Setback

Mohammed and the Unbelievers

A Setback

CHAPTER 15

THE BATTLE OF UHUD

I555 Back at Mecca those who had lost at the Battle of Badr told others, “Men of Quraysh, Mohammed has killed your best men. Give us money so we may take re-venge.” Money was raised, men were hired, and an army was put together.

I557 One of the Quraysh had a black slave who could throw a spear and never miss the mark. He made a deal with the slave: “If you kill Hamza, then I will free you.” Hamza had killed the Quraysh’s uncle at Badr and was Mohammed’s uncle.

I558 So the Meccans camped near Medina, ready for war, ready for revenge. The Muslims now needed a strategy. Many, including Mohammed, wanted to sit and let the Meccans attack them. The town itself could be used in a defensive way—walls and rooftops would give any defender a strong advantage. But blood ran hot in the Mus-lim warriors. They were not afraid to meet the Meccans on the field of combat man to man. After Badr, they were invincible; Allah had said as much. “Mohammed, lead us to our enemies,” they said. “Don’t let them think we are weak cowards.” The ar-guments continued until Mohammed went in his house and came out in his armor.

I559 But now, seeing him in his armor, the hot-bloods repented and said they should never have tried to persuade Mohammed. They admitted they had been wrong. Mohammed said, “When a prophet puts on his armor, he should not take it off until there has been war.” So he marched out with a thousand men to meet the Meccans. But the uncertainties continued; one of the clan leaders of three hundred men said there was no reason to be there and turned his men toward home. Mo-hammed cursed them and kept on going toward the battlefield.

I560 When he saw the Meccans, Mohammed said, “Let there be no fighting until I give the word.” What he saw made his blood boil. The Meccans had turned their camels and horses loose in the crops of the Medinans. Mohammed placed fifty arch-ers to protect his rear and flank and told them to hold their ground. Mohammed put on a second coat of armor.

I561 Mohammed took his sword, thrust it into the air, and cried, “Who will take this sword and use it as it should be used?” Two different men stood to take it, and he turned away from them. One man asked what was the right. Mohammed said, “That you should strike the enemy until it breaks or bends.” The man took the sword. He put a red turban on his head and strutted in front of the Muslims, waving the sword at the Meccans.

M31,6040 Anas reported that Allah’s Messenger took hold of his sword on the Day of Uhud and said, “Who would take it from me?”

All the persons stretched their hands saying, “I would do it, I would do it.”

Allah’s Apostle said, “Who would take it in order to use it as it should be used ?”

Then the people withdrew their hands. Abu Dujana said, “I am here to take it and fulfil its rights.” He took it and struck the heads of the polytheists.

M31,5932 During the Battle of Uhud a polytheist fiercely attacked the Mus-lims. Mohammed said, “Saed, shoot an arrow.”

Saed said, “May my mother and father be taken as ransom for you.” He drew an arrow and shot a featherless arrow at the polytheist aiming at his side. He fell down and his private parts were exposed. Allah’s Messenger laughed so that I saw his front teeth.

I562 Abu Sufyan, the chief of the Meccans, spoke to his standard-

bearers. “You had charge of our flag at Badr and you saw what happened. The for-tunes of an army depend upon the standard. You must guard it well or you need to give it to us and we will save you the trouble.” The standard-bearer was incensed. “You want us to surrender the banner to you? Just wait until tomorrow and see what we do!” Abu Sufyan was pleased and smiled inside.

I562 The morrow came and the battle began. The Meccans had brought their women for the sole purpose of urging the men on. Men do not want to be cowards in front of women. The women began to beat their tambourines and chant poetry:

If you advance we will hug you

And place soft rugs beneath you.

If you retreat we will leave you,

Leave and no more love you.

I564 Hamza fought like a lion. He was big and skilled and killed many Meccans. As he approached one, he cried, “Come here, you son of a clitoris cutter!” (The Meccan warrior’s mother performed the operation of removing the clitoris from young girls.) Hamza struck and killed the man in a blow. Lurking around the edges of the battle was the black slave charged with killing Hamza. He had watched and waited, and now he stepped forth and threw his spear like an athlete. He never missed, and he did not miss now. The spear stuck Hamza in the belly and exited. Hamza strode toward the slave but staggered and fell. The slave watched and waited as Hamza slowly died. When he was dead, the now freed slave stepped up, withdrew his spear, and walked off the field. He had done his job, and he left a free man.

I566 The freed slave lived in Mecca until Mohammed captured the town. He was afraid of Mohammed until someone suggested he convert so Mohammed would forgive him. When Mohammed heard that the man who had killed his uncle had submitted to Islam, he remarked, “Leave him alone. The submission of one man is better than the killing of a thousand kafirs.”

I570 The Muslims fought without any fear and the battle went against the Meccans, who were cut off from their camp. The camp had the treasure—the spoils of war—and the Muslim archers left their positions to get to the spoils. The battle might go to Islam, but the archers would have the treasure. This left the army’s flank and rear open and the Meccan cavalry took advantage and charged the rear. Mohammed was in the rear. The battle suddenly went against Islam.

I571 The Muslims were put to flight and many were slain. Even Mohammed got hit in the face by a rock, broke a tooth, and split his lip. He was incensed. The Meccans were all around and the Muslims had to protect him with their bodies.

M19,4413 When the enemy got the upper hand on the day of the Battle of Uhud, Mohammed was left with only seven men from the Helpers and two men from the Quraysh [the Immigrants]. When the enemy advanced toward him and overwhelmed him, he said, “Who so turns them away from us will attain Paradise or will be my Companion in Paradise.”

A man from the Helpers came forward and fought the enemy until he was killed. The enemy advanced and overwhelmed him again, and Mo-hammed repeated the words, “Who turns them away from us will attain Paradise or will be my Companion in Paradise.” A man from the Helpers came forward and fought until he was killed. This state continued until the seven Helpers were killed one after the other.

Now Mohammed said to his two Companions, “We have not done justice to our Companions.”

M19,4414 On the day of the Battle of Uhud the face of Mohammed was in-jured, his front teeth were damaged, and his helmet was crushed. Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed, was washing the blood from his head, and Ali was pouring water on it from a shield. When Fatima saw that the bleeding had increased on account of pouring water on the wound, she took a piece of mat and burnt it until it was reduced to ashes. She put the ashes on the wound and the bleeding stopped.

I574 At one point the Meccans thought they had killed the man who had brought them so much pain. One Muslim recognized the prophet under his helmet and spread the news that he was alive. Mohammed fled the field. He was a heavy man and, in addition, wearing two suits of armor. He almost could not climb the rocks and hill without help.

I583 The day went to the Meccans, the Quraysh. They did not press their advantage. They had come to extract tribal justice, and they killed about as many of the Muslims as they had lost at Badr. Abu Sufyan, the Meccan leader, agreed through an emissary that they would meet in combat the following year.

I581 After the battle was over, some of the Meccan women who had been “cheer-leaders” for their troops went onto the battlefield and cut off the noses and ears of the Muslim dead and made jewelry of the pieces. From Hamza, Mohammed’s favorite warrior, they even removed the liver. One of the women wrote this poem:

We have paid you back for Badr

And a war that follows a war is violent.

I could not bear the loss of my friends

Nor my brother and his uncle and my first born.

I have slaked my vengeance and fulfilled my vow.

The slave who killed Hamza has cooled the burning in my breast.

I shall thank the slave, now free,

Until my bones rot in the grave. —Hind d. Utba

I584 After Badr, the Meccans had mourned their nobility and heroes. Now it was Mohammed’s turn to mourn. The Koran changed every Muslim corpse into a martyr in the pleasure gardens of heaven.

I586 The dead Muslims were buried in the battlefield. Mohammed said, “I testify that those who are wounded in jihad will be raised by Allah, with his bleeding wounds smelling like the finest perfume.” When Mohammed heard the women weeping for their dead, he wanted wailing for his Uncle Hamza as well. So the women wailed for Hamza and Mohammed felt better.

I587 When Mohammed entered his house he handed his sword to his daughter and told her, “Wash the blood from this for, by Allah, it has served me well today.” The next day he ordered all the fighters who had been at Uhud to marshal themselves and be ready to head out to pursue the enemy. This move was pure strategy to impress upon the enemy that he was still strong and not weakened by his losses. They went about eight miles from Medina and camped for three days before returning to Medina.

I589 Mohammed was the supreme master of the psychology of war. He sent an agent to Abu Sufyan who pretended to be a friend of the Meccans. Abu Sufyan was thinking about going back and finishing off the Muslims. But Mohammed’s agent told Abu Sufyan that Mohammed was coming very soon with an army, the like of which had never been seen. The Muslims were in a state of total fury and would sweep into Hell all who were in front of them. Abu Sufyan, a merchant, left for Mecca and security. The Meccans had settled their tribal score.

THE KORAN AND THE BATTLE OF UHUD

Since Allah had sent angels to the previous Battle of Badr and the outnumbered Muslims triumphed, how could they fail at Uhud? The Koran spends some sixty verses explaining how this happened and how the results were further proof of the alliance between Allah and Mohammed.

I593 Two of the Muslim clans had had doubts about the battle. But Allah was their God, and they did not doubt Islam and went on into the battle because of their belief in Allah and Mohammed.

3:121 Remember when you [Mohammed] left your home early in the morning to lead the believers to their battle stations? Allah heard and knew all. When two of your brigades showed cowardice, Allah protected them both.

I595 The reason for the Muslim loss was that the archers did not hold their ground. When they saw that the Meccans were cut off from their camp, they ran to get the treasure of war. Greed caused them to disobey Mohammed. They were told they should always obey Mohammed; he spoke for the Lord of all.

3:131 Obey Allah and His messenger so that you may receive mercy.

I595 Those who did not follow orders should ask for forgiveness. If they realized the loss was their fault and were remorseful, they would still get their reward of heaven.

3:133 Urge each other on to earn forgiveness from your Lord, and the Paradise as wide as heaven and earth is prepared for the righteous. Those who give freely, whether they are prosperous or poor; who control their anger; who are forgiving (for Allah loves those who do good) who, when they have sinned or wronged themselves, go to Allah and implore His forgiveness for their sins (for who except Allah can forgive you of your sins?) and do not knowingly continue in their sinning; these will be rewarded with their Lord’s forgiveness and with the Garden watered by flowing rivers where they will live forever.

I597 The reason Allah let the Meccans win was to test the Muslims. Now they truly knew themselves. Were they fair-weather friends of Mohammed, or could they see their faults? If they obeyed Mohammed, then they could become true Muslims. A true Muslim never lost his morale, never fell into despair.

3:139 Therefore, do not lose heart or despair; if you are a true believer, you will be victorious.

I596 There were casualties, and they had suffered losses in the battle, but they had to remember the kafirs had also suffered. Over the long view, fortunes went up and down. They had to take the long view and believe in Mohammed and know that all would turn out well in the end. Those who died had the best reward. They were martyrs for Islam. Those really in the wrong were the hypocrites, the pretenders.

3:140 If you have been wounded, be certain that the same has already befallen your enemies. We bring misfortune to mankind in turns so that Allah can discern who are the true believers and so that We may select martyrs from among you. Allah does not love those who do evil.

I596 The Muslims had to realize that Allah would purify them through tests such as the one at Uhud. Those of true faith would not be discouraged, but the hypocrites would be exposed and deprived of all blessing.

3:141 It is also Allah’s purpose to test the believers and to destroy the kafirs.

I596 Did they think they would get to heaven before Allah had tested them? Allah surely knew who was really a believer. A Muslim warrior had to be given a trial, and losing at Uhud was merely a trial.

3:142 Did you think that you would be permitted into Paradise before Allah tested you to see who would fight for His cause [jihad] and endure until the end?

I596 Those who had not taken part in the big victory at Badr were anxious to show off as warriors, but when the actual killing started many were not as good as they thought they would be.

3:143 You used to wish for death before you saw it, but now that you have seen it with your own eyes, you turn and run from it.

I597 The Muslims should not think they were the first to experience failure. In his-tory many had failed in jihad, but they never lost heart or weakened. The lesson of Uhud was to be firm and not get depressed over a small failure.

3:146 Many of the messengers have fought for Allah’s cause [jihad] alongside large armies. They were never frightened by what they encountered on Allah’s path, nor did they weaken or cringe with fear. Allah loves those who stand firm.

I599 Jihad wasn’t over. Soon Islam would bring terror to the kafirs. After death they would burn in Hell. Their destruction would come because they did not believe in the religion of Islam.

3:151 We will strike terror into the hearts of the kafirs because they worship others besides Allah, which He gave them no permission to do. Their home will be the Fire, a terrible resting place for the evil-doers.

I599 The slaughter of kafirs at Badr had gone well and they were about to wipe the kafirs off the face of the earth, thanks to Allah. But then they disobeyed Mohammed. Allah did not destroy them because he was merciful, but their greed for the treasure (spoils of war) was of this world. They had to desire what comes after death, not the wealth of this world. They had to learn this lesson with the grace of Allah.

3:152 Allah fulfilled His covenant with you [Mohammed] when He allowed you to destroy your enemies. And then later, when you [the Muslims at Uhud] lost your courage, arguments broke out among you and you sinned after you had come so close to what you wanted. Some of you wish for the desires of this world and some of you for the world to come. Therefore, He caused you to be defeated so that you might be tested. Now He has forgiven you for Allah shows grace to the believers.

I601 Some accepted the loss but others were anxious because they did not trust Al-lah. The hypocrites divorced themselves from the decision and blamed others for the failure. If they had had their way, then everyone would have been safe. But when Al-lah decreed one’s time had come, nothing could stay the hand of death. Death would come, and it was better to die in jihad.

3:154 Then, after the trouble Allah sent down upon you, He sent down calmness to wash over some of you. Some were overtaken by sleep, and others lay awake, stirred by their own passions, ignorantly thinking unjust thoughts about Allah. And they ask, “What do we gain by this affair?” Say: Truly the affair is entirely in Allah’s hands. They hide in their hearts that which they do not want to tell you. They speak out saying, “If we had any say in this affair then none of us would have been killed here.” Say: If you had stayed at home, those of you who were destined to be killed would have died regardless. This has taken place so that Allah might test your faith and see what is in your hearts. Allah knows the deepest secrets of every heart.

I602 Mohammed was gentle with the Muslims, overlooked their faults, and forgave them. He still consulted with them from time to time, but all final decisions lay with Allah and Mohammed.

3:158 It was because of Allah’s mercy that you spoke so gently to them. For if you had dealt with them severely or been hard-hearted, they would have turned away from you. Therefore, forgive them and ask Allah to forgive them and counsel them in the affair of war; and when you have resolved the matters, put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those who trust Him. If Allah is helping you, no one can defeat you. But if He leaves you, who will be there to help you when He is gone? Therefore, let the faithful put their trust in Allah.

I603 The Muslims’ loss was a test brought on by their decisions. The hypocrites were told to fight in jihad or at least defend the city. Their excuses were those of kafirs.

3:166 The destruction which befell you the day the two armies met in battle was Al-lah’s will so He would recognize who were the true believers and who were the hypocrites. And when they were told, “Come and fight for Allah’s cause [jihad] and drive your enemies back,” they replied, “If we knew how to fight, then we would have followed you.”

3:168 Some of them were closer to unbelief than faith that day. What they said with their mouths was not what was in their hearts, but Allah knew what they were hid-ing in their hearts. It was these who said, while sitting at home, of their brothers, “If only they had listened to us, then they would not have been killed.” Say: Try to avert your death if what you say is true!

I606 The success the kafirs were experiencing was temporary. They would grow in their evil and be punished.

3:178 Do not let the kafirs think that we lengthen their days for their own good. We give them time only hoping that they will commit more serious sins. They will re-ceive a shameful punishment.

POETRY FROM THE MUSLIMS

We attacked you with Allah’s help and sustenance.

Our spearheads directed toward you.

Our lances made gaping wounds among you

Like the mouths of water-skins where the water gushes forth.

We thrust our swords between your shoulders

Where they drank blood again and again.

We made your shit run thin out your asses

Like a camel with diarrhea.

We, and not men like you—children of your mother’s ass,

Meet the fighters when adversity comes.

THE BETRAYAL

I638 One of the tribes south of Medina sent an envoy to Mohammed and asked that he send men who could instruct the tribe in Islam. So Mohammed happily sent six men. When they got near the town where the tribe lived they stopped to rest.

I639 While they were resting, they were surprised to see men with drawn swords approaching. They grabbed their own swords and faced the approaching men. The men told the Muslims they had no intention of harming them but wanted to take them to Mecca and deliver them there. They would be paid, and then the Meccans would ransom them to Mohammed for a profit and vengeance. The Muslims relaxed once their lives were not in danger.

I639 One of the Muslims said he would never trust a kafir and that he was a warrior and would die then and there. So they fought, and three of the Muslims were killed. The remaining three wanted to save their lives and surrendered.

I 640 They were bound and taken to Mecca. On the way, one of them loosed him-self and grabbed a sword. The gang drew back and threw stones until they killed him. In Mecca the other two were sold. The buyers took them outside the sacred area of Mecca. Both of the buyers had vengeance in mind when they bought the men. One of the buyers crucified his purchased Muslim. As he died he cursed each one of them that they might die one by one.

ASSASSINATION AS JIHAD

M276 After Uhud, several kafir tribes allied themselves under the leadership of Sufyan Ibn Khalid. Mohammed dispatched an assassin to kill him, for without his leadership the coalition would fall apart. The assassin, Abdullah, joined Sufyan’s forces and waited until he was alone with him. He killed him and cut off his head and went back to Medina.

M276 When Abdullah got back, he went straight to the mosque where he knew Mohammed always was. Mohammed welcomed him and asked for a report. Abdullah presented Mohammed the head of his enemy. Mohammed was gratified and pre-sented him his walking stick. He said, “This is a token between you and me on the day of resurrection. Very few will have such to lean on in that day.” Abdullah at-tached it to his sword scabbard.

TREACHERY AND A LETHAL MISTAKE

T1442 Another tribe sent an envoy to Mohammed to ask him to come teach Islam. He offered Mohammed a present, but Mohammed would not take a gift from a kafir. He then preached Islam to the envoy; however, Mohammed was reluctant to send anyone to preach Islam, due to the previous ambush of his men.

I649 Discussions were held and Mohammed felt comfortable with sending seventy of his fighters. When the seventy fighters got to the tribe, they got off their camels and sent two men to pasture them. Very soon they found themselves surrounded by men on horses wielding swords with blood in their eyes. The Muslims fought to the last man, who actually was found wounded but alive and lived to die at the Battle of the Trench.

I650 The two Muslims with the pastured camels noticed buzzards circling and rushed to find their men. The killers were still there on horseback. One of the Mus-lims said they should run and tell Mohammed. The other man said he could not leave his dearest friend’s body and pulled his sword. He was quickly cut down. The other Muslim surrendered.

I650 The enemy cut off the Muslim’s forelock (a humiliation for an Arab) and set him free due to complicated tribal relations between him and the killers’ tribe. He rode off, and later, on the trail back to Medina, he fell in with two Arabs of a tribe related to the ones who had killed his friends. They sat and talked, and then the two men napped. The Muslim killed both of them. There was a problem, however, in that the clan they belonged to had a special treaty with Mohammed.

I650 The fighter went back to Medina and gave a full report to Mohammed. It was a very bad day for Mohammed. Sixty-nine of his best men killed, and now he owed blood money for the killing of two men of a clan with which he had an alliance.

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