Chapter 8: Period of Youth
Leaders of society should be forbearing and patient, strong and powerful, brave and valiant, fearless and bold, and should possess a great soul.
How can it be possible for persons who are timid and chicken-hearted, weak and cowardly, feeble-minded and lazy to lead the society through intricate paths? How can they take a stand before the enemies and protect their entity and personality from the attacks of the people at large?
The greatness and magnificence of the soul of a leader and his corporeal and spiritual power and ability have wonderful impact on his followers. When Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, selected one of his sincere companions for the Governorship of Egypt he wrote a letter to the afflicted people of Egypt who had been greatly put out on account of the tyranny of the government which was then in position in that land. In that letter he praised his governor-designate for his bravery and spiritual purity. We reproduce here an extract from that letter wherein the real attributes of a ruler have been narrated
"..... I have sent to you a servant of Allah, who does not go to sleep in dreadful days and does not show cowardice while facing the enemy during an emergency. For the wicked he is more harsh than the burning fire. He is Malik bin Harith from the clan of Mazhaj. Listen to his words and enforce his orders, because he is one of the swords of Allah which does not become blunt and whose stroke does not remain ineffective'.1
During his boyhood as well as manhood the signs of strength, bravery, firmness and forcefulness were patent in the forehead of the darling of Quraysh. When he was fifteen years of age he took part in a battle which has fought by Quraysh against the tribe of Hawazan and which is called the Fujjar Battle. In the battle-front his duty was to ward off the arrows aimed at his uncles. In his Seerah-i Ibn Hisham2 quotes this sentence from the Prophet: "I warded off the arrows from my uncles".
Participation in this battle and that too at such a young age tells us about the unparalleled valour of the Holy Prophet and we understand as to why Imam Ali, the most valiant of the valiant, the Commander of the Faithful says "Whenever matters became difficult for us (the Muslim Soldiers) on the battle front we took refuge with the Prophet of Allah and none of us was nearer to the enemy than the Prophet himself.3
We shall mention the principles of Islamic military training in the chapter relating to the battles of the Muslims with the polytheists, and shall study the manner of their fighting, which always took shape according to the directions of the Holy Prophet. And this in itself is one of the fascinating discussions of the history of Islam.
Detailed account of such matters is beyond the scope of our book. However, we give below in brief the causes and the events of these battles, in one of which the Holy Prophet also participated, so that the esteemed readers may not remain totally uninformed about them.
The Arabs of the Age of Ignorance spent the whole year in fighting and plundering. However, the continuance of this state of affairs deranged their lives. For this reason they did not fight during four months in a year (viz. Rajab, Zi Qa'd, Zil Haj and Muharram) so that their might open their trade markets during these four months and engage themselves in work and earning of livelihood.4
In view of this resolution the bazaars of 'Ukaz, Mujannah and Zil Majaz witnessed wonderful gatherings during these four months and friends as well as foes engaged themselves, side by side with one another, in buying and selling as well as in selfglorification. The great singers of Arabia sang their compositions in these assemblies. The well-known orators delivered speeches. The Jews, the Christians and the idolaters presented their religious beliefs before the Arab world without any fear of harm from their opponents.
During the course of Arabian history, however, this covenant was broken four times, when some Arab tribes engaged in war-fare with one another. And as these battles were fought in the months in which fighting is prohibited they are called Fujjar Battles. Now we give below a very brief account of these battles
The First Fujjar: The two warring parties were the tribes ot 'Kananah' and 'Hawazan' and the cause of the battle has been mentioned to be this: A person named Badr bin Ma'shar selected a place for himself in the bazaar of 'Ukaz and read out self-glorifying verses every day before the people.
One day he stood up, with sword in hand, and said 'O people' I am the most honourable person and if anyone repudiates this claim of mine he shall be put to sword'. In the meantime a man rose up, struck a sword on Badr's foot and severed it. For this reason the two parties grappled with each other but stopped fighting before anyone was killed.
The Second Fujjar: The reason for this battle was that a beautiful woman of the tribe of Bani 'Amir attracted the eyes of a young man who requested her to show him her face. The woman declined to do so. The lustful young man sat behind her and sewed together her long laps with thorns so that when she got up her face became visible. At that moment both of them called their tribes. The two tribes stopped fighting only after some persons had been killed.
The Third Fujjar: A man belonging to the tribe of Kananah was indebted to another who belonged to the tribe of Bani Amir. The debtor was dilly-dallying. The two persons began to quarrel on this account. A bloody fight was doing to start between the two tribes, but, before the situation worsened, the matter was settled peacefully.
The Fourth Fujjar: It is the very battle in which the Prophet participated personally. There is a difference of opinion about his age at that time. Some say that he was fourteen or fifteen years of age whereas others have written that he was then twenty years old. However, as this war continued for four years, it is possible that all these versions mall be correct.5
The root cause of this dispute has been stated to be this. No'man bin Manzar used to arrange a caravan every year and sent merchandise to 'Ukaz, so that, hides, ropes and brocade might be bartered from there. A man named 'Urwatur Rijal, who belonged to the tribe of Hawazan, took responsibility to safeguard and protect the caravan.
However, Baraz bin Qays, a member of Kananah tribe, became very sentimental about a man of Hawazan tribe having surpassed him. He went to No'man bin Manzar and complained about the arrangement but met with no success. He became annoyed and jealous and was constantly waiting for an opportunity to deal with 'Urwarur Rijal on the way.
Eventually he killed him in the territory of Bani Marrah and thus besmeared his hands with the blood of a member of Hawazan tribe. In those days the tribes of Quraysh and Kananah were allies and this development rook place when the Arabs were busy in trade in the market-place of 'Ukaz. A man informed Quraysh about what had come to pass.
Hence, the tribes of Quraysh and Kananah collected their belongings and hurried towards the Haram (a distance of four leagues around Makkah is called the Haram and fighting in this area was unlawful amongst the Arabs) before Hawazan tribe should become aware of the happening. However, members of Hawazan tribe pursued them and, before they could reach within the limits of the Haram, fighting commenced between the two parties.
At last they had to stop fighting on account of night fall. Quraysh and Kananah tribes availed of this opportunity to escape to the Haram in darkness and thus became safe from the enemy's attack. After that day Quraysh and their allies came out of Haram sometime or the other and fought with the enemies. On some days the Prophet also participated in the battles along with his uncles, as mentioned above. This state of affairs continued for four years. At last the war came to an end by paying of the bloodmoney to Hawazan tribe, who had lost more lives as compared with Quraysh.6
In the past an agreement called the 'Fuzul Covenant' existed amongst the Jarhamis and it was meant for safeguarding the rights of the oppressed. The parties to this agreement, according to the renowned historian Imaduddin Ibn Kathir, were Fazal bin Fazalah, Fazal bin Harith and Fazal bin Wida'ah.7
As the mutual agreement, which a number of Quraysh had made later, was identical with Hilful Fuzul, from the point of view of its object (viz. protection of the rights of the oppressed), it was also given the name of 'Fuzul covenant'.
The Prophet Participates in The Agreement
Twenty years before the commencement of the prophetic mission of the Prophet a man arrived in Makkah in the month of Zi Qa'dah along with some goods. These goods were purchased by 'As bin Wa'il, but he failed to pay the price settled between them. That man saw Quraysh sitting near the Ka'bah. He began to complain loudly and also recited some verses which roused the sentiments of men possessing a sense of honour.
Zubayr bin Abdul Muttalib stood up and some others also joined him. They held a meeting in the house of Abdullah bin Jad'an and made a covenant and vowed that they would observe unity, and, as far as possible in the prevailing circumstances, would make the oppressor surrender the rights of the oppressed to them. When the ceremonies of the agreement were over they got up and went to 'As bin Wa'il. They took back from him the goods which he had purchased but had not paid its price and returned the same to the owner.
The Prophet participated in this agreement which ensured the welfare of the oppressed. He has himself spoken about the greatness of this agreement and two of his remarks in this behalf are reproduced below:
"In the house of Abdullah bin Jad'an I became a witness to such an agreement. If even now (i.e. after the commencement of the prophetic mission) I am invited to a similar agreement I shall accept it (viz. I am still faithful to the covenant made by me)"
Ibn Hisham quotes that the Prophet used to speak thus about the said agreement. ``l am not prepared to break my covenant, even though I am offered the most precious gift".
The 'Fuzul agreement' was so firm and established that even the later generations considered themselves bound to abide by it. An instance of it is the event which took place during the Governorship of Walid bin 'Utbah bin Abu Sufyan, the nephew of Mu'awiyah, who had been appointed by him as Governor of Madina.
The Chief of the Martyrs, Husayn bin Ali, who never submitted to tyranny throughout his life, developed some differences regarding financial matters with the said Governor of Madina, who always depended on local and central (Syrian) power and used to overcharge.
To destroy the very foundation of injustice and to make others acquainted with their right to get justice administered, Husayn turned to the Governor of Madina and said: "By Allah, whenever you overcharge me I shall put my hand to the sword and shall stand in the Prophet's Masjid and shall invite the people to the agreement which was concluded by their ancestors. From amongst those present Abdullah bin Zubayr got up and repeated the same sentence and incidentally added: "We shall all rise and obtain his right or be killed in this path".
The call of Husayn bin Ali gradually reached the ears of noble-minded persons like Masur bin Mukhramah and Abdur Rahman bin Uthman and all hurried to the sacred door of the Imam saying "Here we are!" The result was that the governor, fearing a revolt, refrained from overcharging.8
- 1. Nahjul Balaghah, vol. III, page 92.
- 2. Volume I, page 186. He interprets it in the same manner as explained by us.
- 3. Nahjul Balaghah, vol. III, page 314.
- 4. It may be gathered front verse 36 of Surah al-Tawbah that prohibition of war-fare during these four months had a religious origin and the Arabs did not repudiate this prohibition.
- 5. Tarikh-i Kamil, vol. I, 358 - 359 and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. I, page 184.
- 6. Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. I, pp. 134 - 187.
- 7. Al-Bidayah wal Nihiyah, vol. II, page 292.
- 8. Seerah-i Halabi, vol. I, pp. 155 - 157.