The Prophet Muhammad: Sporadic Invasions

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address To Be a Member:

Followers

Translate

Blog Archive

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sporadic Invasions

Sporadic Invasions

The Expedition called Dhat-ur-Riqa‘ (in the year 7 A.H.):

Having subdued two powerful sides of the Confederates coalition, the Prophet PBUH started preparations to discipline the third party, i.e. the desert bedouins, who took Najd for habitation, and continued in their usual practices of looting and plundering.

Unlike the Jews of Khaibar and people of Makkah, they had a liking for living in the wilderness dispersed in scattered spots, hence the difficulty of bringing them under control, and the futility of carrying out deterrent campaigns against them.

 However, the Prophet PBUH was determined to put an end to this unacceptable situation and called the Muslims around him to get ready to launch a decisive campaign against those harassing rebels. Meanwhile it was reported to him that Bani Muharib and Banu Tha‘lbah of the Ghatfan tribe were gathering army in order to encounter the Muslims.

The Prophet PBUH proceeded towards Najd at the head of 400 or 700 men, after he had mandated Abu Dhar - in another version, ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan - to dispose the affairs of Madinah during his absence. The Muslim fighters penetrated deep into their land until they reached a spot called Nakhlah where they came across some bedouins of Ghatfan, but no fighting took place because the latter had agreed to go into reconciliation with the Muslims. The Prophet PBUH led his followers that day in a prayer of fear.

Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari, narrated that they set out on an expedition with the Messenger of Allâh PBUH . "We were six in number and had (with us) only one camel which we rode turn by turn. Our feet were injured. My feet were so badly injured that my nails came off. We, therefore, bandaged our feet with rags, so this expedition was called Dhat-ur-Riqa‘ (i.e. the expedition of rags.)"[]

Jabir narrated: In the course of Dhat-ur-Riqa‘ expedition, we came to a leafy tree where the Prophet PBUH sat shading himself off the burning sun. The others dispersed here and there seeking shelter from heat. The Prophet PBUH had a short nap after he had hung his sword on the tree. A polytheist, meanwhile came, seized the sword and unsheathed it.

The Prophet PBUH woke up to find his sword drawn in the man’s hand. The bedouin here asked the Prophet (unarmed then):

 "Who would hold me back from killing you now?" The Prophet PBUH then answered: "It is Allâh." In another version, it was reported that the Prophet PBUH took the sword when it had fallen down and the man said: "You (the Prophet) are the best one to hold a sword.

" The Prophet PBUH asked the man if he would testify to the Oneness of Allâh and the Messengership of Muhammad. The Arabian answered that he would never engage in a fight against him, nor would he ally people fighting the Muslims. The Prophet PBUH set the man free and let him go to his people to say to them that he had seen the best one among all people.[]

A woman from the Arabians was taken prisoner in the context of this battle. Her husband, on hearing the news, swore he would never stop until he had shed the blood of a Muslim. Secretly at night, he approached the camp of the Muslims when he saw two sentries stationed there to alert the Muslims against any emergency.

 He shot the first one, Abbad bin Bishr, who was observing prayer, with an arrow but he did not stop prayer, he simply pulled it out. Then he was shot by three other arrows but would not interrupt his prayer. After he had done the closing salutations, he awakened his companion ‘Ammar bin Yasir, who remonstrated that he should have alerted him to which the latter replied that he was half way through a Chapter and did not like to interrupt it.[]

The victory at the expedition of Dhat-ur-Riqa‘ had a tremendous impact on all the Arabians. It cast fear into their hearts and rendered them too powerless to antagonize the Muslim society in Madinah. They began to acquiesce in the prevailing situation and resigned themselves to new geo-political conditions working in favour of the new religion. Some of them even embraced Islam and took an active part in the conquest of Makkah and the battle of Hunain, and received their due shares of the war booty.

From that time onward, the anti-Islam tripartite coalition had been subdued, and peace and security prevailed. The Muslims, then started to redress any political imbalance and fill in the small gaps that still triggered unrest here and there in the face of the great drive of Islamization that enveloped the whole area. We could in this context mention some of these incidental skirmishes which pointed markedly to the ever-growing power of the Muslim society.

1. A platoon headed by Ghalib bin ‘Abdullah Al-Laithi in Safar or in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 7 A.H. was despatched to muffle the provocative behaviour of Bani Al-Muluh. The Muslims managed to kill a large number of the enemy soldiers and captured a great deal of booty. A large army of polytheists rushed in their heel but floods hindered the pursuit, and the Muslims managed to withdraw in safety.

2. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, at the head of a 30-soldier group, set out to a spot called Turbah in Sha‘ban 7 A.H. to discipline the people of Hawazin. He no longer arrived at their habitation that they fled for their lives.

3. Thirty men with Basheer bin Sa‘d Al-Ansari headed for Bani Murrah in Sha‘ban 7 A.H. in Fadak area. He killed a large number of the enemy and seized a lot of their camels and cattle. On his way back, the enemy gathered up forces and overtook the Muslims at night. They showered Basheer and his men with arrows, and killed all the Muslims except Basheer, who took refuge in Fadak and stayed with the Jews there until his wounds healed.

4. Ghalib bin ‘Abdullah Al-Laithi at the head of a platoon of 130 men launched an attack against Bani ‘Awâl and Bani ‘Abd bin Tha‘lbah in Ramadan 7 A.H. They killed some of the enemy’s men and captured their cattle and camels. ‘Usama bin Zaid killed Mardas bin Nahik, a polytheist, but after he had pronounced the testimony of Allâh’s Oneness to which incident the Prophet PBUH commented addressing his Companions: "Would you rip open his heart to discern whether he is truthful or a liar?"

5. A thirty-horseman group headed by ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha marched towards Khaibar on reports that Aseer (or Basheer bin Razam) was rallying the ranks of Bani Ghatfan to attack the Muslims: They managed to persuade that Jew to follow them to Madinah encouraging him that the Prophet PBUH would institute him as a ruler of Khaibar. On their way back there occurred a sort of misunderstanding that gave rise to fierce fighting between the two parties resulting in the death of Aseer and the thirty men with him.

6. In Shawwal 7 A.H., Basheer bin Sa‘d Al-Ansari marched towards Yemen and Jabar at the head of 300 Muslim fighters to subdue a large mob of polytheists who gathered to raid the outskirts of Madinah. Basheer and his men used to march at night and lurk during the day until they reached their destination. Having heard about the advent of the Muslims, the polytheists fled away leaving behind them a large booty and two men who later embraced Islam on arrival in Madinah.

7. In the year 7 A.H., shortly before the Compensatory ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), a man called Jashm bin Mu‘awiyah came to a spot called Ghabah where he wanted to gather the people of Qais and entice them into fighting the Muslims. The Prophet PBUH , on hearing these reports, despatched Abu Hadrad with two men to see to the situation. Abu Hadrad, through a clever strategy, managed to rout the enemy and capture a lot of their cattle.[]

The Compensatory ‘Umrah

(Lesser Pilgrimage)

When Dhul Qa‘da month approached towards the close of the seventh year A.H., the Prophet PBUH ordered his people, and the men who witnessed Al-Hudaibiyah Truce Treaty in particular, to make preparations to perform ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).

He proceeded with 2000 men besides some women and children[], and 60 camels for sacrifice, to visit the Holy Sanctuary in Makkah. The Muslims took their weapons with them fearing the treachery of the Quraishites, but left them with a party of two hundred men at a place some eight miles from Makkah.

They entered the city with the swords in their scabbards[], with the Prophet PBUH at their head on his she-camel, Al-Qaswa’, while the surrounding Companions attentively focusing their look on him, all saying:

"Here I am! at Your service O Allâh!" The Quraishites had left the place and retired to their tents on the adjoining hills. The Muslims performed the usual circumambulation vigorously and briskly; and on recommendation by the Prophet PBUH they did their best to appear strong and steadfast in their circumambulation as the polytheists had spread rumours that they were weak because the fever of Yathrib (Madinah) had sapped their strength.

 They were ordered to run in the first three rounds and then walk in the remaining ones. The Makkans meanwhile aligned on the top of Qu‘aiqa‘an Mount watching the Muslims, tongue-tied at witnessing their strength and devotion. When they entered the Holy Sanctuary, ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha walked before the Prophet PBUH reciting:

"Get out of his way, you disbelievers, make way, we will fight you about its revelation with strokes that will remove heads from shoulders and make friend unmindful of friend."

After ritual walking and running between the two hills of Makkah, Safa and Marwah, the Prophet PBUH with the Muslims halted at the latter spot to slaughter the sacrificial animals and shave their heads.

The main body of the pilgrims had now performed the basic rites of the lesser pilgrimage, but there remained those who were entrusted the charge of the weapons. The Prophet had these relieved, and they went through the same devotions as the others did.

On the morning of the fourth day of the pilgrimage, the notables of Quraish asked ‘Ali bin Abi Talib to tell the Prophet PBUH to leave Makkah along with his Companions. He, of course, could not conceive of violating the terms of Al-Hudaibiyah Treaty, therefore he ordered his men to depart for a village called Sarif where he stayed for some time.

It was during this visit of the Prophet PBUH to Makkah for pilgrimage that his uncle ‘Abbas offered the hand of his sister-in-law, Maimuna — the daughter of Harith, to him. The Prophet PBUH was kind enough to accept this offer since it was an effective step towards cementing the ties of relationship between the Prophet PBUH and the influential men of Makkah. The wedding took place in Sarif. []

Narrators attached different designations to this lesser pilgrimage. Some called it the compensatory lesser pilgrimage, performed instead of that uncompleted of Hudaibiyah; and the other one, given preponderance by jurists, is the lesser pilgrimage consequent on certain terms of a treaty already agreed upon.

On the whole, compensatory, judicial consent, retribution and reconciliation are all terms applicable to that visit.

Some military operations, directed against some still obdurate desert Arabians, took place at the conclusion of the lesser pilgrimage, of which we could mention:

1. A platoon of 50 men led by Ibn Abi Al-‘Awja’ was despatched by the Prophet PBUH to the habitations of Bani Saleem inviting them to embrace Islam, but all the words fell on deaf ears. Fierce fighting erupted between both parties during which the Muslim leader was wounded, and two of the enemy were captured.

2. Ghalib bin ‘Abdullah at the head of 200 men was despatched to Fadak where they killed some rebels and a lot of booty fell to their lot.

3. Banu Quda‘a had gathered a large number of men to raid the Muslim positions. On hearing the news, the Prophet PBUH despatched Ka‘b bin ‘Umair Al-Ansari at the head of 15 men to deal with this situation. They encountered the army, and called them to enter into the fold of Islam but the rebels gave a negative response and showered the Muslims with arrows killing all of them except one who was carried back home later seriously wounded.[]

There was also an insignificant skirmish that occurred in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 8 A.H. Shuja‘ bin Wahab Al-Asadi, along with 25 men, marched towards Bani Hawazin tribe where they encountered no resistance but managed to gain some booty.[]

The Battle of Mu’tah


It was the most significant and the fiercest battle during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allâh PBUH , a preliminary and a prelude to the great conquests of the land of the Christians. It took place in Jumada Al-Ula 8 A.H. / September 629 A.D. Mu’tah is a village that lies on the borders of geographical Syria.

The Prophet PBUH had sent Al-Harith bin ‘Umair Al-Azdi on an errand to carry a letter to the ruler of Busra. On his way, he was intercepted by Sharhabeel bin ‘Amr Al-Ghassani, the governor of Al-Balqa’ and a close ally to Caesar, the Byzantine Emperor. Al-Harith was tied and beheaded by Al-Ghassani.

Killing envoys and messengers used to be regarded as the most awful crime, and amounted to the degree of war declaration. The Prophet PBUH was shocked on hearing the news and ordered that a large army of 3000 men be mobilized and despatched to the north to discipline the transgressors.[] It was the largest Muslim army never mobilized on this scale except in the process of the Confederates Battle.

Zaid bin Haritha was appointed to lead the army. Ja‘far bin Abi Talib would replace him if he was killed, and ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha would succeed Ja‘far in case the latter fell.[] A white banner was raised and handed over to Zaid.[]

The Prophet PBUH recommended that they reach the scene of Al-Harith’s murder and invite the people to profess Islam. Should the latter respond positively, then no war would ensue, otherwise fighting them would be the only alternative left.

He ordered them:

• "Fight the disbelievers in the Name of Allâh, neither breach a covenant nor entertain treachery, and under no circumstances a new-born, woman, an ageing man or a hermit should be killed; moreover neither trees should be cut down nor homes demolished.[]"

At the conclusion of the military preparations, the people of Madinah gathered and bade the army farewell. ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha began to weep at that moment, and when asked why he was weeping, he swore that it was not love for this world nor under a motive of infatuation with the glamour of life but rather the Words of Allâh speaking of Fire that he heard the Prophet PBUH reciting:

• "There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell); this is with your Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished." [19:71]

The Muslim army then marched northward to Ma‘ân, a town bordering on geographical Syria. There news came to the effect that Heraclius had mobilized a hundred thousand troops together with another hundred thousand men of Lakham, Judham and Balqain — Arabian tribes allied to the Byzantines. The Muslims, on their part had never thought of encountering such a huge army.

They were at a loss about what course to follow, and spent two nights debating these unfavourable conditions. Some suggested that they should write a letter to the Prophet PBUH seeking his advice. ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha was opposed to them being reluctant and addressed the Muslims saying: "I swear by Allâh that this very object which you hold in abhorrence is the very one you have set out seeking, martyrdom. In our fight we don’t count on number of soldiers or equipment but rather on the Faith that Allâh has honoured us with.

Dart to win either of the two, victory or martyrdom." In the light of these words, they moved to engage with the enemy in Masharif, a town of Al-Balqa’, and then changed direction towards Mu’tah where they encamped. The right flank was led by Qutba bin Qatadah Al-‘Udhari, and the left by ‘Ubadah bin Malik Al-Ansari. Bitter fighting started between the two parties, three thousand Muslims against an enemy fiftyfold as large.

Zaid bin Haritha, the closest to the Messenger’s heart, assumed leadership and began to fight tenaciously and in matchless spirit of bravery until he fell, fatally stabbed. Ja‘far bin Abi Talib then took the banner and did a miraculous job. In the thick of the battle, he dismounted, hamstrung his horse and resumed fighting until his right hand was cut off.

 He seized the banner with his left hand until this too was gone. He then clasped the banner with both arms until a Byzantine soldier struck and cut him into two parts. he was posthumously called "the flying Ja‘far" or "Ja‘far with two wings" because Allâh has awarded him two wings to fly wherever he desired there in the eternal Garden. Al-Bukhari reported fifty stabs in his body, none of them in the back.[]

‘Abdullah bin Rawaha then proceeded to hold up the banner and fight bravely on his horseback while reciting enthusiastic verses until he too was killed. Thereupon a man, from Bani ‘Ajlan, called Thabit bin Al-Arqam took the banner and called upon the Muslims to choose a leader.

The honour was unanimously granted to Khalid bin Al-Waleed, a skilled brave fighter and an outstanding strategist. It was reported by Al-Bukhari that he used nine swords that broke while he was relentlessly and courageously fighting the enemies of Islam.

 He, however, realizing the grave situation the Muslims were in, began to follow a different course of encounter, revealing the super strategy-maker, that Khalid was rightly called. He reshuffled the right and left flanks of the Muslim army and introduced forward a division from the rear in order to cast fear into the hearts of the Byzantine by deluding them that fresh reinforcements had arrived. The Muslims engaged with the enemies in sporadic skirmishes but gradually and judiciously retreating in a fully organized and well-planned withdrawal.

The Byzantines, seeing this new strategy, believed that they were being entrapped and drawn in the heart of the desert. They stopped the pursuit, and consequently the Muslims managed to retreat back to Madinah with the slightest losses.[]

The Muslims sustained twelve martyrs, whereas the number of casualties among the Byzantines was unknown although the details of the battle point clearly to a large number. Even though the battle did not satisfy the Muslims’ objective, namely avenging Al-Harith’s murder, it resulted in a far-ranging impact and attached to the Muslims a great reputation in the battlefields.

The Byzantine Empire, at that time, was a power to be reckoned with, and mere thinking of antagonizing it used to mean self-annihilation, let alone a three-thousand-soldier army going into fight against 200,000 soldiers far better equipped and lavishly furnished with all luxurious conveniences.

 The battle was a real miracle proving that the Muslims were something exceptional not then familiar. Moreover, it gave evidence that Allâh backed them and their Prophet, Muhammad, was really Allâh’s Messenger. In the light of these new strategic changes, the archenemies among the desert bedouins began to reconcile themselves with the new uprising faith and several recalcitrant tribes like Banu Saleem, Ashja‘, Ghatfan, Dhubyan, Fazarah and others came to profess Islam out of their own sweet free will.

Mu’tah Battle, after all, constituted the forerunner of the blood encounter to take place with the Byzantines subsequently. It pointed markedly to a new epoch of the Islamic conquest of the Byzantine empire and other remote countries, to follow at a later stage.

Dhat As-Salasil Campaign:


Dhat As-Salasil is a spot situated ten days’ walk north of Madinah. The Muslims are said to have encamped in a place with a well of water called Salsal, hence the terminology Dhat As-Salasil. In view of the alliance between the Arabian tribes on the borders of Syria and the Byzantines, the Prophet PBUH deemed it of top urgency to carry out a wisely-planned manoeuvre that might bring about a state of rapport with those bedouins, and would at the same time detach them from the Byzantines. For the implementation of this plan, he chose ‘Amr bin Al-‘As, whose paternal grandmother came from Bali, a tribe dwelling in that area. This motive in mind, combined with provocative military movements, by Bani Quda‘a, precipitated this preemptive strike which started in Jumada Ath-Thaniya, 8 A.H.

‘Amr bin Al-‘As was awarded a white flag with a black banner to go with it. He set out at the head of 300 Emigrants and Helpers assisted by a cavalry of 30 men, and was recommended to seek help from Bali, ‘Udhra and Balqain tribes. He used to march at night and lurk during the day. On approaching the enemy lines and realizing the large build up of men, he sent for reinforcements from Madinah, and these arrived on the spot headed by Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah leading further 200 men as well as other platoons including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab. All of them were given strict orders to cooperate, work in harmony and never leave any area for disagreement.

At noon, Abu ‘Ubaidah wanted to lead the Muslims in prayer, but ‘Amr objected on grounds that the former came only to assist, and leadership in prayer was given to ‘Amr.

The Muslim army reached the habitations of Quda‘a and penetrated deep in their land, destroyed the enemies and obliged the others to flee for their lives in different directions.

At the conclusion of the military operations, a courier was despatched to the Messenger of Allâh PBUH to brief him on the developments of events and the ultimate victory achieved.

Khadrah Campaign:

In Sha‘ban month 8 A.H., news reached the Prophet PBUH of amassing troops by Bani Ghatfan, still outside the domain of Islam. He urgently summoned Abu Qatadah and sent him at the head of fifteen men to discipline those outlaws.

It took fifteen days to teach them an unforgettable lesson. Some were killed, others captured and all their property confiscated.[]

0 comments: