just as he had done328. He praised those of them who displayed their strength to the enemy329. These tactics were quite successful and assisted in destroying the resistance of the enemy, to such an extent that he had made them certain that they would by no means be capable to come face to face with the Muslim army330.
The supreme commander would commence war in the following manner331:
In a direct manner332 i.e. he would normally remain in a condition of continual war with the enemy, and would use it as a preventative measure333.
Giving the enemy an choice between accepting Islām and war334. He would send this type of warning through a messenger, and if he did not get a response he would commence the war; like in the Sariya of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf and Khālid bin Walid to Dumat al-Jundal and against the Bani al-Hārith.
Nullification and breaking of pacts335: When the enemies would break their peace pacts, the Prophet (S) would send some people to warn them and remind them of their treachery and betrayal; just as he had done in the ‘four battles’ against the Jews.
The Holy Prophet (S) would fight three types of battles. One was the battle fought without any warning or notice336, like the battles that he fought against the hostile Arab tribes or the Quraysh and external foes. In these cases, he would launch surprise attacks on these groups in their own territories. Another type was preceded by forewarning337, so he would mostly give the enemy an option and try to reason with them kindly as he wanted all the people to accept Islām.
However, nullifying the pact338 was dealt with in a different way when it came to the Jews who lived in Madina and its outskirts. The Prophet (S) created a pact of defense with them as ‘citizens’ and had acknowledged them as fellow compatriots. Despite this they broke their pact and turned into a center for plotting and ambush (against the Muslims). He (S) also sent a representative339 to the Bani Qaynuqā’340 and the Bani Nadhir341 and gave them a notice that they should leave their lands in ten days342, but they did not pay any attention to the warning reacted with disdain343. The Prophet (S) was left with no option but to wage war against them.
The order to start the war was issued by the supreme commander344 or by the commander of any independent unit345 and would usually be marked by the sounding of “Allahu Akbar”346 which would be repeated loudly so that all the soldiers could hear347. In the Battle of Hunayn, the Holy Prophet (S) took advantage of the loud voice of his uncle ‘Abbas for this348. The soldiers would be asked to remain silent (after the battle had begun). No loud sound was heard from any soldier, except the movement of their lips and whisperings of ‘Takbir’ and ‘Dhikr’349.
In the Battle of Badr, during the heat of battle, someone (from among the enemy) said: Don’t you see them? It is as if they are all mutes; they don’t say anything but they are alive and are benefitting from life350.
In the new battles, the command to commence the war was issued by sounds that were made from behind trenches or fortified areas or by fires that were thrown up in the air or by other means of communication351.
The command to begin the battle with Takbir and other similar slogans would heighten the bravery and courage of the troops and would remove the fear of battle from their hearts352.
Battle and combat between the two sides would start in such a way that first one or a few brave soldiers from the Muslim army, and from the enemy’s army, would come forward353. These combatants would use various weapons including swords. They would either be on foot or horseback and would be in full armor and would move to fight each other in single one-on-one combat354. Each one of them would kill one or more of his opponents355. It is then that the other soldiers rush in and the full scale battle starts with complete intensity356.
In the Battle of Badr, three fighters from the Muslim army stood to face three soldiers from the polytheists and ended up (successfully) killing their opponents.357 In the Battle of Uhud, one person from the Muslims went to face one person (from the polytheists) and caused him to fall to the ground by one strike of the sword358. This (one-on-one) combat would be observed by the supreme commander and the soldiers of both sides359. So if they would kill their opponents, the spirit and courage of the troops would be strengthened while weakness and a sense of defeat would prevail over the enemy.
The Assembly of the troops and arrangement of their encampment was done in spaced out columns which would be organized in one line or more. The arrangement of the soldiers in form and depth, was dependent on the type of war, enemy forces, military facilities, the number of forces, battle gear and equipment available, the type of weapons used and the terrain. The aim of this organization was creating a readiness for launching the main strike on the enemy, gaining freedom to maneuver, co-operation and assistance, preventing the strikes of the enemy and reducing losses360.
The Arabs of the Age of Ignorance would employ the ‘Karr wa Farr’ (strike and flee) tactic in their wars361. But the Holy Prophet (S) invented a new form of arrangement and organization of the ranks362 with a specific order, and this technique has also been used in more recent wars and especially in World War II. The arrangement of ranks was either in the form of a single column or many columns.
In the Battle of Badr, the Holy Prophet (S) arranged the troops in two columns363, in such a way that he placed the archers in the first column364 and in the second column he positioned the spearers and the infantry365, and behind this column he put the rear of the army366.
Later, he changed this arrangement and organization and transferred the first column to the heart of the army and reorganized the right flank, the left flank and also the infantry367. When the soldiers would be arranged into two columns, a section of the cavalry would remain behind the second column and in the rear i.e. behind the infantry and the second column.
The women, munitions, preserves, the commander’s camp, the place for prayer, food and other provisions were placed at the rear of the army368. The place of the commander was in the heart and the first column of the army369, the lookout post was at an elevation370 from where he could get an overview and control the battle, just as the Holy Prophet (S) had done in when commanding the battles of Badr and Uhud.
Organization and arrangement of the troops in battle
The situation on the ground in the Battle of Uhud and its results
The place where Hamza the uncle of the Prophet (S), 'Abdullah ibn Jahash and Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr have been buried.
The place where the martyrs of Uhud have been buried.
The area where there Muslim army fought with the army of the polytheists.
The last borders of the battle in the east and west.
The place where Hamza ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib ® was martyred.
The place where archers from the Muslim were positioned to guard the pass on the small Mountain of al-Rummāh.
The place where the Holy Prophet (S) was hidden after he had been injured - it was inside a fissure in the side of Mount Uhud.
Masjid al-Mustarāh (where the Holy Prophet (S) rested with his army before entering into Uhud).
Masjid al-Dir' (where the Prophet (S) stopped briefly when returning from Uhud)
The Holy Prophet (S) employed the tactic of ‘siege’ in order to capture forts371 and aside from Khaybar and Tā’if, he never used ‘direct attack and assault’372, because this type of warfare led to many casualties. Using heavy weaponry on a wide scale as in the Battle of Tā’if was not common practice for the Muslim army373.
Many military operations would be carried out while laying siege on the fortresses, the most important among which included: completely cutting off any aid and support to the enemies who were besieged inside the fortresses374, distancing one’s own forces from the reach of the enemy’s arrows375, deceiving the besieged enemy using different means376 in order to get them to come out of their fortress.
The Bani Qaynuqā’ surrendered after fifteen nights of siege377 and the Bani Nadhir had also been besieged for fifteen days after which they lowered their heads in surrender on the command of the Prophet (S)378. The Bani Quraydha were also dealt with in the same manner379. After this, the inhabitants of Khaybar came to the Prophet (S) and agreed to obey his commands, thus they were exiled to Syria380. The Holy Prophet (S) also besieged Tā’if and after a while the caused them to come out of the siege381.
The Noble Prophet (S), in his orders, limited the attack on the Fortress of Khaybar to the eastern direction, just as the present day armies do. He made the priority of the mission was to gain control over the primary fortress382 and then he gained control over all their forts one after another383. Once their fall and defeat was complete, he gave the order for them to attack the secondary fortress384. They gained control over that too and captured (the forts) one after the other385 until they achieved their goal completely and then proceeded to conquer the main defense fortress386 which was another of the orders the army had been given.
The Muslim army turned its focus on the first defensive fort387, and especially on the Fort of Nā’im388 and once that had fallen, they moved towards the other forts. Before carrying out any attack on these forts, he (S) obtained the required information389 and surveillance on them390, then he positioned his forces in the area of al-Rajee’391 thereby separating the Ghatfān392 (who were allies and helpers of the enemy) with the inhabitants of Khaybar and through this tactic he gave the advantage to the Muslim army, because he was able to prevent these tribes from working with the Jews of Khaybar thereby making it easy to attack the forts from all sides393 and conquer them394 while also being free to maneuver395 and divide the enemy396. The supreme commander started with the Fort of Nā’im397 and conquered it. Then he attacked the other forts398 and in this way he conquered the forts gradually, one by one.
Using barriers in battle has been an age-old practice that started with the very first battles399. For example, the Romans and Persians would use trenches in their battles400. However, we do not have any evidence that the Arabs used such barriers before the advent of Islām401. The Holy Prophet (S) ordered that a trench be dug in order to prevent the army of confederates from gaining access into Madina from the north and west402, and selected the suitable ground for this purpose403, and personally specified its dimensions for the army i.e. the length of the battlefront which was from Mudhād up to Dhubāb Rātij404 was dug by the Muslim army405.
In order to remove the gravel, they used metal tools, pickaxes and large buckets406 and the removed gravel was poured outside to hide the front-line that would counter the enemy407 and the remaining areas were concealed using rocks that were brought from Mount Sala’408. Then passageways from which their own troops could pass from the trench were made409. In order to dig through hard ground and rock, water was first poured over it and then it was struck with the pickaxe continuously until it eventually broke up410.
The Battle of Bani Qaynuqā' (fig. 1)
The Battle of Bani Nadhir (fig. 2)
KEY (fig. 1 & 2)
1. The route from Basra to Damascus
2. Mount Uhud
3. Volcanic rock
4. Route taken by the Muslim army (fig. 1) & Mount Sala' (fig. 2)
5. The city of Madina
6. The Jews of Bani Qaynuqā'
7. The Jews of Bani Quraydha
8. The Jews of Bani Nadhir
9. Mount 'Aseer
The length of the ditch was five thousand cubits, which is equivalent to two kilometers and its width was nine cubits, which is equal to four meters, while its depth was between five and seven cubits which comes up to about three meters411. Digging the trench took between six to ten days412. The Muslim army spread out along the border of the trench to face the enemy. They carried with them the weapons that were required and stood right behind the trench413. They would remain on constant watch and guard the areas where there was a possibility that the enemy could pass through414.
When the soldiers of the two armies came face to face, they began shooting long arrows towards each other415. If the enemy came near the trench and crossed over it, they would use their swords416, and when this was happening to some of the enemy soldiers, and in the process ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Wudd417 was killed, the other soldiers retreated and rejoined their forces behind the trench. In this battle, the Muslim forces used stones abundantly418 and had gathered them along the line of the trench.
The trench that was dug was quite helpful to the Muslim army and acted as a barrier between them and the enemy. In the end it must be said that the Battle of Khandaq is not much different from the present-day battles, and aside from different weaponry, there is very little else that is dissimilar.
After he had concealed all his might and strength and military prowess from the inhabitants of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (S) conquered this city419. In this battle, he also: used psychological warfare420; entered the city from all four directions421; divided the operations according to the arrangement and formation of the troops422; explained the route, direction, goal, force and other matters423; asked them to be careful to refrain from bloodshed424.
The Battle of Bani Quraydha (Ref. KEY 2.1)
KEY 2.1: Battle of Bani Quraydha
1. The route from Basra to Damascus
2. Mount Uhud
3. Mount Sala'
4. The Muslim army
5. The city of Madina
6. The Jews of Bani Quraydha
7. The Jews of Bani Nadhir
8. Mount 'Aseer
The Battle of Khaybar (Ref. KEY 2.2)
KEY 2.2: Battle of Khaybar
3. The Muslim army
4. The route traversed by the army (in eight days)
5. The city of Madina
6. Mount 'Aseer
7. Mount Sala'
8. Mount Uhud
9. The route to Madā'in
The Battle of Khandaq (Ref. KEY 2.3)
KEY 2.3: Battle of Khandaq
1. Mount Uhud
2. Volcanic rocks
3. The confederate army (Ahzāb)
4. The place where the enemy was blocked
5. The defensive trench (2 km long)
6. Permanent guard-posts
Current map of Madina with the place where the Battle of Khandaq took place and the location of the al-Masājid al-Sab'ah or 'seven mosques' (Ref. KEY 2.4)
KEY 2.4: Present-day Madina
1. The graveyard of al-Baqee'
2. Abu Dharr al-Ghaffāri Street
3. The area of Uhud
4. Sayyid al-Shuhadā Street
5. Path of the trench (that was dug in the Battle of Khandaq)
6. Abu Bakr Street
7. Mount Sala'
8. Masjid al-Fath
9. Masjid Salmān al-Fārsi
10. Masjid 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb
11. Masjid Abu Bakr
12. Masjid 'Ali ibn Abi Tālib ('a)
13. Masjid Dhul Qiblatayn
14. Masjid Fātimah bint Muhammad (S)
The Conquest of Makkah (Ref. KEY 2.5)
KEY 2.5: Conquest of Makkah
1. The Muslim army - 10,000 strong
2. The forces of Abi 'Ubaydah ibn Jarrāh
3. The forces of Qays ibn Sa'd ibn 'Ubādah
4. The forces of Zayd ibn 'Awām
5. The place where the Muslim army encamped
6. The city of Makkah al-Mukarramah
7. Entrance into Makkah
8. The forces of Khālid bin Walid
9. Mountainous areas
He instructed the inhabitants of Makkah to throw down their weapons, close their door and windows425, and show no resistance whatsoever426. It was after these orders and instructions that he set up camp for the army in Hajun427, and after conquering Makkah, he again prepared them for the next important mission.
Indeed, the supreme commander was highly capable in carrying out all these measures. Among other things, he made it clear to the people of Makkah that they were incapable of resisting the mighty Muslim army428, and in this way he entered Makkah peacefully and enacted a peace treaty without any bloodshed or war429.
These reports contained details about the state of the battle, the munitions, the spirit and zeal of the forces, the requirements and the objectives, and would usually be compiled and sent to the supreme commander daily430. The Holy Prophet (S) told all his commanders to chronicle the objectives and important developments of the battles and send them to him,431 so that he was fully aware of what was going on at their end. This was something that was not done verbally432 and it was not necessary to send it in the day, as the military do these days, rather, depending on the need, it would be sent after the mission or battle was over433 by means of a messenger on horseback or on foot434.
The most important issues that were contained in these reports were: the missions of the units435 and especially the sentinels, intelligence information436, the method of attack on the enemy437, the results that were seen from that battle438 – especially the losses, booty439 and the measures that needed to be taken to strengthen the troops440.
The Holy Prophet (S) would simultaneously battle on many front-lines, against the Quraysh, the Arab tribes, the Jews and the Romans. Therefore, he would prepare for numerous wars and in the end, he achieved victory in all of them. These front-lines included:
Before preparing for any war. the Holy Prophet (S) would send Sariya missions or numerous military missions441 to gather intelligence from the enemy forces and also to dishearten them or he would send them to attack their trading caravans - in order to display the might of the Muslim army. In this way, he established a somewhat new base of command in Madina. When the Quraysh came to learn of this change and technique, they decided that to destroy this army and were searching for an opportunity to annihilate the Muslim army before it could grow and develop into and unstoppable power, and this is why they prepared for the Battle of Badr442.
Badr was the first full-fledged battle where the Muslim army displayed its readiness and capability for war443 especially by choosing the appropriate place for setting up camp444, innovation, organizing the battle-formation into columns in depth445, training446, zeal447, faith and a new belief448, discipline and following orders449, the necessary organization and hierarchy of command450 and by these military tactics, they strengthened their soldiers.
As for the Quraysh, they were stronger in terms of numbers and battle gear451, and just as we will demonstrate, the victory is for the side that is better in terms of quality, not quantity; that is why the Prophet (S) astounded the enemy by his victory in Badr. After their defeat, the Quraysh became worried about the loss of their profits and trade and responded with a weak blow to this victory452, and this was when Abu Sufyān launched an incursion into Madina and killed two civilians and then quickly returned towards Makkah. At this point, the Holy Prophet (S) sent soldiers to follow him as he was fleeing, but they did not catch up to him453.
The supreme commander of the Muslim army would use economic sanctions and other means to put pressure on the Quraysh454. For instance, he sent Zayd ibn Hāritha to al-Qurdah in order to attack the trading caravan of the Quraysh and he too was successful in overpowering it455. In order to take revenge and gain freedom from sanctions and other pressures, the enemy assembled a large army and prepared for the Battle of Uhud456. In the first phase, the Muslim army was victorious457, but in the second phase458, because of the disobedience of the archers to the orders of the supreme commander and their abandonment of their positions in order to take the spoils of war, the result turned in favor of the Quraysh459.
In the end, however, the final result was in favor of the Muslim army460 i.e. when the Holy Prophet (S) was able to gather a large number of troops461, and remain steadfast462 despite his injuries and losses, was able to launch a counter-attack in the Battle of Hamrā’ al-Asad463. In this way, by being a prudent464, determined and courageous465 commander, and by using psychological warfare466 through which he instilled fear in the hearts of the enemy, he caused their forces to fall down helplessly.
The string of consecutive victories that were achieved by the Prophet (S)467 against the Quraysh, the Jews and the enemy Arab tribes, made it evident that there was a serious threat that was forming against them468 and they had no choice but to annihilate this Muslim army. For this purpose, they came together, joined hands and made covenants with each other so that they could assemble a united army to fight against the Muslims. As a result, some Arab tribes and Jews joined with the Quraysh and launched what was to be known as the Battle of Confederates (Ahzāb)469.
The confederates came into the field with a large force, numbering almost ten thousand strong470, and proceeded towards Madina. However, they were stopped in their tracks by the large trench471 that was dug by the Muslim army472. Although they made many attempts to cross over it, but all in vain473 and because of the differences that arose between them, they returned without having realized their military objective474. From the ingenuity and innovation of a new strategy in warfare i.e. digging the trench475 and also due to the leadership of a continent476, steadfast commander477, using deception478 and having high spiritual values479, the Muslim army gained victory over the Quraysh and their allies.
The consequence of this was that the reverence that the Arab tribes felt for the Quraysh was greatly reduced480 and they lost their position as central political and military figures481. The respect of Abu Sufyān was lost because of this482, he failed as a commander and his pivotal role was demeaned in the eyes of his allies. This was because the severe loss he faced was caused by a trench483 and by the fleeing of the tribes of Ghatfān and their partners, the Quraysh were put to shame484 and it became established that they are totally incapable of gaining a victory over this (Muslim) army485.
After this battle, the Jews got worried and became sure that they would be annihilated because they broke their pledges and pacts with the Muslims486. The Prophet (S) immediately besieged the Bani Quraydha and was successful in removing them from Madina487. It must be said that this battle was the point of change for the Muslim army, from a defensive state to an offensive one488.
News of the pressure and hardships that came upon the Quraysh because of their loss in this battle reached the Holy Prophet (S), so he sent Zayd ibn Hāritha489 with a mission to cut off their supply routes and prevent their caravans from travelling outside, and he successfully carried out this mission490.
This victory was followed soon after by the Treaty of Hudaybiyya491 which was to tantamount to another victory for the Muslim army, however the Quraysh reneged on the agreement492, and were looking for an opportunity to come out of it and stand up against to the Muslim army. As a result, the Prophet (S) hastened his preparation for the Conquest (of Makkah)493 and marched against their city and homes. In order to enter Makkah, he made a secret plan494 and this plan was to carry out a surprise invasion495. After he had bewildered the Quraysh and left them with no choice but to surrender to this army496, he entered Makkah and gained victory over his enemies497. After this victory, the Quraysh also acknowledged the Holy Prophet (S) as their leader and accepted the religion of Islām498.
The Holy Prophet (S) fought many battles against these tribes, either commanding them personally499 or sending contingents and Sariya missions to fight against them500. Aside from this, he would send individuals and small groups501 to assassinate the leaders of these tribes and those who were opposed to the Islāmic revolution and had evil intentions against its leader or had plans to carry out invasions (against them).
The tribes that were fought by the supreme commander were: Bani Saleem502, Kadar503, Bahrān504, al-Jumūm505, the tribes of Bani Tha’labah506, Ghatfān and Mahārib in Dhi Amr507, the tribes of Sirār508, Bani al-Mustalaq509 in al-Muraisiya’510, the tribe of Bani Lihyān511 in Gharrān512, Bani Hawāzin513 and the Thaqeef in Hunayn514.
The Holy Prophet (S) also carried out Sariya and other military missions against the following tribes: Bani Asad515 in Qatan516, al-Ghamr517 and Bani Bakr ibn Kilāb518, Dhiryah519, Bani Tha’labah520 and ‘Awāl in Dhi al-Qassah521, al-Tarāf522 and Bani Judhām523 in Husmā524, Bani Fuzārah525 in Wādi al-Qurā526, Bani Sa’d527 in Fadak528, ‘Ajz wa Hawāzin529 in Turbah530, Bani Kilāb531 in Najd532, al-Zajj533 and Bani Murrah534 in Fadak535, Bani ‘Abd ibn Tha’labah536 in al-Mayfa’ah537, Bani Ghatfān538 in Yemen and Jabbār539, Khadhrah540 and Bani al-Malūh541 in al-Kuryah542, Bani Qudhā’ah543 in Dhat Ittilā’544, Bani Hawāzin545 in al-Sayy546, Bani Tamim547 in al-Suqyā548 and Bani Khath’am549 in Batn Musjā’550.
The Holy Prophet (S) would carry out pre-emptive wars551 against these tribes, meaning that he would launch an attack on them first before they could march towards Madina552. More often than not, the enemy would flee in fear the moment they heard that the Muslim army was on its way553; to such an extent that they would also leave their animals behind as war booty (for the Muslim army to take)554.
The number of troops in these military missions would vary from battle to battle555. In the Battle of Bawāt, the number of soldiers reached two hundred strong whereas in the Battle of Badr, they numbered three hundred and a few. Similarly, the numbers would change from Sariya mission to Sariya mission556. For example, in the Sariya of Muhammad ibn Maslamah against the Bani Bakr, the soldiers numbered thirty, whereas in the Sariya of Zayd ibn Hāritha against the tribe of Judhām, there were fifty. In the Sariya of Usāma bin Zayd to fight against the Romans, the number of forces reached three thousand. In this way, the supreme commander would send the appropriate number of forces depending on the number of enemy soldiers and the type of mission.
Because of the fact that the enemy tribes that have been mentioned were spread out throughout the Arabian peninsula557, from far and near they were affected by the Muslim army558 and were never able to launch raids, invasions or attacks on Madina559. The attacks of the Muslim army on these tribes were based on swiftness560, surprise attack561, marching at night562, secret missions563, gathering new and important intelligence564; and this is why they would always attain victory.
The priorities in dealing with these tribes and making them submissive were specified in such a way565 that they would first concentrate their efforts on gaining control over the tribes in the coastal regions566, then they would move on to those in the east (of the Arab peninsula)567 and finally the other tribes would be attacked568. In the same way, they would start with tribes that were nearer and then proceed towards those that were further569. They were also precautious of the threat posed by the tribes of Bani Saleem, Ghatfān and Tamim570...
After the Holy Prophet’s migration to Madina, he (S) created a ‘civil pact’ with those who lived in that city571. However, not long after this pact was created, the Jews of Bani Qaynuqā’572 were waiting for an opportunity to break away from the conditions of the pact they had made and bring defeat to the Muslim army, which had since developed and grown after the many battles it had fought. For this reason, they broke their pact and manifested their enmity for the Muslims, and continued to do so despite the warning given to them by the Holy Prophet (S)573.
In response, the Prophet (S) besieged them in their fortress and gained victory over them574. From that day, all the Jews were waiting for the same thing to happen to them that had happened to the other Jews. Ka’b ibn Ashraf, Salām bin Abi al-Haqiq and other Jewish leaders575 who had gone against and fermented opposition to the supreme commander and the Muslims576, had seen their end and were killed in suicide missions577.
The Jews of Bani Nadhir578 also did not hesitate to betray the Prophet (S) after the Muslims lost the Battle of Uhud, and even made plans to assassinate him579. This was when the Holy Prophet (S) sought to take the blood-money for the two Muslims killed by ‘Amr ibn Umayyah al-Dhumri and had gone to their land for this purpose580. Because of this treachery, the Prophet (S) besieged them and took over their lands581.
The Jews of Bani Quraydha also joined hands with the Quraysh to work against the Muslim army in the Battle of Khandaq582. Their attempts and struggles were to no avail and because they broke their allegiance to the Muslims, they returned back afraid and worried583. That which they had thought of did not transpire and now they saw themselves under threat of being besieged.
After the Battle of Khandaq, the Holy Prophet (S) himself led the army584, marching towards the area of the Bani Quraydha585. He fought a battle with them and put them all to death586. Despite this, the Jews continued in their enmity with the Muslims and again began inciting and encouraging the Arab tribes to fight against the army of the Prophet (S). This is why the Battle of Khaybar took place587. In this war also, the victory belonged to the Muslim army588 and as a result the greatest opposing force and enemy was done away with, and all the Jews surrendered589.
The battles against the Jews were different from other battles because they were in fortresses590 and secure shelters and were able to store the needed supplies and weapons for a long period of time591. They used to construct their buildings in elevated locations so as to prevent the archers and lookouts, keep the enemies at bay by the strength and fortification of their fortresses592, dig moats just outside the and filling them with water593.
The Jews would store a lot of other weapons and armaments in the fortress and would use them when needed594. At the same time, they would be well trained and would possess all the battle gear that was required595. The number of Jews was many times more than the soldiers in the Muslim army596. In the Battle of Bani Qaynuqā’ they numbered seven hundred as opposed to the four hundred in the Muslim army. In the Battle of Bani Quraydha, three thousand Jews fought against only seven hundred Muslims and in the Battle of Khaybar, there were ten thousand strong against an army of 1,500 fighters. Aside from this, they had a lot of wealth597 and wielded a lot of economic, political and military influence598; but despite all this, they were still divided599 and each group would fight on its own without the help of the others. In the Battle of Qaynuqā’, nobody joined forces with them and this was the case with the other battles against the Jews also.
In the battles against the Jews, the Muslim army had the following distinct characteristics:
Laying siege600: this was a technique where all the aide and military assistance was completely blocked from reaching the enemy601.
Remaining far away from the reach of enemy arrows602.
Carrying out frontal and side attacks on their fortress603, as they did at Khaybar.
Using psychological warfare604.
Heightening the spirits of their own forces605.
Selecting a suitable place to set camp606.
Creating a split between the Jewish forces607. This was done using the superior battle strategy of the Muslims. Once this was achieved, the Prophet (S) was able to gain separate victories over the Bani Qaynuqā’608, Bani Nadhir609, Bani Quraydha610 and the residents of Khaybar611. Aside from this, the Muslim army was distinguished by its unity of command, concentration, obedience, persistence and swiftness612; all of which made it possible to attain victory and overpower the Jews.
The Holy Prophet (S) fought the first battle at the border with Rome (Dumat al-Jundal)613, and this was because of the importance of this location614, because this place was the gateway for the future invasions of the Muslim army on Rome615 and the base of security616 and also was considered a secure barrier between Rome and the Muslims617. By sending ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf on a Sariya mission618, the supreme commander completed his gathering of intelligence and information from the tribes who lived near the area619 in order to learn about the Roman forces and how to invade them620.
The Battle of Muta was the first full-fledged battle between the Muslim army and the Roman troops621. It can be said that the goals of this battle were to display the might of the Muslim army622 and test the capability of the enemy623. However the vast difference between the forces of the two sides made this war one-sided624.
The supreme commander came face to face with the Romans for a second time in the Battle of Tabuk625. One of the goals of this battle was the avenging of the Martyrs of Muta626 and launching an attack on the enemy and their allies627. In this battle, no combat was seen, however a large part of its objectives were fulfilled. The pressure against the Romans continued and in the end, an army under the command of Usāma bin Zayd was send against them628. He attained victory in this battle and in this way the first victory over the Romans was established. After this the Muslims continued in their war against them629.
The Romans had become worried from the time when the first battle against them was fought near their borders630 and they turned their attention towards this growing Muslim army whom they expected to face again. However, the Holy Prophet (S) dispelled the fear of this enemy from his forces631 and he put the idea in their minds that conquering the lands of Shām is not difficult or impossible632. He (S) would train his troops to bear the hardships of travelling the long and arduous routes, and endure the difficulties and tribulations of the desert633. Having subjugated some of the neighboring tribes634, he made several pacts with them635 so that they could act as a refuge and a leading force in this army against the Romans and open up the way for the Battle of Muta636.
The Roman soldiers were known for their military outfits and great adornments637. Their forces, weapons, equipment and armaments were plenty638 for this reason they became heavy and their maneuvers became sluggish and slow639. The Roman foot-soldiers would use bows in situations where they had not been trained for battle640. Aside from this, the Roman forces and the Arabs (who were in their service) had no co-operation with each other, and because they were all mixed together641, they did not have an opportunity to conduct well planned maneuvers together. Aside from this, they had a weak system of command which greatly reduced their efficiency and speed in battle642.
As for the Muslim army, it was distinguished by its continuous attacks on the enemy643, psychological warfare644, securing of the northern borders and strategic locations645, taking the battle away from its own land646, remaining steadfast against an enemy that was stronger647, and employing the principles of war in different ways648. This was accompanied by practice, maneuvering649 and ease of movement650. When a soldier would shoot arrows while moving, his stability and poise would increase. It was as if he was not carrying any weapon or battle gear such as would impede on his swiftness or cause him to remain behind and become weary651.
This was the department that was responsible for preparing the armed forces and their various units in order to carry out battle operations652. In the Muslim army, training was common to all and included individuals653, communities654, groups655, large organizations656 and all the armed forces657 and would be conducted in all the situations that arise in battle. This included: recognition658, archery659, combat660, fighting when being attacked661, running662, carrying out surprise attacks663, onslaught664, moving covertly and camouflage665, conducting ambushes and patrols666, marching at night667, covering long distances on foot668, the principle of concentration669, assistance and co-operation670, pre-emptive warfare671, taking advantage of the enemy’s negligence672, mass attacks673, psychological warfare674, remaining patient675 and steadfast against the enemy676, bearing all the hardships of securing resources and reinforcements677, battling to overcome fortresses678, war using trenches679 and fighting battles in the cities680.
The supreme commander paid special attention to training the cavalry681. That which separated the training of this army from those of other armies was that training took place in real-life situations and in the battlefield, during battle682. One of its distinguishing features was that it gave skills to individuals, groups and contingents, preparing and polishing them for every different battle scenario and taught them about all the intricate details. It did away with mistakes and error or greatly reduced them. It made the troops precautious when facing the enemy, to the extent of necessity, just as the armed forces today conduct training exercises so as to gain experience and remain free from fear, sluggishness or laziness.
For example, after the completion of the Sariya of Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, a month later the Sariya of ‘Ubaydah ibn Hārith was conducted. The Battle of Dhi al-‘Asheera took place a month after the Sariya of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahash and the gap between the battles of Dhi Amr and Bahrān was no more than two months. The Sariya of Muhammad ibn Maslamah against the Bani Tha’labah and ‘Awāl took one month and the Sariya of Abi ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrāh came immediately after it. During these short gaps, the forces would prepare to march against the (next) enemy and some of the units would undergo training before battle685; just as they had done in the Battle of Badr and the Conquest.
The continuous training (of the troops) had the following results:
It would increase in the steadfastness of the individuals686, like in the Sariya of Zayd ibn Hāritha where his later missions were carried out with more steadfastness than his previous missions. Similarly, the ‘battle of the fortress’ that took place at Khaybar was better than the battles of Bani Nadhir and Bani Qaynuqā’.
The hesitation and fear of coming face to face with the enemy was removed687. In the Battle of Badr, the forces were more hopeful of taking over the caravan of the Quraysh without having to fight a battle and they were fearful of face to face combat. However, in the Battle of Uhud, they were competing with each other to go to battle and most of them gave the view that they should go out of Madina to face the enemy threat, because at this time fear and trepidation had totally disappeared from them.
Swiftness in getting prepared for battle690 was maintained with precision and quality as in the Battle of Dhāt al-Suwayq, the war against the Bani Mahārib and Tha’labah in the Battle of Dhāt al-Ruqā’, and in the Battle of Bani Quraydhah. This made them stronger and more capable to quickly carry out orders, remain swift in the difficult circumstances of battle and able to change tactics691; in the same way as was witnessed after the army had dispersed and the forces had made blunders in the battles of Uhud and Hunayn.
This was the department responsible for securing the weaponry and battle gear, either by producing it, buying it or taking it from the spoils of war, and then distributing it and the issue of armament was done in conjunction with the department of munitions and the training of weapons-use was in co-operation with the department of training; and in the end the discharge, restore and stockpile the armaments692.
The most important weapons that were used by the Muslim army were:
1. Offensive weapons693: these included mainly the sword, spear and bow.
2. Defensive weapons: the most important of which were the armor, shield, helmet and the mail that was worn under it.
1) The sword was considered the most important weapon for offense and the Holy Prophet (S) also gave a lot of importance to it. He (S) had many swords that were either from war booty, gifts or inheritance of his father, and he had named each of them with specific names694.
2) The spear was another of the weapons of offense. The supreme commander had different types of spears and would use whichever one he wanted. In total they were of four types695.
3) The bow was of various types and each one had a specific name depending on its attributes, the type of action it would be used for and how it would be carried696. The most important types were the hand-held bow and the ‘Hijāzi’ bow. The Holy Prophet (S) had four bows: i) al-Safrā’ (the Yellow) ii) al-Rawhā’ (the Open) iii) al-Baydhā’ (the White) and iv) al-Katum (the Secret-keeper)697.
Armor was considered one of the most important weapons of defense which was worn to remain protected from the strikes of swords, spears or arrows698. Armors were of different shapes and types, each with a different name699. The supreme commander also had a number of armors, the most important of which were: Dhāt al-Fudhul, al-Sadriyya and al-Sird700.
Helmets would be made from iron and would be worn to protect the head from attacks by offensive weapons701.
‘Mighfar’ was the armor or mail that a soldier would place under his helmet and would cover his head and face with it so that he does not get injured702. The Holy Prophet (S) and the soldiers who fought alongside him in battle would use this703.
‘Minjineeq’ (catapult) was one of the ‘heavy’ weapons which was used to throw huge boulders or fireballs on the enemy704.
‘Dabbābah’ (tank)705: These two weapons (i.e. the catapult and the tank) were used in the Battle of Tā’if.
In the same way, the Muslim army would give importance to the arming of the cavalry706 and would give it a priority over the other ranks. In the first battles, the soldiers on horseback were few. For example, in the Battle of Badr, there were only two soldiers on horseback707. This number reached two hundred in the Battle of Khaybar708 and in the Conquest of Makkah there were more than two thousand soldiers on horseback709.
As for the sources from where weapons could be procured, these included:
1. By way of those who would engage in making them and selling them to the soldiers710 but this small number was not enough for the whole army.
2. From the buyers who would buy from inside the Arabian Peninsula711 and outside it712. The budget for buying the weapons from this source would be gotten from:
a) The personal wealth and possessions of the soldiers713
b) Those who were in charge of the army.
c) The wealth that would remain after distribution714.
d) The booty that was taken from the enemy715 and especially the Jews.
The supreme commander would leave behind some of the wealth after making pacts of alliance with the defeated enemies, however he would never leave behind any of their weapons; because this was the main source of weapons and strengthening the army while at the same time weakening the enemy in order to prevent any future attacks and incursions716. There was also another source of weapons for the army and that was taking them on loan and then returning them to their owners after the battle717.
Training with weapons was one of the requirements of the Muslim army and the supreme commander would insist and encourage the fighters to train on how to carry the weapons718, the principles of their usage719, archery and gaining mastery over it720, training on the use of the catapult721. Many of the Muslims such as Talha ibn ‘Abdillah al-Qarashi and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqās722 were well known for their skill in archery. At the same time, the Prophet (S) emphasized on training the riders who would fight on horseback723. He (S) also gave importance to the creation of weapons and encouraged and promised paradise to those who would undertake this task724. For this purpose, he sent a group to Jurash (Yemen) in order to learn how to make new weapons and acquire them before the siege of Tā’if725.
The importance given to making various light weaponry726 was another of the goals of the supreme commander and for this he would give orders to the weapon makers in the area for different models of spears and bows727. When the weapons were distributed among the soldiers, those that were on loan would be taken back and those acquired from war booty would be kept by them. In this way, each soldier would get to use more than one type of weapon728.
As for supplies of weapons during battle, the situation was not as it is in the new age. A soldier would bring whatever weapon he had in his possession, and whatever he needed in the battlefield, he would have to carry himself. So if he were to lose one of his weapons or it were to break, he would exchange it and continue to fight729. With regards to the storing and stockpiling of weapons, each individual would store his own weapons in his home730 and things were not as they are today i.e. there was no central repository where the weapons would be stockpiled. In the house of every soldier, a number of swords, spears and bows could be found, and he would pay due attention to their repair and maintenance731.
In times of ‘peace’, the weapons would be kept in a large warehouse that was strategically located and would be guarded732. The supreme commander would order that weapons must be carried at all times, in every situation, even when the enemies are not (apparently) present. He would forbid the forces who had returned from battle and were tired and weary, and intended to remove their weapons733, from doing so and he was always put the thought about the struggle (against the sworn enemy), whether in times of war or peace, in the present or future, despite the presence or absence of the enemy in their minds and would strengthen this idea in them734.