The Sword of Language

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent a small cavalry unit under the leadership of Uyaynah (r.a) to the Banu Tamim tribe, for having recoiled from paying alms. In a swift raid, the Believers triumphed over the rebels and returned to Medina with a sizeable amount of spoils and captives.[1]

A large number of Banu Tamim’s notables, accompanied by their leading poets, thereupon came to the Noble Messenger (pbuh) to salvage their captives. While waiting for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to appear inside the Masjid, they grew impatient and shouted rather disrespectfully “Come on now! Come out next to us!”

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) felt ill-at-ease from all their shouting. Revealed moments later, was the following ayah:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُنَادُونَكَ مِن وَرَاء الْحُجُرَاتِ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

“As for) those who call out to you from behind the private chambers, surely most of them do not understand.” (al-Hujurat, 4) (Ibn Hisham, IV, 223, 233)

Following zuhr salat, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sat in the courtyard of the Masjid.

“We have brought our poets and orators so we can recite poems to each another”, said the spokesman of the tribe.

“I have not been sent to recite poems”, responded the Blessed Prophet. “But you can go ahead.” (Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, I, 128)

A man from the tribe then rose to his feet and gave an eloquent speech. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then signaled for Thabit ibn Qays (r.a), who then got up and delivered an exceptional speech on the splendor of Allah, glory unto Him and the prophethood of the Noble Messenger (pbuh), far more superior than that delivered by the spokesperson of Tamim.

A poem recited by Zibriqan ibn Badr from Banu Tamim was then countered by an eloquent and affective ode, delivered by the illustrious Hassan ibn Thabit (r.a), paying homage to the honor of the religion of Islam

The triumph of the Companions was due to their immersion in the Holy Quran, an extraordinary pinnacle of language, and from their training in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), the most articulate and beautiful speaker ever to come, known therefore as jawami’ul-kalim for his divine ability to express profound meanings in just a few simple words. This inspiration exuded by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) has been given a splendid voice in the poem:

Seeing him for one moment, into a rose one turns,

Nightingales, they become, who hear his words…

Aware of the outcome, poet Aqra ibn Habis from Tamim exclaimed, “His orators are better than our orators and his poets are far more superior to ours. Their words are simply above ours!” After these words, he declared his acceptance of Islam, a move his friends followed without hesitation. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then handed an abundant amount of gifts to the members of the envoy. (Ibn Hisham, IV, 232)

At that point, a minor argument erupted between Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma) in the presence of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), occasioning the revelation of the following ayat:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ
لِبَعْضٍ أَن تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ

“O you who believe! Be not forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing. O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds became null while you do not perceive.” (al-Hujurat, 1-2)

After that, Omar (r.a) began to lower his tone so much when in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that at times even the Prophet (pbuh) would have trouble making out what he was saying, feeling the need to ask him to repeat his words.[2]

Other Companions, too, were engrossed in a feeling of respect for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). They would do all they could just to make sure the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) did not feel uncomfortable. In fact, after the above Revelation, a Companion known for his naturally loud tone forced himself to remain indoors for days, afraid at the time that his tone of voice would cause discomfort upon the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) afforded him personal consolation and only after that did he feel the confidence to come out.[3]

When sitting with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) around the same meal, the Companions would never reach out their hands to the food before him.[4] They used to knock on the door of his chamber with the tips of their fingernails and refrain from all kinds of behavior that had the slightest chance of causing the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) discomfort.[5] They were equally delicate in describing him, depicting him as either the sun or the moon, out of love and respect.[6] Their sensitivity extended to narrating the ahadith of the Prophet (pbuh). Upon narrating a hadith, their expressions would visibly change, with sweat flowing freely from their foreheads, tears welling up in their eyes and the veins in their necks noticeably swelling up from anxiety.[7] When they would hear a loud noise, like for instance the sound of a hammer banging against a nail or a stake coming from the houses around the Masjid, they would instantly send out a message, telling the person to stop disturbing the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). Some would even have their doors made outside of Medina, just to avoid falling into a compromising situation.

Kaab ibn Zuhayr was previously among the poets who had openly declared war on Islam. A death sentence was placed on his head, owing to the spiteful satirical poems he had recited. To talk some sense into him, his brother Bujayr, a Muslim, sent him a poem, as an advice that he was facing a bitter end unless he cleaned up his act. Tremendously distressed, with the help of a Companion, Kaab then turned up next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and pledged allegiance, without, however, giving away his identity. He sat on his knees and said:

“Messenger of Allah…Kaab ibn Zuhayr also wants to come to your presence and seek amnesty by accepting Islam. Do you accept him?”

When the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) agreed, Kaab joyously exclaimed, “I am Kaab, Messenger of Allah!” (Ibn Hisham, IV, 152; Hakim, III, 675/6480; Haythami, IX, 393)

As a show of gratitude to the Prophet’s (pbuh) kindness in forgiving him, Kaab then began to recite the qasidah of Banat Suade had had prepared from beforehand. In appreciation, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then removed his mantle from his back and personally put it on Kaab’s back. The qasidah has thus come to be known as Qasidat’ul-Burdah; burdah being mantle in Arabic.

After his death, the mantle presented to Kaab was purchased by Muawiyah (r.a). What is preserved today at Topkapı Palace in the Hırka-i Saâdet chamber which carries the same name (Hırka means mantle in Turkish) is this very mantle, passed on from one dynasty and generation to another.

There is another qasidah famously known as Qasidat’ul-Burdah, which belongs to Imam Busiri.[8] The correct name of this second qasidah however is Qasida-i Bur’a. Bur’a, in Arabic, means to recover from an illness. Imam Busiri especially gave his qasidah this title in commemoration of his recovery from paralysis. The story goes as follows:

Imam Busiri had become hemiplegic, that is half his body had become paralyzed. So he wrote the Qasidal-i Bur’a and asked the Almighty to be cured. The night he completed the qasidah, he saw a dream, where he read to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) what he had written; and happy to hear the poem, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) stroked the part of his body that was paralyzed. Seeing that not a remnant of his paralysis remained after he woke up, Imam Busiri offered his thanks to Allah, glory unto Him. When walking to the mosque for fajr salat that morning, he came upon the great man of insight, Sheikh Abu’r-Raja, who asked to him to recite the qasidah in which he praises the Best of Creation (pbuh).

“I have many poems like that. Which one are you asking for?” inquired Imam Busiri.

“The one you read to the Messenger of Allah last night”, said Sheikh Abu’r-Raja. “I saw him to be in much delight as you were reading it.”

Astonished, Imam Busiri wondered, “How could you know about that dream when I have not told anyone about it?”

“I was there, too”, replied Sheikh Abu’r-Raja, after which he proceeded to read the first couplet:

Is it the people of Salam[9] you recall, my heart,

That you mix blood to the tears flowing from your eyes?

It has been narrated that as the qasidah was being read in his presence, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was smiling and gently swaying his body from enjoyment, like the elegant quiver of leaves.

Compliant with a certain method, the qasidah has continued to be read to the ill ever since, in hope of the manifestation of the Prophet’s (pbuh) spirituality, and has been used as a means thereof to seek a cure from Allah, glory unto Him.[10]

Ascertain the Truth of the News Brought by the Wicked!

Walid ibn Uqbah, sent by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to Banu Mustaliq to collect their alms, turned away upon seeing a crowd of their tribesmen coming towards him to welcome him, assuming instead they were out to kill him, owing to a quarrel between them dating back to the days of Ignorance. Returning to Medina, he gave a false account to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) of what had happened, going to the extent of even slandering Banu Mustaliq to absolve himself.

“They have turned away from Islam, Messenger of Allah!” he said. “Not only did they refuse to pay their alms, their nearly killed me!”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) immediately prepared a military unit to send to what seemed to be a rebellious tribe. Becoming aware of the situation before that however, Banu Mustaliq urgently sent the envoy that had gone out to welcome Walid, to Medina. There, they were met with the Muslim cavalry unit assigned to them. The truth behind the confusion was soon exposed. Allah, glory unto Him, thereupon sent a Revelation warning Believers not to pass judgment until getting to the bottom of a given matter:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ. وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ فِيكُمْ رَسُولَ اللّٰهِ لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ لَعَنِتُّمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللّٰهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ

“O you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done. And know that among you is Allah’s Messenger; should he obey you in many a matter, you would surely fall into distress, but Allah has endeared the faith to you and has made it seemly in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief and transgression and disobedience; these it is that are the followers of a right way.” (al-Hujurat, 6-7)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then ordered Abbad ibn Bishr (r.a) to “…return with them and collect their alms; but avoid choosing the best of their goods!” Abbad (r.a) stayed with Banu Mustaliq for ten days, during which he taught them what he could of the Quran and Islam. (Ahmad, IV, 279; Ibn Hisham, III, 340-341; Ibn Saad, II, 161)

Many a news coming from an evil-doer travels from mouth to mouth and ultimately reaches an upright yet naive person, who although has no business with evil deeds, then proceeds, with good intention, to spread the rumor to others. It must be made loud and clear that taking unverified news for truth and spreading them incurs liability, regardless of whether the one spreading it is an evil-doer or not. Perhaps there might not be any harm if it turns out there is truth behind the news but on the other hand, if it turns out that the news is fabricated after all, then spreading it would directly smear one with great sins like slander and backbiting. Therefore, one always ought to be wary of news, especially those of unpleasant import that come from dubious sources.

The Tabuk Campaign: An Enormous Test of Iman
(Rajab, 9 / September-October, 630)

The Campaign to Tabuk, a town lying right in the middle of Medina and Damascus, was the last undertaken by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). The Campaign can be considered a sequel of the Battle of Muta. The Emperor of Byzantine, still rattled from Muta, was of the intention to invade entire Arabia before Muslim power reached threatening heights. For the purpose of quelling what he saw as the Muslim onslaught, he wanted to use the Christian Arabs. The Ghassanids, who he saw as natural candidates for this, were more than ready for such a mission. The news of the potential attack was soon brought to Medina by the incoming trade caravans, warning them their towns were soon to facing an ominous attack.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then rallied all the Companions together, young and old. Preparations for any given campaign until then were always conducted secretly, in order for the enemy not to become aware of the destination. But now the situation was different. It was the hottest days of summer. They were facing a strong enemy and a great distance. Moreover, Muslims were in a financially tight situation, strained by the devastating famine that had struck Medina that year.[11]

Hypocrites, making the most of the troubles as usual, rekindled their undying flames of mischief and attempted to demoralize the Believers. Their chief Abdullah ibn Ubay, arrogant as usual, began to drivel, “Does Muhammad think the Romans are child’s play? I can see him fall captive with his Companions from now!”

Following suit, other hypocrites were making remarks like, “How could you set out on a campaign in such hot weather?” The response to that came through a Revelation:

فَرِحَ الْمُخَلَّفُونَ بِمَقْعَدِهِمْ خِلاَفَ رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ وَكَرِهُواْ أَن يُجَاهِدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَقَالُواْ لاَ تَنفِرُواْ
فِي الْحَرِّ قُلْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ أَشَدُّ حَرًّا لَّوْ كَانُوا يَفْقَهُونَ

“Those who were left behind were glad on account of their sitting behind Allah’s Messenger and they were averse from striving in Allah’s way with their property and their persons, and said: Do not go forth in the heat. Say: The fire of hell is much severe in heat. Would that they understood it?” (at-Tawba, 81)

Some desert Arabs, on the other hand, came to the Prophet (pbuh), and submitting made-up excuses, asked to be exempted from participating in the Campaign; as is recounted by the below ayah:

وَجَاء الْمُعَذِّرُونَ مِنَ الأَعْرَابِ لِيُؤْذَنَ لَهُمْ وَقَعَدَ الَّذِينَ كَذَبُواْ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ سَيُصِيبُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

“And the defaulters from among the dwellers of the desert came that permission may be given to them and they sat (at home) who lied to Allah and His Messenger; a painful chastisement shall afflict those of them who disbelieved.” (at-Tawbah, 90)[12]

The Quran subsequently laid down clear criteria to separate the Believers from hypocrites:

لَوْ كَانَ عَرَضًا قَرِيبًا وَسَفَرًا قَاصِدًا لاَّتَّبَعُوكَ وَلَـكِن بَعُدَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الشُّقَّةُ وَسَيَحْلِفُونَ بِاللّٰهِ لَوِ اسْتَطَعْنَا لَخَرَجْنَا مَعَكُمْ يُهْلِكُونَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَاللّٰهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ

“Had it been a near advantage and a short journey, they would certainly have followed you, but the tedious journey was too long for them; and they swear by Allah: If we had been able, we would certainly have gone forth with you; they cause their own souls to perish, and Allah knows that they are most surely liars.” (at-Tawbah, 42)

لاَ يَسْتَأْذِنُكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّٰهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ أَن يُجَاهِدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ وَاللّٰهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُتَّقِينَ. إِنَّمَا يَسْتَأْذِنُكَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّٰهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَارْتَابَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ فَهُمْ فِي رَيْبِهِمْ يَتَرَدَّدُونَ

“They do not ask leave of you who believe in Allah and the latter day (to stay away) from striving hard with their property and their persons, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil). They only ask leave of you who do not believe in Allah and the latter day and their hearts are in doubt, so in their doubt do they waver.” (at-Tawbah, 44-45)

The hypocrites had made no preparation for the campaign whatsoever. This clearly showed they had no intention of joining the Believers on the march to Tabuk. So the Almighty declared:

وَلَوْ أَرَادُواْ الْخُرُوجَ لأَعَدُّواْ لَهُ عُدَّةً

“If they had intended to come out, they would certainly have made some preparation…” (at-Tawbah, 46)

Yet it was a Divine blessing that the hypocrites were intentionally lagging behind and keeping a low profile not to join the Muslim army. Even if they did, Abdullah ibn Ubayy would have in fact repeated an attitude similar to which he had displayed during the Battle of Uhud and desert the Believers. Allah, glory unto Him, states:

وَلَـكِن كَرِهَ اللّٰهُ انبِعَاثَهُمْ فَثَبَّطَهُمْ وَقِيلَ اقْعُدُواْ مَعَ الْقَاعِدِينَ. لَوْ خَرَجُواْ فِيكُم مَّا زَادُوكُمْ إِلاَّ خَبَالاً ولأَوْضَعُواْ خِلاَلَكُمْ يَبْغُونَكُمُ الْفِتْنَةَ وَفِيكُمْ سَمَّاعُونَ لَهُمْ وَاللّٰهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ

“…but Allah was averse to their being sent forth; so He made them lag behind, and they were told, “Sit ye among those who sit (inactive). If they had come out with you, they would not have added to your (strength) but only (made for) disorder, hurrying to and fro in your midst and sowing sedition among you, and there would have been some among you who would have listened to them. But Allah knoweth well those who do wrong.” (at-Tawbah, 46-47)

Although the hypocrites were already mischievous and disobedient, this was still nothing in comparison to the harm they caused during the campaigns in which they had somehow taken part, disrupting the entire Muslim army with their rumors, lies and endless bouts of fear and anxiety. Each hypocrite was simply trouble waiting to break lose. The Almighty intervened, however, and prevented the hypocrites from joining the Tabuk Campaign; a campaign whose many hardships seemed just too daunting for them. The Companions were ultimately relieved from their usual trouble making.

Making up excuses, the hypocrites were asking to be exempted from the Campaign. Some took this far enough to even claim they were withholding themselves from joining from fear they might be tempted by Greek women. They were trying to hide their sinister hypocrisies by appearing to have deeper concerns. But Allah, glory unto Him, exposed them yet again:

وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ ائْذَن لِّي وَلاَ تَفْتِنِّي أَلاَ فِي الْفِتْنَةِ
سَقَطُواْ وَإِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ لَمُحِيطَةٌ بِالْكَافِرِينَ

‘And among them there is he who says: Allow me and do not tempt me. Surely into temptation have they already tumbled down, and most surely hell encompasses the unbelievers.” (at-Tawbah, 49)

Threatening the hypocrites with a bitter punishment awaiting them, the Almighty was at the same time warning some of the Believers, who under their influence, were showing signs of slackness:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَا لَكُمْ إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمُ انفِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ اثَّاقَلْتُمْ إِلَى الأَرْضِ أَرَضِيتُم بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مِنَ الآخِرَةِ فَمَا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فِي الآخِرَةِ إِلاَّ قَلِي. إِلاَّ تَنفِرُواْ يُعَذِّبْكُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا وَيَسْتَبْدِلْ قَوْمًا غَيْرَكُمْ وَلاَ تَضُرُّوهُ شَيْئًا وَاللّٰهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“O you who believe! What (excuse) have you that when it is said to you: Go forth in Allah’s way, you should incline heavily to earth; are you contented with this world’s life instead of the hereafter? But the provision of this world’s life compared with the hereafter is but little. If you do not go forth, He will chastise you with a painful chastisement and bring in your place a people other than you, and you will do Him no harm; and Allah has power over all things.” (at-Tawbah, 38-39)

انْفِرُواْ خِفَافًا وَثِقَالاً وَجَاهِدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ
فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.” (at-Tawbah, 41)

The warnings had an instant effect on the Muslims, revitalizing them in a blink. The slackness that had doomed upon hearts now made way for remorse, which turned into a lively and enthusiastic initiative. A mobilization of iman, packed with vigor, had now gotten under way. After all, it was a fard’ul-ayn, a categorical obligation upon all Muslims to heed the call of jihad where the enemy was getting prepared to raid Muslim lands. Still, those who could justifiably be considered exempt from the call for jihad were again classified by Divine Revelation:

لَّيْسَ عَلَى الضُّعَفَاء وَلاَ عَلَى الْمَرْضَى وَلاَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لاَ يَجِدُونَ مَا يُنفِقُونَ حَرَجٌ إِذَا نَصَحُواْ لِلّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ مَا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ مِن سَبِيلٍ وَاللّٰهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“It shall be no crime in the weak, nor in the sick, nor in those who do not find what they should spend (to stay behind), so long as they are sincere to Allah and His Messenger; there is no way (to blame) against the doers of good; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (at-Tawbah, 91)

In line with the declaration of the ayah, those who are exempt from joining the battle, in remaining back, are not to cause mischief in their town or spread false, demoralizing rumors and are to run to the aid of the families of those who are taking part in battle; and given they are ‘doers of good’, can be sure to incur neither blame nor sin. At the same time, since there is no declaration prohibiting them from joining the cause, if they wish and have the means to do so, they are free to join the army on the condition that they do not be a burden on the rest.

The Companions were now caught in the midst of a whirlpool of excitement, anticipating to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah, glory unto Him. Seven underprivileged Companions, however, could not find a mount to take part in the journey. In any case, the Companions were overall forced to share one camel and sometimes even three among each other. But these seven could not even find a mount they could at least share with two or three others, despite their desperation to join. So they came to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to inform him of their dilemma. But when the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) told them he had no camels to offer them, they broke down in tears and returned weeping. The Divine appreciation of the tears shed in the noblest of ways was pronounced in the Quran:

وَلاَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ إِذَا مَا أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لاَ أَجِدُ مَا أَحْمِلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ تَوَلَّواْ وَّأَعْيُنُهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ حَزَنًا أَلاَّ يَجِدُواْ مَا يُنفِقُون

“…Nor in those who when they came to you that you might carry them, you said: I cannot find that on which to carry you; they went back while their eyes overflowed with tears on account of grief for not finding that which they should spend.” (at-Tawbah, 92)

As Abdurrahman ibn Kaab and Abdullah ibn Mughaffal (r.huma), among those praised in the ayah, were returning from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) with teary eyes, Ibn Yamin approached them and asked the reason why they were weeping.

“We went to the Messenger of Allah as a last resort so he could arrange a mount for us”, they said. “But he could not find one either…and we have no mount to join the Messenger of Allah in his cause.”

Ibn Yamin (r.a) then provided a mount for both to share and some dates as provision. Likewise, Abbas (r.a) provided mounts for the other two and Othman (r.a) for the remaining three.[13] The Noble Prophet (pbuh) was later able to provide mounts for other needy Companions.[14] These Companions, who despite being exempt from joining the Campaign could not bear to be away from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) even for a moment and whose hearts were filled with the love of Allah, glory unto Him, were thus granted the honor of setting out to Tabuk, in return for their fervent enthusiasm and desire to join.

This is just one of numerous examples that shows just how great a physical and spiritual sacrifice the Companions showed in the way of the Almighty and indicates the excellence of their inner composition.

Another moving memory from Tabuk is recounted by Wasilah ibn Asqa (r.a):

“Days before setting out to Tabuk, I made an announcement in Medina, looking for someone who could have me ride on his mount in return for my share of spoils. An old Ansari man told me he could take me to the battle by taking turns with me to ride on his mount. ‘It is a deal’ I immediately said, and he responded by saying, ‘Then we shall advance in the name of Allah’s abundance!’

I thus departed Medina with a perfect friend for the road. In the end, Allah granted me a share of spoils in the form of some camels. I steered them to my Ansari friend, for him to take.

‘Take your camels and go!’ he, however, said.

‘But these are yours according to our earlier agreement’, I insisted.

‘Brother’, then said the Ansari, ‘take your spoils for I never wanted your material share in the first place. I only intended to have a share of your rewards in the Hereafter.’” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 113/2676)

Excitement over turning lives and wealth into resources for the Hereafter and thereby purchasing Paradise was lived at its maximum during the preparations for the Campaign, providing scenes setting a standard for the entire ummah to come until the Final Hour. In rushing to serve the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the Companions were like moths around a flame, repeating the words ‘May our parents and lives be sacrificed for you Messenger of Allah’ with every tremendous feat they carried out, indicating it meant nothing for them in comparison for their love of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).

The excitement endured with the Companions for years to come. Preferring taqwa over the grant given to those mentioned as justifiably exempt in the above ayah, the blind Ibn Umm Maqtum took active part in the Battle of Qadisiyyah, even acting as a flagbearer of the Muslim army, in spite of his blindness.

The warnings revealed by the Almighty had the effect of mobilizing a superb Muslim army of over thirty-thousand men in a short amount of time.[15] The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had at first given the flag of Najjar to Umarah ibn Hazm (r.a); yet seeing Zayd ibn Thabit (r.a), he decided to take it off Umarah’s hands and give it to Zayd instead.

“Are you angry with me, Messenger of Allah?” then inquired Umarah (r.a).

“No, by Allah, I am not angry with you at all!” replied the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). “But you should prefer the Quran, too. He has committed more of the Quran to his memory than you. One who has more of the Quran in his memory is always to be preferred, even if he be a black slave with a slashed nose!”

The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) then advised Aws and Khazraj to give their flags to persons who had more of the Quran memorized than others. Abu Zayd (r.a) was thus given the flag of Awf, while Muadh (r.a) the flag of Banu Salimah. (Waqidi, III, 1003)

Rallying to Donate

Prior to setting out on the Campaign, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) rallied the Companions to donate to cover the many needs of the army. Medina, at the time, was under the grip of a severe famine. Regardless, setting aside all personal thoughts and motives amid a supreme effort of iman, the Companions keenly embarked upon a race of altruism. Abu Bakr (r.a) presented his entire wealth. When the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said, “I have not benefited from anyone’s wealth as much as I have benefited from Abu Bakr’s”, Abu Bakr (r.a), already reduced to tears by then, said, “Are not my wealth and I for you alone, Messenger of Allah?” (Ibn Majah, Muqaddimah, 11). This was a confirmation that he had devoted his entire existence to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and had become annihilated in him.

“What have you left for your wife and kids, Abu Bakr?” asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to which the Companion again replied, with ecstatic iman, “Allah and His Messenger!” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3675)

Omar (r.a) had brought half his wealth, thinking at least this time he might surpass Abu Bakr (r.a) in donation. But he again fell short.

Othman (r.a) prepared three-hundred camels, fully equipped, and donated them to the army, together with a thousand dinars. Regarding him, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) stated the following words of loving compliment, “Nothing Othman will do shall harm him anymore!” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 18/3700; Ahmad, V, 63)

In addition, Othman (r.a) and his family donated the entire jewelry they had in the way of Allah, glory unto Him. Likewise, all the female Companions brought whatever they had of jewelry and ornaments and put them in front of the Noble Messenger (pbuh).[16] An eleven year old girl, unable to remove her earrings, ripped them out from her ears from sheer enthusiasm and placed the bloodied earrings in front of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).

Even the underprivileged Companions, who barely had anything to donate, were caught up in the excitement of wanting to donate something. One of them was Abu Aqil (r.a), who working all night, made two scales of dates, one of which he took home and the other which he donated to the Muslim army. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said, “May Allah prosper what you have brought and what you have kept”, then ordered the dates be added to the rest of the pile of donations. (Tabari, Tafsir, X, 251)

The hypocrites, on the other hand, began mocking what they perceived as petty donations, charging Abu Aqil with insincerity. Uqbah ibn Amir (r.a) says the following:

“Once the ayah for charity[17] was revealed, we began carrying wood on our backs and donating from what we earned. Then came a man who gave away a great amount, about whom the hypocrites remarked, ‘He is showing off’. There came another, who gave a measure of dates, about whom the hypocrites again said, ‘Allah stands in no need of his single measure of dates.’ Thereupon it was revealed:

الَّذِينَ يَلْمِزُونَ الْمُطَّوِّعِينَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي الصَّدَقَاتِ
وَالَّذِينَ لاَ يَجِدُونَ إِلاَّ جُهْدَهُمْ فَيَسْخَرُونَ مِنْهُمْ
سَخِرَ اللّٰهُ مِنْهُمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

‘They who taunt those of the faithful who give their alms freely, and those who give to the extent of their earnings and scoff at them; Allah will pay them back their scoffing, and they shall have a painful chastisement.’ (at-Tawbah, 79)” (Bukhari, Zakat, 10; Muslim, Zakat, 72)

From what is understood from the alternative versions of the above narration, the man who donated a great amount was Abdurrahman ibn Awf (r.a), while it was Abu Aqil (r.a) who brought the single measure of dates.

Ulbah ibn Zayd (r.a), another from among the poorer Companions, woke up after a certain time into the night, offered salat and then prayed, “Allah…You command and encourage for jihad. Yet you have not given me power over a single mount on which I can set out in Your way with the Messenger of Allah! You have not even placed a mount in Your Messenger’s hands on which I can set out! I have always given the charity I have been obliged to give, from my wealth and body. Allah…And now I have only a single piece of item, which you have bestowed upon me, to give…and that I shall offer!”

In the morning, he came next to the Noble Prophet (pbuh) and said, “I have nothing with me, Messenger of Allah, that I can give away as charity except for this single item! Let me say that I bear no grudge from now against those who might speak ill of me or mock me in regard!”

To these words laden with as much compassion as love, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) simply replied, “May Allah accept your charity!” and nothing else. The next day he told Ulbah, “I took your charity and glad tidings to you! By in Allah, in whose Hand of Might the life of Muhammad resides, you have been recorded in the book of those whose charities have been accepted!” (Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, II, 500; Ibn Kathir, as-Sirah, IV, 9; Waqidi, III, 994)

Some hypocrites were still striving to influence Muslims, weak of iman, and hold them back from taking part in the Campaign. They had taken the house of a Jew by the name of Suhaylim as base. Upon becoming informed, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) sent Talha (r.a) and a few other Companions and had the house burnt down. The hypocrites were hence forced to disperse, their courage too shattered to engage in a similar mischief again.[18]

On the other side, Believers whose hearts were besieged by the fright of Divine wrath from the cautionary Revelations over their former slackness, had now joined the Campaign in all their entirety, to the extent of leaving Medina to look like ghost town with their departure. There was still the possibility that the Campaign would last longer than expected and any turmoil that may have broken out in the capital could have meant that the State would struggle to keep itself together. Similarly, huge losses in the battlefront could have meant the weakening of Islam in the short run. The perishing of knowledgeable persons, needed to form the driving force of intelligence behind Muslims, could have resulted in the collapse of the State, among other severe consequences. To prevent this right from the beginning, Allah, glory unto Him, declared a standard concerning participation in battle:

وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُواْ كَآفَّةً فَلَوْلاَ نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ
فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَآئِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُواْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُواْ
قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ

“Nor should the Believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil).” (at-Tawbah, 122)

Compliant with this command, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) left Ali and Maslamah (r.huma) in Medina, to ensure the maintenance of security behind the front.

as-Saat’ul-Usrah: The Time of Difficulty

Finally, in spite of the difficult conditions and hardships, the Muslim army was able to make its move, in great splendor. Still, the Believers had to continue to endure ensuing troubles and keep their patience. The difficulty of the conditions had not yet subsided. Among the aggravating circumstances were:

1)    An uncompromising drought.

2)    The great distance to be travelled, a path stretching across a desert unsuited for walking.

3)    Season of harvest, with which the Campaign coincided; fruits waiting to be reaped.

4)    Scorching heat.

5)    The longstanding belief in the might of the Byzantines based on the sheer numbers they could field on the day.

Owing to the troubles involved, the Campaign has in fact been dubbed al-Ghazwat’ul-Usrah, literally the Battle of Trouble, and the days corresponding to the Campaign as-Saat’u-Usrah, the Time of Trouble.

Briefly after the Muslim army made its move, Ali (r.a) came bolting and caught upto to them to ask the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) permission to join the cause. “The hypocrites”, he said, “are spreading rumors that you left me behind because you are not fond of me, Messenger of Allah! Please allow me to join!”

“They speak lies, Ali!” responded the Prophet of Allah. ‘I have assigned you as deputy over those whom I have left behind. Return immediately! Be an eye and ear for both your family and mine; be my deputy over them! Will not you settle for being like Harun to Musa (on his way to Mount Sina)? With one difference, that after me shall come no prophet!” (Ibn Hisham, IV, 174; Bukhari, Maghazi, 78; Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 31) After being on the receiving end of these wonderful praises, Ali (r.a) returned contentedly to once again assume his duty.

The Army had now traveled a considerable distance. Abu Dharr (r.a) caught up with the Army after some time. His weak and frail mount was unable to endure the strain of the journey, for which reason he had fallen behind from the main group. He finally had to abandon his mount, and despite of the gruesome difficulty, caught up with the army on foot. Seeing him, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) smiled as he stated, “May Allah have mercy on Abu Dharr! He lives alone, shall die alone and shall be resurrected alone!”

The miraculous words of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) came true in the life of Abu Dharr (r.a), as he ended living and breathing his last all on his own. (Waqidi, III, 1000)

The journey was proving to be excruciatingly difficult. The heat was stifling. Another difficulty lied in the fact that three Companions had to take turns riding one camel between them. Two people were splitting a single date into two, to share. Finding water was almost impossible. When taking wudu, each part of the body was therefore washed only once. Travelers (safari) were ordered to wipe their mas’h with their palms for three days, compared to residents (muqim)[19]. At one stage, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) prayed, which resulted in a downpour only where the Muslim army was stationed.[20]

As the Army was passing through the ancient town of Hijr, where the Thamud people, incurring the wrath of Allah, glory unto Him, were destroyed, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said to the Companions, “This is a valley wherefrom one ought to flee!” (Waqidi, III, 1008) After that he added, “Enter the land of those who have wronged themselves with tears in your eyes, lest what struck them should strike you, too!” Then covering his head, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) quickly passed through the area. Bottles filled with water obtained from there, he had them emptied; and despite his sensitivity with regard to not wasting anything, he had the doughs prepared with the very same water, thrown away. (Bukhari, Anbiya, 17; Tafsir, 15/2; Muslim, Zuhd, 39)

Places struck with the wrath of Allah, glory unto Him, carry its doom until the Final Hour. To avoid being subject to the negative spiritual reflection mirrored from such areas that have come under Divine wrath, places immersed in rebellion and sin, it is imperative to move through these areas quickly, as has been stated by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).[21]

One night as they were in the vicinity of Hijr, the Blessed Prophet said, “There will break out a fierce storm tonight! Tie your camels fast, remain seated where you are and do not get up!” A gale indeed ravaged through that night. One who got up to take wudu was struck to the ground, while another, gone out to search for his camel, was blown towards the nearby Mount Tay. (Bukhari, Zakat, 54; Muslim, Fadail, 11)

Within a days distance away from Tabuk, the Muslim army was again clutched by the grip of an intense thirst. Muadh ibn Jabal (r.a) recounts:

“The Messenger of Allah said to us, ‘Allah willing, you will reach the spring of Tabuk tomorrow!’ A day later, we reached the spring. We collected the little water there was with the palm of our hands into a leather bottle. The Messenger of Allah washed his hands and face with it, then sprinkled the remainder back onto the spring. He then thrusted into the spring three sticks, each with an iron spike. Three springs of water then immediately begun jetting forth. All the warriors quenched their thirsts. The Messenger of Allah then said to me, ‘If you live long enough, Muadh, you will have seen this area filled with gardens and vineyards, before long!’” (Muslim, Fadail, 10; Ahmad, V, 238)

Experiencing enormous hunger during the Campaign, the Companions asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to give them permission to slaughter their camels, so they could obtain their tallow. They were given a go-ahead. Then Omar (r.a) commented, “If you give them permission to slaughter their camels, Messenger of Allah, then there will be a shortage of mounts. If you wish, you could instead ask them to bring what they have of provisions and then pray Allah to grant abundance upon them. We shall certainly hope Allah will grant it.”

“Very well, we shall do that”, said the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Shortly thereafter, he had a leather cloth brought and had it spread out on the ground. After, he ordered the soldiers to bring whatever provisions they had. Some brought a handful of corn, others the same amount of dates while others came with pieces of bread. There was very little food piled on the cloth. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then prayed to Allah, glory unto Him, for the food to be granted abundance, after which he told the Companions to “…bring your containers and take your food!” The soldiers brought their containers and filled them copiously. There was not a single container left unfilled. They then ate to their hearts content, even seeing plenty of food left over afterwards. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then said, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that I am His Messenger. One who is not united with Allah with unwavering belief in His Unity and the prophethood of Muhammad will certainly be held back from entering Paradise!” (Muslim, Iman, 45)

The Muslim army had now encamped at Tabuk; yet there was not the least sign of the enemy. Met, this time around, by an enormous Muslim Army, the confidence of Christian Arabs was completely shaken; and remembering the heroics of the three-thousand warriors of iman at Mutah, they decided to withdraw from fighting altogether. Besides, the Byzantines had long changed their minds about invading Arabia and the Emperor was too busy trying to suppress internal turmoil at Humus. More was exposed not long after. It turned out that the news of the imminent Byzantine invasion of Arabia was an exaggerated rumor spun by the Ghassanid Arabs.

The Muslims and of course Islam gained an enormous prestige by virtue of having courageously marched to Tabuk. The northern borders of Arabia were secured. The King of Ayla, the people of Jarba and Azruh and the Jews of Makna came under Muslim protection by agreeing to pay jizyah to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). With four-hundred and twenty cavalrymen, Khalid ibn Walid (r.a) conducted a raid on Dumat’ul-Jandal, took the Christian King Uqaydir ibn Abdulmalik prisoner and brought him to the Noble Messenger (pbuh). He, too, was released on the condition of paying jizyah. (Ibn Hisham, IV, 180-182; Ibn Saad, I, 276-277; Ahmad, V, 425)

The Muslim army remained in Tabuk for twenty days. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) did not wish to advance any further, as he had no desire to deliver Islam to people with the force of the sword. Besides, the Byzantines were intimidated enough as it was and no enemy had dared to confront them. A deadly and highly contagious plague was moreover devastating Syria at the time, for which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) stated, “When you hear about a plague in a certain place, do not enter there! If you are there, do not leave!” (Bukhari, Tibb, 30)

After consulting the Companions, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) decided on leading the Believers back to Medina.

Another Companion, Abu Haythamah (r.a), had caught up with the Muslim army at Tabuk. The difficulty of the Campaign had at first forced him to remain back in Medina. One day, his wife called him to a delightful feast she prepared under a pergola in his garden. When Abu Haythamah saw the exquisite feast, he instantly felt a chill down his spine. Picturing the hardships the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions were almost certainly going through at that very moment, he murmured to himself, “How could I be doing this when they are enduring all this torment in the way of Allah?” Sunk in remorse, without laying a hand on the feast prepared for him, Abu Haythamah immediately left Medina and eventually made it next to the Muslim army at Tabuk. Happy to see him, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said, “Abu Haythamah… You were nearly destroyed!” He then prayed for his forgiveness. (Ibn Hisham, IV, 174; Waqidi, III, 998)

Allah, glory unto Him, does not compel His servants to duties beyond their capacities; only those things within their power does He hold them responsible with. What Abu Haythamah (r.a) did was, in this respect, paying the price of for the capacity of endurance he had been endowed with.

Such incidents are like living advices for us, means to reflect on and measure just how much we are able to put our spiritual and physical capacities to the service the Almighty and contemplate the responsibilities that come with being a Muslim.

One morning at Tabuk, leaning against a date tree, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave the following talk:

“The best of people is he who on horseback, camelback or on foot, sets out on jihad in the way of Allah until death. The worst of people is the evil-doer and the impudent who reads the Book of Allah but does not benefit from it.

Know that the truest of words is the Book of Allah. The strongest handle to seize is taqwa. The best of religions is that of Ibrahim (a.s) (Islam). The best of laws is the Sunnah of Muhammad. The most honorable of words is the remembrance of Allah. The most beautiful of narratives are those of the Quran.[22] The best of deeds are the obligatories demanded by Allah. The worst deeds are innovations. The best way is the way of the Prophet. The most honorable of deaths is martyrdom.

The worst kind of blindness is to stray off the right path after having found it. That which is less but enough is better than that which is more and keeps one engaged, holding him back from worshipping Allah. The worst apology is that made once death shows its face. The worst remorse is that felt in the Hereafter. The worst of people is he who arrives the last at Friday Salat and speaks of Allah in a bad way. The person with the most faults is he whose tongue spins the most lies.

The best richness is the richness of the heart. The best provisions are the provisions of taqwa. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Allah. Poems without wisdom are of the deeds of Iblis. Alcohol is the uniter of sins of all kinds. Sinful women are the traps of the devil. Youth is a division of madness. Usury is the worst of earnings. The worst thing to feed on is the property of an orphan. A happy person is he who takes a lesson from the condition of others.

Each of you shall go four arshin (nine feet) under; and the accounts of your deeds will be deferred to the Hereafter. What matters with deeds, are their consequences. The worst of thoughts are those that are deceitful. Swearing at a Believer is a sin, killing him is disbelief. To backbite a Believer is to rebel against the commands of Allah.

He who commits perjury shall be denied. He who seeks forgiveness shall be forgiven by Allah. Whoever suppresses his anger, Allah shall reward him. He who endures his loss shall be compensated by Allah. Allah will increase many times more the reward of he who endures hardship. He who rebels against Allah shall be beset with torment.

O my Lord! Forgive me and my ummah!

O my Lord! Forgive me and my ummah!

O my Lord! Forgive me and my ummah!

I seek forgiveness from Allah on your behalf and mine!” (Waqidi, III, 1016-1017; Ahmad, III, 37; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, V, 13-14)

The Martyr of Tabuk

Only a single Companion was martyred at Tabuk: Abdullah al-Muzani (r.a), who became honored with Islam despite being in a tribe of idolaters. His father had left no wealth behind when he died, so Abdullah was brought up next to his wealthy uncle, who reared him and made him a wealthy man like himself. In spite of having an avid desire to become Muslim as early as the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) made the Hegira to Medina, Abdullah could not follow through because of his uncle, a practicing idolater. Once the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) returned to Medina following the fath of Mecca, Abdullah said to his uncle, “I have waited all this time for you to become Muslim. But I still do not see you nurture any desire towards Muhammad. But the least you can do is to allow me to become a Muslim!”

“If you begin to follow Muhammad in any way”, replied his uncle, “I will take away everything I have given you, all the way to the clothes on your back!”

“By Allah, I have begun to follow Muhammad. I have already stopped worshipping stones and wood! So you can go ahead and take whatever you wish from my hands”, he responded.

His uncle took everything away from him to the very clothes on his back, like he had threatened. Abdullah (r.a) returned to his mother, nearly bare. She divided a thick rug into two pieces. Abdullah (r.a) used half of it to cover his upper body, the other half for his lower body. He was resolute; he wanted to go to Medina as soon as possible and unite with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). All the obstacles put in front of him now counted for nothing. He could not wait a single moment more. Getting away from his tribesmen who were keeping him under close watch, he secretly left in the dark of night. After a long and tiring journey, he finally arrived within a visible distance from Medina, albeit his hands and feet were bloodied, scarred from the strain of the long walk and he had all but lost his breath from thirst and hunger. His excitement was still overflowing; he just wanted to get there. Then all of a sudden he stopped and thought to himself that there was no way he could appear in the presence of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) with the coarse rugs he had haphazardly strung around himself for clothes. Yet without any other choice, he kept walking, and the young, soon-to-be Companion made it to the Masjid amid the fascinated gazes of those catching a glimpse of the stranger enshrouded in rug. He slept there until dawn. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then lead the Companions in fajr salat. Afterward, just as he was surveying those present at the salat right before retreating into his chamber, he noticed Abdullah. The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh), the refuge of the lonely and the weak, then embraced Abdullah with all his compassion. Finding out his name was Abduluzza, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said:

“You are Abdullah Dhul-Bijadayn (the one with two rugs)! Remain somewhere close to me and visit me frequently!” Abdullah (r.a) then joined the people of Suffa, where he immediately begun learning to read the Quran. Soon, he was able to read and memorize many suwar.

The celebrated Companion, who bound himself to the Prophet (pbuh) with love, was soon running with him from one battle to another, burning with the desire to be martyred to surrender his life in the way of Allah, glory unto Him. He adamantly insisted the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to pray that be would be martyred prior to setting out on the Campaign of Tabuk. The Noble Messenger (pbuh) prayed, “O my Lord! Make his blood inviolable to the nonbelievers!”

“That is not what I had wanted, Messenger of Allah”, said Abdullah (r.a), to which the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “If you go out to fight in the way of Allah, contract a fever and die, you are a martyr! If your mount throws you off, you fall and break your neck, you are a martyr! Not to worry! Whichever one of these it may be, it shall suffice for you to be a martyr!”

Miraculously, Abdullah (r.a) ended up becoming martyred in the exact manner foretold by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). One night, as the army was preparing to head back, three people were carrying away the body of a deceased Companion under the dim light of a flame; they were Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and two of his closest Companions, Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma). The body belonged to Abdullah Dhul-Bijadayn (r.a).

Abdullah ibn Masud (r.a) recounts, in awe, the scene he witnessed:

“In the dark of night, I saw a moving flame at the corner of the field where the warriors had set up their tents. I got up and followed it. Lo and behold; it turned out to be the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma) carrying the body of Abdullah Dhul-Bijadayn (r.a). They came to a spot, where they stopped and dug a grave. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then went down into the grave, as Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma) were preparing to pass the body to him.

‘Bring your brother closer to me’, said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). They did. Taking hold of his body, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then placed him with his own hands in the grave, after which he stood and prayed, ‘O my Lord! I was pleased with him; I always was…Be pleased with him too!’

I was very much moved by what I saw. I was envious of Dhul-Bijadayn. I thought to myself there and then, ‘If only it was me placed in the grave right now amid the Prophet’s compliments!’” (Ibn Hisham, IV, 183; Waqidi, III, 1013-1014; Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, III, 227)

The Betrayal of the Hypocrites and Masjid’ud-Dirar

A group of hypocrites plotted to assassinate the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) just as the army was passing through a narrow strait, at night, on the return from Tabuk. Informed of their sinister plan, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) sent Huzayfa’tul-Yaman to them and the hypocrites took flight hearing the Companion shout out towards them. (Ahmad, V, 453)

There was yet another trap set by the hypocrites awaiting the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Abu Amir Fasiq, a Christian of Khazraj stock, who had left Medina with the establishment of Islam and defected to the Byzantines, was incessantly provoking the hypocrites to take action. As the boiling point of this witch’s cauldron, they built a mosque a little further down from the Masjid of Quba. This was the famous Masjid of Dirar.

To execute yet another of their assassination plans they invited the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to their mosque prior to the Campaign of Tabuk. “On the return, inshallah”, was the Prophet’s (pbuh) reply. They were now on the prowl for the return of the Muslim army.

The Believers were now within a short distance from Medina, as Jibril (a.s) came and gave the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) insight into this center of mischief paraded as a mosque of piety. The trap set up by hypocrites in the form of a rival mosque to ensnare the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and the entire Believers, was thus thwarted before it could ever be put into practice. The Almighty exposed their malice in no uncertain manner:

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُواْ مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَإِرْصَادًا لِّمَنْ حَارَبَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ مِن قَبْلُ وَلَيَحْلِفَنَّ إِنْ أَرَدْنَا إِلاَّ الْحُسْنَى وَاللّٰهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ. لاَ تَقُمْ فِيهِ أَبَدًا لَّمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَى مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ أَحَقُّ أَن تَقُومَ فِيهِ فِيهِ رِجَالٌ يُحِبُّونَ أَن يَتَطَهَّرُواْ وَاللّٰهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُطَّهِّرِينَ

“And those who built a masjid to cause harm and for unbelief and to cause disunion among the believers and an ambush to him who made war against Allah and His Messenger before; and they will certainly swear: We did not desire aught but good; and Allah bears witness that they are most surely liars. Never stand in it; certainly a masjid founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand in it; in it are men who love that they should be purified; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.” (at-Tawbah, 107-108)

This time, it was more than a usual case of hypocritical duplicity; they had conspired a blatant plot against the Prophet (pbuh) and the Believers. They therefore needed to be unmasked and their mosque had to be torn down.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) acted in accordance with Divine command and had the Masjid of Dirar burnt down upon his return to Medina. (Ibn Hisham, IV, 185)

From the Minor Jihad to the Major

Tabuk, the final military campaign which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) personally led, was a campaign of hardships. The Muslim army had crossed a distance of a thousand kilometers just to reach Tabuk and had covered the same distance to return. With dust covering their unkempt hairs and beards, the Companions had virtually been reduced to skin and bone. Still, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) told them, “We are now returning from the minor jihad to the major!”

The Companions were astounded. “Look at us, Messenger of Allah. Could there ever be a greater jihad than this?” they wondered.

“We are now returning to the major jihad”, repeated the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), “the jihad against the nafs (ego).” (Suyuti, II, 73)

The jihad against the ego is the spiritual training of the heart, carrying the aim of refining one spiritually, by virtue of elevating his moral conduct, and turning the person into a perfect human being (insan-i kamil). The way leading to this lies in a reason enmeshed in Divine truths, a heart adorned with iman and beautiful morals, an overall state crowned with the spirituality of the Quran and Sunnah, and perfection through reaching the ascension of tawhid by virtue of upright behavior.

The entire Muslims in Medina, young and old, flocked to Saniyyat’ul-Wada to welcome the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions as they made a triumphant return to Medina.[23]

The Repentant Three

There were three groups of males who did not participate in the Tabuk Campaign. They were:

1) Those with legitimate excuses who, as declared by the ayah, could not join because of a lack of means, despite desperately wanting to. About them, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said to his Companions, “There are such people in Medina that there is not a single valley we tread without them being with us! It is only their (justified) excuses that have left them behind.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 81; Muslim, Imarah, 159)

In another hadith, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) indeed declares, “Deeds are according to intentions…” (Bukhari, Bad’ul-Wahy, 1)

2) The hypocrites. Together with many other excuses, their main reason for staying behind was their conviction that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would not in any way return from Tabuk. But seeing the Prophet (pbuh) return safe and sound, over and above the other successes attained during the Campaign, they straightaway rushed to him, and making up lies for excuse, apologized. These hypocrites, around eighty in number, became subject to Divine Revelation:

وَيَحْلِفُونَ بِاللّٰهِ إِنَّهُمْ لَمِنكُمْ وَمَا هُم مِّنكُمْ وَلَـكِنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ يَفْرَقُونَ. لَوْ يَجِدُونَ مَلْجَأً أَوْ مَغَارَاتٍ أَوْ مُدَّخَلاً لَّوَلَّوْاْ إِلَيْهِ وَهُمْ يَجْمَحُون

“And they swear by Allah that they are most surely of you, and they are not of you, but they are a people who are afraid (of you). If they could find a refuge or cave or a place to enter into, they would certainly have turned thereto, running away in all haste.” (at-Tawbah, 56-57)

يَعْتَذِرُونَ إِلَيْكُمْ إِذَا رَجَعْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ قُل لاَّ تَعْتَذِرُواْ لَن نُّؤْمِنَ لَكُمْ قَدْ نَبَّأَنَا اللّٰهُ مِنْ أَخْبَارِكُمْ وَسَيَرَى اللّٰهُ عَمَلَكُمْ وَرَسُولُهُ ثُمَّ تُرَدُّونَ إِلَى عَالِمِ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ. سَيَحْلِفُونَ بِاللّٰهِ لَكُمْ إِذَا انقَلَبْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ لِتُعْرِضُواْ عَنْهُمْ فَأَعْرِضُواْ عَنْهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ رِجْسٌ وَمَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ جَزَاء بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ

“They will excuse themselves to you when you go back to them. Say: Urge no excuse, by no means will we believe you; indeed Allah has informed us of matters relating to you; and now Allah and His Messenger will see your doings, then you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did. They will swear to you by Allah when you return to them so that you may turn aside from them; so do turn aside from them; surely they are unclean and their abode is hell; a recompense for what they earned.” (at-Tawbah, 94-95)

With these revelations, the hypocrites were effectively banished from Muslim society. Labeled as ‘unclean’, they were no longer considered to be Muslims. They were also banned from taking part in all causes in the name of Islam.

3) Those without any excuses not to join. They stood under two groups:

a) Those who did not take part in the Campaign, despite not being hypocrites and not having any legitimate excuses. Yet, before the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) returned from the Campaign, they realized their error and became deeply remorseful. As self-punishment, they tied themselves to the posts of the Masjid and vowed to remain in that state until the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) came and personally untied them. The Noble Messenger (pbuh) was told of these men upon return, regarding which he stated, “And I promise not to untie them until I receive an according command.” Revealed thereupon was the below ayah:

وَآخَرُونَ اعْتَرَفُواْ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ خَلَطُواْ عَمَلاً صَالِحًا وَآخَرَ سَيِّئًا عَسَى اللّٰهُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“And others have confessed their faults, they have mingled a good deed and an evil one; may be Allah will turn to them (mercifully); surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (at-Tawbah, 102) The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then proceeded to untie the Companions who had tied themselves to posts out of remorse.

b) Those who, again, had not joined the Campaign despite neither being hypocrites nor having legitimate excuses to fall back on, yet who remained separate from the others who had tied themselves to the posts of the Masjid. They were three in number: poet Kaab ibn Malik, Murarah ibn Rabi and Hilal ibn Umayya. Unlike the hypocrites, they did not lie but instead confessed to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) that they had no justified excuse for not joining the cause. With an inexpressibly profound remorse over their failure to join, they pleaded the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) for forgiveness.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), incredibly sensitive to abide by Divine commands, did not immediately forgive the three. Furthermore, as he was waiting for a Revelation that would disclose their fate, he did not even speak to them. The Companions, who regulated their behavior in line with the Prophet’s (pbuh) at all times, did the same.

The three Companions had taken part in all the previous battles; except for Kaab (r.a), who was absent only at Badr. The world had suddenly narrowed in their eyes, constricting their hearts, now that they were ignored by the entire Muslim society because of their misjudgment in remaining behind from Tabuk. Worst of all was the fact that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had shunned them to a point where he did not even respond to their greetings. The entire earth had become estranged; even their wives were like strangers. There was nothing they could do about it, except for weep, day and night. They were like melted candles from their incessant crying. They had done a mistake but that did not distance them from being sincere, upright; neither did it shake their trust in Allah, glory unto Him, nor did it divert them away from remorse and repentance. Fifty days had gone by when they were finally rewarded for their honesty and genuine repentance in the form of the below ayat:

وَعَلَى الثَّلاَثَةِ الَّذِينَ خُلِّفُواْ حَتَّى إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّواْ أَن لاَّ مَلْجَأَ مِنَ اللّٰهِ إِلاَّ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُواْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّٰهَ وَكُونُواْ مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ

“And to the three who were left behind, until the earth became narrow to them notwithstanding its spaciousness and their souls were also straitened to them; and they knew it for certain that there was no refuge from Allah but in Him; then He turned to them (mercifully) that they might turn (to Him); surely Allah is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful. O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and be with the true ones.” (at-Tawbah, 118-119)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave the good news to Kaab ibn Malik (r.a) with the words, “I give you the glad tidings of your happiest day since the day you were born!”[24]

“Then, Messenger of Allah”, said Kaab ibn Malik (r.a) to express his gratitude, “I want to give away my entire wealth as charity for the sake of Allah and His Messenger!”

“Better you hold on to a portion of your wealth”, advised the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).

“In that case, I will hang on to my share from Khaybar”, said Kaab (r.a), before adding, “It was only because of my honesty that Allah saved me from this plight. So, Messenger of Allah, I shall speak nothing but the truth for the rest of my life!”

Kaab (r.a) says:

“By Allah, the greatest gift Allah the Almighty gave me after I was honored with the acceptance of Islam was to allow me to speak the truth in the presence of the Messenger of Allah and thereby save myself from being among the others who perished. For Allah the Almighty said the harshest words about those who made up excuses and remained behind from Tabuk, declaring:

فَأَعْرِضُواْ عَنْهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ رِجْسٌ

‘…so do turn aside from them; surely they are unclean!’” (at-Tawbah, 95) (Bukhari, Maghazi, 79, Wasaya, 16, Jihad, 103; Muslim, Tawbah, 53; Musafirin, 74)

The three Companions were beset with a punishment of such immense calibre for having stayed back just from one campaign, in spite of having been by the side of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) in virtually all the previous battles. The incident serves as a great precaution for those who, without a legitimate excuse, remain on the outer in the struggle of tawhid in the way of Allah, glory unto Him.

What an enormous lesson there indeed is that a man should carry the appellation of a ‘Companion’ and come face to face with death at numerous battles, first and foremost at Badr, and then become subject to the heaviest censure for being absent in an arduous yet bloodless campaign like Tabuk! Not only is there an incredible lesson in this for those with a thread of understanding, the incident also carries terrifying meaning and consequence. Considering that struggling for the triumph of Islam is a must in this day and age, as it has been at all times, how sad it is to see the many neglectful, slow and lax to move in this regard. If a veteran of Badr is made to pay such a heavy price for neglect, we must stop and think the consequences of neglect for people like us; and compliant with the command of the Almighty, strive to be with the righteous.

In order for them to be receptive to positive influences and to shun the negative, Allah, glory unto Him, has commanded Believers to be in the company of the righteous; to be with them, to seek their closeness, to support them and not to remain distant from them in all aspects of their life. This is imperative to prevent ‘the earth from becoming narrow’, to mend the aching heart and to thereby salvage oneself from the punishment of the Almighty and remove all barriers standing in the way of attaining His pleasure. How beautifully the importance of befriending the righteous is expressed in the below couplet:

A thorn is destroyed when alone,

Yet watered when with the rose…

It is quite momentous that this command was revealed during Tabuk, the ‘Troublesome Campaign’. It is necessary to be with the righteous, not only in times of comfort, but also when they are enduring hardships, when they have set out on jihad in the way of Allah, glory unto Him. Bearing the troubles the righteous suffer, emulating them in their efforts without remaining back is absolutely essential.

Surah Tawbah, most of which concerns the Tabuk Campaign, places great emphasis on the importance of physical and spiritual jihad in the way of Allah, glory unto Him. Physical and spiritual jihad, after all, serves as the most glaring proof of a Muslim’s loyalty to the religion and at the same time sets the difference between a Believer and a hypocrite. The Almighty declares:

إِنَّ اللّٰهَ اشْتَرَى مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الجَنَّةَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ فَيَقْتُلُونَ وَيُقْتَلُونَ وَعْدًا عَلَيْهِ حَقًّا فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالإِنجِيلِ وَالْقُرْآنِ وَمَنْ أَوْفَى بِعَهْدِهِ مِنَ اللّٰهِ فَاسْتَبْشِرُواْ بِبَيْعِكُمُ الَّذِي بَايَعْتُم بِهِ وَذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

“Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement.” (at-Tawbah, 111)

Another implication of this is that, at all ages, the hypocrites pose the greatest threat to Muslims, something brought to clear daylight by Surah Tawbah and the experiences of Tabuk.

To Allah Belongs the Treasures of Heaven and Earth

In spite of all attempts by the nonbelievers, Allah, glory unto Him, had now reigned His Religion supreme and rendered the Believers victorious. This was, all along, a Divine promise given to the Prophet (pbuh) and those who followed his lead with sincerity. This truth was therefore always bound to be realized regardless of the ill-wishes its enemies. So declares the Quran:

هُمُ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ لَا تُنفِقُوا عَلَى مَنْ عِندَ رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ حَتَّى يَنفَضُّوا وَلِلّٰهِ خَزَائِنُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَكِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ

“They are the ones who say, ‘Spend nothing on those who are with Allah’s Messenger, to the end that they may disperse (and quit Medina).’ But to Allah belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth; but the Hypocrites understand not.” (al-Munafiqun, 7)

To be sure, centuries of persistent efforts by nonbelievers to weaken the economical strength of Muslims has invariably been frustrated by Allah, glory unto Him, who has countered that by endowing His Believers with numerous blessings, as it is to Him alone the treasures of the heavens and earth belong. Mobilizing His physical and spiritual armies, the Almighty has always granted Believers with swift victories at the expense of nonbelievers, who have been subjected to overwhelming defeats.

History provides many instances of Muslims gaining supreme victories with small numbers with the help of Allah, glory unto Him. Badr, Muta, thebattlesofAndalusand Malazgirt are prominent examples among numerous others. It was only four-hundred cavaliers that founded the magnificent Ottoman State, which left a signature of the import of i’la-yi kalimatullah, fighting to reign the word of Allah supreme, on the entire world.

That shows that Muslim success is always parallel with and dependent upon their ikhlas, that is sincerity to Allah, glory unto Him. Loss of ikhlas is loss of strength; clutching onto ikhlas brings invincibility. When that is the case, enemies of Islam will in the end always be frustrated no matter how much they try to harm Muslims. Allah, glory unto Him, talks of this protection in the Quran:

وَإِن تَصْبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُمْ كَيْدُهُمْ شَيْئًا
إِنَّ اللّٰهَ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ

“…But if you are constant and do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you; for Allah encompasses round about all that they do.” (Al-i Imran, 120)

Muslim history has stood witness to countless manifestations of this ayah.

No Benefit in being Muslim without Worship

As the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) returned to Medina having accomplished the set goals, Urwah bin Masud, the leader of Taif, hastily arrived in town to declare his acceptance of Islam. Without further ado, he then returned to his hometown of Taif and began inviting the locals to Islam. But having years ago stoned the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) who had done naught but invite them to the Truth, the locals reacted even more brutally against Urwah (r.a). Showering him in arrows, they martyred him.[25]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then commanded Malik (r.a), the chieftain of Hawazin who was reinstated in his leadership after becoming Muslim, to subdue Taif. Malik’s (r.a) persistent raids on the town wore the Thaqif down, forcing them to remain trapped in their forts. Perturbed, they sent their notables to Medina.[26]

To warm their hearts to Islam, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) hosted the Thaqif delegate inside the Masjid.[27] That way, they got to hear the Quran the Companions recited at night and during tahajjud salat, as well as seeing Muslims line up, shoulder to shoulder, for the five daily salats.[28]

Eventually, the Thaqif delegate said they were ready to become Muslim on the condition they were exempted from salat.

“There is no benefit in religion without ruqu (salat)”, was the Prophet’s (pbuh) response. (Abu Dawud, Kharaj, 25-26/3026)

Thaqif were then foolish enough to demand that he allow Lat, their venerated idol, to remain in its place for another three years. When their request was declined, they further vied for a period of another month for the idol to remain. Of course, this, too, was denied. Then helpless, they became Muslim. Then they asked to be exempt from at least demolishing Lat themselves. The Noble Prophet (pbuh) did not insist and sent Abu Sufyan and Mughirah (r.huma) to execute the task instead.[29] Strange enough, as the idol fell to the ground, the women of Thaqif ran out on to the streets of Taif and began mourning. But it would not be long before they would completely forget even the names of their former idols and become sincere Muslims, appreciative of the excellence of Islam.

The compassionate prayer the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had made in the ninth year of the Meccan era for the guidance of the people of Taif, despite their vicious treatment of him, had now truly become realized.

The Thaqif delegate was taught the obligatories of Islam and the rules they needed to know for the daily routines of worship. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) also told them to fast in the remaining days of the month of Ramadan in which they happened to be at the time. Bilal Habashi (r.a) would deliver their sahur and iftar meals, to begin and end their fasts, throughout their stay in Medina.[30]

The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) would meet with the delegates that came to see him whenever he was available, day or night, and give them lengthy advices about their issues.[31] Likewise, he met regularly with the Thaqif envoy after isha salat. Once, as they stood talking for a lot longer than usual, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) even felt the need to put the weight of his body on one leg and rest the other.[32]

Aws ibn Huzayfah (r.a), a member of the then Thaqif delegate, recounts:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) arrived later than usual, at one time, after isha salat. ‘What was it that kept you, Messenger of Allah?’ we asked when he turned up.

‘I have made it personal duty to read a hizb of Quran a day. I did not want to come until I completed that’, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) replied.

Come morning, we asked the Companions how they read the Quran in hizb. They explained, ‘We make the first three surah the first hizb, then the following five the second hizb, then in order, we join the next seven surah, then the next nine, then the next eleven and then the next thirteen and make one hizb of each. And we then begin with Surah Qaf and make a final hizb until the end. We thereby read the Quran in seven hizb.’” (Ahmad, IV, 9; Ibn Majah, Salat, 178)

Being a declaration from Allah, glory unto Him and a trust bequeathed by the Prophet (pbuh), the Companions used to place great importance on the Holy Quran. Not only would they recite it lengthily during salats, they would also be sure to recite it extensively during journeys, battles and at night. They were never able to get enough of the zest of reciting the Quran; not a single day would pass without them reciting the Holy Book.[33] They used to begin their days with the Quran and would advise anyone suffering from an illness of the eye to stare at the pages of Quran. Othman (r.a) is even reported to have worn out both his copies of the Quran from excessive reciting.[34]

The most enthusiastic about the Quran among the representatives of Thaqif was Othman ibn Abi’l-As. Way before the other delegate members and without them knowing, he had pledged allegiance to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and become Muslim. Because he was their youngest, he was left behind to keep an eye out on the mounts. As the others would return to him in the midday heat to take a nap, Othman (r.a) would go next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and ask him questions on various matters, listen to and learn the Quran. He was thereby able to hear and memorize some surah directly from the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). If he found the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) to be busy, then he would either go to Abu Bakr or Ubay ibn Kaab (r.huma) and ask them what he had in mind or read to them what he had memorized. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was much fond of Othman’s (r.a) enthusiasm and took a special liking towards him. When the Thaqif delegate expressed their desire to return to Taif, they asked the Noble Messenger (pbuh) to designate a leader from among themselves. The Prophet (pbuh) designated Othman (r.a), even though he was their youngest. (Ibn Hisham, IV, 185; Ibn Saad, V, 508; Ahmad, IV, 218)

Other Events Following Tabuk

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had a son named Ibrahim born from the Egyptian Mariyah (r.ha). The little Ibrahim fell ill after the Prophet’s (pbuh) return from Tabuk and passed away a short while later. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was much grieved. Silent yet compassionate tears trickled from his eyes. He then said, “The eye cries, the heart grieves, but we do not say any word other than that which pleases our Lord! By Allah, Ibrahim, we are much grieved by your separation!” (Bukhari, Janaiz, 44; Ibn Saad, I, 138)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then asked for a stone to be brought, which he then placed at the head of the grave. Ibrahim’s (a.s) grave was now marked out. It was first his grave to be sprinkled with water.[35]

A solar eclipse took place on the same day. Some Companions, referring to a custom from the Age of Ignorance, explained the eclipse with Ibrahim’s (a.s) passing away. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh), on the other hand, offered two rakahs of salat as the eclipse was taking place and to indicate he did not condone the thoughts held by some Companions, stated, “The sun and the moon are two signs from among the signs of Allah. They are eclipsed neither by anyone’s death nor by anyone’s life. When you see their eclipse, engage in the remembrance of Allah and offer salat!”[36] (Nasai, Kusuf, 14)

In the month of Rajab the Abyssinian Negus passed away. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave the news of his death to his Companions instantly, on the day, despite of the sea and the distance separating the two lands.

“Offer the funeral salat of your brother”, he said, “who has passed away in a distant land!”

“Who is he, Messenger of Allah?” asked the Companions, to which the Noble Messenger (pbuh) replied, “Negus Ashama…Today, Ashama, the righteous servant of Allah, died. Ask forgiveness from Allah on your brother’s behalf!” He then led the Companions in the funeral salat of the bereaved Negus. (Muslim, Janaiz, 62-68; Ahmad, III, 319; IV, 7)

News soon arrived in Medina, confirming that the Negus had passed away on the exact day told by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).

Umm Khulthum (r.ha), the honorable daughter of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and the wife of Othman (r.a), also passed away, in Shaban, the following month.[37]

Two months after the Campaign of Tabuk, the month of Dhil-qadah saw the mischief and malice ridden life of Abdullah ibn Ubay, the leader of the hypocrites, finally come to an end. His death shook the foundations of the hypocritical movement in Medina. A majority of hypocrites afterwards repented and ended up becoming genuine Muslims.

Ibn Ubay’s son Abdullah came to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) immediately after his father’s death and passing on to the Prophet (pbuh) his father’s will, said, “Abdullah ibn Ubayy is now dead, Messenger of Allah. I ask for your shirt as his shroud, for you to lead his funeral salat and pray for his forgiveness!”

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) removed his shirt of his back and gave it to Abdullah (r.a) and after the corpse had been prepared, offered his funeral salat. This, however, brought about the below Revelation:

وَلاَ تُصَلِّ عَلَى أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُم مَّاتَ أَبَدًا وَلاَ تَقُمْ عَلَىَ قَبْرِهِ إِنَّهُمْ كَفَرُواْ بِاللّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَمَاتُواْ وَهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ

“And never offer prayer for any one of them who dies and do not stand by his grave; surely they disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger and they shall die in transgression.” (at-Tawbah, 84) (Bukhari, Janaiz, 23; Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 31)

Upon being asked as to why he agreed to hand his shirt over to enshroud the corpse of a notorious hypocrite and offer his funeral salat, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) explained, “Neither my shirt nor the salat I pray for him will protect him from the punishment that comes from Allah’s way. Yet by doing so, I anticipate the guidance of a thousand of his people!”

Indeed, witnessing the Prophet’s (pbuh) approach, a thousand former hypocrites of Khazraj, did leave their ways of old for good and became Muslim.[38]

The Year of Envoys

Mecca had been taken, the Battle of Hunayn had been won, the people of Taif had become Muslim a year after the siege and the troublesome campaign of Tabuk recently undertaken had been concluded triumphantly. There was no longer any obstacle in the entire Arabian Peninsula that could stand in the way of Islam. Tribes in Arabia, who thereby enjoyed the opportunity of gaining a more intimate knowledge of Islam, began sending envoys to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to pledge their allegiance. These envoys, arriving from Yemen, Hadramawt, Bahrain, Amman, the borders of Syria and Persia, were either coming to become Muslim in the presence of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) or to inform him they had already done so, and to ask from the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) teachers who could teach them Islam.

A brilliant example of a tribe to immediately return to their people to convey what they had personally learned from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) is Banu Tujib. A thirteen man envoy of the tribe arrived next to the Noble Messenger (pbuh), with their alms to pay. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) became fond of their overall manner and after warmly welcoming them, told Bilal Habashi (r.a) to host them in the best way possible.

“We have brought to you, Messenger of Allah, what is Allah’s due in our wealth!”

“Take them back with you and distribute it among your poor”, said the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).

“But we have only brought with us what was left over from our poor”, they explained.

Abu Bakr (r.a) then praised them, commenting, “Surely there is not any other envoy among other Arabs like these men of Tujib, Messenger of Allah!”

“Guidance is in the hands of Allah”, then stated the Noble Prophet (pbuh). “Allah opens to iman the hearts of whom He wishes for the best.”

The envoy of Banu Tajib asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) certain questions about the Quran and Sunnah. Their answers were written down and handed to them. Their enthusiasm increased the Prophet’s (pbuh) interest towards them. After staying a few days, the envoy expressed their desire to return. When asked as to why they were in such a hurry, they said, “We want to return to our people as soon as possible so we can teach them what we saw and learnt of the Messenger of Allah!” They saw the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) one last time and bode him farewell. The Prophet (pbuh) sent Bilal Habashi (r.a) with them and granted them more gifts than any other envoy. (Ibn Saad, I, 323; Ibn Qayyim, III, 650-651)

Requiring the incoming envoys to stay in Medina for a certain period of time, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thereby made sure they learnt the Quran and the basics of Islam, giving them a grasp of the religion in practice by having them see how he himself applied its principles. For instance, when an envoy from the Abd’ul-Qays tribe arrived, he asked the Ansar to host them and see to their needs while they were in Medina, meanwhile telling them to teach their guests the basics of Islam and have them memmorize enough chapters of the Quran for them to be able to offer their salat. The next morning at fajr salat, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) then asked how they were doing and whether they were happy with how their hosts had been attending to them. Seeing they were more than pleased, he then distributed them, in pairs, among the Companions, to give them an opportunity to learn Islam more sufficiently and comfortably. Satisfied with the efforts of his Companions and the eagerness of the Abd’ul-Qays envoy, he then attended to each of the new Muslims, one by one, and personally listened to them recite what they had commited to memory and corrected their mistakes, if they had any.[39]

In this way, Islam spread across entire Arabia and grew by the day. People were arriving in masses to enter Islam and Medina was filled to capacity, each day, with new guests. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) was welcoming them in the most compassionate manner, treating them with honor and kindness, conversing with them in line with their own conditions and dispositions, gathering information about their regions, listening to their needs and solving their problems, and in short, embroidering the pattern of the joy and peace of Islam onto their hearts.[40]

Troubles of old had now cleared the way for a blessing abundant. Allah, glory unto Him, urged His Messenger and the entire Believers, who had born the brunt of years of torment, to show their indebtedness towards this generous blessing He granted them:

إِذَا جَاء نَصْرُ اللّٰهِ وَالْفَتْحُ. وَرَأَيْتَ النَّاسَ يَدْخُلُونَ فِي دِينِ اللّٰهِ أَفْوَاجًا. فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا

“When there comes the help of Allah and the victory; and you see men entering the religion of Allah in companies. Then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is oft-returning (to mercy).” (an-Nasr, 1-3)

Owing to the rapid spread of Islam in Arabia and the arrival of envoys of various tribes in Medina in masses to learn the religion of Truth, the ninth year of Hegira has come to be known as the Year of Envoys.

Hajj: The Obligatory Pilgrimage

Hajj was already a continuing practice performed annually according to the Hanif religion of Ibrahim (a.s), mixed however with many idolater rituals. In the ninth year of Hegira, assigning Abu Bakr (r.a) as amir, or leader of the pilgrims, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent a group of three-hundred Companions to Mecca to teach Muslims how to perform their hajj, declaring he would personally attend the pilgrimage the following year. He also had the group take twenty-camels, each of them marked, to be sacrificed as part of hajj.

As Abu Bakr (r.a) was leading the group out of Medina, the first few ayat of surah at-Tawbah were revealed, commanding the vicinity of the Sacred House to be purged of idolaters, just as it had recently been purged of idols. Until then, idolaters had been left free to perform their worship in Kaabah. But now, with Kaabah restored with its original identity, the immoral style of idolater worship, consisting of circumambulating naked with a boisterous clap of hands, was no longer befitting of tawhid, and was moreover causing uproar among the public. Thus, the ayat of at-Tawbah spelled an end to the deeds of disrespect comitted in front of the Sacred House:

بَرَاءةٌ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّم مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ. فَسِيحُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللّٰهِ وَأَنَّ اللّٰهَ مُخْزِي الْكَافِرِينَ. وَأَذَانٌ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى النَّاسِ يَوْمَ الْحَجِّ الأَكْبَرِ أَنَّ اللّٰهَ بَرِيءٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَرَسُولُهُ فَإِن تُبْتُمْ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَإِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللّٰهِ وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ. إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّم مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُواْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّواْ إِلَيْهِمْ
عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَى مُدَّتِهِمْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ

“(This is a declaration of) immunity by Allah and His Messenger towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement. So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers. And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve. Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).” (at-Tawbah, 1-4)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلاَ يَقْرَبُواْ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ هَـذَا وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ عَيْلَةً فَسَوْفَ يُغْنِيكُمُ اللّٰهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ إِن شَاء إِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“O you who believe! The idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.” (at-Tawbah, 28)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent Ali (r.a), behind Abu Bakr (r.a), to announce the above ayat in Mecca. On they first day of eid, Ali (r.a) stood near Aqabah and carried out the duty he had been entrusted through a sermon. After reading the ayah, he announced the four terms laid down by the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) for everyone to hear:

1) Only Believers were to enter Paradise.

2) The idolatrous innovation of circumambulating Kaabah naked was to end and would no longer be tolerated.

3) No mushriq was to be allowed in the vicinity of Kaabah from that year onwards.

4) As for the idolaters who had a pact with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) to which they were remaining loyal, the pacts were to stay in force until the end of the designated terms.

No idolater, after that year, was able to come to hajj, and it would be the final time Kaabah was circumambulated in the ways of old. Besides, the handful of idolaters that remained came to terms with how degrading a position their beliefs had put them in and finally succumbed to Islam. Just as it had been cleared of idols before, Kaabah was now also purged of idolaters and had become ready for the Great Hajj the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was set to attend the following year.[41]

[1].      Bukhari, Maghazi, 68.

[2].      Bukhari, Tafsir, 49/1.

[3].      Abu Dawud, Atimah, 15/3766.

[4].      Bukhari, Adabu’l-Mufrad, p.316; Haythami, VIII, 40.

[5].      Muslim, Fadail, 109.

[6].      Ibn Saad, III, 156; Ibn Majah, Muqaddimah, 38; Dârimî, Muqaddimah, 28.

[7].      Kastallânî, II, 386.

[8].      From Egypt, Muhammad ibn Saîd al-Bûsirî, lived in the 13th during the Mamluk era. (608/1211-694/1296) (H. İbrâhim Şener, Kasîde-i Bürde Kasîde-i Bür’e ve Su Kasîdesi, p. 32, 60)

[9].      Salam is the name of a grove where the Blessed Prophet r used to talk to his Companions from time to time.

[10].     İlhan Armutçuoğlu, Kasîde-i Bürde, Konya 1983, p.8-11.

[11].     Ibn Saad, II, 165; Bukhari, Tafsir, 66/2.

[12].     Waqidi, III, 993-996; Ibn Saad, II, 165.

[13].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 172; Waqidi, III, 994.

[14].     Bukhari, Maghazi, 78.

[15].     Waqidi, III, 1002; Ibn Saad, II, 166.

[16].     Waqidi, III, 992.

[17].     The relevant ayah is the 103rd of at-Tawbah, most of which was revealed with regard to the Campaign of Tabuk:

خُذْ مِنْ اَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِمْ بِهَا وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ اِنَّ صَلاَتَكَ سَكَنٌ لَهُمْ وَاللّٰهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

[18].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 171.

[19].     Ibn Majah, Taharat, 45; Ahmad, VI, 27.

[20].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 177.

[21].     An example of how circumstances reflect onto and affect matter goes as follows:

         In a research conducted on frozen water crystals, Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist, discovered that the crystals developed in natural ponds remote from human intervention, were made up of perfectly elegant hexagons with spellbindingly flawless shapes. Taking some of this water into two separate bowls, he carried out an experiment. The crystals of the first bowl, to which positive expressions of love, mercy, gratitude and prayer were whispered, maintained their natural, graceful shape, whereas the crystals of the second bowl, to which negative expressions like insults and the word ‘devil’ were whispered soon disintegrated entirely and lost all their aesthetic traits. During the same experiment, it was found that both bowls of water reacted differently to pleasant and revolting music. To reinforce the result he reached, Emoto conducted another experiment; this time on two separate jars of boiled rice. Inside the first jar, he placed a small piece of paper inscribed with the words ‘thank you’, and in the second, another piece of paper with the word ‘stupid’ on it. Repeating, moreover, each word to their respective jar, Emoto found that after a month, the rice inside the first jar retained its freshness and color, while those of the second turned black and began to emit a foul smell. (Safvet Senih, “Su Kristallerinin Sırrı”, Sızıntı, Aralık 2002, number 287; M. Akif Deniz, İlk Adım, Şubat, 2003)

[22].     More than a third of the Quran consists of narratives. In emphasizing their importance, Allah, glory unto Him, commands to contemplate the truths they communicate, derive the proper lesson and assess these lessons with out own conditions. The Quran states:

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ اَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَاۤ اَوْحَيْنَاۤ اِلَيْكَ هٰذَا الْقُرْاٰنَ

We narrate to you the best of narratives, by Our revealing to you this Quran, though before this you were certainly one of those who did not know.(Yusuf, 3)

فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“…therefore relate the narrative that they may reflect.(al-Araf, 176)

وَلَقَدْ ضَرَبْنَا لِلنَّاسِ ف۪ي هٰذَا الْقُرْاٰنِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ

And certainly We have set forth to men in this Quran similitudes of every
sort that they may mind. (az-Zumar, 27)

[23].     Bukhari, Jihad, 196.

[24].     As Kaab t rushed towards the Blessed Prophet r upon receiving this wonderful news, he was intercepted by Talha ibn Ubaydullah t, who gleefully embraced Kaab and congratulated him; a genuine expression of feeling Kaab t fondly remembered for the rest of his life.

[25].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 194; Hâkim, III, 713/6579.

[26].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 138, 195.

[27].     Ahmad, IV, 218.

[28].     Waqidi, III, 965.

[29].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 197; Waqidi, III, 967-968.

[30].     Waqidi, III, 968.

[31].     Omar t states, “The Messenger of Allah r and Abu Bakr used to discuss a given issue concerning the Muslims until the late hours of night; and I used to be by their side.” (Tirmizî, Salât, 12/169)

[32].     Abu Dawud, Shahr-u Ramadan, 9/1393.

[33].     Ibn Saad, III, 75-76.

[34].     Kattânî, II, 197.

[35].     Ibn Saad, I, 144; Ibn Abdilbarr, I, 59.

[36].     Festivities observed in some regions during both the solar and lunar eclipses are superstitions that have nothing to do with Islam, which instead enjoins the offering of salat and prayer simultaneous to the two events. Considering the sound of an owl bad luck and shedding tears stems, again, from a similar superstitious beliefs.

[37].     Ibn Saad, VIII, 38.

[38].     Aynî, VIII, 54; Diyarbakrî, II, 140-141.

[39].     Ahmad, III, 402.

[40].     See, Nasaî, Umrah, 5.

[41].     Ibn Hisham, IV, 201; Tirmidhi, Hajj, 44/871; Waqidi, III, 1077.