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The Battle of Uhud
category: History & Biographies
The news of the disaster at Badr in which a number of noble men from the tribes of Quraish had fallen and the return of the survivors to Makkah in a complete state of confusion and disorder, was met with a lukewarm reception and despair that completely bewildered the Quraish. It had proved an unimaginable catastrophe for them. All those whose fathers, sons or brothers had been killed at Badr, met Abu Sufyan and others who had merchandise in the caravan which was brought back safely to Makkah. It was agreed to set aside the profits of the caravan in order to support in preparing themselves for a new war against the Muslims. The poets, as usual, began inciting the people with their songs of vengeance. To the pagan Arabs, the shedding of the blood of their tribesmen necessitated an effort to avenge those killed in order to vindicate their loss and honour.
A well-equipped army set out from Makkah to fight the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and his companions (radiallahu 'anhum) in the middle of Shawwal, 3 A.H. (After Hijrah: the Muslims began their calendar after the famous "Hijrah" from Makkah to Madeenah, hence everything that happened after that time is dated as "After Hijrah") The Quraish had mustered an army of three thousand soldiers consisting of their own warriors and others from surrounding tribes that agreed to join them. Their women went with them riding their own camels in order to stir their valour and prevent them from retreat. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 60-62) The noble men of Quraish also took their wives with them. The army advanced in small staggard groups and camped near the gates of Madeenah.
The Prophet's (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) plan was to remain in the city, leaving the invaders alone and to fight only when they decided to swarm it. He did not favor going out of the city to face the enemy in the battlefield. Abdullah b. Ubayy, too, agreed with the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), but some of the Muslims who had somehow missed the opportunity of engaging the enemy at Badr were more enthuasiastic. They said, "O Prophet of Allah, let us go forth and smite our foes, otherwise they would think that we fear to leave the city and face them."
While they kept on urging the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) in this way, he went into his house and put on his coat of armour. The young men who had been keen on meeting the enemy outside the city admonished themselves for their over-eagerness in light of the Prophet's (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) reluctance. Realizing their hastiness, they begged the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) to follow his first counsel for they may have been mistaken in persuading him against his will. "If you wish to remain inside the city", they said, "We will not oppose you."
However, the Prophet of God (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) replied, "It befits not a prophet, when once he had put on the armour, to take it off until he has fought." (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 63)
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) then marched out with a thousand strong army, yet, he had not gone far away when ‘Abdullah b. Ubayy withdrew with a third of the army's men. ‘Abdullah said to his comrades, "He disregarded my advice, but accepted theirs." (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 63)
THE PROPHET (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) TAKES POSITIONS
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) marched into the gorge of mount Uhud, about three kilometers to the north of Madeenah and positioned himself with the mountain to his back.(7) He also instructed his men, "Let none of you fight until I give you the word."
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) then drew up his troops for battle, which numbered 700 men all in all. On the adjoining mountain he established 50 archers under ‘Abdullah b. Jubayr and instructed them to keep the enemy cavalry away, for, he said, in no case should they be allowed to come on the Muslims from the rear whether the Muslims won the day or lost it. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 66) "Abandon not your position", he commanded them sternly, "Even if the birds snatch up these men." (Zad al-Ma'ad, Vol. I, p. 349 and Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Section ‘Battle of Uhud')
THE ENTHUSIASM OF THE YOUNGSTERS
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) had sent back two boys, Samura b. Jundub and Rafi' b. Khadij, as they were both fifteen years of age. Rafi' was later allowed by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)to join the troops on the recommendation of his father that he was a good archer. When Samura's turn came and he was asked to go back, he pleaded with the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) that since he had allowed Rafi' to join the army although he was stronger than him, he must also be permitted to go. Thereupon the two boys were told to wrestle with each other in which Samura defeated Rafi, thus, he was also sanctioned to take part in the battle. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 66)
THE FIRST PHASE OF ACTION
The battle began and each side hurled itself against the other, while a group of women, headed by the bloodthirsty Hind, rattled their tambourines while singing in order to urge the Quraish troops to deeds of valor. A general engagement ensued and the battle turned hot. Abu Dujana fought with the Prophet's (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) sword, killing everybody who came up against him and advanced deep into the enemy's ranks. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 67-68)
HAMZA AND MUS'AB B. ‘UMAYR KILLED (radiallahu 'anhumaa)
Hamza (radiallahu 'anhu) fought gallantly and killed a number of notable Quraish leaders. Nobody was able to bear his dashing charge, however, Wahshi, the slave of Jubayr B. Mu'tim, was watching the movements of Hamza (radiallahu 'anhu), for he had been promised freedom by his master on the condition that he killed him. Jubayr's uncle Tu'ayma had been killed by Hamza (radiallahu 'anhu) at Badr, while Hind had also urged Jubayr to get Hamza killed by Wahsi. At last Wahshi got his chance and plunged at Hamza (radiallahu 'anhu) while he was preoccupied in a fight with another soldier. Wahshi, an expert javelin thrower, launched his bow and arrow at Hamza (radiallahu 'anhu), piercing the lower part of his body. Hamza (radiallahu 'anhu) shivered, then he collapsed and dropped dead. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 70-72. Washi later narrated the event as related in the Sahih Al-Bukhaari, Section: Battle of Uhud).
Meanwhile, Mus'ab b. ‘Umayr (radiallahu 'anhu) had relegated himself in the defense of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), and exhibited singular courage in the thick of the battle by managing to keep the attacking infidels at bay. He fell at last, while nobly discharging the duty he owed to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 73)
VICTORY OF THE MUSLIMS
Allah fulfilled the promise He had made to the Muslims. The history of Badr was repeated once again; a number of the Quraish nobles fell in succession and their troops took to their heels. The Muslims found Hind and her companions abandoning their songs and running away, while tucking up their garments. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 73)
THE TABLE TURNS ON THE MUSLIMS
The Quraish had suffered an obvious rout. The ignominious retreat of the enemy troops and their women accompanying them taking to their heels made the archers certain of their victory. Uttering shouts of glee, they deserted their posts to despoil the enemy camp. ‘Abdullah b. Jubyr, the leader of the archers, reminded his men of the command given by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), but none of them were prepared to listen to him, except for a handful. So certain were they of their victory that return of the enemy, which was running for their lives, seemed inconceivable to them. Then, the situation changed. No longer obstructed by the potential flurry of arrows, the Makkan cavalry found its way to the unprotected rear of the Muslim army. (Zad al-Ma'ad, Vol. I, p. 350).
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