THE BATTLES

Print Friendly

As Muslim power solidified in Madina, the Quraysh began to worry about a possible threat to their trade route to Syria. In a letter addressed to ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul,19 the Quraysh threatened to kill all Madinese men and enslave their women unless they expelled the Messenger. The Prophet put a timely end to this, and Ibn Ubayy did not pursue the matter. Next, when Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh, may Allah be pleased with him, went to Makka to perform the minor pilgrimage (‘umra), he was stopped at the Ka‘ba’s entrance and prevented from performing the circumambulation. The Makkans kept sending groups of raiders.

The Battle of Badr

Given such incidents, the Muslims had to extend their control over the Syrian trade route to force the Quraysh and other unfriendly tribes to reconsider. It also was time for the Prophet to show the forces arrayed against him that the preaching of Islam could not be stopped or eradicated from its adherents’ hearts, and that polytheism and unbelief would surrender to Islam.

At the beginning of 624, a large Qurayshi caravan en route to Makka from Syria, and escorted by no more than 40 security guards, arrived at a place within reach of the Muslims. It contained goods that had been purchased with the Emigrants’ property. Naturally Abu Sufyan, the caravan’s leader, feared a Muslim attempt to retrieve their stolen property. And so he sent word to Makka asking for help and reinforcements.

This caused an uproar throughout Makka. Leading Qurayshi chiefs decided to fight the Prophet. About 1,000 fighters left Makka, amidst much pomp and show, to crush the Muslims’ rising power. They also wanted, as always, to terrorize neighboring tribes to ensure their trade caravans’ continued safety.

The Messenger, always informed of developments that could affect his mission, realized that if an effective step were not taken right then, the preaching of Islam might suffer a blow. Had the Quraysh taken the initiative and attacked Madina, the city’s small Muslim community might have perished. Even if they only brought their caravan safely to Makka by dint of their military strength, the Muslims’ political and military prestige would be undermined. Once this happened, their lives, property, and honor would be jeopardized.

Deciding to use his available resources, the Prophet left Madina. Although he may have wanted a decisive battle with the Quraysh, most Muslims wanted to capture the caravan and retrieve their property. The Prophet assembled the people and told them that the Qurayshi trade caravan was in the north and its invading army was in the south, moving toward Madina. He also informed them that Allah had promised that they would be able to seize either party.20 It was for them to choose which target to attack.

Aware of the Prophet’s intention, an Emigrant named Miqdad ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, replied:

O Messenger of Allah! Proceed as Allah has commanded you. We are with you wherever you go, even as far as Bark al-Ghimad. We shall not say, as the Children of Israel said to Moses: “Go forth, you and your Lord, and fight. We shall remain here sitting.” We rather say: “Go forth, you and your Lord, and fight, and we shall fight on your side as long as the eyelid of any one of us keeps moving.”21

Until the Battle of Badr, the Messenger had not sought military aid from the Ansar. This was the first time they would prove their commitment to Islam. Without addressing them directly, the Messenger again put the two alternatives before his audience. Realizing what the Messenger was doing, an Ansari named Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh, may Allah be pleased with him, the leader of the Aws tribe, rose and said:

O Messenger of Allah. I think your question is directed to the Ansar. We believe in you, affirm that you are the Messenger of Allah, and bear witness to the truth of your teachings. We took the oath of allegiance to you that we would hear and obey you. O Messenger of Allah, do as you wish! By the One Who has sent you with the truth, if you were to take us to the sea and plunge into it, none of us should remain behind. So take us along to the battlefield with Allah’s blessings.22

The decision was made to fight. This was also the decree of Allah, as mentioned above.

The Makkan army consisted of 1,000 fighters, including 600 soldiers in coats of mail and 200 cavalrymen, and was accompanied by singers and dancers. Dancing and drinking parties were held whenever it halted. The soldiers arrogantly vaunted their military power and numerical strength to the tribes and settlements it passed, and boasted of their invincibility.23 Even worse, they were fighting for no lofty ideal; rather, they sought to defeat the forces of belief, truth, justice, and good morals.

The Muslim army was made up of 313 fighters: 86 Emigrants and 227 Ansar. Only two or three Muslims had horses, for resources were scarce. There were no more than 70 camels, so three or four persons took turns riding each camel. The Messenger took turns with two others. When they asked him to ride the camel and exclude them from the turns, the Messenger answered: “You are not stronger than me. And as for the reward, I need it just as much as you do.”24

The Muslim soldiers were fully devoted to and ready to die for the cause of Islam. To accomplish what He had decreed, Allah made the Messenger dream that the number of Makkan soldiers was small, just as He made the number of the Muslims appear smaller in the eyes of the Makkans (8:44).

The two armies met at Badr. The Makkans outnumbered the Muslims by three to one and were far better equipped. However, the Muslims were fighting for the most sublime cause: to establish Allah’s religion, based on belief, good morals, and justice. Deeply convinced of Islam’s truth and eager to die for it, they were ready for battle.

Being the first to reach the battlefield, they positioned themselves around the wells. They also benefited from the heavy downpour of the previous night, for it provided them with an abundant supply of water that they quickly stored in large containers. The rain also compacted the loose sand in the upper part of the valley in which they pitched their tents. This allowed them to plant their feet firmly and move with less difficulty. In the valley’s lower part, however, where the Quraysh army stationed itself, the ground was marshy. In addition to these Divine blessings, Allah sent a feeling of drowsiness over the Muslims and gave them a feeling of peace and security (8:11).

From their campsite, the Muslim army could see the whole battlefield. It was divided into three parts: one center and two flanks. The central force consisted of the leading Emigrants and Ansar who were foremost in devotion to the Messenger. Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr, a member of one of Makka’s richest families who had accepted Islam as a youth, carried the standard of the Messenger. He was so handsome that when he would go out wearing his silk clothes, before his conversion, Makkan girls would stare at him from their windows. After he embraced Islam, however, he followed the Messenger wholeheartedly. He sacrificed whatever he had in the cause of Allah, and was martyred at Uhud, during which he again bore the Prophet’s standard. When he lost his right arm, he took the standard in his left hand; when he lost his left arm, he was left with a “head” to protect the Messenger, before whom he was finally martyred.25

The flanks were commanded by ‘Ali and Sa‘d ibn Mu’adh, may Allah be pleased with them. ‘Ali was famous for his courage and deep devotion to the Messenger. He had been only 9 or 10 years old when he told the Messenger: “I will help you,” after the Messenger had gathered his kinsmen at the outset of his mission to seek their conversion and support.26 On the night of the Prophet’s Emigration, ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, had slept in the Prophet’s bed so he could leave Makka in safety.27 By the time those surrounding the house discovered this ruse, the Messenger had reached Thawr cave. ‘Ali was wholly dedicated to the cause of Allah. The Messenger took all necessary precautions and made the best possible preparations. He mobilized his resources and chose his best and most qualified men as commanders. He stationed his army at the valley’s upper part. He then pitched his tent where he could see the whole battlefield and have his commands conveyed instantaneously. As the final prerequisite, he prayed with

great earnestness and humility:

O Allah, here are the Quraysh who in their vainglory seek to deny and cry lies against Your Messenger. O Allah, support us with the help You promised me. O Allah, were this small group of Muslims to perish, no one in the world would remain to worship You.28

After the prayer, he threw a handful of dust at the enemy saying: “May their faces be scorched.”29

Badr was a severe test for the Muslims. They would either win or be martyred, for they were ordered not to flee. They could retreat in orderly fashion under strong enemy pressure, as a stratagem to seek reinforcements or to re-group with another party in the rear (8:15), but not because of cowardice and defeatism. Such a disorderly flight would reveal that they preferred their lives over Islam, a major and deadly sin.

The Battle Begins

In the Quraysh’s first frontline were ‘Utba ibn Rabi‘a, his brother Shayba, and his son Walid. They challenged the Muslims to single combat. Three young Ansar went forward. “We will not fight Madina’s farmers and shepherds!” ‘Utba shouted arrogantly. This was, in fact, what the Messenger expected. He ordered ‘Ali, Hamza, and ‘Ubayda ibn Harith, may Allah be pleased with them, forward for single combat. Hamza fought and killed ‘Utba, and ‘Ali killed Walid with two blows. ‘Ubayda, who was old, fought Shayba and was wounded on his knee. Hamza and ‘Ali rescued him, killed Shayba, and carried ‘Ubayda away.30

The Quraysh were shocked by such an unexpected beginning. The Muslims’ belief, sincerity, and valor won them Allah’s help. The Quraysh, who had exulted in their superiorty in number and weaponry, were decisively defeated by the ill-equipped Muslims. Seventy Qurayshis were killed. ‘Awf and Mu‘awwidh (two young Ansari brothers) joined with ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud to kill Abu Jahl, who the Messenger called the “Pharaoh of the Muslim Community.”31 Almost all Qurayshi leaders were killed: Abu Jahl, Walid ibn Mughira, ‘Utba ibn Rabi‘a, ‘As ibn Sa‘id, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid. Prior to the battle, the Messenger had indicated the spots where they would die, saying: “‘Utba will be killed here; Abu Jahl here, Umayyah ibn Khalaf here,” and so on.32

Seventy Qurayshis were captured. Allah allowed the Muslims to ransom them, and some were released. Those who were literate were to be released only after teaching the unlettered Muslims how to read and write. This policy had several benefits: captives who had expected execution gladly paid the ransom; Madina’s low literacy rate was raised, making the newly literate Muslims more effective in preaching Islam and gaining people’s respect; literate captives could learn about Islam and be in close contact with Muslims, which would bring more people into Islam; and the captives’ families and relatives were so glad to see their presumed-dead family members that they became much more receptive to Islam. The decisive victory made Islam a force to be reckoned with throughout Arabia, and many hardened hearts were inclined to accept Islam.

The Battle of Uhud

The victory of Badr alerted the peninsula’s hostile forces. The Muslims were in a state of unease, and endured the wrath of most neighboring societies.

Madina’s Jewish tribes were not eager to honor their agreements with the Messenger after his Emigration. During the Battle of Badr, they favored the Makkan polytheists; afterwards, they openly encouraged the Quraysh and other Arab tribes to unite against the Muslims. They also collaborated with the hypocrites, who were apparently an integral part of the Muslim body politic.

To sabotage the spread of Islam, they began to fan the flames of old animosities between the Aws and Khazraj, the two tribes of Madinan Muslims. Ka‘b ibn Ashraf, chief of Banu Nadir, went to Makka and recited stirring elegies for the Makkans killed at Badr to provoke the Quraysh into renewed hostilities. He also slandered the Muslims and satirized the Messenger in his poems. The Jewish tribes’ violation of their treaty obligations exceed-

ed all reasonable limits. A few months after Badr, a Muslim woman was treated indecently by some Jews of Banu Qaynuqa, the most anti-Muslim Jewish tribe. During the ensuing fight, a Muslim was martyred and a Jew was killed. When the Messenger reproached them for this shameful conduct and reminded them of their treaty obligations, the Jews threatened him: “Don’t be misled by your encounter with a people who have no knowledge of warfare. You were lucky. By Allah, if we fight you, you will know that we are men of war.”

Finally, the Messenger attacked the Banu Qaynuqa, defeated them, and banished them from Madina’s outskirts. In addition, upon the order of the Messenger, Muhammad ibn Maslama killed Ka‘b ibn Ashraf and ended his trouble-making activities.33

The Reasons for the Battle

The Quraysh were still smarting from their defeat in the Battle of Badr. Their women were mourning their dead warriors almost daily, and encouraging the survivors to revenge themselves. In addition, the Jewish efforts to rouse their feelings of revenge were like pouring oil on flames. Within a year, the Quraysh attacked Madina with an army of 3,000 soldiers, including 700 in coats of mail and 200 cavalrymen.

Informed of the Makkans’ march upon Madina, the Messenger consulted with his Companions about how to meet this threat.34 He had dreamed that he was in his coat of mail with his sword notched, and that some oxen were being slaughtered. He interpreted this to mean that they should defend themselves within Madina’s boundaries, and that a leading member of his kinsmen, together with some Companions, would be martyred.35 He also knew that the Makkan army was coming to fight on open ground. Thus, if the Muslims defended themselves within Madina, the Makkan army could not mount a long siege. He stressed once more that Muslims represent peace and security, and that they should resort to force only to eliminate an obstacle to the preaching of Islam or to defend themselves, their faith, or their country.

However, several young people longed for martyrdom. Upset that they had not fought at Badr, they wanted to fight the enemy outside of Madina. The Messenger gave in to this ultimately majority demand. When these young people repented, upon warning from their elders about their insistence, and the elders informed the Messenger of this, the Messenger replied: “It does not befit a Prophet to take off his coat of mail once he has put it on.”36

Having decided to follow the majority, the Messenger and 1,000 warriors left Madina for Uhud, a volcanic hill only a few miles from its western outskirts. Its main feature was a plain that stretched out before it. When they were only half way there, however, ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul turned back with his 300 men.37 This event, coming just before the battle began, caused such perplexity and confusion that the Banu Salama and Banu Haritha tribes also wanted to turn back. Eventually, they were persuaded to remain.

The Messenger advanced with the remaining ill-equipped 700 Muslims. He lined them up at the foot of Mount Uhud so that the mountain was behind them and the Qurayshi army in front of them. The enemy could launch a surprise attack from only one mountain pass. The Messenger posted 50 archers there under the command of ‘Abd Allah ibn Jubayr, may Allah be pleased with him. He told him not to let anyone approach or move from that spot, adding: “Even if you see birds fly off with our flesh, don’t move from this place.”38

Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr was the standard bearer, Zubayr ibn ‘Awwam commanded the cavalry, and Hamza, may Allah be pleased with them, commanded the infantry. The army was ready to fight. To encourage his Companions, the Prophet brought forth a sword and asked: “Who would like to have this sword in return for giving its due?” Abu Dujana, may Allah be pleased with him, asked: “What is its due?” “To fight with it until it is broken,” the Prophet said. Abu Dujana took it and fought.39 Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas and ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with them, prayed to Allah to let them meet the strongest enemy soldiers. Hamza, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet’s uncle and “Lion of Allah,” wore an ostrich feather on his chest. The verse revealed to describe the godly persons around previous Prophets pointed also to them:

Many a Prophet there was, with whom a large number of Allah-devoted men fought. They fainted not for anything that befell them in the cause of Allah, neither weakened nor abased themselves. Allah loves the steadfast. Nothing else did they say but: “Our Lord, forgive our sins, and that we exceeded in our affair. Make our feet firm, and help us against the unbelievers.” Allah gave them the reward of the world and the good reward of the Hereafter. Allah loves those who do good. (3:146–48)

In the first stage, the Muslims defeated the enemy so easily that Abu Dujana, may Allah be pleased with him, with the sword the Prophet had given him, pushed into the center of the Qurayshi army. There he met Abu Sufyan’s (the Qurayshi commander) wife Hind. He tried to kill her but, “in order not to dirty the sword given by the Prophet with a woman’s blood,” spared her.40 ‘Ali killed Talha ibn ‘Abi Talha, the enemy’s standard-bearer. All who carried the Qurayshi standard were killed by ‘Ali, ‘Asim ibn Thabit, or Zubayr ibn ‘Awwam, may Allah be pleased with them. After that, such self-sacrificing heroes of the Muslim army as Hamza, ‘Ali, Abu Dujana, Zubayr, and Miqdad ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with them, flung themselves upon the enemy and routed them.

When the enemy began to flee, the Muslims gathered the spoils. The archers on the mountain pass saw this and said to themselves: “Allah has defeated the enemy, and our brothers are collecting the spoils. Let’s join them.” ‘Abd Allah ibn Jubayr reminded them of the Prophet’s order, but they said: “He ordered us to do that without knowing the outcome of the battle.” All but a few left their posts and began to collect booty. Khalid ibn Walid, who had not accepted Islam yet and commander of the Qurayshi cavalry, seized this opportunity to lead his men around Mount Uhud and attacked the Muslims’ flank through the pass. ‘Abd Allah ibn Jubayr’s depleted forces could not repel them.

The fleeing enemy soldiers came back and joined the attack from the front. Now, the battle turned against the Muslims. Both of these sudden attacks by superior forces caused great confusion among the Muslims. The enemy wanted to seize the Messenger alive or kill him, and so attacked him from all sides with swords, spears, arrows, and stones. Those who defended him fought heroically.

Hind, having lost her father and brothers at Badr, urged Wahshi, a black slave, to kill Hamza, may Allah be pleased with him. When the scales turned, Hamza fought like a furious lion. He had killed almost 30 people when Wahshi’s lance pierced him just above the thigh. Hind came forward and ordered Hamza’s stomach split open. She then mutilated his body and chewed his liver.41 Ibn Kami’a martyred Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr, may Allah be pleased with him, the Muslims’ standard-bearer who had been fighting in front of him. Mus‘ab resembled Allah’s Messenger in build and complexion, and this caused Ibn Kami’a to announce that he had killed the Messenger. Meanwhile, the Messenger had been wounded by a sword and some stones. Falling into a pit and bleeding profusely, he stretched his hands and prayed: “O Allah, forgive my people, because they do not know (the truth).”42

The rumor of the Prophet’s martyrdom led many Companions to lose courage. In addition to those like ‘Ali, Abu Dujana, Sahl ibn Hunayf, Talha ibn ‘Ubaydullah, Anas ibn Nadr, and ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with them, who fought self-sacrificingly, some Muslim women heard the rumor and rushed to the battlefield. Sumayra, may Allah be pleased with her, of the Banu Dinar tribe, had lost her husband, father, and brother. All she asked about was the Messenger. When she saw him, she said: “All misfortunes mean nothing to me as long as you are alive, O Messenger!”43

Umm ‘Umara, may Allah be pleased with her, fought before the Messenger so heroically that he asked her: “Who else can endure all that you endure?” That pride of womanhood took this opportunity to ask him to pray for her: “O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah that I may be in your company in Paradise!” The Messenger did so, and she responded: “Whatever happens to me from now on does not matter.”44

Anas ibn Nadr, may Allah be pleased with him, heard that the Messenger had been martyred. He fought so valiantly that he suffered 80 wounds.45 They found Sa‘d ibn Rabi‘, may Allah be pleased with him, dying with 70 wounds on his body. His last words were: “Convey my greetings to the Messenger. I sense the fragrance of Paradise from behind Uhud.”46

Besides Abu Dujana and Sahl ibn Hunayf, ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with them, stood in front of the Messenger and defended him. Three times the Messenger pointed to some of the enemy who were advancing toward them; each time ‘Ali attacked and routed them.47

Despite the indescribable resistance of the Muslim warriors around the Messenger, defeat seemed inevitable until Ka‘b ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, seeing the Messenger, shouted: “O Muslims! Good tidings for you! This is the Messenger, here!” The scattered Companions advanced toward him from all sides, rallied around him, and led him to the safety of the mountain.

The reasons for the setback at Uhud

Before explaining the reasons for this setback, it should be pointed out that the Companions, after the Prophets, are superior to everybody else in virtue. They are honored with being the comrades and trainees of Prophet Muhammad r, the greatest of creation, the one for whose sake the universe was created and who was sent as a mercy for all the worlds. Therefore, according to the rule “the greater the blessing, the greater the responsibility,” they had to be the most obedient to Allah and His Messenger.

We read, for example, whoever of the Prophet’s wives commits manifest indecency, the punishment for her will be doubled … you are not like any other women (33:30, 32). Likewise, even a small sin committed by a Companion deserves severe punishment. They are all included in those “foremost in belief and proximity to Allah,” and their conduct is an example to be followed by later generations. Therefore, they must be pure in belief and intention, sincere in worship and devotion, upright in conduct, and extremely careful in refraining from sin and disobedience.

Allah raised the community of Muhammad r as the best community to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and believe in One Allah (3:110) and appointed them as a middle nation so that they may be witnesses to humanity, and the Messenger may be a witness to them (2:143). In the early years of the Madinan era, among the Companions were some hypocrites. Therefore, Allah wanted to sift His true witnesses against all humanity, and see who strove hard in His Way and remained steadfast (3:141–42). The Battle of Uhud, therefore, was a decisive test to sift out the sincere and steadfast from the hypocritical and wavering, and served to make the Islamic community more stable and formidable.

After these preliminary notes, we can summarize why the Muslims experienced a setback as follows:

• The Messenger, the commander-in-chief, thought they should stay within Madina. The younger Companions, inexperienced and excited, urged him to march out of the city. This was a mistake, even though for the sake of martyrdom in the cause of Allah, since the Messenger tended to apply different tactics in battles and knew in advance that the Quraysh army was coming to fight in open field.

• The archers posted to defend the army left their posts. They misinterpreted the Messenger’s order not to leave for any reason and went to collect booty.

• The 300 hypocrites, one-third of the army, deserted half-way and returned to Madina. This undermined the morale of the Banu Salama and Banu Haritha tribes, who were persuaded only with difficulty not to leave. Moreover, a small group of hypocrites demoralized the Muslims during the battle.

• Several Companions became impatient. They acted, in certain respects, inconsistently with the dictates of piety and were lured by material wealth.

• Some believers thought that as long as the Messenger was with them, and as long as they enjoyed Allah’s support and help, the unbelievers could never beat them. However true this was, the setback taught them that deserving Allah’s help requires, besides belief and devotion, deliberation, strategy, and steadfastness. They also perceived that the world is a field of testing and trial:

Many ways of life and systems have passed away before you; journey in the land, and see the end of those who did deny (the Messengers). This is an exposition for humanity, and a guidance and an admonition for the Allah-fearing. Don’t faint or grieve, for you shall gain mastery if you are true believers. If a wound has touched you, a like wound already touched the (unbelieving) people (at Badr); such days We deal out in turn among humanity, that Allah may see who are the believers, and that He may take witnesses from among you; Allah loves not the evil-doers; and that Allah may prove the believers, and blot out the unbelievers. (3:137–41)

• Those who had not taken part in Badr sincerely prayed to Allah for martyrdom. They were deeply devoted to Islam and longed to meet Allah. Some, like ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, Anas ibn Nadr, Sa‘d ibn Rabi‘, ‘Amr ibn Jamuh, and Abu Sa‘d Haysama, may Allah be pleased with them, tasted the pleasure of martyrdom; the martyrdom of the others was delayed. The Qur’an sings the praises of them as follows:

Among the believers are men who were true to their covenant with Allah; some of them have fulfilled their vow by death (in battle), and some are still awaiting, and they have not changed in the least. (33:23)

• Any success or triumph lies with Allah, Who does whatever He wills and cannot be questioned. Belief in Allah’s Unity means that believers must always ascribe their accomplishments to Allah and never appropriate anything good for themselves. If the decisive victory of Badr gave some Muslims a sort of self-pride, and if they imputed the victory to their own prudence, wise arrangement, or some material causes, this would have been part of the reason for their setback.

• Among the Qurayshi army were several eminent soldiers and commanders (such as Khalid ibn Walid, Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, and Ibn Hisham) who were destined by Allah to be great servants of Islam in the future. They were the ones most esteemed and respected among the people. For the sake of their future service, Allah may not have willed to hurt their feelings of honor completely. So, as expressed by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, the Companions of the future defeated the Companions of the present.48

• The following verses explain the reasons for that setback together with its aftermath, and the lessons to be taken from it:

Did you suppose you should enter Paradise without Allah displaying which of you have struggled and who are patient? (3:142)

Muhammad is naught but a Messenger; Messengers have passed away before him. Will you, if he should die or is slain, turn back on your heels? Whoever should turn back on his heels will not harm Allah in any way; and Allah will recompense the thankful. It is not given to any soul to die save by the leave of Allah, at an appointed time. Whoso desires the reward of this world, We will give him of this; and whoso desires the reward of the other world, We will give him of that; and We will recompense the thankful. (3:144–45)

Allah fulfilled His pledge to you when by His leave you blasted them, until you lost heart, and quarreled about the matter, and disobeyed, after He had shown you that you longed for. Some of you sought this world and some of you sought the next. Then He turned you from them, that He might try you; and He has pardoned you. Allah is bounteous to the believers. When you were going up, not twisting about for anyone, and the Messenger was calling you in your rear; so He rewarded you with grief after grief that you might not sorrow for what escaped you neither for what smote you. Allah is aware of the things you do. (3:152–35)

Those of you who turned away on the day two hosts encountered—Satan made them slip because of some of their lapses; but Allah has pardoned them. Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Clement. (3:155)

O believers, be not as the unbelievers who say concerning their brothers, when they journey in the land, or are upon expeditions: “If they had been with us, they would not have died and not been slain”—that Allah may make that an anguish in their hearts. For Allah gives life, and He makes to die; and Allah sees all that you do. If you are slain or die in Allah’s way, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are a better thing than what they amass; if you die or are slain, it is unto Allah that you shall be mustered. (3:156–58)

If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; if He forsakes you, who can help you after Him? Therefore let the believers put all their trust in Allah. (3:160)

Why, when an affliction visited you, and you had visited twice over the like of it, did you say: “How is this?” Say: “This is from your own selves; Allah is powerful over everything.” And what visited you, the day the two hosts encountered, was by Allah’s leave, that He might mark out the believers and that He also might mark out the hypocrites, to whom it was said: “Come, fight in the cause of Allah, or repel!” They said: “If only we knew how to fight, we would follow you.” They that day were nearer to unbelief than to belief. (3:165–67)

Count not those who were slain in Allah’s way as dead. They are alive with their Lord, by Him provided, rejoicing in the bounty that Allah has given them, and joyful in those who remain behind and have not joined them yet. No fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow, joyful in blessing and bounty from Allah, and that Allah leaves not to waste the wage of the believers. (3:169–71)

Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are, till He shall distinguish the corrupt from the good, and Allah will not inform you of the Unseen; but Allah chooses out of His Messengers whom He wills. Believe then in Allah and His Messengers; if you believe and avoid disobeying Allah, there shall be for you a mighty wage. (3:179)

The Last Stage of the Battle of Uhud and the Campaign of Hamra’ al-Asad

After this confusion ended, his Companions rallied around the Prophet, who was wounded and had fainted. Many Companions also were wounded. They retreated to the mountain’s safety. The Qurayshi army began to leave the battlefield, thinking they had revenged themselves for Badr. Seeing that they could not crush the Muslims’ resistance, they mounted their camels and, leading their horses, headed for Makka.

The Messenger worried that the Makkans might return and launch another attack on Madina. On the second day of Uhud, therefore, he ordered those who had fought the day before to gather together and pursue the unbelievers. Some of the Banu ‘Abd al-Qays, appointed by Abu Sufyan, tried to discourage this line of action by saying: “The people have gathered against you, therefore fear them.” But this only increased the faith of the believers, who retorted: Allah is sufficient for us; what an excellent Guardian He is! (3:173).49

Most were seriously wounded; some could not stand and had to be carried by their friends.50 At this highly critical moment, they girded up their loins and prepared to lay down their lives at the Messenger’s behest. They accompanied him to Hamra’ al-Asad, eight miles from Madina. The Makkan polytheists had halted and were talking about a second attack on Madina. However, when they saw the believers they had supposedly just defeated coming toward them, they could not muster sufficient courage and so continued on to Makka.

The Messenger’s prudence and military genius turned a defeat into a victory. The enemy did not have enough courage to confront the Muslims’ resolution yet again by marching upon Madina, and so retreated to Makka. Allah revealed the following verses in praise of the Muslim heroes:

Those who answered Allah and the Messenger after the wound had smitten them—to all those of them who did good and behaved in utmost devotion to Allah, shall be a mighty wage; those to whom the people said: “The people have gathered against you, therefore fear them.” But it increased them in faith, and they said: “Allah is sufficient for us; what an excellent Guardian He is!” So they returned with blessing and bounty from Allah, untouched by evil. They followed the good pleasure of Allah, and Allah is of bounty abounding. (3:172–74)

Toward the Battle of the Trench

The Jewish Banu Nadir tribe was originally the sworn ally of the Muslims in Madina. However, its members secretly intrigued with the Makkan pagans and the Madinan hypocrites. They even tried to kill the Prophet while he was visiting them, breaking the laws of hospitality and their treaty. The Messenger asked them to leave their strategic position, about three miles south of Madina, and they agreed to do so. But when ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, the hypocrites’ chief, promised them help in case of war, the Banu Nadir demurred.

The Muslim army then besieged them in their fortresses. The Banu Nadir, seeing that neither the Makkan polytheists nor the Madinan hypocrites cared enough to help them, left the city. They were dismayed, but their lives were spared. Given 10 days to leave, along with their families and all they could carry, most of them joined their brethren in Syria and others in Khaybar.

While returning from Uhud, Abu Sufyan had challenged the Muslims to a rematch at Badr the following year.51 But when the appointed time arrived, his courage failed him. As a face-saving device, he sent Nu‘aym ibn Mas‘ud (then an unbeliever) to Madina to spread the rumor that the Quraysh were making tremendous war preparations and gathering a huge and invincible army. However, when the Prophet reached Badr with an army of 1,500 fighters, there was no enemy to meet him. They stayed there for 8 days, waiting for the threatened encounter. When no sign of the Quraysh army appeared, they returned to Madina. This campaign was called Badr al-Sughra (Badr the Minor).

In 627, the Messenger was told that the desert tribes of Anmar and Sa’laba had decided to attack Madina. He went to Zat al-Riqa’ with 400 fighters and, hearing that the enemy tribes had fled, returned to Madina.52 After this, he marched upon the pagan Banu Mustaliq tribe, which had made preparations to fight the Muslims. He attacked and defeated them with 700 warriors.53 On the way back to Madina, the hypocrites tried, and failed, to cause dissension among the Emigrants and the Ansar. The verses sent down revealed all their secrets and how polluted their inner world was (63:1–11).

The Battle of the Trench

In 627, a group of the expelled Banu Nadir Jews, including Sallam ibn Abi al-Huqayq, Huyayy ibn Akhtab, and some of the Banu Wa’il, went to Makka. They met with the Quraysh, urged them to continue the fight, and promised their help and support. These Jews then went to Ghatafan and Qays Aylan tribes and, promising them help, encouraged them to fight against the Messenger.54 These intrigues resulted in a great anti-Muslim confederacy of Makkan polytheists, the desert tribes of central Arabia, the Jews (both already expelled and those still resident) in Madina, and the hypocrites. The last two constituted a fifth column within Madina.

When the Messenger was informed of this anti-Muslim gathering of confederates through his intelligence service, he consulted his Companions. It was their unanimous view that they should remain in Madina and fight from there. Salman al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him, suggested digging a trench around the city. It took 6 days of feverish labor to dig this trench. The Messenger divided the Muslims into groups of ten and told them to compete with each other. It was a hard task, there was not much time, and hunger was rampant. Yet all the Companions worked enthusiastically. In order to not feel the hunger, each fastened a rock around his stomach and recited, while digging:

We are those people who

Took the oath of allegiance to Muhammad r; Therefore we shall fight in the cause of Allah As long as we live.

By Allah, if Allah had not enabled us to, We would have neither been guided

Nor given alms, nor performed prayers.

Send down unto us calmness and tranquility And make our feet firm if we confront the enemy!55

The Messenger, digging alongside them with two rocks fastened around his stomach, answered them with the couplet:

O Allah, the real life is the life of the Hereafter So, forgive the Helpers and the Emigrants.56

While digging the trench, the Companions unearthed a huge rock that they could not break. Informing the Messenger of this, he began to strike it with his pickaxe. In the light of the resulting sparks, he predicted: “I have been given the keys to Persia; my community will conquer it.” He struck the rock a second time and, in the light of the resulting sparks, declared: “Allah is the Greatest. I have been given the keys to Byzantium. My community will conquer it.”57

Madina Under Threat

The allies advanced against Madina in the hope of destroying the Muslims on an open battlefield. However, when they faced this new strategy, they took the first blow. Numbering around 20,000, they camped near the trench. The Madinans had no more than 3,000 soldiers. Moreover, the Jewish Banu Qurayza and the hypocrite fifth columns already had contacted the enemy. As stated in Qur’an 33:12–20, when the hypocrites first saw the enemy, they were already in a defeatist mood. Not content with disloyalty themselves, they tried to infect others, who made feeble excuses to withdraw. If the enemy could gain entrance, they would betray the city. The Messenger once again displayed his sagacity and military genius: He kept the soldiers within the city and stationed them so that they could safeguard their homes against possible Banu Qurayza attacks. The most critical moment came when the Banu Qurayza sent a man into Madina to learn the conditions of the Muslim women. However, their hopes were frustrated when this man was killed by Safiyya, may Allah be

pleased with her, the Prophet’s aunt.58

While the war was continuing with exchanges of arrows and stones, the Messenger engaged in diplomatic attempts to split the Allies. He contacted the Ghatafan’s leaders and, offering them peace, urged them to withdraw their people. Nu‘aym ibn Mas‘ud, an Ally leader who before the battle had come to Madina to sow discord, already was inclining toward Islam. During the battle, he secretly entered Islam and followed the Messenger’s order to stir up the Banu Qurayza. Nu‘aym set them against the Quraysh by asserting that the Makkans would abandon them and so they should withhold their help until the Quraysh gave them hostages. Then he told the Quraysh that the Banu Qurayza would not fulfill their promise and would try to stall by asking for Qurayshi hostages to share their plight in case of defeat. This stratagem succeeded, and dissension grew among the Allies.59

The Messenger, supported by Sal mountain behind the city, had ordered a narrow point to be made in the trench, as he expected that leading Qurayshi horsemen would try to cross there. This is what happened, for some of the most renowned Qurayshi warriors tried to cross for single combat with Muslim fighters. Among them were ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Wudd, Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl, Hubayra ibn Abi Wahb, Dirar ibn al-Khattab, and Nawfal ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mughira.

Boasting of his strength and fighting ability, ‘Amr dismounted from his horse and faced ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who was ordered by the Messenger to fight him. ‘Amr advanced with his sword drawn. He brought his sword quickly against ‘Ali, but it caught in ‘Ali’s shield. ‘Ali struck him with such strength that dust rose around them. Then the words Allahu akbar (Allah is the Greatest) were heard: ‘Ali had killed his opponent.60 He also killed Dirar, Hubayra, and Nawfal.61 No other Qurayshi horsemen or generals could get across at that spot.

The siege lasted 27 days. The Muslims suffered greatly from hunger, cold, unending barrages of arrows and stones, attempts and concentrated assaults to cross the trench, and betrayals and intrigues within Madina. The Qur’an describes this situation as follows:

When they came against you from above and from below, and when your eyes swerved and your hearts reached your throats, while you were harboring vain thoughts about Allah; there it was that the believers were tried, and shaken most mightily. And when the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is sickness, said: “Allah and His Messenger promised us only delusion.” And when a party of them said: “O people of Yathrib, there is no abiding here for you, therefore return!” And a party of them were asking leave of the Prophet, saying: “Our houses are exposed”; yet they were not exposed. They desired only to flee. (33:10–13)

After almost four weeks, during which the enemy was disheartened by its failure and the believers proved their steadfastness and loyalty, there was a piercing blast of cold wind from the east. The enemy’s tents were torn up, their fires were extinguished, and sand and rain beat their faces. Terrified by the portents against them, and already riven by discord, they soon gave up. Hudayfa al-Yamani, sent by the Messenger to spy on the enemy’s movements, heard Abu Sufyan shout: “Come on, we’re going home!”62 The Muslims were victorious by Allah’s help, for hidden forces (the angels) were helping them:

O believers, remember Allah’s blessing upon you when hosts came against you, and we loosed against them a wind, and hosts you didn’t see. Allah sees the things you do. (33:9)

The Battle of the Trench was the last Qurayshi attempt to destroy Islam and the Muslims. Following their withdrawal in defeat and humiliation, the Messenger declared: “From this moment we will march upon them; they will no longer be able to raid us.”63

After the Allies were routed and returned to their homes, the Messenger focused on to the Banu Qurayza, who had betrayed their agreement with the Messenger and allied themselves with the Quraysh. They also had given asylum to the Banu Nadir’s leaders, like Huyay ibn Akhtab, who had been expelled from Madina and continued to conspire against the Muslims.

No sooner had the Messenger returned from this battle than Archangel Gabriel came and said: “I have not taken off my coat of mail, and I am going to the Banu Qurayza.”64 The Messenger ordered his Companions to march upon this Jewish tribe, and had his tent pitched opposite their fortresses. He would have forgiven them if they had asked, but they preferred to resist. The Messenger besieged them for 25 days. At last they asked for surrender terms, agreeing that they should submit to Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh’s judgment, who decreed the sentence according to the Torah. This was the end of the Banu Qurayza’s conspiracies, as well as of the Jewish presence in Madina.65

Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh, may Allah be pleased with him, a leader of the Ansar, had been wounded in the Battle of the Trench. He prayed: “O Allah, if I am able to fight once more beside the Messenger, make me live. Otherwise, I am ready to die.” He died a martyr shortly after the Jewish conspiracies ended.66

Toward the Conquest of Makka

As will be elaborated later, the treaty of Hudaybiya was a clear victory that opened a door to new and greater victories. The Makkan threat ended, and the Messenger sent envoys to neighboring countries to invite them to Islam. He also set out to solve the other problems he faced within Arabia.

Most of the Banu Nadir Jews had resettled in Khaybar. Together with them, the Jews of Khaybar continued to work against Islam in league, at various times, with either the Quraysh or the Banu Ghatafan. The Banu Nadir had been instrumental in forming the 20,000-man anti-Muslim alliance defeated during the Battle of the Trench. Seeking to end this continually hostile Jewish presence so that Arabia could be made secure for the future and free preaching of Islam, the Muslims acted.

The Banu Qurayza’s punishment roused the Jews of Khaybar to ally themselves with the Banu Ghatafan and attack Madina.67 They were making preparations for this when, after the treaty of Hudaybiya, the Messenger marched upon Khaybar. He made as if to attack the Banu Ghatafan, and forced them to shelter in their confines without daring to help the Jews in Khaybar. Then he suddenly turned toward Khaybar. The village’s farmers, who had left their homes early with their farming tools, saw the Muslim army approach the city and began running and taking shelter in their formidable citadels.

The Messenger besieged Khaybar for three weeks. Toward the end of the siege, he gathered his soldiers and told them: “Tomorrow I will hand the standard to him who loves Allah and His Messenger and is loved by Allah and His Messenger. Allah will enable us to conquer Khaybar through him.”68 On the next day, almost everyone was hoping to receive the standard. However, the Messenger asked for ‘Ali. Told that “he has sore eyes,” the Messenger sent for him, cured ‘Ali’s sore eyes with his saliva, and gave him the standard.69 ‘Ali went to the fortress and, after a fierce battle, Khaybar was conquered. Among the prisoners was Safiyya, may Allah be pleased with her, a noble woman and daughter of Huyay ibn Akhtab, the Banu Nadir’s chief. By marrying her, the Messenger established a relationship with the conquered people.

The Battle of Mu’ta

In the peaceful atmosphere brought about by the treaty of Hudaybiya, the Messenger sent letters to neighboring kings inviting them to the fold of Islam. King Shurahbil of Busra, a Christian Arab, killed the envoy (Harith ibn ‘Umayr, may Allah be pleased with him). This was an unforgivable breach of international custom and the prestige of Islam, and could not remain unanswered. The Messenger formed an army of 3,000 men, with Zayd ibn Haritha, may Allah be pleased with him, as commander, and said: “If something happens to Zayd, Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib will assume the command. If Ja‘far is martyred, ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawaha will assume the command. In case something happens to ‘Abd Allah, choose one among you as the commander.” When the Muslim army reached Mu’ta, it confronted a 100,000-man Byzantine army. Obviously it would be a fierce battle. Each Muslim would have to fight about 33 of the enemy. In the meantime, the Messenger was in the mosque, relating the fighting to those around him. Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, took the standard. He thrust himself into the enemy ranks and was martyred. The standard was passed to Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him. He also rose up to Paradise. ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawaha, may Allah be pleased with him, took the standard and was martyred. Now the standard was in the hands of one of the “swords of Allah,”70 meaning Khalid ibn Walid, may Allah be pleased with him, who would,

from then on, be called “the Sword of Allah.”71

When it was night, Khalid stationed the troops at the rear in the front rank, and changed the wings, positioning those on the right to the left and vice versa. Seeing new troops before them in the morning, the Byzantine army was demoralized. When night fell, the sides parted with each other and retreated. The Muslim army returned to Madina with only 12 losses. Although this was a victory for the Muslims, they were ashamed to meet the Messenger. However, he welcomed and consoled them: “You didn’t flee. You retreated to join me, and will go against them later.”

The Conquest of Makka and its Aftermath

In 627, the Messenger had a dream or a vision that he and his Companions would enter the Holy Mosque of Makka in safety, with their heads shaven or trimmed, and without fear. As will be explained later, earlier they had been prevented from entering Makka and so made a treaty with the Quraysh at Hudaybiya. At first, the Muslims did not like the conditions, but the verses revealed after the treaty called it a clear victory.

The two years following this event proved the truth of these words. Such leading Qurayshi figures as Khalid ibn Walid and ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, may Allah be pleased with them, became Muslims, and Islam spread across Arabia. Jewish conspiracies were ended, and Islam crossed into other lands through the letters sent to neighboring kings. At the end of this period, the Banu Bakr (a Qurayshi ally) attacked the Banu Khuda‘a (the Muslims’ ally) and killed some of them. The truce between the Muslims and the Quraysh was now over. No longer able to resist the Muslims, Abu Sufyan came to Madina in the hopes of renewing it. However, the Messenger refused to meet with him.72

The Messenger began to prepare for war. As always, he kept the affair quite secret and no one, including his wives and closest friends, knew where the campaign would be. When Abu Bakr asked his daughter ‘A’isha (a wife of the Messenger) where the Messenger intended to march, she told him that she did not know.73 However, an Emigrant named Khatib ibn Abi Balta‘a guessed his intention and sent a letter to the Quraysh informing them of the Messenger’s preparations. The Messenger, learning of this through Revelation, ordered ‘Ali and Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them, to take the letter from the woman to whom Khatib had entrusted it. They did this successfully.74

The Messenger left Madina with 10,000 men. Two years before, they had numbered 1,600 when his attempted minor pilgrimage (‘umra) resulted in the treaty of Hudaybiya. The resulting peaceful atmosphere caused many to reconsider and accept Islam. The Companions did not know the destination until they were ordered to head for Makka. When they approached this holy city, the Messenger ordered each soldier to light a fire, for the Makkans would light a fire for every tent while traveling in the desert.75 As a result, they estimated the Muslim army to consist of about 30,000 men. Having no realistic way to resist, they surrendered. Abu Sufyan, who had been invited by the Messenger to see the Muslim army, also advised this.

The Messenger did not desire bloodshed. Dividing his army into six columns, each one entered Makka through a different route. He ordered the commanders to avoid bloodshed unless they were attacked. To realize this goal and conquer Makka peacefully, he announced: “Those who shelter in the Ka‘ba are safe, those who shelter in Abu Sufyan’s house are safe, and those who stay in their own houses are safe.”76

Being a Prophet of absolute mercy who came to secure the happiness of humanity both in this world and the next, the Messenger entered Makka, bowing on the back of his mule, as a victorious conqueror. He displayed no self-pride and had no thought of vengeance or retaliation. He proceeded toward the Ka‘ba in complete modesty and absolute gratitude to Allah, who had made him victorious in his sacred mission. Stopping at the Ka‘ba, he asked his enemies: “How do you expect me to treat you?” They replied: “You are a noble man, the son of a noble man.” The Messenger stated: “This day there will be no reproach on you. Allah will forgive you; He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful. You can go away.”77

This marked the end of polytheism in Makka. While he was destroying the idols at the Ka‘ba, he recited: Say: “Truth has come and falsehood has disappeared. Indeed falsehood is subject to disappearance” (17:81).78 Almost all Makkans now became Companions.

The Battle of Hunayn

The Arab tribes were waiting to see who would win before accepting Islam, saying: “If Muhammad prevails over his people, he is a Prophet.” Consequently, after the Muslims’ victory they began to enter Islam in throngs. This shocked the polytheists, who organized a great gathering near Ta’if to coordinate their plans of attack. The Hawazin and the Thaqif, famous for courage and archery, took the lead and prepared a great expedition against Makka. Informed of their movements by ‘Abd Allah ibn Hadrad, whom he had sent to them, the Messenger left Makka with 12,000 Muslims who were enthusiastic over the 2,000 new conversions. To protect Makka and consolidate the new Muslims’ belief by healing their wounded feelings, the Messenger did not want to fight within Makka.

The battle was joined at Hunayn, a valley between Makka and Ta’if. The new Muslims had more enthusiasm than wisdom, more a spirit of elation than of faith and confidence in the righteousness of their cause. The enemy had the advantage of knowing the ground thoroughly. They laid an ambush in which the Muslims’ advance guard was caught or intentionally pushed by the Messenger, who might have planned to draw the enemy in under the guise of retreat. However, the retreat was confused and took place under a shower of enemy arrows.

The Prophet, calm as ever in his faith and wisdom in that hour of danger, spurred his horse forward. His uncle ‘Abbas was on his right, and his uncle’s son Fadl was on his left. While Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith was trying to stop him, the Messenger was shouting: “Now war has been kindled. I am the Prophet, that is no lie. I am the descendant of ‘Abd al-Muttalib.”79

‘Abbas shouted: “Companions who made the pledge of allegiance under the acacia tree!”80 From all sides came the response: “Labbayk!” (At your service!), and they rallied to the Prophet. The enemy, now in the center of the Muslim army, was surrounded on all sides. The Messenger’s courage, wisdom, and steadfastness changed a seeming defeat into a decisive victory. It was by Allah’s help that the Muslims won that day. They completed the victory with an energetic pursuit of the enemy, capturing their camps, flocks and herds, and families, which they had boastfully brought with them in expectation of an easy victory.

The routed enemy took refuge in Ta’if. The Muslims’ victory persuaded the desert tribes to accept Islam, and shortly thereafter the rebel tribes and Ta’if also surrendered and entered Islam.

 The Expedition to Tabuk

The outcome of the Muslim–Byzantine encounter in Mu’ta shocked Arabia and the Middle East, for the Byzantines had not won, even though they had outnumbered the Muslims by thirty-three to one. Ultimately, thousands of people from the semi-independent Arab tribes living in Syria and adjoining areas converted to Islam. To avenge himself for Mu’ta and prevent the advance of Islam, Heraclius (the Byzantine Emperor) ordered military preparations to invade Arabia.

The Messenger, always aware of developments bearing on his mission, promptly decided to challenge the Byzantines on the battlefield. Any show of Muslim weakness might have revived the dying forces of Arabian polytheism and hostility, which had received a crushing blow at Hunayn. Such a development also could encourage the hypocrites in and around Madina to cause serious damage to Islam from within. They already were in touch with the Ghassanid Christian prince and with the Byzantine Emperor, and had built a mosque—which the Qur’an calls the Mosque of Dirar (Dissension) (9:107)—near Madina to serve as their operational base.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, the Messenger publicly appealed to the Muslims to prepare for war and, against his usual practice, declared that the Byzantines were his target.

It was mid-summer. The scorching heat was at its peak, the harvest season had just arrived, and there was a shortage of material resources. Moreover, the enemy was one of the two current local superpowers. Despite this, the Companions responded ardently to his call and commenced their war preparations, all contributing much more than their financial means warranted. Huge amounts of money were donated by such wealthy Companions as ‘Uthman and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-‘Awf, may Allah be pleased with them.81 Those who could not be included in the Muslim army, due to shortages of riding animals and other necessary supplies, wept so bitterly and lamented their exclusion so pathetically that the Messenger was moved. Allah praised them in Qur’an 9:92. The occasion, in fact, served as a touchstone for distinguishing the sincere from the insincere, the believers from the hypocrites.

In 631, the Messenger and 30,000 soldiers left Madina and marched to Tabuk, quite close to what was then Byzantine territory in Syria. The Byzantine Emperor, who had begun amassing a huge army, abandoned his plans and withdrew his army, for the Messenger arrived before he was expected and well before Byzantine troop concentrations were completed.82

The Messenger stayed in Tabuk for 20 days, and forced several buffer states under Byzantine hegemony to pay the poll tax (jizya) and live under his rule. Many Christian tribes embraced Islam willingly.83 This bloodless victory enabled the Muslims to consolidate their position before launching a prolonged conflict with the Byzantines, and shattered the power of both unbelievers and hypocrites in Arabia.