The idolaters of Mecca were overcome with enormous grief following their demise at Badr. All of them had lost someone close in the battle, which only served to aggravate their insatiable desire for vengeance. Burning to settle the scores most was Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, the recently instated leader of Quraysh. Soon, they were able to prepare an army of three-thousand idolaters, all of whom were desperately aching for retribution. Goods from the caravan Abu Sufyan had managed to salvage in the lead up to the Battle of Badr were used to fund the army. Neighboring Arab tribes were also called to help.
Uhud: A Battle Underlain by Wisdom
Like Badr, the Battle of Uhud was a fierce conflict with the Meccan idolaters, which took place in the third year of Hegira, in the month of Shawwal.
The idolaters of Mecca were overcome with enormous grief following their demise at Badr. All of them had lost someone close in the battle, which only served to aggravate their insatiable desire for vengeance. Burning to settle the scores most was Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, the recently instated leader of Quraysh. Soon, they were able to prepare an army of three-thousand idolaters, all of whom were desperately aching for retribution. Goods from the caravan Abu Sufyan had managed to salvage in the lead up to the Battle of Badr were used to fund the army. Neighboring Arab tribes were also called to help.
In the meantime, Abbas, the uncle of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), informed Medina of the proceedings. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) thereupon immediately gathered the Companions to discuss whether they should remain in Medina and adopt a defensive strategy, or set out from the town as part of an offensive line of attack. The Noble Messenger (pbuh) himself wanted to go defensive.
In the end, however, compliant with the desires of the youth too young to take part in Badr, who therefore pleaded on the grounds that ‘they had been waiting for this moment all along’, and with the opinions of other warriors lead by Hamza (r.a), it was decided that they were to meet the idolaters outside of Medina in an offensive.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then entered his room and wore his armor. Meanwhile, those wanting to wage a defensive war in Medina, led by Saad ibn Muadh and Usayd ibn Khudayr, had persuaded the others, telling them they were “wrong to insist leaving Medina, when the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) wished otherwise. What he is commanded with comes from the heavens; so leave this matter to him, and do as he tells you!” (Waqidi, I, 213-214)
Without wasting time, they rushed to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and said, “We will never defy your opinion, Messenger of Allah. Do whatever you feel is right!”
But the reply was crystal clear:
“Once he has worn it, a prophet removes his armor only after the battle! You now concern yourselves with doing as I tell you to! Now let’s set out in the name of Allah! If you keep patient and stick to your duties, then Allah the Almighty will grant you victory!” (Waqidi, I, 214; Ibn Sad, II, 38)
Following the Friday salat, leaving Abdullah ibn Maqtum as deputy, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) departed Medina with a thousand man force. But with the turning back of Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief hypocrite, with his three hundred men on the way, the number was reduced to seven hundred, consequent upon which Allah, glory unto Him, revealed the following:
وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ فَبِإِذْنِ اللّٰهِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ. وَلْيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ نَافَقُواْ وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْاْ قَاتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ
أَوِ ادْفَعُواْ قَالُواْ لَوْ نَعْلَمُ قِتَالاً لاَّتَّبَعْنَاكُمْ هُمْ لِلْكُفْرِ
يَوْمَئِذٍ أَقْرَبُ مِنْهُمْ لِلإِيمَانِ يَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِهِم
مَّا لَيْسَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ وَاللّٰهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَكْتُمُونَ
“And what befell you on the day when the two armies met (at Uhud) was with Allah’s knowledge, and that He might know the believers. And that He might know the hypocrites; and it was said to them: Come, fight in Allah’s way, or defend yourselves. They said: If we knew fighting, we would certainly have followed you. They were on that day much nearer to unbelief than to belief. They say with their mouths what is not in their hearts, and Allah best knows what they conceal.” (Al Imran, 166-167)
وَإِذْ غَدَوْتَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ تُبَوِّئُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَقَاعِدَ لِلْقِتَالِ
وَاللّٰهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ. إِذْ هَمَّت طَّآئِفَتَانِ مِنكُمْ أَن تَفْشَلاَ
وَاللّٰهُ وَلِيُّهُمَا وَعَلَى اللّٰهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
“And when you did go forth early in the morning from your family to lodge the believers in encampments for war and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. When two parties from among you had determined that they should show cowardice, and Allah was the guardian of them both, and in Allah should the believers trust.” (Al Imran, 121-122)
The departure of the hypocrites from the Muslim army proved to be a blessing in disguise, as, far from weakening the army, it served to reinforce and invigorate it spiritually, by virtue of cleansing it from the double dealing, cowardly men. A possible betrayal in the heat of the battle, in hindsight, could have been more disastrous, shaking Muslim confidence.
The Companions’ Passion for Martyrdom
Amr ibn Jamuh, the leader of the Salimah clan of the Ansar, was a lame man, whose four sons used to participate in battles alongside the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Right when the Believers were about to leave Medina for Uhud, Amr expressed his desire to join, too.
“You are not obliged to go to battle”, said his sons. “Allah considers you to have a legitimate excuse. We are going in your place, anyhow.”
“You stood in the way of me entering Paradise on the day of Badr”, he responded. “Even if I survive today, by Allah, I will definitely become a martyr one day and enter Paradise!” Amr then turned to his wife:
“Do you expect me to sit with you while everyone else vies for Paradise through martyrdom?” Then grabbing his shield, he made his way out of the house towards the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh), praying, “Allah…Do not grant me a return to my family!”
He soon arrived next to the Noble Prophet (pbuh).
“My sons wish to leave me behind in Medina. They are preventing me from setting out for battle with you, whereas I, by Allah, am eager to enter Paradise in spite of my lame leg!” he said to the Messenger of Allah, who said:
“Allah has excused you. Jihad is not obligatory for you.”
“But Messenger of Allah,” replied Amr, “wouldn’t you also wish to see me fight in the way of Allah until the very end and walk to Paradise with this lame leg of mine?”
“I would”, replied the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Then turning to Amr’s sons, he said, “Withhold your father from battle no more. Perhaps Allah will grant him martyrdom!”
Amr turned to the direction of qibla.
“Allah, grant me martyrdom and do not make me return to my family deprived and grieved!” he prayed.
Ending up taking active part at Uhud, Amr was noted to have kept on saying during the battle, “Paradise, by Allah, is what I miss”. Consequently, he became a martyr along with one of his sons who was trying to protect him. Later, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said, regarding him:
“By Allah, in whose Hand of Might my life resides, I saw Amr limping in Paradise.” (Waqidi, I, 264-265; Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, IV, 208)
Inspecting the army just before their march to Uhud, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was refusing to admit those who were too young to take part. Among those deemed too young were Samurah ibn Jundab and Rafi ibn Hadij. Zuhayr ibn Rafi intervened on Rafi’s behalf, stating, “Rafi is a skillful archer, Messenger of Allah!” The rest is explained by Rafi himself:
“I was standing on my toes in order to look tall. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) eventually allowed me to remain. Hearing that, Samurah said to Muray ibn Sinan, his foster father, ‘The Messenger of Allah has given Rafi permission to stay and told me to return, yet I am a better wrestler than Rafi!’ So Muray (r.a) told this to the Messenger of Allah, who, then looked at both Samurah and I, and told us to lock arms in wrestling. We wrestled and Samurah beat me. As a result, he was allowed to remain, too. (Tabari, Tarih, II, 505-506; Waqidi, I, 216)
Upon reaching Uhud, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) took Mount Uhud behind his army of Believers and placed fifty archers on Aynayn Hill fifty in case the enemy would attempt an incursion through the valley in between. He designated Abdullah ibn Jubayr as their commander, and stressed them to, “…cover our backs and regardless of an enemy win or loss, do not leave your place before I tell you to!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 10; Ahmad, I, 288)
As was custom, the Battle, again, got under way with a one on one challenge, a mubaraza. It only took one swift strike for Ali (r.a) to take care of the idolaters’ flagbearer, Talha. His brother Othman, who took the Quraysh flag after Talha, did not trouble Hamza (r.a). Neither did their third flagbearer cause much worry for Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (r.a).
The Battle then began with all its intensity. Right before the ferocity of the battle reached its highest pitch, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), holding aloft a sword in his hand, inscribed on which were the words, “There is shame and disgrace in cowardice, while honor and dignity in courage”, asked:
“Who is willing to take this from me?”
The Companions all put their hands up, competing for the coveted sword.
“Who will take this sword from me in return for paying its due?” then asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), after which they began feeling a little uneasy about taking it. But Abu Dujanah (r.a), from the Ansar, asked:
“What is its due, Messenger of Allah?”
“…for you to fight with the enemy until it becomes bent and twisted!” said the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“I will take it and I promise to pay its due!” said Abu Dujanah.
Taking the sword and with a red turban around his head, Abu Dujanah (r.a) began swaggering amid the ranks, with a seeming look of arrogance. Seeing his boastful demeanor, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) remarked, “That is the kind of walk Allah hates, except in situations like this!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 11-12; Waqidi, I, 259; Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 128)
Just before the Battle, Muhayriq, a Jewish scholar, accepted Islam. He very well knew that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) perfectly corresponded with the attributes disclosed in the Torah; yet he could not make a clear breast of it until the day of Uhud. As the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was leaving for Uhud, with the Companions behind him, Muhayriq snapped at his fellow Jews:
“I am certain that you are very well aware of Muhammad being a prophet and that you are obliged to help him!”
The Jews were sarcastic:
“Today is Saturday…We cannot do anything!”
“There is no such thing as Saturday for you!” answered angrily Muhayriq, as he grabbed his sword and what else he may need. Before leaving, he left the following message to one of his relatives:
“If I am killed today, Muhammad is to take all my inheritance. He will make use of it in the best possible way as shown by Allah.” It did turn out to be his will, as he was martyred at Uhud. The date garden he left behind was taken by the Noble Messenger (pbuh) and made into a waqf. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) complemented him with the words:
“Muhayriq is the best of Jews!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 38; Waqidi, I, 263; Ibn Sad, I, 501-503)
Amazing scenes followed one after the other at Uhud.
A Medinan by the name of Quzman after having killed seven idolaters in the Battle died as a result of a fatal wound. In spite of this, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) declared:
“Quzman is Hell bound.” This was for no other reason than when congratulated, by Qatadah ibn Numan, during his final breaths, over the blessing of being martyred in the way of Allah, glory unto Him, Quzman had replied:
“I fought for my tribe, not for martyrdom”, after which he pushed his weight onto his sword and committed suicide. (Waqidi, I, 263)
In contrast, Usayram, who later felt remorse over his initially stern opposition to his people’s decision to enter Islam, came to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) armed from head to toe, and asked:
“Should I join you in the Battle or first accept Islam?”
“Accept Islam then join us”, responded the Noble Messenger (pbuh), whereupon Usayram became a Muslim, before a battle which was to see him fall martyr. Regarding Usayram, the Blessed Prophet said, “He worked little, but gained a lot!” (Bukhari, Jihad, 13; Muslim, Imarah, 144)
His final words to the curious onlookers, as he lay among the wounded, were, “I only came for Islam, fought in the way of Allah and His Messenger; and I lay wounded as a consequence.”
Abu Hurayrah (r.a) later subjected him to a riddle where he would ask other Companions to tell him “the person who entered Paradise without offering salat even once in his life.” It was, of course, none other than Amr ibn Thabit, better known as Usayram. (Ibn Hisham, III, 39-40; Waqidi, I, 262)
During the Battle, Abdullah ibn Jahsh’s (r.ha) sword was broken. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) gave him a date branch in its place, which, in Abdullah’s hands, turned into a sword. Abdullah (r.a) used the sword until he was martyred. Called Urjun, while with the inheritors of Abdullah (r.a), the sword was later purchased by a Turkish chieftain for two-hundred dinars.
The Muslim onslaught of never before seen enthusiasm brought victory in a short amount of time; the idolaters, despite an evident superiority of numbers and weaponry, began to flee. Pursuing the idolaters for some time, the Muslims, beginning to feel certain that battle was now well and truly won, left the chase and instead turned towards collecting the wealth of spoils the idolaters had left behind in concern for their lives. Not only that, even a bulk of the archers, despite being desperately reminded of the Prophet’s (pbuh) instructions against leaving the hill until they were told, left their positions in pursuit of spoils. Only Abdullah, the commander of the archers, and seven others were left standing on Aynayn Hill.
That proved to be the turning point. Khalid ibn Walid, the shrewd commander of the enemies, had now found the opportunity he had been waiting for with his cavalrymen all along. In a swift raid around the back of the hill, they were able martyr the eight archers left high and dry on the hill, who could not stand the ferocity of the incursion. The ferocity would soon extend to the entire battlefield; the Believers busy with collecting the spoils were awoken to a brutal raid behind them, made worse moments later when the fleeing idolaters took notice of the turn of the tide and ran back to the battlefield to complete the ambush. The Muslim Army was now wedged in a crossfire. They found themselves in a chaotic frenzy.
Hamza the King of All Martyrs
The swing of fortune towards the way of Quraysh saw the martyring of Hamza (r.a), the gallant warrior of Islam running to and fro in the ranks, by the spear of Wahshi. Still a slave, Wahshi had executed the task only to gain the freedom promised him by Hind. Burning inside with malicious feelings of vengeance for a while now, Hind was brutal enough to take out Hamza’s liver and dig her teeth into it. She was thus labeled akilat’ul-akbad, the liver eater.
The fall of Hamza (r.a) sent the Muslim ranks into a wave of mourning. Already in turmoil, the Muslims now entirely disintegrated, a scene described by the Almighty in the following:
وَلَقَدْ صَدَقَكُمُ اللّٰهُ وَعْدَهُ إِذْ تَحُسُّونَهُم بِإِذْنِهِ حَتَّى إِذَا فَشِلْتُمْ وَتَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ وَعَصَيْتُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا أَرَاكُم مَّا تُحِبُّونَ مِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ الدُّنْيَا وَمِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ الآخِرَةَ ثُمَّ صَرَفَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ لِيَبْتَلِيَكُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا عَنكُمْ وَاللّٰهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“And certainly Allah made good to you His promise when you slew them by His permission, until when you became weak-hearted and disputed about the affair and disobeyed after He had shown you that which you loved; of you were some who desired this world and of you were some who desired the hereafter; then He turned you away from them that He might try you; and He has certainly pardoned you, and Allah is Gracious to the believers.” (Al Imran, 152)
Allah, glory unto Him, admonishes the archers who deserted their spots, referring to them as ‘desiring the world’, praising at the same time those who stood their grounds, referring to them as ‘desiring the Hereafter.’
The idolaters, that day, martyred many Muslims. A group of them even undertook an onslaught that only had the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) in mind and not long after, attacks targeting the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) became more frequent. Talha ibn Ubaydullah (r.ha) says:
“When the Companions disintegrated, the idolaters mounted an onslaught and surrounded the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from all sides; so much that I did not know whether to defend him from the front, the back, the left or the right. So I swung my sword both to the front and the back, relentlessly, until they ultimately withdrew.” (Waqidi, I, 254)
Malik Ibn Zuhayr, the idolaters’ sharpshooter, shot an arrow at the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Instantaneously realizing that the arrow would collect the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Talha ibn Ubaydullah (r.a) stuck out his hand. Piercing his finger, the blow ended up leaving Talha crippled.
Certain Companions of both the Ansar and Muhajirun encircled the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), vowing to defend him until death, to be human shields in protecting his life and never to leave his side. (Ibn Sad, II, 45; Waqidi, I, 240)
Abu Talha (r.a) was a powerful archer, who could put great force behind his arrows. Two or three bows were smashed through the sheer force of his arms that day. Whoever he saw pass by him with a bag of arrows, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was telling them to:
“Empty the bag next to Abu Talha!” Each time the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would raise his head to catch a glimpse of the idolaters who had them ambushed from behind, Abu Talha (r.a) would plea:
“May my parents be sacrificed in your way, Messenger of Allah; do not lift your head, for an arrow flung by the idolaters might strike you. Allow my body to act as your shield…Let whatever is bound for you, strike me instead!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 18)
To protect the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Qatadah ibn Numan (r.ha) stood in front of him and shot arrows at the idolaters until his bow was disfigured. More still, in the process he was struck with an arrow right in his eye; his eyeball began to slide down his cheek. Moved, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) took Qatadah’s eyeball and inserted it back in its place. That eye, thereafter, had a clearer vision and looked distinctively better than his other eye.
The female Companion Umm Umarah (r.ha) is among those who gallantly repelled the enemy with her bow and arrows. Upon returning to Medina after the Battle, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) is known to have stated:
“Whenever I looked to my left and right during the Battle, I saw Umm Umarah fight alongside me.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 479)
Heartened by the many praises and prayers the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said with regard to her, Umm Umarah furthermore insisted him to:
“…pray Allah so we can be your neighbors in Paradise!”
So the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) prayed, “Allah…make them my neighbors and friends in Paradise!” Excited, Umm Umarah (r.ha) then said, “I could not care less, from now, whatever kind of troubles were to come to me in this life!” (Waqidi, I, 273; Ibn Sad, VIII, 415)
At the heat of the Battle, during one of the violent attacks aimed at the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), Utbah, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas’ (r.ha) idolater brother, threw a rock at the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). The impact sent two loops from the Prophet’s (pbuh) helmet flying forth, piercing through his cheek and breaking his tooth; an incident that shook the earth and heavens. To make matters worse, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) fell into a ditch dug by the sordid Abu Amir to ensnare the Believers. Ali (r.a) took the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) from one hand, Talha ibn Ubaydullah (r.ha) from the other and they pulled him out of the ditch. Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah (r.ha) pulled out one of the loops that had punctured the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) cheek, with his teeth, and in the process broke one of his own front tooth. In pulling out the other loop, he broke yet another. That sight was enough to depress and demoralize the entire Companions, even the angels. The Companions were deeply hurt in witnessing something so difficult to bear, and urged the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to:
“…curse the idolaters of Quraysh!”
But the Noble Prophet (pbuh) replied:
“I have not been sent as a curser, but as a mercy and an inviter to the path of truth. Allah…Guide my tribe for they do not know!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 24; Haythami, VI, 117; Waqidi, I, 244-247; Qadi Iyad, I, 95)
The moment he became wounded, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) remarked:
“Allah has become very angry with the people who have wounded the face of His Messenger!”
Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (r.ha) has said:
“By Allah, the moment I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say those words, I never felt greater anger, neither before nor after, in wanting to kill my brother Utbah for what he had done.”
Saad (r.a), in fact, repeatedly did break through the enemy ranks vying for his brother’s blood, only to be prevented by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) from carrying the execution through.
Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (r.ha) was meanwhile showering the idolaters in arrows, with the Noble Prophet (pbuh) persistently encouraging him with the words, “Shoot your arrows, Saad; may my parents be sacrificed for you!” Ali (r.a) who had witnessed the scene, later on remarked:
“I have never heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘may my parents be sacrificed for you’, for anyone, except for Saad.” (Tirmidhi, Adab, 61, Manaqib, 26; Ahmad, I, 92)
Even amid this whirlwind of turmoil, relying on the Almighty with an irrepressible fortitude of iman, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was, on the one hand, wiping the blood of his face, and on the other, seeking refuge in Allah, glory unto Him, was continuing to pray:
“Allah…My people are ignorant; they do not know what they are doing…Guide them!”
Sahl ibn Saad (r.a) recounts:
“When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) became wounded at Uhud, Fatimah (r.ha) began to wash the blood of his face, while Ali (r.a) was pouring water for her. Seeing that the water was only increasing the blood flow all the more, Fatimah (r.ha) got hold of a piece of cane, burnt it until it turned into ash, and then began to dress the wound. The blood eventually stopped.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 80; Maghazi, 24; Muslim, Jihad, 101)
The Battle of Uhud thus became a stage for scenes of such sorrow. The upper hand the Believers had at the outset had switched over to the idolaters, for defying the instructions they were given. Only fourteen people remained around the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). To the others, who had now found themselves in a deep state of panic, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) began calling out:
“Servants of Allah…! Come to me, I am the Messenger of Allah!” (Waqidi, I, 237)
The Quran presents a picture of the scene in the following words:
إِذْ تُصْعِدُونَ وَلاَ تَلْوُونَ عَلَى أحَدٍ وَالرَّسُولُ يَدْعُوكُمْ فِي أُخْرَاكُمْ فَأَثَابَكُمْ غُمَّاً بِغَمٍّ لِّكَيْلاَ تَحْزَنُواْ عَلَى مَا فَاتَكُمْ
وَلاَ مَا أَصَابَكُمْ وَاللّٰهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“When you climbed (the hill) and paid no heed to anyone, while the messenger, in your rear, was calling you (to fight). Therefor He rewarded you grief for (his) grief, that (He might teach) you not to sorrow either for that which ye missed or for that which befell you. Allah is Informed of what you do.” (Al-i Imran, 153)
Another portion of Muslims, who had heard the fast spreading rumor that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was martyred, were rattled to their marrows; such that some of them, thinking ‘…there was no point in remaining especially after even the Prophet of Allah was martyred’, began leaving the field. They only had the protection of Medina in mind as they were turning back, though they were nonetheless dissuaded from doing so by the women of Medina.
Another group, thinking ‘…even if the Messenger of Allah is dead, Allah is immortal’, lost none of their composure and continued fighting. One certain Companion belonging to this group was Anas ibn Nadr (r.a), the uncle of the more renowned Anas ibn Malik. After receiving the horrible rumor that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), too, had been martyred, from certain Muslims, who had given up all hope, not knowing what to do in a state of utter despair, Anas ibn Nadr (r.a) shouted the following words, personifying the immense fortitude and reliance in Allah he had deep inside:
“What is the point of living after the Messenger of Allah? Come on, fight like him and be martyred!” He then plunged towards the idolaters, moments after which, inflicted with over eighty wounds, he ended up a martyr. (Ahmad, III, 253; Ibn Hisham, III, 31)
Anas (r.a) explains the following:
“My uncle Anas ibn Nadr could not take part at Badr, something he found very hard to cope with. He even told the Messenger of Allah that ‘…Allah will surely see what I will do if granted opportunity to fight in a battle against the idolaters!’
So he took part in Uhud. Once the Muslims began to disintegrate, implying his fellow Believers, he said, ‘O my Lord! I apologize to You on their behalf’; and implying the idolaters, he said, ‘…and I am distant from what they are doing, Allah’. He then advanced forward and came across Saad ibn Muadh, to whom he remarked, ‘Paradise is what I am after, Saad; and by the Lord of the Kaabah I can smell its scent coming from the skirts of Uhud!’
Later, when recounting the incident to the Messenger of Allah, Saad confessed:
‘I was not able to do what he did!’
We eventually found our uncle martyred. His body carried over eighty sword, spear and arrow wounds. The idolaters had mutilated their body. Many of his parts were missing, for which reason nobody could identify him at first. Only his sister was able to, and that from his fingertips. This ayah was revealed in celebration of my uncle and those alike:
‘Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least.’ (al-Ahzab, 23)” (Bukhari, Jihad, 12; Muslim, Imarah, 148)
An overwhelming majority of those, who began fleeing from the battlefield once the tide of victory turned, had the intention continuing the battle away from the field. Allah, glory unto Him, addressed them in the following:
وَلَقَدْ كُنتُمْ تَمَنَّوْنَ الْمَوْتَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن
تَلْقَوْهُ فَقَدْ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
“And certainly you desired death before you met it, so indeed you have seen it and you look (at it).” (Al-i Imran, 143)
Those, who despite assuring they were ready to die, turned away after hearing the unfounded rumors of the death of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), were more sternly rebuked by the Almighty:
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلاَّ رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىَ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن
يَضُرَّ اللّٰهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللّٰهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ
“And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful.” (Al-i Imran, 144)
In defiance of all the adversities, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) unwaveringly stood his ground like the North Star and resisted the onslaught with a prophetic resolution; a heroic courage that set an exemplary pattern for his Companions, in virtual echo of the words of the Almighty:
وَلاَ تَهِنُوا وَلاَ تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنتُمُ الأَعْلَوْنَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِين.
إِن يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ وَتِلْكَ
الأيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللّٰهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا
ْ وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنكُمْ شُهَدَاء وَاللّٰهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ
“Faint not nor grieve, for you will overcome them if ye are (indeed) believers. If you have received a blow, the (disbelieving) people have received a blow the like thereof. These are (only) the vicissitudes which We cause to follow one another for mankind, to the end that Allah may know those who believe and may choose witnesses from among you; and Allah loveth not wrong-doers.” (Al-i Imran, 139-140)
By the grace and mercy Allah, glory unto Him, extended to His Messenger and His Believers, in spite of all the turmoil that emerged on the day of Uhud, the idolaters could not reach their aim. The Companions, in the meantime, began regrouping around the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and warded off the idolater assault, protecting the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) with an epic defense, soon inflicting the idolaters with great casualties as before. Taking advantage of the regained stability, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) retreated to Mount Uhud. Although Abu Sufyan, this time tried to mount an offensive from the upper end of the mountain, his effort proved fruitless.
At that very frightful moment, the Almighty overtook the Believers with a calmed feeling of drowsiness and they soon found themselves dosing off, on the spot, into a peaceful sleep. They were hardly managing to even keep a grip on their swords, repeatedly dropping them on the ground. Only the Muslims were overcome with sleep; the few doubting hypocrites among them could not blink an eye, faltering from one state of fear into another, terrified that the idolaters would then come and put them to the sword.
There was a brief war of words, at one stage, between Abu Sufyan and Omar (r.a). Making a move to withdraw afterwards, Abu Sufyan, disgruntled at not having achieved the decisive result he had wished for, shouted:
“Let’s meet again next year at Badr!”
Omar (r.a) waited to see what kind of a response the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would give. He then told Omar (r.a) to say, “Allah willing, that shall be our meeting place next year!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 45; Ibn Sad, II, 59)
The idolaters were turning back for no other reason than that the seeds of fear had, once again, crept up their spines. One of the miracles the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was blessed with, after all, was that he would cast fear into the hearts of the enemy, regardless of the extent of their distance away from him. Allah, glory unto Him, says:
سَنُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ الرُّعْبَ بِمَا أَشْرَكُواْ بِاللّٰهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ وَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الظَّالِمِينَ
“We will cast fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they set up with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority and their abode is the fire, and evil is the abode of the unjust.” (Al-i Imran, 151)
Thus the idolaters, affected by the fear cast into their hearts, could not even dare to invade the defenseless Medina, in spite of the temporary upper hand they enjoyed against the Believers. Moreover, they were returning with not even a single Muslim captive. This was surely a blessing of Allah, glory unto Him, upon His Messenger and the Believers.
As the idolaters were retreating from Uhud, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) commanded the Muslims to line up in rows, so he could ‘…praise and pray to Allah.’
The Companions lined up in rows behind the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), who then prayed:
“Allah…All thanks and praises are for you! Allah…There is nobody to constrict what you have extended and prospered and nobody to extend and prosper what you have constricted! There is nobody to straighten what you have deviated and deviate who you have guided! There is nobody to give what you have withheld, and prevent what you have given! There is nobody to bring near what you have banished, and banished what you have brought near!
O my Lord! Sprinkle us with Your mercy and abundance, Your grace and benevolence! O my Lord! I ask from You eternal blessings that will never change and wither away! O my Lord! I wish from You blessings in the day of poverty and security in the day of fear! O my Lord! I seek refuge in You from the evils of both what You give and what You have not given!
O my Lord! Endear iman to us; adorn our hearts with it! Make us hate kufr, transgression and rebellion! Render us among those who know what is beneficial for Here and the Hereafter, those who have been guided to the right path!
O my Lord! Take our lives as Muslims and make us live as Muslims! Incorporate us into the group of the righteous, without us loosing our honor and dignity and becoming subject to tribulation!
O my Lord! Crush the nonbelievers who deny Your prophets and distract people from Your path! Engulf them in Your tribulation and punishment! O my Lord! Crush the nonbelievers whom You have given Books, too! The Lord…who is the True and the Real…Amin!” (Ahmad, III, 424; Hakim, I, 686-687/1868; III, 26/4308)
Saad ibn Rabi’: The Companion who closed the Door of Excuse
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent a companion of his to the battlefield in hope of finding out the whereabouts of Saad ibn Rabi’. No matter how thoroughly he searched, the Companion could not find Saad ibn Rabi’. All his shouts returned unreplied. Losing hope, he called out one last time:
“Saad! I have been sent by the Messenger of Allah to see if you were among the alive or the martyrs!”
Meanwhile, living his final moments and without the least energy to respond, hearing it was the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) himself who was curious as to his wellbeing, Saad gathered all his remaining energy, and replied, with a frail moan:
“I am now among the dead!” Evidently, he was now gazing at beyond. The Companion ran towards Saad (r.a). His body vividly exhibited countless sword wounds. Saad had one last stock of energy to whisper the incredible words below:
“By Allah, so long as your eyes are moving, if you do not protect the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from his enemies and allow something bad to happen to him, you have no excuse that you shall put forth in Divine Sight!” (Muwatta, Jihad, 41; Hakim, III, 221/4906; Ibn Hisham, III, 47)
Saad ibn Rabi’ (r.a) bade farewell to the life of the world after bequeathing these words, a legacy for the whole ummah to uphold.
The Martyrs of Uhud
Once the idolaters left the field of Uhud in their entirety, the Prophet (pbuh) and the Believers descended to the field to bury their martyrs. There were exactly seventy of them, including the fearless Hamza and Musab ibn Umayr (r.huma).
Musab ibn Umayr (r.a), the flagbearer of the Muslim army, was martyred while trying to defend the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). An angel, thereupon, assumed the appearance of Musab and seized the flag; and the Noble Prophet (pbuh), not yet aware of the fact that Musab was martyred, commanded him to:
“Advance, Musab, advance!”
The flagbearer, then, turned around and threw a glance at the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), who, recognizing the angel, realized Musab had been martyred. Though his body was later found, the Believers could not get hold of a large enough shroud to cover his corpse. (Ibn Sad, III, 121-122)
Covering his upper body with the clothes he had on, meant his lower body was exposed; and covering his lower body, left his upper body out in the open. So the Companions resorted to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to determine how they were to take care of his corpse. The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) advised them to cover Musab’s upper body using his clothes and to use nice smelling weeds for his lower body.
In retrospect, Musab was born to one of the noblest and richest families of Mecca. Almost the entire youth of Mecca were envious of him. It is even said that girls would sprinkle roses on his path. But he, in spite of all the pressures of his family, chose to be by the side of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), brushing aside all their worldly fortunes. It was a homage to the immense passion with which was he attached to the Noble Prophet (pbuh) that an angel assumed his appearance as he lay martyred on the field of Uhud. It was a tribute, by the Almighty, for all the sacrifices Musab had made.
This moving scene made a long-lasting and profound impact on Muslim hearts. Years later, when the Muslims had strength and reigned sovereign, a few different kinds of dishes was brought in front of Abdurrahman ibn Awf (r.a), among the wealthier Companions, by his son, to break his fast. Becoming emotional, however, he said:
“Musab was martyred at the Battle of Uhud. He was more virtuous than I. But as a shroud, he had only a mantle. If we were to cover his head with it, his legs would lay bare; and his head, if we covered his legs. Then afterward, we were given all the riches of the world…and I fear we have been rewarded for all our deeds on Earth.” Abdurrahman (r.a) then broke down in tears and left the food without touching it. (Bukhari, Janaiz, 27)
Among all the martyrs of Uhud, it was Hamza (r.a), the outstanding hero of the Muslim Army that sent the hearts of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and Believers into the most unspeakable grief.
Safiyya (r.ha) rushed towards the martyrs to identify her brother Hamza (r.a). She was met by her son Zubayr ibn Awwam (r.a).
“The Messenger of Allah commands you to return”, he told her.
“Why?” she exclaimed. “So I don’t see my brother? I have already heard he has been butchered. But he has been inflicted with this, only for the sake of Allah. Nothing short would have consoled us, anyway. Inshallah I shall bear patient and anticipate its rewards from Allah.”
Zubayr went to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and conveyed to him the words of his mother.
“Then, allow her to see him!” the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) then said. Safiyya proceeded to stand and pray next to Hamza’s corpse. (Ibn Hisham, III, 48; Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 349)
Zubayr ibn Awwam (r.a) narrates what unfolded thereafter in an emotional scene, exemplary of Muslim brotherhood.
“My mother took out the two mantles she had brought with her and said, ‘I have brought these so you can use them as shrouds for Hamza.’ So we got the mantles and returned next to Hamza’s corpse. Next to him, however, was another martyr, from the Ansar, without a shroud. We felt ashamed to wrap both mantles around Hamza at the expense of leaving the Ansari shroudless, so we decided to shroud them with one mantle each. But because one mantle was bigger than the other, we drew lots to decide between them.” (Ahmad, I, 165)
This emotional account verifies that feelings of kinship had well and truly made way for the brotherhood of iman.
Nine martyrs, at a time, were brought next to the corpse of Hamza (r.a), and buried after their funeral salat, with Hamza (r.a) remaining for another nine to be brought. That way, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) eventually offered multiple funeral salats for his beloved uncle, the king of martyrs.
According to the report of Jabir (r.a), the Noble Messenger (pbuh) brought the martyrs of Uhud together in pairs, placing to the qibla side of the grave whichever one of them knew and lived a more enhanced Quranic way of life. (Bukhari, Janaiz, 73, 75)
To gather news from Uhud, Aisha (r.ha) set out from Medina with a group of women. Near Harra, she came upon the righteous Hind bint Amr (r.ha), who, having loaded a camel with the corpses of her husband Amr ibn Jamuh, her son Khallad and brother Abdullah, was making her way back to Medina.
“What is the latest at Uhud?” Aisha (r.ha) asked her anxiously.
“All is well”, she replied. “The Messenger of Allah is alive and well. Nothing else matters!”
“Who are they?” then asked Aisha (r.ha), pointing to the corpses on camelback.
“My husband Amr, my brother Abdullah and my son Khallad”, replied the righteous Hind.
“Where are you taking them?”
“…To Medina, where I shall bury them.” Hind then tried spurring the camel, which was beginning to lose pace, to advance, but the camel came to a complete halt and crouched.
“Is it because it has too much to carry?” asked Aisha (r.ha).
“I do not know. It is odd for normally it is able to carry twice as much as any other. It seems something strange has come over it now!”
Forced to get back up, the camel rose, only to crouch back down once made to turn to the direction of Medina. When steered towards Uhud, however, the camel began to gallop. Hind informed the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) of the situation, seeking advice.
“The camel is on duty. Did Amr leave a will at all?”
“Just before Amr left for Uhud”, she explained, “he turned to qibla and prayed, ‘Allah, grant me martyrdom; do not make me return to my family deprived and grieved.’”
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thereupon stated, “That is why the camel does not proceed. Whoever from among you, Ansar, has made a vow to Allah, should stick by his word. Your husband Amr is among the righteous, Hind. From the moment he was martyred, angels shaded him under their wings and looked for the best place to bury him. Your husband Amr, your son Khallad and your brother Abdullah shall unite in Paradise as friends.”
Upon hearing these words, desiring to be together again in the eternal life with her righteous husband Amr, Hind insisted:
“Please, Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah so I am united with them, too.” (Waqidi, I, 264-265; Ibn Hajar, Fath’ul-Bari, III, 216; Ibn Abdilbarr, III, 1168)
There was yet another stirring scene.
On the Day of Uhud, Medina trembled with the news that the Prophet (pbuh) had been martyred. Panic broke loose as screams reached the Heavens. Such that despite being told that her husband, two sons, father and brother had been martyred on the battlefield, Sumayra (r.ha), an Ansari woman, remained indifferent, concerned only to be comforted with the news of the Blessed Prophet’s wellbeing, as she continuously kept on asking:
“Is he all right?”
She eventually got the reply she was hoping for, from the incoming Companions:
“Yes. Alhamdulillah he is alive and well!”
But Sumayra (r.ha) was little contented.
“Show him to me so my heart rests at ease”, she implored. When they did, she rushed to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), and holding him by the edge of his shirt, exclaimed:
“May my parents be sacrificed for you, Messenger of Allah… I have nothing to worry about so long as you’re alive!” (Waqidi, I, 292; Haythami, VI, 115)
Recounting the following is Bashir ibn Aqrabah (r.a):
“Upon finding out that my father Aqrabah was martyred at Uhud, (still a child) I went to the Messenger of Allah, in tears. ‘Why do you cry my dear?’ he said. ‘Would not you want me as your father and Aisha as your mother?’
‘May my parents be sacrificed for you, Messenger of Allah; of course I would’, I replied. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) caressed my head. And to this day, even though my hair has become all gray, the spot touched by the Messenger of Allah still remains black.” (Bukhari, at-Tarikh’ul-Kabir, II, 78; Ali al-Muttaqi, XIII, 298/36862)
Another scene bearing out the Companions’ thrill of prospective martyrdom is given below by Jabir (r.a):
“The night before Uhud, my father called me next to him and said, ‘I have a feeling I might just be the first martyr, tomorrow, among the Companions of the Messenger of Allah. Apart from the Messenger of Allah, you are the dearest person I will be leaving behind in this life. I have debts; pay them off. Always treat you siblings with great care!’
As it turned out, my father was indeed the first to be martyred at Uhud. I placed him in a grave with another martyr. Later on, I wanted to bury him in a separate place. So six months later, I unearthed him; and behold, his entire body, except for a portion of his ear, was in the same condition as I had placed him. I went ahead and place him in a separate grave.” (Bukhari, Janaiz, 78)
Once, when the martyrs of Uhud were mentioned, in underlining the ranks of those gallant martyrs the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) remarked:
“By Allah, how I also would have loved to have fallen martyr and spent each night beneath Mount Uhud!” (Ahmad, III, 375)
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh), during another of his visits to the martyrs of Uhud, avowed:
“I am witness to their iman and integrity!”
“Are not we their brothers, Messenger of Allah?” asked Abu Bakr (r.a). “We became Muslim, just the way they did, and undertook jihad, in the same manner as them.”
“That is true”, replied the Blessed Prophet, “but I do not know of the kind of innovations you might produce after me.”
Abu Bakr (r.a) grieved and cried at length, asking, “So we are still to remain after you?” (Muwatta, Jihad, 32)
Abu Bakr’s (r.a) concern testifies to his intense love for the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and shows why he has been labeled by the Holy Quran as ‘the second of the two, the third of who is Allah’.
The Companions loved the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) more than anyone else, including themselves. While, say, sitting at home and they suddenly began to think about the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), they would no longer be able to remain there; the place would feel too constricted. Instead, they would immediately get up and rush to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), in order to find satisfaction in his beautiful presence, and peace in his talk. Given they could not see him, they could hardly be contained. The fear of falling distant from him in Paradise was more than enough to make them pale and take their consciousness away. In fact, all Rabia (r.ha) could wish for, when insisted by the Blessed Prophet to ask something from him, was the wish to be with him in Paradise. In their final moments, the Companions used to feel an enormous satisfaction to be reuniting with the Blessed Prophet. Such was the reason that their greatest reason for joy, second only to Islam, was the hadith, “One is with whom he loves.”
Sixty ayat of Al-i Imran are about the Battle of Uhud. When asked by Miswar ibn Mahramah to recap the Battle, Abdurrahman ibn Awf (r.a), replied:
“Recite from the 120th ayah of Al-i Imran onward and it will be as if you were with us at Uhud!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 58; Waqidi, I, 319)
We Love Uhud and Uhud Loves Us
Uhud occupied a special place in the heart of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Throughout his remaining years, he frequently visited both Uhud and the martyrs buried there, commenting, from time to time:
“We love Uhud and Uhud loves us!” (Bukhari, Jihad, 71; Muslim, Hajj, 504)
Consecrated with these words of compliment by the Noble Messenger (pbuh), soaked up with the Prophet’s (pbuh) love, Uhud, the haven of martyrs, has gained prominence as a generous and vivid exhibition of the memories of the Battle, for the entire ummah to come until the Final Hour.
It was because of a wariness that Uhud might come to be regarded a place of bad luck among Muslims as a result of the Battle and perhaps to thwart feelings of enmity for Uhud before they ever developed that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) expressed his love for the place by saying, ‘we love Uhud and Uhud loves us.’ Thanks to the grace of the Prophet’s love, Uhud has not been considered a site of defeat, but a shrine boasting in its depths the living corpses of the celebrated heroes of Uhud.
On the other hand, that Uhud recognizes and loves the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) provides clear evidence in support of the fact that the entire creation, in fact, knows and affirms his prophethood. The Noble Messenger (pbuh) has in fact stated:
“Except for the rebellious among the jinn and humans, everything between the earth and the skies knows that I am the Messenger of Allah.” (Ahmad, III, 310)
Lessons of Wisdom to be drawn from the Battle of Uhud
An enormous level of maturity was demanded from the Believers during the Battle of Uhud, in responding prudently to the tremendous agony they were made to experience after the momentum shifted to the side of Quraysh. Once their brilliant initial display of trust in Allah, commitment and patience dwindled away in a moment’s lapse and a love of the world, the Believers were forced to undergo painful and bitter experiences.
Neglect in properly carrying out the command of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) changed the destiny of the Battle in the blink of an eye; victory was suspended, making way for clear manifestations of Divine warning. The entire Believers paid the price for the mistake of a few, finding themselves amid an almost irreversible routing. Such is sunnatullah, or the Law of Allah. That His Beloved Messenger was among the Believers could do little to alter it.
Yet, the Companions were in a state of unconditional obedience to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) as confirmed by their words of trust: “We have believed you, Messenger of Allah…we have sincere faith in the truth of the Quran that you have brought, and we vow to obey and follow you. Do as you wish; just command us and we will be by your side. For the sake of the One who has sent you, even if you were to plunge into sea, we will follow and not even a single one of us will lag behind!” (Ibn Hisham, II, 253-254). This was the peak of sincere enthusiasm.
The Divine tribulation at Uhud carried the impetus of sending out a warning to the Believers, over their momentary ignorance regarding certain sensitive and significant responsibilities.
One of the greatest wisdoms underlying the ordeal of Uhud was to cleanse the Believers of the hypocrites that had mixed into their ranks.
Equally, Uhud instilled the idolaters of Quraysh a false sense of a victory that was to carry no practical import, and thus reduced them to a state of immobility. The false victory toned down the hate and anger that had accumulated in the hearts of idolaters since their defeat at Badr, gradually reducing, over time, their coldness towards Islam.
It is striking to see the Companions, from their youngest to their eldest, virtually compete with each other to participate in the Battle and fall martyr. Fifteen year old kids were resorting to all means possible just to be part of the Prophet’s (pbuh) army. The secret behind them running to death lay in the fullness of their hearts with iman and their deep love for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the reason for the existence of the universe. Whenever iman unites with love, there is to be found all kinds of otherwise unthinkable feats of bravery; and wherever that unity is nowhere to be found, there arises laziness, indecision and fear. The way to enhancing this love is to increase dhikr, and salawat for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), to contemplate the blessings of the Allah, glory unto Him, and to engage in a struggle to wholeheartedly adopt the ways of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).
That the Light of Being (pbuh) was wounded at Uhud, which lead to the circulation of the rumor that he had been martyred, carries a fundamental lesson for the Believers. They were subjected to a test of iman and will. Their hearts were effectively prepared, from beforehand, for the truth that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), too, was after all a human being who was to return to the presence of his Lord when the time came, and that they needed to stick to the path shown by him and not turn back on their heels after his passing away.
Abounding in such meaning laden lessons, the Battle of Uhud also taught the road to triumph, and the way to avert the danger of disorder and defeat.
Hamra’ul-Asad (8 Shawwal, 3 / 24 March 625)
The idolaters had immediately set out on the road back to Mecca, trembling with a fear cast into their hearts that did not allow them to even think twice about returning home. Coming to their senses on the way, however, the idolaters begun feeling somewhat resentful at not having finished off the Believers. So they decided to return for a second onslaught.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), who had in the meantime arrived at Medina, felt a similar need to intimidate the idolaters, at the exact time in which the Almighty revealed the ayah advising against being lax in relation.
وَلاَ تَهِنُواْ فِي ابْتِغَاء الْقَوْمِ إِن تَكُونُواْ تَأْلَمُونَ فَإِنَّهُمْ يَأْلَمُونَ كَمَا تَأْلَمونَ وَتَرْجُونَ مِنَ اللّٰهِ مَا لاَ يَرْجُونَ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا
“And slacken not in following up the enemy: If you are suffering hardships, they are suffering similar hardships; but you have Hope from Allah, while they have none. And Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (an-Nisa, 104)
The Noble Prophet (pbuh) asked for volunteers, among his Companions, willing to take on the task of pursuing the enemy. Without further ado, a unit which included Abu Bakr and Zubayr (r.huma) in its ranks, was prepared. Nearly all the Companions taking part in the pursuit were carrying the fresh wounds of Uhud. Gearing up nonetheless, the wounded Companions joined the Prophet’s (pbuh) troops near the Abu Inabah Well.
Even Usayd ibn Khudayr (r.a), busy with treating the wounded at the time, dropped what he was doing, grabbed his weapons and made his way to join the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
Getting ready without wasting any time was also Saad ibn Ubadah (r.a), who ordered his clan to follow suit.
Commanded by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) himself, the unit then immediately followed the trail of the enemy.
Abdullah ibn Sahl and his brother Rafi (r.huma) had fought alongside the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) at Uhud and had returned to Medina wounded. Upon hearing the Noble Messenger’s (pbuh) call for pursuing the enemy, they exclaimed:
“By Allah, we do not have anything to ride and we carry serious wounds. But how can we ever miss out on a campaign led by the Messenger of Allah?” They thus set out, at times helping each other walk, and at others, taking turns in carrying each other on their backs. They ultimately made it next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), unable to bear the thought of leaving him on his own.
The Believers who showed such sacrifice received the following Divine compliments:
لَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُواْ لِلّٰهِ وَالرَّسُولِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا أَصَابَهُمُ
الْقَرْحُ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُواْ مِنْهُمْ وَاتَّقَواْ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward.” (Al-i Imran, 172)
The unit advanced until reaching a place called Hamra’ul-Asad, around eight kilometers away from Medina. The flag was in the hands of Ali (r.a). At night, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) ordered bonfires to be started in five hundred separate places. The sight was spectacular. To onlookers, it appeared as if an enormous army had encamped in the area. In fact, a man by the name of Mabad, still not a Muslim at the time, happened to see the Muslim fires on his way to Mecca. A while later, he encountered the idolaters, hurriedly informing them they were under close Muslim pursuit.
“I have never, ever seen such a massive army”, he said to them, to draw emphasis to the colossal size in which they appeared from a distance. The news was more than enough for their hearts to give in to fear once more.
“The Muslims did not have enough power to even move their fingers; so how can that be?” they began asking each other, staggered. Then, for some unknown reason, they unanimously decided to, “…leave before disaster strikes!”
Unable to face upto the prospect of fighting the Believers once again, they moved their pace up another notch as they swiftly made their way back home. Finding out about their retreat, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), too, led his Companions back to Medina.
The Question of Inheritance
Certain ayat had in the meantime been revealed concerning the issue of inheritance, as some confusion had emerged following Uhud. Following the martyring of Saad ibn Rabi (r.a) at Uhud, in accordance with the practice common to the Age of Ignorance, his brother seized all of whatever remained of his wealth, without leaving anything to Saad’s two daughters. Considered of little worth during the time of Ignorance, females were not given rights over inheritance; an unjust practice put an end to by Islam:
يُوصِيكُمُ اللّٰهُ فِي أَوْلاَدِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الأُنثَيَيْنِ فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَاء فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ وَإِن كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ وَلأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلَدٌ وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ آبَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبناؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّٰهِ
إِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ عَلِيما حَكِيمًا
“Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.” (an-Nisa, 11)
Thus the first ever distribution of inheritance in Islam was made between the inheritors of Saad ibn Rabi (r.a).
The Islamic law of inheritance seeks a just balance between the allotted shares and the responsibilities of the inheritor. Men, who, come under heavier financial responsibilities, ranging from the wedding expenses and the payment of mihr to supporting the family economically thereafter, have thus been allotted a greater share than women. In other words, the difference between males and females existent within the considerations of Islamic law are strictly consequent upon their difference of duties and responsibilities. Owing to their role of keeping an eye over the young and the connected need of taking care of the children and the family, women are exempt from supporting the family financially. For that reason, their share of inheritance is half of that of men. Behind the share of inheritance women receive is a consideration of what personal needs they may have; like supporting unmarried or divorced women in making their ends meet.
Women have been furthermore blessed with a depth of feeling, sensitivity, mercy and self-sacrifice, ideal for nurturing children and taking the family under their wings of compassion. Being delicate by nature, with refined feelings of sensitivity and boasting an almost bottomless depth of mercy, women may therefore tend to give way to physical and mental weakness when encountered by the surprises life tends to offer. Only for such reason does a woman, in Islam, hold the status of ‘half a witness’. Those who see this as an excuse to attack Islam are simply unable to see, either from their thick veil of malice or from crass ignorance, the perfection in this principle that has its incentive in a few very important and unalterable considerations pertaining to human disposition.
The truth is that Allah, glory unto Him, has created each being, including each and every particle of that being, for a purpose, in line with which He has endowed it with a suitable physical and spiritual structure. Placing man under the obligation of providing for the family, in order for them to see to that task in a manner most befitting, the Almighty has generally fashioned men with greater physical strength and spiritual fortitude. Women, on the other hand, have been entrusted with the duty of protecting the children, raising and safeguarding them and seeing to their needs when they are in their weakest and most vulnerable state. Their specific duties have required their souls, not their bodies, to be endowed with deeper feelings of sensitivity. Such that, in order to embrace and nurture children with a profound love and compassion during their most vulnerable phases, as a Divine gift, women are given refined emotions of sensitivity. Only a negative outcome will emerge if the mother, a virtual fount of mercy through her precious configuration, is burdened with a task beyond her power and reason of creation.
Owing to these considerations, it could also be stated that there is a higher probability of a female misleading justice, by showing excess sympathy for the culprit. This is the exact wisdom lying beneath the Divine decree, which holds the testimonies of two female witnesses to count as one.
On the other hand, Islam regulates the process of testifying before law in close accordance with the psychological structures of human beings. For instance, the testimony of women alone is considered sufficient in specific circumstances involving incidents impossible for males to witness.
Those who use the question of the testimony of women as a pretext to indict Islam with holding a lower opinion of women, either fail to understand or do not even wish to understand that Islam, by virtue of taking into consideration the unchangeable predispositional nature of human beings, as well as the entire community, in establishing a balance of justice between rights and responsibilities, could never be further remote from such unfounded allegations.
Femininity is perfected through the protection and promotion of the wonderful capacities women have been given by the Almighty. If a woman directs her natural capabilities in the opposite direction of Divine resolve and bids farewell to her own reality, she will end up squandering all her worth, and in consequence will lose her inner peace, falling into despondency and misery. Worse still, the sanctuary that is the family will become derelict, and the fiber of society, in turn, will wither away.
Our age has seen the commencing of an artificial and unjust race for equality between men and women. In total defiance of the natural characteristics of women, the race strikes a major blow directly at the heart of the feminine qualities of women, including motherhood, and is consequently detrimental to the family institution. The unfortunately common contemporary practice of abortion, which is an upshot of this race, is the modern version of the practice of burying the female children alive so common in the Age of Ignorance. A mere difference of clothing is the only thing that separates the fatigued and lethargic women of our times from those of the Age of Ignorance. Without a doubt, this is a social catastrophe brought on by a spiritless, materialistic education.
. Uhud is approximately a mile to the north of Medina.
. Waqidi, I, 199-203.
. Ibn Saad, II, 37.
. This was because of a dream the Blessed Prophet r saw, which he later explained: “In my dream, I was swinging a sword around; its head had been broken off. It turns out that this referred to the troubles the Muslims were inflicted with at Uhud. Then, I swung the sword around once more. The sword was now in a better condition than even before. That referred to the blessing of Allah the Almighty in the form of conquests and gathering the Muslims together. In the same dream, I also saw cattle and another blessing given by Allah. The cattle became manifest in a group of Muslims on the day of Uhud (in their becoming martyred). The blessing I saw became manifest through the conquests Allah gave us following Badr and the rewards Allah blessed us with in return for the perseverance of Badr.” (Bukhari, Tabir, 39, 44; Manaqib, 25; Muslim, Ruya, 20)
. Ibn Hisham, III, 6-7.
. Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghaba, III, 195; Diyarbakri, I, 433.
. Ibn Saad, III, 217.
. Hakim, III, 334/5281; Haythami, VI, 113; Ibn Saad, III, 453.
. The front teeth of all the offsprings of the treacherous Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas, as a Divine sign, came out naturally broken. (Ramazanoğlu Mahmûd Sâmî, Uhud Gazvesi, p. 26)
. Waqidi, I, 245.
. Bukhari, Maghazi, 18, 20; Waqidi, I, 295-296.
. Ibn Hisham, III, 45.
. Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 28.
. Kastallani, II, 104.
. Qurtubi, V, 271.
. Muslim, Salat, 226; Ahmad, III, 500.
. Ahmad, I, 8; Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 4.
. Bukhari, Adab, 96.
. Waqidi, I, 334-335.
. Waqidi, I, 334-335.
. Ibn Hisham, III, 53.
. Ibn Hisham, III, 52-56; Waqidi, I, 334-340.
. Ahmad, III, 352, 375.
. Mecelle, article. 1685.