|Chapter VI: Ali The Heroic Deffender Of Islam|
The first battle of Islam at BADR
(200 Miles from Mecca and 80 Miles from Medina) The emigration of the Holy Prophet to Medina had turned the enemies from Mecca more hostile, and they constantly kept on thinking how they could overthrow him, and put an end to Islam. The Meccans and their allies started to bring their raids to the very outskirts of Medina, destroying the fruit trees of the Muslims and carrying away their flocks.
The winter of 624 A. D. saw the invasion of Medina by a strong force of Meccans led by Abu Jahl (an uncle of the Prophet) consisting of an army of 1000 strong with 700 camels and 100 horses.
Receiving information about this force, the Prophet decided to meet the enemy outside Medina. He set out with three hundred and thirteen of his followers. This small force was marshalled out of Medina with the youthful Ali holding the Banner of the Prophet. 1
Warfare in those days followed a different pattern. Before the general battle began, a number of duels were fought between the leading warriors on each side. When the Muslims reached the fertile vale of Badr, a favourite watering place and camping ground on the caravan route, three stations northwards from Mecca, the Prophet ordered a halt, taking up a suitable position near a stream of fresh water, to await the arrival of the infidel army. It was on the next day, Friday, 17th Ramazan 2 A.H. or January 13th 624 A.D., that the enemy, blowing their trumpets, approached the Muslims, and both forces were arrayed in battle.
Three of the infidel warriors, Utba, the father-in-law of Abu Sufyan, his brother Shaiba, and Al-Walid came out of the ranks and arrogantly challenged the Muslims. Three Ansars of Medina stepped forward to meet this challenge. This greatly enraged the Meccans who refused to combat with the Ansars saying, "We have not come all this way to cross arms with the Medinites, against whom we bear no grudge. We challenge the people of Mecca who have the courage to defy us." Upon this Ali and Ubayd ah, cousins of the Prophet, and Hamza his uncle, responded to the challenge. In the words of Col. Bodley, "At the taunt of the Quriashite, Ali dashed out of the Muslim ranks glitering in breast-plate and helmet. He was soon followed by Ubaydah bin al-Harith, a paternal cousin of Muhammad and Hamza who wore an ostrich feather in his cuirass. The three companions were thus closely related to Muhammad and fulfilled the Quraish for Hashimite blood!"
________________________ 1 Tabari; Kamil; Ibn Athir; Ahmad Hanbal; Durr Manthur.
"The three duels were as rapid as they were murderous. Hamza killed Shaiba, while Ali killed Al-Walid. Ubaydah was mortally wounded, but before he fell, Ali and Hamza were able to come to his rescue. Hamza hurled himself at Utba, and with a sweep of his sword cut off his head. In a few minutes three of Mecca's most important warriors had been sent to find out the truth about the hell which Muhammad had promised them!"
"With a cry of rage three more Meccans darted from under Abu Jahl's banner and assailed the Muslim champions (Ali and Hamza). They too went down before the sword of Islam. A further three were dealt with the same fate. There was a moment of hesitancy among the Quraishites. Muhammad did not miss his advantage. With a sharp order he sent his soldiers charging into a general attack."
The line of the Quraish wavered and a number of their bravest and noblest fell; they took to flight ignominously, and in their haste to escape they threw away their armour and abandoned their transport animals with all their camp and equipage. Seventy of the bravest Quraish were slain and forty-five taken prisoners, and their commander, Abu Jahl, was amongst the slain.
Though it was the first engagement of the youthful Ali, he showed surprising results and was praised by one and all. He killed no less than sixteen-though some historians give him credit for thirty-six--of the bravest and the most prominent of the Quraish army.
Battle of OHAD.
1 The Prophet reached Ohad in the morning of Saturday, the 7th of Shawwal, 3 A.H. (January or February 625 A.D.)
________________________ 1 Ibn Athir, Ibn Hisham; Tabari
and found the Meccan forces face to face, ready to advance for the battle. The Quraish advanced in the form of a crescent and the right wing of their cavalry was led by Khalid b. Walid, a notorious warrior. Abu Amir, a Meccan champion, stepping forward with his fifty archers, showered the arrows first towards the Muslims, who retaliated promptly. Thus the fight began. The Meccan archers turned back and their standard bearer, Talha b. Abi Talha, coming forth, challenged the Muslims. Ali stepped forward and struck off one of his legs. He fell down and another champion hoisted the standard. He was killed by Hamza. A third now took the standard and he was slain by Ali. Thus nine or ten standard bearers fell one after the other only by Ali's sword. 1 It is a noteworthy incident that Talha the first standard bearer of the Meccans lost one of his legs by a stroke of Ali's sword, fell down and his lower garment being loosened, he became naked. Ali, instead of finishing him, turned his face from him and hit him no more. The Prophet marked the event and exclaimed, "Allah O Akbar" (Great is the Lord), and when he asked Ali why he had spared the man, he said the man was nude and entreated for the sake of Allah to spare his life. Ali and Hamza, the champions of Badr, unsparingly dealing out death, worked havoc among the enemy. Hamza, however, while duelling with Saba b. Abd-al-Uzza, a Meccan champion, was treacherously speared from behind by Wahshi, an Ethiopian slave, who lurked behind a rock with that intent, having been promised by Hinda, the wife of Abu Sofyan, his freedom, if he could avenge the death of her father and brother slain by Ali and Hamza in the battle of Badr. Now Ali, taking Abu Dajana' Mos'ab b.
________________________ 1 Tabari; Ibn Athir.
Omeir and Sahel b. Honeif, Muslim champions with him, charged the enemy. The force of the charge broke the ranks of the enemy, the whole host wavered and Ali with his Muslim champions, gained the enemy's camp. They made the Meccan army turn and flee, leaving their camp to the Muslims, who at once proceeded to approppriate it.
1 But their eagerness for spoil turned the tide of victory, which was already gained by Ali and his Muslim champions. The archers posted at the defile deserted their posts to join in the plunder, leaving the subaltern, Abdallah b. Jobeir, in spite of his protests, with only about ten men. Khalid, the Meccan commander of the cavalry, who behind the defile was awaiting a suitable chance to effect his charge, succeeded in dexterously emerging through and cutting down the small guard of the ten men, and charged furiously the rear of the Muslims. Mos'ab b. Omeir, a champion of Muhammad, who bore a great resemblance to him, fell dead. Ibn Soraqa proclaimed aloud that Muhammad was slain. The flying Meccans turned hack. Their banner, which was lying low on the ground, was picked up by a Meccan named Omra bint Alqama and then lifted high up by a slave named Sowab and the Meccans clustered around it. Most of the Muslims, including many of the Companions of the Prophet took to flight. 2 This sudden change of fortune checked the Muslims, who found themselves surrounded by the Meccans. It
________________________ 1 Ibn Athir ; Tarikh-al-Khamis. Tabari; Tarikh-al- Khamis; Tafsir Kabir; Minhaj-al-Nabowat.
2 Tarikh al Khamis, Tabari, Tafsir Kabir, Tafsir Dur-re-Mansoor, Suyuti. Tafsir Gharaib-ul-Bajan Neshapuri, Mustadrik and ad at- i f-un-Nabowat
was all confusion so that it was not easy to distinguish friend from foe. Discipline could not be restored.
Some were saying that Muhammad would not have been killed 1 had he been a true Prophet, 2 others were talking of seeking pardon of Abu Sufyan and taking refuge with him. (Sur. III-138 refers to these people thus: "And Muhammad is no more than an Apostle; already there have passed before him Apostles: what then if he dies or is killed, will ye turn back on your heels? But he who turneth back on his heels will not harm God at all; surely God will reward the grateful." Sur.. 111-142 refers to them thus : "O ye who believe, if ye follow those who disbelieve, they will turn ye back upon your heels, and ye shall be turned back losers.")
3 Some of the Prophet's adherents, however, resolved not to survive him and they fought and perished in the struggle. Anas b. Nadzar, uncle to Anas b. Malik, having seen Omar b. Khattab and Talha b. Obeidallah sitting leisurely along with some others, asked them what they were doing. They said they had nothing to do since Muhammad was slain. Hearing these words Anas addressed them aloud thus: "My friends ! Though Muhammad be slain, certainly Muhammad's Lord liveth and dieth not : therefore value not your lives since the Prophet is dead, but fight for the cause for which he fought." Then he cried out, "O God! I am excused before Thee, and acquitted in Thy sight of what they say," and drawing his sword fought valiantly till he was killed. Sale p. 52, from Al-Beidzawi. The Angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet with the verse which meant to inform him that
________________________ 1 Tabari; Ibn Hisham.
3 Tabari-vol-iii, Ibn, Athir; Tarikh-a1-Khamis.
among his followers there were persons who looked only to this life and also those who cared for the next life. (Sur-iii-l46 "Of you are those who chose this present world and of you are those who adopted the world to come hereafter.")
Ali, who was still defending bravely, ran to the Prophet who was all alone, and stood by his side. 1 The Prophet inquired why he did not flee with the others, to which he replied that he belonged to him and had no business with the others and that he being a believer would not like to turn a disbeliever or an infidel. Presently, one after the other two parties of the Quraish were sent to attack the Prophet. He asked Ali to defend him, and the gallant hero repulsed them with such intrepidity that he was praised 2 by Angels, whose voioe was heard saying : "Zulfiqar is the only effective sword and Ali the unique champion."
Ali helped by Gabriel.
3 Ali received sixteen wounds, four of which were so serious that he was falling down from his horse, but on each of these occasions a beautiful youth took hold of him, lifted him up to his saddle and soothed him with these encouraging words : "Go on fighting, 0 hero! God and His Prophet appreciate thy services." This was none other than Gabriel the Evangel, who praised Ali to the Prophet for his zeal and ardent devotion to him at the time when all others had deserted him. The Prophet told Gabriel : "No wonder! Ali comes of me and I
________________________ 1 Tabari ; Ibn Athir ; Madarij-al-Nabowat, Habib-ql-Siyar ; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.
2 Habib-al-Siyar; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.
3 Madarij-al-Nabowat; Ma'arij-al-Nabowat.
myself come of him," i.e. booth of us are part and parcel of one and the sane Celestial Light;" whereupon Gabriel remarked that he also come s of both of them, i.e. he also was created from tie same Light as Muhammad and Ali.
The Prophet Wounded.
In the melee above referred to, Obba b. Khalf, a Meccan champion, rushed towards the Prophet aiming at him with his spear; but he was himiself killed with his own spear; the Prophet snatching it out of his hands and dealing him a blow, striking him dead. Another tradition 1 says that he had received a wound from the Prophet's own hand but died of the same wound on his return to Mecca. Soon after this, the Prophet was wounded by a stone from a sling aimed at him by Otba, brother of Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, which strucck the Prophet on the mouth, cutting his lips and shatterring two of his front teeth. 2 He was wounded en the face also by an arrow, the iron head of which could not be extracted by himself, and he lay bleeding for some time on the ground. 3 Blessed the timely aid and friendly hand of Ali, who, repulsing the enemy, came back and finding the Prophet in this condition conveyed him to a place of safety, extracted the arrowhead, staunched his blood and tended him, aided by his wife Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet. No doubt Ali proved himself now, as before and as hereafter, the defender or right-hand of thee Prophet on all occasions of danger, in confirrnity with Good's Decree which the Prophet had seen inscribed in Heave n on the night of his Me'raj.
________________________ 1 Al Bedzawi
2 Ibn Athir; Tarik-a1Khamis.
3 Tarikh Islam by Zakir Hosaini (vol. ii. page 1000).
The reader may also recall the way Ali risked his own life in defending the Prophet, on the occasion of his escape from Mecca, by laying himself upon the couch in place of the Prophet, covering himself with the Prophet's well-known green mantle, and thus misleading the Meccans for some hours in their search and pursuit of the Prophet, who succeeded during the interval to hide himself in a cave on mount Thaur a hill to the South of Mecca.
The end of the Battle.
On finding out that the Prophet was only wounded and not killed, the Muslims began to rally round him. The Meccans, having no courage to rout them, contented themselves with the honour of snatching back the victory from Muhammad; and left the field after mangling and mutilating the dead bodies of the Muslims. Halting at Rowha, 8 miles homeward from Ohad, Abu Sufyan felt uneasy at the utter fruitlessness of his campaign and began to contemplate a raid upon Medina. The Prophet, on the other hand, suspecting some treachery at the enemy's hasty retreat, resolved on immediate action and so pursued them next morning as far as Hamra-al-Asad, where he was informed that the Meccans receiving intelligence of his advance had already taken their road home.
The Meccans lost one hundred and three men in the battle; of these, twenty-one had fallen under the sword of Ali. Among the Muslims there were seventy martyrs. The bravest of the Muslims who fell dead in the battle, were Hamza b. Abd-al-Mottalib, Mos'ab b. Omeir, Sa'd b. Al-Rabi, Ammara b. Ziyad and Hantzala a son of Abu Amir, the Meccan champion, who was the first to come forward from the ranks of the Meccans with fifty archers to charge the Muslims. Among the slain, the body of the Prophet's uncle Hamza b. Abd-al-Mottalib was found mutilated. The fiend. Hinda, wife of Abu Sufyan, had his liver taken out, sucked it and quenched her thirst for avenging the death of her father who was killed by Hamza in Badr. The Prophet collected all the dead bodies of the Muslims and buried them, offering prayers for each. He observed that the martyrs were his companions, for whose perfection in faith he would bear witness on the Day of Judgment.
Death of Ali's Mother.
Ali's mother, Fatima-binte-Asad, also loved Muhammad like a son from the time when, at the age of six, he entered her home. After the death of Abd-al-Mottalib, she had affectionately looked after him. At the time of her death in the year 4 A.H., the Holy Prophet had her covered with his own shirt, after her bath preparatory to her burial. He took part in the digging of her grave, and when it was ready, he first lay down in the grave and sanctified it, then he prayed for her. When the people asked him the reason for showing such favours to the deceased, the Holy Prophet replied, "After Abu Talib if ever I was grateful to any one, it was this pious soul who mothered me, nurtured me, brought me up and took me as her very own son."
The Battle of Khandaq.
The Jews were not idle after being expelled and formed a coalition with the other tribes who were banished from time to time. They left no stone unturned to annihilate their common enemy, the Prophet. They stirred up the Jews of Khaibar to join them against him. They sent deputations to the Bedouin tribes and to the Quraish in Mecca. They succeeded in concluding a treaty with the Meccans, binding them conjointly to oppose Muhammad to the last. They also succeeded in bringing about an alliance with the great Bedouin tribes of Ghatafan, Solaim, Bani Qais and Bani Asad to suppress Islam. It was contemplated to attack Medina in a body in order to destroy the Prophet and his religion at its very roots.
The Meccans, four thousand strong, having three hundred horses and fifteen hundred camels, were joined by six thousand of the allies from the Jews and the Bedouin tribes; and the three armies set out, ten thousand strong, under the command of Abu Sufyan in the month of Shawwal, 5 A.H. (Feb. 627 A.D.)
The Entrenchment Defence.
1 The Prophet received intelligence of the invasion before the approach of the enemy, but had little time to prepare for a confrontation. He resolved this time to defend himself at Medina, so he began preparations for a siege. The stone houses of the town were built so close to one another as to make a high strong and continuous wall for a long distance, excepting the north-west corner, where a wide open gap could afford the enemy an easy ingress. At this place, at the happy suggestion of Salman Farsi, who was familiar with the mode of defending cities in other countries, a trench, fifteen feet in width and fifteen feet in depth, was dug. The work was portioned out amongst the Muslims, the Prophet himself sharing it by carrying the excavated earth. In six days the trench was finished, deep and wide along almost the whole length of
________________________ 1 Tabari, Ibn Athir, Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.
the defence. The houses outside the own were evacuated, and the women and child en were accommodated for safety on the tops of the double-storied houses within the entrenchment. These arrangements were hardly completed when the approach of the enemy was reported. The Muslim army was immediately marshalled and entrenched behind the ditch; and the Prophet encamped in the centre of the entrenchment in a tent of red leather, on a space appearing like a crescent. The camp had the rising ground of 'Sila' on its rear and the trench in front.
The enemy on beholding the trench was struck dumb with astonishment. This mode of defence was not known to the Arabs, and they were at a loss to understand how to overcome this obstacle; they therefore laid siege. Unable to come to close quarters for some time, they perseveringly directed their attacks with archery. Meanwhile, Abu Sufyan attempted to instigate the Jewish tribe of Qoraitza to break their pact of allegiance with Muhammad.
The Qoraitza Jews breaking their Pact of Neutrality.
The Nadzirite Hoyay b. Akhtab, the most zealous promoter of opposition against Muhammad was sent to negotiate with Ka'b b. Asad, the prince of the Qoraitza Jews, and he succeeded in winning him over to the side of Abu Sufyan, disregarding the pact of neutrality with the Prophet. It was agreed that the Qoraitza would assist the Quraish after ten days' preparation, and would attack the rear of the Muslim army from the northwestern quarter of the town, which lay on the south-east of their fortress and was easily accessible to them.
Rumours of this reached the Prophet, who deputed two chief men of the Aws and the Khazraj, Sa'd b. Moazh and Sa'd b. Obada respectively, to ascertain the truth.
They proceeded towards the Jews, and, after making searching enquiries, came back and reported to the Prophet that the temper of the Jews was even worse than feared.
This news alarmed him. These apprehensions having been confirmed, it was necessary to guard against surprise or treachery. The north-western quarter of the town, which lay on the side of the Jewish stronghold, was the least capable of defence. To protect the families of his followers throughout the city, the Prophet could do nothing but to detach a considerable number of men from his force of three thousand, which was barely adequate for the long line of the entrenchment. To meet this emergency, he had to deploy two parties, one of three hundred men under Zaid bin Haritha, his freed man, and another of two hundred men under a chief of Medina, to patrol the streets and lanes of the town day and night.
Thus the strength of the force at the Defence was reduced to 2,500 men, as against the 10,000 of the enemy. The prolongation of the siege was still more troublesome to the Muslims, as the already inadequate number of men guarding 'the outposts of the entrenchment line got no relief; they were wearied with keeping a vigilant watch unceasingly day and night. Besides hunger, on account of having fallen short of provisions, they had to suffer very much from the heat of the sunny days and the chill of the cold nights in the open air.
The Enemy clearing The Ditch.
More than a fortnight had thus elapsed, when at length a select party of the besiegers' horsemen found the narrowest and weakly guarded part of the Ditch. Amr b. Abd Wudd, Nawfal b. Abdallah and Dzarar b. Al-Khattab led by Ikrima b. Abu Jahl, spurring their horses leaped forward towards the Muslims, and challenged them to single combat. ' Abu Sufyan with Khalid b. Walid waited on the other side of the trench to witness the issue of the fight.
In the battle of the 'Khandaq' (or the Ditch) when Muhammad had to meet the maximum strength of the forces of the heathens from Mecca and when everyone in the Muslim camp had refused to go against Amr, the challenging hero of the enemy, it was only Ali who, although a youth, readily offered to fight the giant warrior. When Ali stepped forward against the giant warrior the Apostle of God exclaimed: 'Goeth forth the whole of Faith against the whole of infidelity.'
Ali wins the day.
1 The Muslims at the sight of Amr were awe-struck and paralysed. None of them ventured to come forward as his antagonist, as he was famous for his prowess and was reckoned among the Arabs as one equal to one thousand antagonists. None but Ali stood up, but the Prophet bade him wait. Again Amr roared for his opponent and again Ali was forthcoming, but the Prophet stopped him. At his third call, he tauntingly asked the Muslims whether none of them wished to enter Paradise as a martyr. Still no one was found to respond to the challenge except Ali, who impatiently stepped forward. The Prophet, now permitted Ali, and putting his own turban upon his head, his own coat of mail over his body, armed him with his own sword the Zulfigar and sent him to his adversary.
________________________ 1 Rawdzat-al-Ahbab; Tarikh-al-Khamis; Rawdzat-al-Safa; Habibal-Siyar.
"It is a struggle between Faith and infidelity.; the embodiment of the former is bound to crush the entirety of the latter," 1 exclaimed the Prophet, when Ali, the illustrious hero of Islam was proceeding onward to Amr b. Abd Wudd, the famous giant of the infidels. Then lifting up his hands Muhammad prayed : "O God ! Obeida my cousin, was taken away from me in the battle of Badr, Hamza my uncle in Ohad. Be merciful not to leave me alone and undefended. Spare Ali to defend me. Thou art the best of Defenders."
2 When the two (Amr and Ali) stood face to face, Amr said to Ali : "Nephew, (as he was a friend of Abu Talib, the father of Ali) by God, I do not like to put thee to death." Ali replied : "But by God, I am here to kill thee." Amr, enraged at this reply, immediately alighted and advanced towards Ali. Ali sprang forward and so started a duel which will always be remembered, for it decided the fate of the Meccans, as their morale was being destroyed by the death of Amr. It did not take Ali long to realize that Amr, in spite of his age was as agile as his reputation had made him out to be. The duel went on for some time, finally like a flash of lightning Ali darted forward and in one sweep of his scimitar struck off Amr's leg. Amr tottering on one leg, denounced the Holy Prophet and Ali and their family. Picking up the severed limb, he flung it at Ali with all his might. It was his last effort, and Ali was nearly stunned, but in a moment he had recovered and plunged his sword into Amr. At last the voice of Ali, sounding 'Allaho Akbar' (Great is the Lord) was heard, which in "icated victory. The Divine Decree which the Prophet saw inscribed in letters of Celestial
________________________ 1 Sirat-al-Mohammediya; Hayat- 1-Haiwan.
2 Ibn Athir; Abul Fida.
Light in the Heavens on the night of Meraj was found by him fulfilled on every such occasion.
1 Beholding the fate of their renowned champion, Amr's comrades in the enterprise rushed back to escape, spurred their horses and all gained the opposite side of the ditch except Nawfal, whose horse failed in the leap and fell into the ditch. Being overwhelmed with a shower, of stones by the Muslims, he cried out, "I would rather die by the sword than thus." Hearing this appeal Ali leaped into the ditch and dispatched him.
The Sister of Amr B. Abd Wudd.
Contrary to the custom, Ali did not strip Amr of his armour or clothes. 2 When Amr's sister came to the corpse she was struck with admiration at the noble behaviour of her slain brother's adversary; and finding out who he was, she felt proud of her brother having met his fate at the hands of the person who was known as the Unique Champion of spotless character. She expressed herself thus : "Had his conqueror been other than the one who killed him, I would have wept over Amr all my life. But (I feel proud that) his antagonist was the Unique Spotless Champion."
Ali's valour praised by The Prophet.
3 The ever-victorious Ali, the 'Lion of God' was thus signalized in this Defence, as on previous occasions in the battles of Badr and Ohad. The Prophet declared that ________________________
1 Rawdzat-al-Ahbab; Izalatal Khifa, Tarikh-al-Khamis.
3 Madarijal Nabowat ; Hakim in his Mustadrak ; Firdows-alAkhbar; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.
Ali's one stroke on the day of the Ditch is superior to the devotional worships performed by both the worlds (Men and Angels) till the day of Judgment. (Vide Hakim's Mustadrik Vol. I, Page 32 and Dailami's Firdous-ul-Akhbar).
The Enemy's last attempt.
Nothing further was attempted by the enemy that day; but great preparations were made during the night, Khalid with a strong party of horsemen vainly attempting to clear the ditch. Next morning the Muslims found the whole force of the enemy marshalled against them along the line of entrenchment. They sought to gain the Muslim side of the Trench, but were repelled at every point. The Trench, fully served its purpose; it could not be crossed, and during the whole operation only five Muslims were killed. The enemy, notwithstanding their large numbers, were paralysed by the vigilance of the Muslim outposts. In their utter frustration they regarded the Trench as an unworthy subterfuge, being a foreign artifice with which no Arab was acquainted.
Infidelity of the Quraitza Jews.
Meanwhile Abu Sufyan demanded of the Quraitza Jews the fulfilment of their engagement to join in a general attack on the following day; but the Jews doubted the Quraish and their allies and feared that if the struggle proved a failure, the besiegers might conveniently withdraw and leave them to their fate. They accordingly demanded hostages in security against such an event, and pleaded their Sabbath as a pretext for not fighting the following day. This attitude aroused, in turn, the suspicions of the Quraish that the Jews, for making their peace with Muhammad, were demanding hostages of them for the purpose of handing them over to Muhammad. Abu Sufyan and his confederate chiefs were greatly disheartened. Their hope so long centred on the Quraitza Jews falling upon the city in the rear of the Prophet's defences, was now changed into a fear of hostilities from the treacherous Quraitza themselves.
Troubles in the enemy's Camp.
Dispirited at the loss of their bravest General, Amr b. Abd Wudd, and wearied, as they were, after the two vigorous but unsuccessful attempts, the Quraish and their allies had no courage to attempt another general assault. Discord was also rife among them. The Bedouins had no forage for their camels and horses, which were dying daily in considerable numbers. Provisions were running short. Above all, the weather was intolerably troublesome to them. Night set in upon them cold and tempestuous. A storm of wind and rain blew dust in their faces, overturned their tents, extinguished their fires, overthrew their cooking vessels, and sent their horses astray. They exclaimed that it was all due to witchcraft and enchantment of Muhammad, who would be seen shortly falling upon them with his whole force, and they were greatly struck with terror.
The Prophet who was in earnest prayer for the last three days appealed to the Almighty for his help in these words: "O Lord ! Revealer of the Sacred Book, Who art swift in taking account : turn the confederate host ! Turn them to flight, 0 Lord, and make them quake." 'The
________________________ 1 Tafsir Durr Manthur; Sirat Mohammediya; Sirat-al-Halabia Tarikh-al-Khamis; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab,
fourth night, when he had finished his prayers, he asked if any one was willing to go to the camp of the enemy to spy on their activities. He promised Paradise to the person who might venture out for that purpose. Huzhaifa readily responded to the call and proceeded in the darkness of the night to the camp of the enemy where he saw devastations wrought by the tempest, and found Abu Sufyan in a gloomy mood. He came back to his camp, and reported in detail to the Holy Prophet what he had seen of the enemy. He was delighted to find his appeal to God being answered. "O true believers! Remember the favour of God towards you, when hosts (of infidels) came upon you and We sent against them a wind, and hosts ( of Angels which) ye saw not, and God beheld what ye did." (Sura xxxiii-9).
Siege raised by the Enemy
Either upset by the severity of the weather or struck with terror at this manifestation of Heavenly Wrath, after the loss of their best warrior at the hands of AR, Abu Sufyan precipitately decided to raise the siege and to march back at once. Summoning the allied Chiefs, he made known to them his resolve. Issuing orders to break up the camp and immediately mounting his camel, he hastily made his way to Mecca followed by his armies; Khalid, with two hundred horses, guarded the rear against pursuit. The Ghatafans and the Bedouin allies retired to the desert from where they had come and not a single soul was to be seen in the field.
In the morning the Muslims discovered to their great joy the sudden disappearance of the enemy and found themselves unexpectedly relieved.
They broke up their camp, in which they had been suffering the hardships of the siege for the last twenty-four days in the month of Shawwal-ZILQAD, 5 A.H. (or February-March 627 A.D.), and as soon as they received permission from the Prophet to leave the ground beside the hill of 'Sila' they dispersed with the greatest alacrity to their homes.
Operations against The Banu Quraitza Jews in 5 A. H.
The Jewish tribe of Banu Quraitza had settled towards the eastern sector of Medina in a fortified stronghold. They had gone against the Medina Charter, which they had signed. They had entered into a secret treaty with Abu Sufyan and helped him against the Muslims in the battle of 'Khandaq'.
Soon after his return from the entrenchment, while laying aside his armour, the Prophet was washing his hands and face in the house of his beloved daughter Fatima, whom he used to visit before proceeding to his house on return from an expedition or excursion, the Angel Gabriel brought him a command to proceed immediately against the Quraitza Jews.
The Prophet instantly sent Ali with his Standard, and he himself with his army followed him and laid siege to the fortress of the Jews. The siege lasted twenty-five days, and Ali who was in command, reduced them 1..1 such a state that starvation stared them in the face. He then led the assault on their stronghold, capturing it so quickly that he was able to offer his afternoon prayers in the compound of the citadel.
Operations against The Banu Mustaleq- : 6 A. H.
The Jewish tribe of Banu Mustaleq had settled down in a neighbouring province of Medina. The Prophet having received intelligence of their activities, sent Boreida b. Al Hasib to ascertain the truth about their meditated raid on Medea.
Boreida confirmed the news upon his return, and the Prophet marched on them on the 2nd Shaban, 6 A. H. with Ali as his standard bearer. The Muslim army was able to advance far into their territory without any opposition, for Ali's reputation as a warrior had preceded him, striking terror into the hearts of the tribesmen who fled from the approaching army. All the warriors of the Banu Khuzza fled, leaving the Banu Mustaleq to face the army of the Holy Prophet on their own.
In the single combats that were fought, Ali crossed swords with Quttada the Jewish leader of the tribe and killed him. Another Jewish warrior, Malik, confronted Ali, and he too was quickly disposed ofl. After Malik, his son came out to avenge the death of his father, but met the same fate. This completely disheartened the Jews, and they laid down their arms and agreed to pay tribute
The Holy Prophet's Pilgrimage to Mecca in 6 A. H.
(628 A. D.) and The Treaty of Hudaibiya.
The Holy Prophet desired to make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba. Ever since he migrated to Medina six years ago ire had always been a longing on his part to do so.
Hasty preparations were made, and the Prophet informed the people of Medina that this trip was meant only as a pilgrimage. Arrangements for the journey having been completed, the Prophet led fourteen hundred men to Zul Hulefa on the road to Mecca. All swords were to be sheathed and the wearing of armour of any kind was forbidden.
Before approaching Mecca, the Prophet was informed that the Meccans hearing about his journey had despatched a cavalry of two hundred to prevent him from proceeding further. To advance was out of the question as the Prophet had not come to give them battle; so he diverted to the right towards Al Hudaibiya. Reaching Al Hudaibiya, on the verge of the sacred territory surrounding Mecca, his camel Al Qaswa stopped and knelt down as if refusing to go further. The Prophet took this sign as a Divine Omen that he should not proceed further; he ordered a halt and encamped there-. While the Prophet and his followers waited here, the Quraish continued to hold counsel around the Kaaba. Some were for driving Muhammad away by force, a few were for allowing him to perform the pilgrimage, but the majority wanted to prevent him from entering the Kaaba while still avoiding warfare. This led to a stalemate. Negotiations continued between the Prophet's representatives for some days without the deadlock being broken. The Quraish remained adamant, not agreeing to allow the Prophet to enter Mecca.
Finally a treaty was signed between the Meccan representative Suhail bin Amr and the Holy Prophet. The Prophet instructed Ali, his Vicegerent, to write down the treaty at his dictation, and it began thus : "In the name of God, the most Gracious and Merciful', Suheil objected to this, and said that it should begin as the Meccans used to do. Thus: "In Thy name, 0 God!" The Prophet agreed and asked Ali to write "Bismeka Allah Hoomma'. Next he dictated:
"This is the Treaty made between Muhammad the Apostle of God. and Suheil son of Amr." Suheil again raised an objection and said that had the Meccans acknowledged him as an Apostle of God they would never have taken up arms against him 1. Instead of "the Apostle of God", Suheil asked the Prophet to have his father's name written. The Prophet again yielded, but Ali had already written the words, "Muhammad the Apostle of God". 2 The Prophet bade Ali to erase the words under objection, but as Ali hesitated, the Prophet himself taking the writing materials obliterated the words and had the words, "son of Abdullah" substituted in place of "Apostle of God". 3 He prophesied at the same time, addressing Ali, that he would similarly have to yield on a similar occasion in his own time. This prophecy was fulfilled when a treaty was concluded between Ali and Muawiya some thirty years later.
By the terms of the treaty it was agreed that the Muslims should return immediately to Medina but that they could perform the pilgrimage the following year. During the period the Meccans would evacuate the city for three days and camp outside its walls. The Muslims should come as pilgrims, unarmed, save for a sword each, which they could carry for self-defence. It was further agreed that there would be a ten-year truce between the Meccans and the Muslims, and that the Meccan caravans should be allowed to pass without hindrance through their territory. It was also agreed that any Meccan who escaped to Medina to accept Islam would be handed back to the Meccans.
For the time being warfare was avoided and peace returned. The Muslim pilgrims returned to Medina only to
________________________ 1 Abul Fida
2 Habib al-Siyar; Tazkirat-al-Kiram
3 Rawdzat-al-Ahbab; Habib-Siyar; Ibn Athir
find themselves once more threatened, this time by their implacable enemies-the Jews.