The Prophet Muhammad: The Third Stage

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Monday, 19 April 2010

The Third Stage

The Third Stage

The third and last stage of the life of the Messenger PBUH embodies the fruitful results of his call to Islam, which were the consequences of long-timed holy fights in the way of Allâh (Jihad), troubles, toil, disturbances, trials and a lot of bloody conflicts and battles, which lasted for over twenty years.

The conquest of Makkah was considered the most serious profit achieved by Muslims during those years. For it affected the course of events and consequently altered the Arabs’ whole life. It was a decisive distinction between preconquest and post-conquest periods. For Quraish, at that time, was in the eyes of Arabs the defenders and helpers of Arabs. Other Arabs are only their ancillaries. The submission of Quraish is, therefore, estimated to be a final elimination of paganism in the Arabian Peninsula.

This stage can be divided into two main phases:

The phase of: (1) holy wars and fighting.

(2) the tribes and people’s race to embrace Islam.

Being so close and rather inseparable, the two phases of this stage intervene in such a way that a happening of one phase occurs during the progress of the other. However, we have preferred — for expository purposes — to deal with these two phases distinctively. The fighting phase was given the priority in order, due to the fact that it is more intimate and fit than the other.

Hunain Ghazwah

The conquest of Makkah which came forth as a consequence of a swift blow astounded both the Arabs and other tribes who realized that they were doomed and had to submit to the new situation as a fait accompli. Some of the fierce, powerful proud tribes did not submit and favoured resistance. Ahead of these were the septs of Hawazin and Thaqif. Nasr, Jashm and Sa‘d bin Bakr and people of Bani Hilal — all of whom of Qais ‘Ailan. They thought that they were too mighty to admit or surrender to such a victory. So they met Malik bin ‘Awf An-Nasri and made up their mind to proceed fighting against the Muslims.

The Enemy’s March and their Encampment at Awtas:

When Malik bin ‘Awf — the general leader — decided to march and fight the Muslims, he made his countrypeople take their wealth, women and children with them to Awtas — which is a valley in Hawazin land and is quite near Hunain. It differs from Hunain in its being adjacent to Dhi-Al-Majaz which is around ten miles from Makkah in ‘Arafat’s direction.[]

The War-experienced Man wrongs the Leader’s Judgement:

As soon as they had camped in Awtas, people crowded round Malik. The old sane Duraid bin As-Simmah, who was well-known as a war-experienced man, and who was among those who gathered round Malik, asked: "What valley are we in?" "In Awtas," they said. "What a good course it is for horses! It is neither a sharp pointed height nor a loosed soiled plain. What? Why do I hear camels’ growling, the donkeys’ braying, the children’s cries and the sheep bleating?" asked Duraid. They said: "Malik bin ‘Awf had made people bring their women, properties and children with them." So he called Malik and asked him what made him do such a thing. Malik said that his aim was to have everybody’s family and properties around them so that they fight fiercely to protect them." "I swear by Allâh that you are nothing but a shepherd," answered Duraid, "Do you believe that there is anything whatsoever, can stand in the way of a defeated one or stop him from fleeing? If you win the battle you avail nothing but a man with a sword and a spear; but if you lose you will bring disgrace on your people and properties," then he resumed his talk and went on wondering about some septs and their leaders. "O Malik, thrusting the distinguished people of Hawazin into the battlefield will avail you nothing. Raise them up to where they can be safe. Then make the young people mount their horses and fight. If you win, those whom you tarried will follow you, but if you were the loser it would be a loss of a battle, but your kinsmen, people and properties would not be lost."

But Malik, the general leader, refused this suggestion. "By Allâh," he said, "I will not do such a thing. You must have grown a senile. Hawazin have to obey me, or else I will lean my body against this sword so that it penetrates through my back." He rejected any sort of contribution of Duraid’s in that concern.

"We obey you," said his people, Duraid consequently said: "Today is a day that I have not missed but surely I will not be tempted to witness."

Reconnoitering the Weapons of the Messenger of Allâh PBUH:

The spies that Malik had already dispatched to spy Muslim forces, returned with their limbs cut off. "Woe unto you! What happened to you?" Said Malik. They said: "We have seen distinguished people on spotted horsebacks. What you see, would not have happened if we had been firmly together."

Reconnoitering the Enemy’s Weapons:

News about the enemy’s marching were conveyed to the Messenger of Allâh PBUH, so he sent out Al-Aslami with orders to mix with people, stay with them so that he would be able to know their news and to convey it to the Messenger of Allâh PBUH when he turns back. That was exactly what he managed to do.

The Messenger of Allâh PBUH leaves Makkah for Hunain:

On Shawwal, the nineteenth, the captive day, the Messenger of Allâh PBUH left Makkah accompanied by twelve thousand Muslims. Ten thousand of those had previously shared in Makkah Conquest. A great number of the other two thousand, who were Makkans, had recently embraced Islam. That march was on the nineteenth day of his conquest to Makkah. He borrowed a hundred armours with their equipment from Safwan bin Omaiyah. He appointed ‘Itab bin Usaid as a governor over Makkah. When it was evening time, a horseman came to the Messenger of Allâh PBUH and said: "I have climbed up so and so mountains and came across Hawazin with their riding camels, livestock and sheep. Hawazin wholly were gathered together there." The Messenger of Allâh PBUH smiled then and said: "They will all be Muslims’ spoils tomorrow, if Allâh will." That night Anas bin Abi Murthid Al-Ghanawi volunteered to guard.[]

On their way to Hunain they saw a great green Nabk plant, that was called Dhat-Anwat (the one with suspenders). That was because the Arabs used to hang their weapons on it, slay beasts under it and keep to it. So some of army members asked the Messenger of Allâh PBUH to make them a Nabk with suspenders as the one they had. "Allâh is the Greatest of all!" He said, "I swear by the One in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul, that you have just said what the people of Moses said to him. They said ‘Make us a god as the one they have.’ Surely you are ignorant people. These are Sunnah, but you will follow and comply with the modes of life of those who preceded you."[]

Seeing how great in number the army was, some of them said: "We shall not be defeated." Their statement sounded hard upon the Messenger of Allâh PBUH.

The Islamic Army stunned the Archers and the Attackers:

On Wednesday night the tenth of Shawwal, the Muslim army arrived at Hunain. Malik bin ‘Awf, who had previously entered the valley by night, gave orders to his army to hide inside the valley and lurk for the Muslims on roads, entrances, narrow hiding places. His orders to his men were to hurl stones at Muslims whenever they caught sight of them and then to make a one-man attack against them.

At early dawn the Messenger of Allâh PBUH started mobilizing his army and distributing posts and flags to people. In the dark and just before dawn the Muslims moved towards Hunain Valley. They started descending into it unaware of the presence of an enemy lurking for them inside the valley. So at the moment they were camping, arrows began showering intensively at them, whereas the enemy’s battalions started a fierce attack against the Muslims, who had to retreat in disorder and utter confusion. It was such a shatteringly defeat that Abu Sufyan bin Harb, who had recently embraced Islam, said that their retreat would not stop till they got to the Red Sea. Jablah or Kildah bin Al-Junaid commented on that by saying: "Surely magic has grown inactive today."

The Messenger of Allâh PBUH turned to the right and said: "Come on, people! I am the Messenger of Allâh. I am Muhammad, the son of Abdullah." Those who stoodfast by him were only few Emigrants and some of his kinsmen. The matchless bravery of the Prophet PBUH was then brought to light. He went on and on in his attempts to make his mule standfast in the face of the disbelievers while saying loudly:

• "Truly saying, I am the Prophet

I am the (grand) son of Abdul Muttalib."

However, Abu Sufyan, who was then holding the rein of the Prophet’s mule, and Al-‘Abbas, who was holding its stirrup; were endeavouring to make it halt. The Messenger of Allâh PBUH dismounted and asked his Lord to render him help.

• "O, Allâh, send down Your Help!"

Mulsims’ return to the Battlefield, and the fierceness of the Fight:

The Messenger of Allâh PBUH ordered his uncle Al-‘Abbas — who was a sonorous voiced man — to call out on the followers. As loudly as he could, Al-‘Abbas shouted: "Where are the lancers?" "By Allâh," Al-‘Abbas said, "Upon hearing my voice calling them back, they turned round to the battlefield as if they had been oryxes (wild cows) tending towards their calves."

"Here we are, at your service. Here we are."[] They said. There you see them trying to stop their camels and reverse to the battle. He who was unable to force his camel to turn back, would take his armour, fling it round his neck, and hastily dismount his camel with his weapon in his hand letting his camel move freely and run towards the voice source. Voices would grow louder and louder till a hundred of them gathered round the Prophet and resumed the fight.

Those who were called out upon next were Al-Ansar, the Helpers, "O, folks of Al-Ansar! Folks of Al-Ansar!"

The last group to be called out upon were Bani Al-Harith bin Al-Khazraj. Muslims battalions poured successively into the battlefield in the same manner that they had left it. The stamina of both parties was superb. Both of them stoodfast and fought fiercely. The Messenger of Allâh PBUH was so eagerly and furiously watching the battle that he said:

• "Now the fight has grown fierce."

Picking up a handful of earth, he hurled it at their faces while saying:

• "May your faces be shameful."

Their eyes were thick with dust and the enemy began to retreat in utter confusion.

Reverse of Fortunes and the Enemy’s utter Defeat:

Few hours had elapsed since the earth-handful was hurled at the enemy’s faces, when they were shatteringly defeated. About seventy men of Thaqif alone were killed, and the Muslims plundered all their riding camels, weapons and cattle.

Allâh, Glory is to Him, alluded to this sudden change in the Qur’ân when He said:

• "…and on the Day of Hunain (battle) when you rejoiced at your great number but it availed you naught and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight. Then Allâh did send down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquillity, and reassurance, etc.) on the Messenger (Muhammad PBUH) and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers." [9:25,26]

Hot Pursuit of the Enemy:

After their defeat, some enemy troops headed for Ta’if, others to Nakhlah and Awtas. A group of Muslims headed by Abu ‘Amir Al-Ash‘ ari, were despatched to chase the enemy, some skirmishes took place during which Abu ‘Amir was killed.

A similar battalion of horsemen pursued the idolaters who threaded the track to Nakhlah and caught up with Duraid bin As-Simmah, who was killed by Rabi‘a bin Rafi‘. After collecting the booty, the Messenger of Allâh PBUH left for Ta’if to face the greatest number of the defeated idolaters. The booty was six thousand captives, twenty four thousand camels; over forty thousand sheep and four thousand silver ounces. The Messenger of Allâh PBUH gave orders that booty should be confined at Al-J‘iranah and ordained Mas‘ud bin ‘Amr Al-Ghifari to be in charge of it. It was only when he was entirely free from Ta’if Campaign, that one of the captives As-Shaimâ’, the daughter of Al-Harith As-Sa‘diya, the Messenger’s foster sister was brought to the Messenger of Allâh PBUH, she introduced herself to him. Upon recognizing her by a certain mark, he honoured her, spread for her his garment and seated her on it. He was graceful and released her and made her turn back to her people.