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Thursday 6th of May 2021
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Adhan or the Call to Prayer

New Horizons in Political Life

The foregoing political document, which Muhammad wrote down fourteen centuries ago, establishes the freedom of faith and opinion, the invioliability of the city, human life, and property, and the forbiddance of crime. It certainly constitutes a breakthrough in the political and civil life of the world of that time. For that age was one in which exploitation, tyranny, and corruption were well established. Though the Jews of Banu Qurayzah, Banu al Nadir, and Banu Qaynuqa` did not sign this covenant at its conclusion, they did enter later on into like pacts with the Prophet. Thus Madinah and all the territories surrounding it became inviolate to their peoples who were now bound to rise to their defense and protection together. These peoples were now bound to guarantee one another in the implementation of the covenant, in the establishment of the rights arising there from, and in the provision of freedom it has called for.

 

The Prophet's Marriage to `A'ishah

Muhammad was satisfied with the result of his negotiations. The Muslims felt secure in their religion and began to practice its duties and precepts as individuals and groups in public, without fear of attack or harm from any source. At this time Muhammad married `A'ishah, daughter of Abu Bakr, who was then ten or eleven years old. She was a beautiful, delicate, and amiable young girl, emerging out of childhood and blossoming into full womanhood. Although she was fully grown, she was still quite attracted by amusement and play. She had a room of her own near that of Sawdah alongside the mosque. In Muhammad, she found not only a sympathetic and loving husband but also a compassionate father who was not at all offended by her inclination to play games and amuse herself with trifles. On the contrary, she was for him a source of relaxation from the continuous tension imposed upon him by his great burden to which the government of Yathrib had just been added.

 

Adhan or the Call to Prayer

It was during this interval in which the Muslims felt secure in their religion that the duties of zakat, fasting, and legal sanctions of Islam were imposed and its dominion was firmly established in Yathrib. Ever since Muhammad arrived in Madinah, whenever the time of prayer came, the people assembled around the Prophet without call. It occurred to him to have the Muslims called for prayer by means of a horn, following the style of the Jews, but he found the idea unbecoming. He had also thought of using the clapper, in the manner of the Christians. After consulting `Umar and a number of Muslims, according to one report, and by the command of God, according to another, he changed his idea to the Adhan and commanded `Abdullah ibn Zayd ibn Tha'labah : "Get up with Bilal and dictate the call to prayer to him, but let him deliver it forth for he has a more beautiful voice than yours." A woman of Banu al Najjar owned a house next door to the mosque which was higher than the latter. Bilal used to ascend to the roof of that house and deliver the call to prayer from there. Thus the people of Yathrib all began to hear the call to prayer many times a day beginning at dawn. The Islamic call to prayer was equally a call to Islam sung beautifully by a beautiful voice and carried on the waves of the air unto all corners of the horizon. It was a call which penetrated the ear of life itself. It said, "God is greater. God is greater. I witness that there is no God but God. I witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God. Rise to prayer. Rise to felicity. God is greater. God is greater. There is no God but God." Henceforth, the Muslims' fears were dissipated and they felt secure. Yathrib became Madinah al Nabiy or "the City of the Prophet." While the non-Muslim inhabitants began to fear Muslim power knowing well that it stemmed from the depth of hearts which had tasted sacrifice and persecution for the sake of faith, the Muslims collected the fruits of their patience and enjoyed their religious freedom. There peace and freedom were now made constitutional by the Islamic principles that no man has any authority over any other, that religion belongs to God alone, that service is to Him alone, that before Him all men are absolutely equal, and that nothing differentiates them except their works and intentions. In Madinah, the atmosphere was finally cleared of all impediments, and Muhammad openly proclaimed his teachings. The theater was ready and the stage was set for Muhammad to constitute by his conduct the ideal exemplification and embodiment of these teachings and principles, and for his laying down the foundation stone of Islamic civilization.

 

 

Brotherhood: Foundation of Islamic Civilization

The rock bottom foundation of Islamic civilization is human brotherhood, a brotherhood under which man does not become truly human until he has loved for his brother what he loves for himself and implemented this love by deeds of goodness and mercy without weakness or servility. A man once asked Muhammad, "Which Islam is better?" Muhammad answered, "That you give food to the needy and that you greet those whom you know as well as those whom you don't." He opened the first sermon he delivered in Madinah with the statement, “Whoever can protect his face from the fire even with a basket of dates, let him do so; and whoever does not find even that much, then let him do so with a good word, for the good word brings a reward ten times greater than itself.” In his second sermon he said, "Worship God and do not associate any being with Him. Fear and revere Him as He ought to be feared and revered. Be true unto Him by saying always the best than can be said. Love one another in the spirit of God. God is displeased whenever His covenant is violated." By this and like exhortations, Muhammad used to counsel his companions and preach to the people in his mosque, leaning against one of the date trunks supporting the ceiling. Later on, he ordered a pulpit of three steps to be made for him, the first to stand upon when delivering a sermon and the second to sit down upon.

 

Muslim Brotherhood

The brotherhood which Muhammad made the cornerstone of Islamic civilization did not rest on his preachings alone. It was embodied in its highest perfection in his deeds and concrete example. True, he was the Prophet of God, but he consistently refused to adopt any of the appearances of power, authority, kingship, or temporal sovereignty. He emphatically repeated to his companions, "Do not praise me as the Christians have praised the son of Mary, for I am but the servant of God. Rather, call me the servant of God and His Prophet." Once, he arrived at a gathering of his companions leaning on a stick and they all rose up in respect for him. He said, "Do not stand up for me as the Persians do in aggrandizement of one another." Whenever he joined his companions, he always sat at the edge of the space they occupied. He used to joke and mix with them, to talk to them about their own affairs, to pamper and coddle their children, and to answer the call of freeman, slave, maid servant and destitute alike. He used to visit the sick in the farthest district of Madinah, to take the initiative in greeting whomever he met, and to stretch his hand in welcome to his visitors. No man came to visit Muhammad and found him in prayer but he shortened his prayer, .attended to his visitor and returned to his prayer after the visitor had left. He was the most charitable of people, always smiling in the face of everyone except when revelation came to him or when he delivered a speech or a sermon. In his home, he felt no superiority over the members of his family. He washed his own robe and mended it by his own hand. He milked his own goat, repaired his own sandals, attended to himself and to his camel, ate with his servant, and fulfilled the request of the weak, the oppressed and the destitute. Whenever he found somebody in need, however lowly or plebeian, he preferred to attend to him first rather than to himself or to his family. That is why he never saved anything for the morrow, and when he died his shield was in possession of a Jewish pawnbroker as lien for a loan made to Muhammad to spend on his family. He was exceedingly modest and extremely loyal. When a deputation from the Negus of Abyssinia arrived to see him, he rose to serve them. His companions sought to stop him, but he said to them: "The Abyssinians were kind to our companions when they went to their country; I would like to treat them likewise and reward them." He was so loyal to Khadijah that whenever she was mentioned he gave her the best of praises so that `A'ishah used to say, "I have never been jealous of a woman as I have been of Khadijah for all that I have heard the Prophet praise her." Once when a woman came to him, he rose to greet her, spoke to her gently, and attended to her pleas; people asked him who she was. He answered, "She used to befriend us in the days of Khadijah; loyalty to one's friends is of the faith." Indeed, he was so compassionate and gentle that he did not mind his grandsons' playing with him during his prayer. Once, he even prayed while Umamah, his granddaughter through Zaynab, sat on his shoulders and had to be put down when he prostrated himself.

 

 

Muhammad's Kindness to Animals

His kindness and mercy, on which he founded the new Islamic civilization, were not limited to man alone but extended to animals. Muhammad used to rise and open the door for a cat seeking to enter. He attended with his own hands to a sick rooster and rubbed down his own horse with his own sleeve. When `A'ishah rode on an obstinate camel and began to pull him hardly, he said to her, "Softly and gently please." Thus his kindness and mercy embraced all that ever came in touch with him every creature that sought to stand near his person.

 

The Brotherhood of Justice and Mercy

Muhammad's mercy did not proceed from weakness or servility, nor was it ever vitiated by pride, haughtiness, or the expectation of gratitude. It was done purely for the sake of God. Hence, nothing was excluded from it. This kindness differentiates the foundation of the civilization of Islam from all other civilizations. Islam puts justice side by side with kindness and judges that kindness is not kindness without justice.

"Whoever commits an aggression against you, return to him his aggression in like manner.” [Qur'an, 2:194]

"In punishment a whole life lies implicit, O you who have minds to reason with!”[Qur'an, 2:179]

Kindness is felicitous and the good deeds that issue from it are praiseworthy only when the motivation is internal, the will is free, and the purpose is the seeking of God's sake alone. Kindness should proceed from a strong soul that has known no submission to anything but God, has not succumbed to weakness, does not go to extremes in the name of piety, and knows no fear or contrition except on account for a misdeed it has done or a crime it has committed. As long as the soul is under alien dominion, it can never be strong; it can never be strong, either, if it stands under the dominion of its own passions and desires. Muhammad and his companions emigrated from Makkah precisely in rebellion against the dominion of Quraysh who attempted to weaken their souls by means of dominion and the injuries it perpetrates. On the other hand, the soul is said to be under the dominion of passions and desires whenever the body's demands take precedence over those of the spirit, when passion vanquishes reason, when external life exerts any power over internal lifeline short, when the soul does not know that it has no need of either passion or desire and is really their final master.

 

 

Muhammad's Power to Surmount Life

Muhammad provided the highest example of the power to overcome life. He achieved such a degree of mastery over life that he did not hesitate to give all that he had whenever he wanted to give. A contemporary of Muhammad once said of him, "Muhammad gives as if he has no fear of want at all." In order not to allow anything to exercise any power over him but rather to enable himself to determine it, Muhammad led a very ascetic life. Despite his strong desire to know the secrets of life and understand its structure, he was quite contemptuous of its joys and attractions. He slept in a bed of palm fibers; he never ate his fill; he never ate barley bread on two consecutive days, gruel being his main daily meal together with dates. Neither he nor his family had ever had enough tharid[A dish made out of layers of bread often topped with meat, rice, and soaked with gravy. -Tr.]. He felt the pangs of hunger more than once, and learned to press a stone against his stomach as a means to silence those pangs. This remarkable restraint, however, did not prevent his enjoying the delicacies of God's bounty if such were available, and he was known to love to eat leg of lamb, squash, honey, and other sweets.

In his dress he was as ascetic as he was in his food. His wife once gave him a new robe because he was in need of one. One of his companions asked him for something with which to shroud a dead relative, and Muhammad gave him the new robe he had just received. His wardrobe consisted of shirts and robes made out of wool, cotton, or linen. But on special occasions he had no objection to wearing a luxurious robe from Yaman should it be called for. He used to wear a simple sandal, and he did not wear slippers until the Negus of Abyssinia sent him some together with other clothes.

Muhammad's denial of the world and its luxuries was not pursued for its own sake. Nor was it a duty imposed by religion. The Qur'an said: "Eat of the delicacies of God's providing," and "Do seek the other world in what God has given you of this, but do not give up your share of this world. Do good, as God has done good to you."[Qur'an, 2:57; 28:77]. In the traditions of the early Muslims it is said, "Work for this world as if your life in it is eternal; work for the other world as if you were to die tomorrow." Certainly Muhammad sought to give mankind the highest possible example of a mastery of life absolutely free of weakness, in which no goods, wealth, or power dedicated to another being beside God could have any effect. When brotherhood is based upon such a power over life and its attractions issue into such exemplary deeds as Muhammad had done, it is pure, candid, and has no other object whatever besides the lofty fraternalism of man and man. In it, justice dovetails with mercy, and the subject is not determined except by his own free and deliberate judgment. Islam places both mercy and forgiveness side by side with justice. It insists that if they are to be themselves at all, mercy and forgiveness must issue from power. Only then will their purpose be the genuine good of the neighbor and his reconstruction.

 

 

The Sunnah of Muhammad

The foundation for a new civilization which Muhammad laid down was expressed very succinctly in a report by 'Ali ibn Abu Talib. He asked the Prophet of God concerning his Sunnah, and the latter replied: “Wisdom is my capital, reason the force of my religion, love my foundation, longing my vehicle, the remembrance of God my constant pleasure, trust my treasure, mourning my companion, knowledge my arm, patience my robe, contentment my booty, poverty my pride, asceticism my profession, conviction my strength, truthfulness my intercessor, obedience my argument, holy war my ethics, prayer my supreme pleasure.”

 

Beginning of Jewish Fears

Muhammad's teachings, example, and leadership had the deepest effect upon the people. Large numbers of men joined the ranks of Islam and their conversion consolidated and increased Muslim power in Madinah. It was at this stage that the Jews began to rethink their position vis-à-vis Muhammad and his companions. They had concluded a pact with him and were still ambitiously hoping to win him over to their side in order to increase their power against the Christians. Muhammad, however, was becoming more powerful than both Christians and Jews, and his command was growing in effect and application. Muhammad had even begun thinking of Quraysh, of their banishment of him and the Muhajirun from Makkah, and of their forced conversion of some Muslims to the old idolatry. It was at this time that the Jews asked themselves whether they should let his call, spiritual power, and authority continue to spread while remaining satisfied with the security they enjoyed under his protection and the increased trade and wealth which his peace had brought to their city. Perhaps they might have done so had they felt certain that his religion was not going to spread in their midst and their own men would not abjure the exclusivism of Jewish prophethood and the people of Israel to convert to Islam. A great number of their priesthood and a learned rabbi, `Abdullah ibn Salam, approached the Prophet and announced to him his conversion as well as that of his own household. `Abdullah himself feared the calumny of the Jews and their defamation of him should they learn of his conversion. He therefore asked the Prophet to inquire of them about him, before any of the Jews had learned of his conversion. The Jews answered Muhammad, " `Abdullah ibn Salam is our master, son of our master, our priest, and learned rabbi." When, however, `Abdullah went back to them as a Muslim and called them to Islam, they attacked him and spread in the Jewish quarters of Madinah all sorts of calumnies against him. This was the event which triggered their suspicions of Muhammad and their denial of Muhammad's prophethood. Those members of al Aws and al Khazraj tribes who never entered Islam or who did so in hypocrisy or for an ulterior purpose were quick to rally around the Jews once their opposition to Muhammad and to Islam began to crystallize.

 

 

The War of Words between Muhammad and the Jews

A war of words between Muhammad and the Jews, which proved to be greater and more sinister than that which raged between Muhammad arid Quraysh, followed ibn Salam's conversion. Unlike the hostility with Quraysh, the new war in Yathrib witnessed the connivance of treason, deception, and scriptural knowledge for the attack against Muhammad, his message, and his companions, whether Muhajirun or Ansar. The Jews sent some of their rabbis to feign conversion to Islam in order to enter Muslim ranks and councils. While showing all piety, these rabbis were commissioned to disseminate doubt and suspicion of Muhammad among his own people. They asked Muhammad questions which they thought might shake the Muslims' conviction and arouse doubt in the message Muhammad was teaching. A number of hypocrites from al Aws and al Khazraj tribes joined Islam for the same purpose. Both Jews and unbelievers, however, reached such levels of deception that they denied either Torah or God in order to ask Muhammad, "If God created creation, who then created God?" Muhammad used to answer them with the divine verses: "Say, `God is One, the Eternal. He was not born, nor did He give birth to anyone. None is like unto Him.'[Qur'an, 112:1-3]. The Muslims soon detected their purpose and uncovered their attempts. When some of them plotting in secrecy in one of the mosque's corners were discovered one day by the Muslims, Muhammad had to command that they be expelled from the mosque. However, their efforts to split Muslim ranks continued. A Jewish leader called Shas ibn Qays passed one day by a group of al Aws and al Khazraj tribesmen enjoying one another's company in good harmony. He remembered how they were once divided and warring against each other, and thought that should the Banu Qaylah[Le., al Aws and al Khazraj.] remain united in this territory the Jews would not be able to live in peace for long. He therefore instructed a young Jew who frequented their sessions to seek an opportunity to arouse memories of the Day of Bu'ath when al Aws vanquished al Khazraj. The youth did speak and recalled the memory of that war and succeeded in arousing the old pride and hatred of the two tribes, convincing some that a return to that dies nefastus was possible as well as desirable. When Muhammad learned of this, he hurried with his companions and reminded the divisive elements how Islam had sweetened their hearts and made of them mutually loving brethren. Muhammad continued to talk to them, emphasizing their Islamic unity and brotherhood until their tears ran down in emotion and they embraced one another.

The war of words between Muhammad and the Jews increased in intensity. The evidence therefore is what the Qur'an has to say about it. The first eighty-one verses of Surah "al Nisa'," mention the people of the book, their denial of their own scripture, and condemns their unbelief and denial in strong terms

"Verily, We revealed to Moses the scripture and called after him messengers to follow in his footsteps. To Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave manifest signs and We strengthened him with the spirit of holiness. `Will you then, O Jews, every time a prophet comes to you with what you yourselves do not like take to false pride and arrogantly belie some and kill others?' They rationalize and seek to excuse themselves by admitting to dimness of vision. God, however, curses them for their disbelief. Little are they convinced of the truth! And when the book which came from God and which confirmed their own scripture was brought to them and invoked for their benefit they denied it. Hitherto they were boasting of such revelation and deriding the unbelievers for never receiving any. Now that the same truth which they had known beforehand has come to the believers from God they reject it. God's wrath will surely fall upon the unbelievers.”[Qur'an, 2:87-89]

 

 

The Story of Finhas

Sometimes, controversy and argument between Jews and Muslims reached such a level of intensity that the participants attacked each other. In order to appreciate how provocative the Jews were in their war of words against the Muslims, suffice it to remember the story of Finhas. The gentleness, patience, and largezcr de coeur of Abu Bakr are proverbial. And yet he too could and did lose his temper. He once talked to Finhas calling the latter unto Islam. Finhas answered, "By God, 0 Abu Bakr, we do not need God. Rather, it is He who needs us. It is not I who pray to Him, it is He who prays to us. We are self-sufficient and He is not. If God were self-sufficient, He would not borrow our wealth as your Prophet claims. If He were truly not in need of us, He would not have prohibited usury to you and allowed it to us." Finhas was actually referring to the Qur'anic verse which said: "Will you then lend God a good loan which He will repay to you many times over?"[Qur'an, 2:245]. At this point in the conversation, Abu Bakr lost his patience and struck Finhas on the face saying, "By God, were it not for the covenant between your people and mine, I would have struck your head off, 0 enemy of God." The said Finhas took his complaint to the Prophet and denied his blasphemy. It was then that this verse was revealed: "God has heard those who said, `He is poor and we are rich.' On the day of judgment, God will remember this as well as their murder of the prophets. Then will he say: "Taste the punishments of hell.”[Qur'an, 3:181]

Not satisfied with their attempt to divide the Muhajirun and Ansar, al Aws and al Khazraj, in order to dissuade the Muslims from their religion and return them to idolatry without ever seeking to convert them to Judaism the Jews even tried to trap Muhammad himself. A number of their rabbis, elders, and noblemen went to him one day and said: "You know who we are and you know well our prestige with our people. You know that if we should follow you, the Jews would do likewise. Would you then not help us against our people by giving a verdict in our favor when we bring to you our litigation with them to arbitrate? If you do, we shall then follow you and believe in you. At this the following divine words were revealed

"Judge between them by that which God has revealed, and do not follow their desires. Take care lest they sway you away from some of the revelations made to you. If they turn away from you, know that God is punishing them for some of their misdeeds. Most of them are immoral. What? Do they seek judgment on the basis of the idolatrous principles of pre-Islam? Is not God's judgment preferable? But they are people devoid of certain knowledge."[Qur'an, 5:49-50]

 

 

Orientation to the Ka'bah in Prayer

By this time, the Jews had lost their patience and began to plot against Muhammad, They sought to get him to leave Madinah as the Quraysh had succeeded in causing him and his companions to leave Makkah. Their method, however, was different. They said to Muhammad that each and every prophet hitherto had gone to Jerusalem and there established his residence. They challenged him by asserting that if he were a true prophet, he would only do as his predecessors had done in considering Madinah only as an intermediate station between Makkah and the city where al Aqsa Mosque stood. Muhammad, however, did not have to think hard to realize that they were plotting against him. It was then, seventeen months after his emigration from Makkah, that God commanded him to orient himself in prayer toward the holy mosque, the house of Ibrahim and Isma'il. It was then that the verse was revealed: "We see your yearning for a direction to take in prayer. Let us then guide you to a direction that you will accept. Orient yourself in prayer toward the holy mosque of Makkah, and wherever you may be, turn your face toward it.”[Qur'an, 2:144]. The Jews condemned Muhammad for this and sought to trap him once more. They went to him pleading that they would all enter into his faith if he would but return to Jerusalem, his old direction in prayer. In this connection, God revealed the following verses

"Some foolish people will ask, `What caused them to change their old orientation?' Say: `To God belongs the East as well as the West. He guides unto His straight path whomsoever he wills." Thus We have caused you to be a nation following the course of the golden mean, witnessing unto mankind and witnessed to by the Prophet. The whole question of the orientation in prayer was intended by us to sift the true believers from the apostates and deceptors. To change orientation is a big travail only to those who have missed the divine guidance."[Qur'an, 2:142-143]

 

 

The Christian Delegation from Najran

While the war of words was raging between Muhammad and the Jews in full intensity, a delegation from the Christians of Najran consisting of sixty riders arrived in Madinah. Among them were some of the nobles, learned men, and religious leaders of the tribe whom the emperors of Byzantium had been protecting, encouraging, financing, and assisting in the building of churches. Perhaps this delegation arrived in Madinah after they learned of the conflict between Muhammad and the Jews with the hope of adding fuel to the fire so that neighboring Christendom, whether in al Sham or in Yaman, might relax and feel safe from Jewish plots and Arab aggression. The three scriptural religions thus confronted one another in Madinah. The delegation entered with the Prophet into public debate and these were soon joined by the Jews, thus resulting in a tripartite dialogue between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jews were obstinately denying the prophethood of Jesus as well as of Muhammad, as we have seen earlier, and pretending that Ezra was the son of God. The Christians were defending trinitarianism and the divinity of Jesus. Muhammad was calling men to recognize the unity of God and the spiritual unity of mankind. Most Jews and Christians asked Muhammad which prophets he believed in. He answered: "We believe in God, in what has been revealed to us, to Ibrahim, Isma'il, Ishaq, Ya'qub, and his children. We believe in what has been revealed to Moses, to Jesus, as well as in all the revelations which the prophets have received from their Lord. We do not differentiate between them. And we have submitted ourselves to God."[Qur'an, 2:136]. Muhammad criticized both Jews and Christians in very strong terms for their compromise of the monotheistic faith that God is one, for tampering with the words of God in their scriptures, and for interpreting them in ways violating the understanding of the prophets whose prophethood they themselves acknowledged. He criticized them for asserting that the revelation of Jesus, Moses, and their predecessors in prophethood differed in many essential matters from his own revelation. In support of this, Muhammad argued that what those prophets had received from God was the same eternal truth as that revealed to him. Being the truth, its light shines forth clear and distinct, and its content is majestic and simple to any researcher submitting to none but God and to anyone capable of seeing the world as a connected and integrated unity rather than as ephemeral intimations of desire, passion, and ulterior motives. Being the truth, it must be readily recognized by the man liberated from blind submission to old wives' tales or to the sanctified legends of the fathers and ancestors. By nature, such truth must be open and possible for everyone to perceive.

 

Congress on the Three Religions

This was a truly great congress which the city of Yathrib had witnessed. In it, the three religions which today dominate the world and determine its destiny had met, and they did so for the greatest idea and the noblest purpose. It had neither political nor economic aims, but stood beyond the materialistic objectives which our present world is anxiously, yet so vainly trying to realize. The objective of the congress was purely spiritual. Whereas in the case of Christianity and Judaism the spiritual objective was backed or motivated by political, capitalistic, and worldly ambitions, Muhammad's spiritual purpose was pure and advocated for the sake of humanity as a whole. It was God that gave this purpose of Muhammad's its form, and this same form was proclaimed not only to the Jews but to the Christians and all mankind. Muhammad was commanded to address the delegates of both faiths,

"Say, `O People of the Book, come now to a fair principle common to both of us, that we do not worship aught but God, that we do not associate aught with Him and that we do not take one another as lords besides God.' But if they turn away, then say, `Bear witness that we are Muslims.”[Qur'an, 3:64]

 

 

Withdrawal of the Christian Delegation

What can Jews, Christians, or any other people say of this call to worship none but God, to associate none with Him and never to take one another as lords besides God? The spirit which is sincere and truthful, which is endowed with reason and candid emotion cannot but believe in this call and in it alone. But human life is not entirely dominated by such noble dispositions. There is yet the materialistic consideration. Man is indeed weak; and it is this inclination to material gain which causes him to subject himself to the dominion of another man for material advantage. Man suffers terribly from false pride, his considerateness, self-respect and reason are destroyed thereby. It was this materialistic ambition for wealth, worldly prestige and social eminence that caused Abu Harithah, the most learned of the people of Najran, to tell a friend of his that he was perfectly convinced of the truth of which Muhammad was teaching. When that friend asked him why he did not then convert to Islam, he answered: "I cannot do so on account of what my people have done to me. They have honored, financed, and respected me; and they insist on differing from him. Should I follow him, they would take away from me all this that I now have."

It was to this message that Muhammad summoned Jews and Christians alike. Muslim relationships with the former were already under the governance of the Covenant of Madinah. Those of the latter depended upon the Christians' response to Muhammad's invitation. Though they did not join Islam at this time, the Christians resolved neither to oppose Muhammad nor the missionary activity of his followers. Appreciating the perfect justice of Muhammad's new order, they asked him to appoint for them a Muslim to act as judge in their own disputes at home. Muhammad sent with them Abu `Ubaydah ibn al Jarrah, who was vested with the proper judicial authority.

 

Rethinking the Problem of Quraysh and Makkah

Muhammad continued to consolidate the civilization for which his teaching and example provided the foundation. Together with his Muhajirun companions, he thought over the problem of Quraysh, which had vexed them ever since their emigration. The Muslims were moved by many considerations. In Makkah stood the Ka'bah, the house of Ibrahim, pilgrimage center to them as well as to all the Arabs. Until their exile, they had performed this sacred duty in season, every year. In Makkah too many of their friends, relatives, and loved ones had stayed behind and were still practicing the old idolatry. In Makkah, their wealth, worldly goods, trade, and properties were still under the jurisdiction of the Quraysh. Madinah itself was struck with epidemic diseases which attacked the Muslims and inflicted upon them great suffering; indeed, the very trip to Madinah on foot and without provisions had so worn them out that they entered the city on their first arrival already diseased and exhausted. This hard journey had naturally increased their longing for their hometown. Moreover, they did not leave Makkah of their own accord but under compulsion and full of resentment for their overlords who threatened them with all kinds of punishments and sanctions. It was not in their nature to suffer such injustices or to submit to such tyranny for long without thinking of avenging themselves. Besides these determinants, there was the natural motivation of longing to return to one's homeland, to one's home where one was born and grew up. There was the natural longing for the land, the plain, and the mountains, the water and the vegetation, all of which had constituted their earliest associations, friendships, and love. The land in which he grows and to which he returns at the end of his life has a special appeal for man. It determines his heart and his emotion and moves him to defend it with all his power and wealth as well as to exert all possible effort indeed his life -for its guardianship and well being. It is to the land from which we came out, as it were, that we want to return and be buried in at death. This natural feeling added a degree of intensity to the other emotions. Indeed, the Muhajirun could never forget Makkah nor stop thinking about the problem of their relation with the Quraysh. From the very nature of the case, and after thirteen long years of persecution and conflict in which they held their ground firmly, the Muslims could not possibly entertain any ideas of withdrawal or giving up. The religion itself to which they had converted and for the sake of which they had emigrated did not approve of weakness, despair, servile submission, or the patient bearing of injustice. Although it was strongly opposed to aggression and condemned it in no uncertain terms, and although it called for and promoted fraternity and brotherhood, it demanded that man rise up to the defense of his person, of his dignity, of the freedom of religion, and the freedom of homeland. It was for this defense and purpose that Muhammad concluded with the Muslims of Yathrib the great covenant of al `Aqabah. Now the question posed itself how may the Muhajirun fulfill this duty imposed upon them for the sake of God, His holy house, and their beloved homeland, Makkah? Toward the realization of this objective will the policy of Muhammad and of the Muslims now turn. This objective was to preoccupy them all until the conquest of Makkah had been achieved, and the religion of God, and the truth which it proclaimed, had become supreme.

 

The First Raids and Skirmishes

Muslim Policy in Madinah

The Muslims were all well settled in Madinah only months after the Hijrah. Their longing for Makkah increased with every new day, as they thought of their loved ones whom they had left behind, of their property and wealth which they had forsaken, and of the injuries which the Quraysh had inflicted upon them in the past. What they would now do was for them a constant question. The majority of historians think that the Muslims, led by Muhammad, thought of avenging themselves on the Quraysh and of declaring war against them. Some even claim that the Muslims had thought of declaring this war ever since they arrived in Madinah, and that if they had not opened hostilities at that time it was because they were preoccupied with the business of settling down and organizing their own lives. They reasoned that Muhammad had concluded the great covenant of al `Aqabah precisely in order to wage war against all opponents and that it was natural for his and his companions’ attention first to fall upon the Quraysh-a fact proven by Quraysh’s own mobilization upon hearing of the conclusion of the said pact.

 

The First Raids

This general hypothesis of the historians is supposedly proved by events which took place eight months after the Hijrah of Muhammad. The Prophet then sent his uncle Hamzah ibn `Abd al Muttalib with forty riders from the Muhajirun, rather than the Ansar, to the seacoast near al `Is where Abu Jahl ibn Hisham was camping with three hundred Makkan riders. Hamzah was just about to enter into battle with the Quraysh force when Majdiy ibn `Amr al Juhani, who was in peaceful relation with both parties, interfered to separate them before the battle had begun. At the same time, Muhammad sent `Ubaydah ibn al Harith with sixty riders from the Muhajirun to go to a well in the valley of Rabigh in Hijaz where they met more than two hundred riders led by Abu Sufyan. The Muslim forces withdrew without engaging the enemy, except for the report that Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas shot one single arrow, later to be called, `the first arrow shot in the cause of Islam.' It is also reported that Muhammad had sent Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas to lead a number of Muhajirun riders (eight according to one version and twenty according to another) into the Hijaz, but he returned without engaging the enemy.

 

 

Raids Led by the Prophet

As further evidence to all the foregoing it is said that the Prophet himself had undertaken the leadership of the raids on al Abwa' twelve months after the Hijrah and appointed Sa`d ibn `Ubadah as his vice-regent in Madinah during his absence. In their search for the Quraysh as well as the Banu Damrah, the Muslims reached Waddan. They did not meet any man from Quraysh on that expedition, but they did succeed in winning Banu Damrah as allies. A month later, Muhammad led a force of two hundred riders from both the Muhajirun and Ansar camps with Buwat as their objective, where a caravan of 1,500 camels accompanied by one hundred riders under the leadership of Umayyah ibn Khalaf was reported to be passing. No engagement took place because the caravan had taken an untrodden, unknown route. Two or three months after Muhammad's return from Buwat by way of Radwa, he appointed Abu Salamah ibn `Abd al Asad to take his place in Madinah while he and more than two hundred Muslim riders went on an expedition to `Ushayrah in the district of Yanbu`. There he spent the whole month of First Jumada and a few days of Second Jumada of the second year .A.H. (October 623 C.E) waiting for a Quraysh caravan headed by Abu Sufyan to pass, without success, for it had already gone earlier. During his stay in the area, he concluded a pact of friendship with the tribe of Banu Mudlaj and their allies from Banu Damrah. He had hardly spent ten days in Madinah after his return when Kurz ibn Jabir al Fihri, an ally of Quraysh, raided the camels and cattle of Madinah. The Prophet immediately led a force after him, appointing Zayd ibn Harithah as his representative during his absence. The force marched until it reached a valley called Safawan in the district of Badr and again missed their objective, the said Kurz ibn Jabir al Fihri. It is to this raid that biographers refer as the first raid of Badr.

 

The Historians' View of the First Raid

Does not all this constitute evidence that the Muhajirun as well as Muhammad sought first of all to avenge themselves on the Quraysh and to open hostilities against them? There is full evidence, according to these historians, that for these expeditions and raids the Muslims had two objectives: first to seize the caravans of the Quraysh, on their way to or from al Sham during the summer, in order to take possession of the goods which they carried; second to cut off the Quraysh caravan routes to al Sham. This latter goal was to be achieved by concluding covenants and pacts with the various tribes settled along these routes. Thus, it would be all the easier and safer for the Muhajirun to attack these caravans without fear of detection or attack from the local inhabitants, and the caravans themselves would then be at the total mercy of the Muslims. The raids which the Prophet sent out under the leadership of Hamzah, `Ubaydah ibn al Harith, and Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas, as well as the pacts of friendship and peace which he concluded with Banu Damrah, Banu Mudlaj, and others, confirmed this second objective and proved that the Muslims had definitely aimed at cutting the road to al Sham for the Quraysh and Makkah.

 

 

Our View of These Raids

That by means of these raids, begun six months after their settlement in Madinah and undertaken by the Muhajirun alone, the Muslims sought to wage war against Quraysh and to attack its caravans is an opinion which cannot be accepted without hesitation and scrutiny. The expedition of Hamzah did not consist of more than thirty men, that of `Ubaydah, sixty, that of Sa'd eight, according to one version, and twenty according to another. The number of fighters assigned by the Quraysh to the protection of their caravan was in each case many times the number of riders the Muslims had sent out. Moreover, ever since Muhammad emigrated to Madinah and began to forge a chain of alliances around the city, the Quraysh multiplied the number of escorts for their caravans and improved their weapons. Whatever the personal courage of Hamzah, `Ubaydah, and Sa'd among the leaders of those expeditionary forces of the Muhajirun, their military equipment was not such as would encourage them to make war. They were satisfied with threatening the Quraysh rather than engaging them in battle. The only exception to this was the single arrow shot by Sa'd, as reported above.

 

Exposure of Quraysh's Trade to Danger

The caravans of Quraysh were protected by escorts of the people of Makkah who were related to many Muhajirun as members of the same tribe, the same house and clan, and often the same family. It was not easy, therefore, for them to decide to enter into an engagement in which members of the same tribe, clan, and family would kill one another and then expose to retaliation all their fellow tribesmen on each side, in fact to expose the whole of Makkah and Madinah at once to the lex talionis of the desert. Hardly any change affected the inability and unwillingness of Muslims and others to launch a civil war which both parties had ably struggled to avert for thirteen long years, from the commission of Muhammad to prophethood to the day of his emigration to Madinah. The Muslims knew too well that the covenant of al `Aqabah was a defensive one which both al Aws and al Khazraj had undertaken to protect Muhammad. These tribes of Madinah have never agreed either with Muhammad nor with anyone else to commit aggression on anyone. It is not possible, therefore, to accept the view of the earliest historians, who did not begin to write the history of the Prophet until two centuries or so after his death, that the first raids and expeditions had actually been intended for fighting. Hence, we must understand these events in a more reasonable way to harmonize with what we know to have been the policy of the Muslims in this early period of Madinah, and to be consistent with the Prophet's policy of common understanding, mutual friendship, and co-operation to obtain religious freedom for all.

It is more likely, therefore, that these early expeditions had only psychic objectives, and were meant to press home to the Quraysh the realization that their own interest demanded that they come into some kind of understanding with the Muslims. The Muslims were, after all, their own people, compelled to migrate from their own city to escape the persecution so far inflicted. Rather than to bring war and hostility, these expeditions were intended to put an end to the old hostility, to guarantee to the Muslims the freedom they sought for calling men to their religion, and to ensure for Makkah the security it needed for its caravans to al Sham. This trade, in which both Makkah and Ta'if were involved and which Makkah used to carry on with the south as well as with the north, had built up large interests and businesses. Some caravans consisted of two thousand camels or more, and carried a load whose value amounted to fifty thousand Dinars.[A dinar is a golden coin, equivalent to twenty silver dirhims. -Tr.]. According to the estimates of the Orientalist, Sprenger, the annual exports of Makkah amounted to 250,000 Dinars or 160,000 gold pounds. If the Quraysh could be made to realize that this precious trade and wealth were exposed to danger by their own sons who had migrated to Madinah, perhaps they might be inclined to reach an understanding with the Muslims in order to grant them the freedom to preach their faith, visit Makkah, and perform the pilgrimage, which was all they really sought. Such an understanding was not possible, however, unless the Quraysh were brought to realize that their emigrant sons were capable of impeding that trade and inflicting some material harm. To my mind, this explains the return of Hamzah and his riders without battle after their encounter with Abu Jahl ibn Hisham on the seacoast when Majdiy ibn `Amr al Juhani intervened between him and the Quraysh. It also explains the fact of the small numbers of riders which the Muslims sent on these expeditions in the direction of the trade routes of Makkah. Otherwise, it would be unreasonable that the Muslims go out to war in such small numbers. This also explains Muhammad's alliances of peace which he concluded with the tribes settled along the routes of these caravans while Quraysh persisted in its hostility toward the Muhajirun. Apparently, Muhammad had hoped that the news of these alliances would reach the Quraysh and cause them to reconsider their position and, perhaps, open the road to some understanding.

 

 

Al Ansar and Offensive Attack

The foregoing hypothesis is corroborated by a very reliable tradition to the effect that when the Prophet, may God's blessing be upon him, went with his men to Buwat and to al `Ushayrah, a great number of Ansar from Madinah accompanied him. These Ansar had covenanted with him for his protection, not in order to launch any offensive attack against anyone. This point will become clear when we study the great battle of Badr. There, Muhammad hesitated whether or not to permit the fighting to take place until the people of Madinah had clearly agreed to join that specific sortie. Although the Ansar saw no violation of their covenant with Muhammad if the latter entered into other covenants of peace and friendship, they were not thereby committed to join him in a war against Makkah which no Arab morality or custom would approve. The effect of the alliances which Muhammad concluded with the tribes settled along the trade route was surely that of endangering Makkan trade. But how far removed is such an attempt from declaring and entering into a full scale war! We may conclude, therefore, that the views that Hamzah, `Ubaydah ibn al Harith, and Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas were sent to fight the Quraysh, and that their expeditions should be called military raids, are unsound and unacceptable. Likewise, the view that Muhammad had gone to al Abwa, Buwat, and al `Ushayrah for purposes of war is refuted by the considerations we have just given. The fact that such a view is held by the historians of Muhammad does not constitute a sound argument because the said historians did not write until toward the end of the second century A.H. Furthermore, the said historians were looking at these events as they occurred after the great battle of Badr. Hence, they looked upon them as preliminary skirmishes preceding that great battle and leading toward it. It was a natural mistake for them to add these sorties to the list of battles the Muslims fought during the Prophet's lifetime.

 

Nature of the Madinese

A large number of Orientalists have perceived these facts and realized their opposition to the said claim, although they did not expressly say so in their works. We are moved to accredit them with this realization despite their following the Muslim historians in their general attribution to Muhammad and the Muhajirun of the intention to make war against Makkah from the first days of residence in Madinah. They point out that these early expeditions were, rather, intended as raids on the caravans to rob their goods, and they argue that this kind of robbery was embedded in the nature of the people of the desert and that the Madinese were attracted by prospective booty to cooperate in violation of their pledge at al `Aqabah. This is spurious reasoning, of course, and to be rejected outright. The people of Madinah were not people of the desert living on robbery and raids. Rather, like the people of Makkah, they had other sources of income and were motivated the same way as all settled people who live on agriculture and trade. Such people do not make war except for an extraordinary and stirring purpose. On the other hand, the Muhajirun were entitled to seize Quraysh goods in retaliation for the goods which the Quraysh had seized from them. But they did not have recourse to such action before the battle of Badr. This was not, therefore, the reason for those expeditions. Besides, fighting had not yet been permitted in Islam. Neither Muhammad nor his companions could have indulged in it for the nomadic purpose erroneously explained by the Orientalists. Fighting was permitted in Islam, and carried out by Muhammad and his companions, in order to stop their being persecuted for their faith and to have all the freedom they needed to call men to it. Later, when we see the details and the proofs of this, it will become clear that in all these alliances Muhammad's purpose was the consolidation of the defense of Madinah. The objective was to remove Madinah beyond any design the Quraysh might have against its Muslim inhabitants. Muhammad could not have forgotten that the Makkans once sought to extradite the Muslims from Abyssinia. At that time, Muhammad did not see any objection at all to entering into a treaty of peace with Quraysh. Such a treaty would have stopped persecution, given him the freedom to call unto the new faith, and to witness for God unto all men.

 

 

Threat to the Jews

Perhaps, too, by these expeditions and armed sorties, Muhammad sought to warn the Jews of Madinah and the neighboring area. We have already seen how, upon Muhammad's arrival at Madinah, the Jews hoped to bring him into alliance with them and how, after befriending him and pledging to honor his freedom to practice and preach the new religion, they had begun to oppose and plot against him. In fact, no sooner had Muhammad settled down and the prospects of Islam had begun to improve, than the Jews, for their part, began their undeclared war against him. Their opposition and hostility were never open. Above all, they feared lest any harm might befall their trade; and, although they had fanned and fueled the fires of civil war in the past, they adeptly avoided every possible involvement. Henceforth, their covenant with Muhammad at least prevented them from any such open involvement; and they recoursed to every hidden way to instigate enmity and hostility between the Muhajirun and Ansar so as to revive the old hatreds between al Aws and al Khazraj by reminding them of the day of Bu'ath in reciting the war poetry which had been composed on that occasion.

 

Jewish Plots

The Muslims realized what the Jews were about, for the latter were neither gentle nor discrete. Their instigation was always overdone. The Muslims accused those who entered into the Covenant of Madinah of hypocrisy, and classified them with themunafiqun.[Munafiqun, literally, the pretenders; applied to the insincere idolaters who joined the ranks of Islam for ulterior motives. -Tr.]. Some Jews were once violently expelled from the mosque, and were later isolated and boycotted. After failing to convince them of the truth of Islam, the Prophet, may God's blessing be upon him, let them alone. But to let them alone religiously did not mean that they should be allowed to instigate the Muslims to a civil internecine war. Politically speaking, it was not enough to warn them and to warn the Muslims of their instigation. It was necessary to impress them with the fact that the Muslims were sufficiently strong to stamp out any such war as the Jews were instigating as well as to uproot its causes. A good way for pressing this realization upon them was the sending out of Muslim forces on military expeditions in all directions on condition that such sorties entail no actual fighting and no military setback. This account seems to be factual, for men like Hamzah, whom we know to have been quick to fly into a rage, turned around in front of the enemy without engagement. The appearance of an honored friend asking for peace is not enough to separate two parties either of which is bent upon fighting. Rather, non-engagement was a deliberate and carefully laid out plan. Its specific purpose was on one side to threaten and warn the Jews, and, on the other, to seek an understanding with the Quraysh to let the religious call take its course freely, without impediment or recourse to war or fighting.

 

 

Islam and Fighting

This peaceful show of strength by Islam does not at all mean that Islam, at that time, forbade fighting in defense of personal life and of religion, or to put a stop to persecution. Indeed, Islam did not. Rather, it imposed such defense as a sacred duty. What it did really mean at that time, as it does today or will ever do, was to condemn any war of aggression. "Do not commit any aggression," God commands. He counsels, "God does not love the aggressors."[Qur'an, 2:190] If, at that time, the Muhajirun felt justified in seizing the property of the Quraysh in retaliation for the latter's confiscation of their property when they emigrated, they certainly realized that to protect the Muslims against apostasy from their faith was a greater duty in the eyes of God and His Prophet. The latter was the main purpose for the sake of which God had permitted the Muslims to fight at all.

 

`Abdullah ibn Jahsh's Expedition

The proof of the foregoing contention may be found in the expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh al Asadi, who was sent by the Prophet of God at the head of a number of Muhajirun in the month of Rajab of the second year A.H. The Prophet gave him a document and asked him not to look at it until two days after the start of his journey. He was then supposed to follow its instructions without forcing any of his companions to comply with them. Two days after he started off, `Abdullah, having unsealed the document, read the following instructions: "As soon as you have read this document, proceed to Nakhlah between Makkah and Ta'if, and there seek to learn for us the news of the Quraysh and their movements." When his companions learned that they were under no compulsion to go along with him, they all decided to do so except for Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas al Zuhri and `Utbah ibn Ghazwan, who preferred to look, on their own, for some of their camels which the Quraysh had seized. `Abdullah and his companions proceeded as instructed. At Nakhlah, they saw a donkey caravan carrying trade goods for the Quraysh which were guarded by `Amr ibn al Hadrami. The date was the end of the month of Rajab. Remembering the old persecutions of the Quraysh and the latter's seizure of their wealth and property, `Abdullah ibn Jahsh, after consulting with his Muhajirun companions, said: "Surely, if you allow the caravan to pass through tonight unmolested, they will reach the holy territory tomorrow and will thereby become forbidden to you. And yet, if you kill them today, you will have killed them in the holy month when killing is forbidden." The hesitant Muslims were afraid to attack the caravan; but, encouraging one another, they agreed to kill whomever they could and to seize the goods in his possession. One of them shot an arrow at `Amr ibn al Hadrami and killed him. The Muslims captured two men from the Quraysh.

 

 

Sedition Greater Than Murder

`Abdullah ibn Jahsh arrived in Madinah together with the two Quraysh captives and the donkey caravan loaded completely with goods. He had already earmarked one-fifth of the booty to the Prophet. But when the Prophet saw them, he said: "I have not instructed you to fight during the holy months." He stopped the caravan in its place as well as the two captives and refused to take any part of the booty. He castigated `Abdullah ibn Jahsh and his companions and, later on, they were further scolded and punished by their fellow Muslims for what they had done. The Quraysh seized the opportunity to spread the propaganda everywhere that Muhammad and his companions had violated the sanctity of the holy month by having killed, robbed and captured. The Muslims of Makkah answered that the event had taken place not in the holy months but during the following month of Sha'ban. The Jew; immediately joined the chorus of Quraysh propaganda with the hope of engaging the Muslims in a war with the Quraysh over a case in which the Muslims were apparently in the wrong according to Arabian custom. It was then that God revealed ' he judgment

"They ask you concerning the holy month whether or not fighting is permitted therein. Answer: `to fight therein is a grave misdeed. But to impede men from following the cause of God, to deny God, to violate the sanctity of the holy mosque, to expel its people from its precincts is with God a greater wrong than fighting in the holy month. Moreover, to divide the community of Muslims against itself is greater yet. Your enemies continue to fight you by all these means in order to compel you to abjure your religion."[Qur'an, 2:217]

This revelation brought the Muslims relief, and the Prophet accepted his share of the booty. When the Quraysh sought to ransom the two captives, the Prophet answered: "We shall not accept your ransom for the two captives unless you return our two men whom you have captured, namely Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas and `Utbah ibn Ghazwan. If you kill them we shall likewise kill your two men." Sa'd and `Utbah were returned and the two Quraysh captives were released. One of them, al Hakam ibn Kaysan, was immediately converted to Islam and spent the rest of his life in Madinah. The other returned to Makkah where he remained to the end.

It is well worth our while to pause here for further consideration of the evidence which this expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh and the Qur'anic verse, which was revealed in that connection, furnish for our generalization concerning the political theory of Islam. The event occurs as it were at the very crossroads of the development of Islamic policy. In kind, it is new. It points to a spirit strong in its nobility, human in its strength, a spirit which orders the material, moral, and spiritual aspects of life very strictly while enhancing man's quest of perfection. The Qur'an answered the question of the idolaters concerning whether or not fighting is permissible in the holy months and approved their view that it is a grave misdeed. But it also warned against something yet greater in its evil and immorality: that is to impede men from following the path of God and to deny Him, to stop men from entering the holy mosque, to expel the worshipers therefrom, or to sway and lure man away from his religion by promise, threat, bribery, and persecution. All these are greater misdeeds than fighting during the holy months or any months. The Quraysh and the idolaters who blamed the Muslims for killing during the holy months were themselves still fighting the Muslims by these means in order to compel them to renounce their religion. If the Quraysh and the idolators perpetrated all these misdeeds together, the victims of their misdeeds cannot be blamed for fighting during the holy months. Rather, the real misdeed is that of perpetrating these evils during the holy month against the innocent and the peaceful.

 

 

The Qur'an and Fighting

Fitnah, or sedition, is a greater crime than murder. It is a right, nay a duty, of whosoever witnesses it, whether perpetrated against an individual or a whole community, to take up arms and fight for the sake of God and thus put an immediate end to it. It is here that the Orientalists and the missionaries raise their eyebrows and voices, shouting: "Do you see? Here is Muhammad agreeing that his religion actually calls to war, to jihad in the cause of God, that is, to compel man by the sword to enter into Islam. Isn't this precisely what is meant by fanaticism? Now contrast this with Christianity, which denies fighting and condemns war, which calls for peace and advocates tolerance, which binds men in bonds of brotherhood in God and in Christ . . . ." In arguing this point I do not wish to mention the statement of the New Testament, "I have not come to send peace but a sword . . . ."[Matthew, 10:34] Nor do I want to analyze the meanings implicit in such statements. The Muslims understand the religion of Jesus only as interpreted by the Qur'an. Rather, I want to begin by refuting the claim that Muhammad's religion calls for fighting and coercion of men into Islam. That is a false accusation denied by the Qur'anic judgment:

"There is no compulsion in religion-the truth is now distinct from error;" as well as by the command, "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not commit any aggression. God does not love the aggressor."[Qur'an, 2:256, 190]

The same directives are contained in a number of other verses.

 

 

War in the Cause of God

Jihad, or war for the sake of God, is clearly defined in the verses which we have mentioned and which were revealed in connection with the expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh. Its definite meaning is to fight those who sway the Muslim away from his religion and prevent him from walking in the path of God. This fight is waged solely for the freedom to call men unto God and unto His religion. To use a modern expression consonant with the usage of the present age, we may say that war in Islam is permitted-nay, it is rather a duty-when undertaken in defense of freedom of thought and opinion. All weapons used by the aggressors may be used against them. If somebody seeks to sway a man from conviction or opinion, and he effectively uses propaganda and logic without physical coercion, persecution, discrimination, or use of illicit means such as bribery, no man may stop him except by answering his argument and analyzing and exposing his logic. However, if he resorts to armed force to prevent a man from holding a certain opinion, then it becomes necessary to answer his armed power with equal armed power wherever practical. Man has no dignity if his convictions have none. Convictions are far more precious than wealth, position, power or life itself. To those who appreciate the meaning of humanity, convictions are far more precious than the material life which man shares with the animals. If man's humanity consists of no more than eating and drinking, growing and struggling for survival, he is one with the animals. Man's spiritual and moral convictions constitute the moral bond which unites him to his fellowmen, the spiritual link between him and God. The life of conviction is man's great distinction from the animal kingdom. By it, man wills for his brother that which he wills for himself; by it, he inclines to share his wealth with the poor, the destitute, and the miserable, though such sharing may imply some deprivation to his near relatives; by it, man enters into communion with the universe to perform that which enables the universe to realize the perfection which God has prescribed and established for it.

Should conviction take possession of a man and should another man attempt to make him renounce it under conditions in which self-protection or defense are impossible, such a man would do what the Muslims did before their emigration from Madinah, namely, to bear patiently all injury, persecution, and injustice. Neither hunger nor deprivation of any kind would cause him to succumb to ignoble desires; patient forbearance was precisely what the Muslims practiced in Makkah as well as what the early Christians had practiced. But those who suffer in patience for the sake of their convictions are not the majority of mankind nor the plebians among them. They are, however, the select and chosen few whom God has endowed with such moral strength that they are capable of standing up against any injury or injustice, however great. It was precisely this kind of conviction which the New Testament has associated with the judgment that whoever is endowed therewith "shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove."[Matthew, 17:20]. But if it is possible for man to defend himself against aggression with the same arms as the aggressor, to fight the man who blocks the path of God by use of his own means, then it is his duty to do so. Otherwise, one would be weak of faith and doubtful in conviction. That is what Muhammad and his companions did after they had achieved a measure of security for themselves in Madinah. That is equally what the Christians did after they had achieved power in Rome and Byzantium, after the conversion of the Roman emperors.

 

 

Christianity and Fighting

The missionaries say, "But the spirit of Christianity condemns fighting altogether." I do not wish to pause here for investigating the truth, or lack of it, of such a claim. The history of Christianity, however, is a legitimate witness in this matter and so is the history of Islam. From the dawn of Christianity until today every country of the world has been soaked with blood in the name of Jesus Christ. The Romans and the Byzantines of old as well as the European peoples of modern times are guilty of shedding blood in religious causes. The Crusades were launched and their fires fanned by Christians, not by Muslims. For hundreds of years, one army after another rolled out of Europe in the direction of the Muslim Orient to fight, to destroy, and to shed blood. In every case, the popes who claimed to be the vicars of Jesus Christ, blessed and encouraged these armies and hurried them to Jerusalem and other destinations. Were all these popes heretics? Was their Christianity spurious? Or was every one of them a pretender, an ignoramus, unaware that Christianity absolutely condemns fighting? The missionaries rejoin, "Those were the Middle Ages, ages of darkness, unfit as evidence against Christianity." If this is an argument on which they pin some hope, let us then turn to the twentieth century in which we now live and which they call "the century of the highest human civilization." This century has indeed seen the same darkness as did the Middle Ages. Lord Allenby, representing the allied forces of England, France, Italy, Rumania, and America, stopped in Jerusalem in 1918 after his conquest of that city toward the end of the first World War and said: "Today the Crusades have come to an end."

 

The Saints in Islam and Christianity

If in every age and period, there have been Christian saints who have condemned fighting and who rose to the pinnacles of human brotherhood-indeed, of brotherhood among all element of the universe-so there were among the Muslims saints who have reached these very pinnacles and related themselves to all existence and being in a bond of brotherhood, love, and illumination and who realized within their souls the very unity of being. These saints, however, whether Muslim or Christian, do not represent human life in its constant development and struggle toward perfection. Rather they represent the highest example of the realization of that perfection. The general run of men, however, seek to understand and realize such perfection, but neither their reason nor their imagination succeeds in doing so with any amount of precision or completeness. Their attempts to realize it are understandable as preliminaries and trials. One thousand three hundred and fifty-seven years have so far passed since the emigration of the Arab Prophet from Makkah to Madinah. Throughout these years men have increased their capacities to fight, improved their devilish art of war, and made its weapons more destructive than ever. However, disarmament and the cessation of war are still words of mere propaganda spread before the eyes of the credulous in war after war, each more devastating than the preceding. These noble ideals have hardly been more than propaganda claims made by people thus far incapable-and who knows, perhaps never capable of realizing any such desiderata, of bringing true peace into the world, a peace of brotherhood and justice instead of an armed peace which is only a preliminary to another war.

 

The Great Battle of Badr

The expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh constitued the crossroads of Islamic policy. It was the occasion when Waqid ibn `Abdullah al Tamimi shot an arrow at `Amr ibn al Hadrami and killed him, thus shedding blood by a Muslim hand for the first time. It was in regard to this sortie that the Qur'anic verses constituting the Islamic position on war and fighting were revealed. And it was in consequence of this revelation that fighting was permitted, but only against those who seek to compel the Muslims to renounce their religion and who stand in the way of calling men unto God. The same expedition constituted also the crossroads of Muslim policy toward Quraysh, for it now opened the door for the two parties to compete in military power and strength as they had done formerly in word and idea. It was after that expedition that the Muslims began to think seriously of extracting their goods from Quraysh by force and conquest. The Quraysh saw in this an opportunity to stir up the whole peninsula against Muhammad and his companions, and therefore accused them of the most heinous crime in the eyes of all Arabs, namely the desecration of the holy months. In the resultant situation, Muhammad became convinced that there was no more hope of reaching any kind of agreement with them. Toward the beginning of autumn of the second year A.H., Abu Sufyan led a great caravan toward al Sham. It was this trade which the Muslims had previously threatened when the Prophet-may God's peace and blessing be upon him-joined the expedition to al `Ushayrah in person. When the Muslims reached that locality, the caravan of Abu Sufyan had passed two days earlier. The Muslims decided to withdraw and wait for the caravan's return. When that time came and the caravan was supposedly in the vicinity of Madinah, Muhammad sent Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah and Said ibn Zayd to reconnoitre its where abouts. The two men ran in the direction of the usual trade route and arrived at the campsite of Kashd al Juhaniy in al Hawra'. There, they hid until the caravan passed. They returned quickly to Madinah in order to give Muhammad the information he asked for.

 

The Muslims Mobilize for Badr

Muhammad did not await the return of his two messengers from al Hawra'. He had already heard that the caravan in question was a very large one and that practically all the Makkans were involved in the trade it carried since all Makkan capitalists had already bought a share in it. The goods the caravan carried were estimated at 50,000 dinars. Muhammad feared that if he were to await the news of his two messengers, the caravan would pass him by on its return to Makkah as it had passed him by on its northward trip to Syria earlier. Consequently, he called the Muslims together and addressed them in the following words: "Yonder is the caravan of Quraysh, Mobilize your forces and seek to capture it. Perhaps God may give it to you as booty." Some Muslims responded and others did not. Some non-Muslims were anxious to join, but Muhammad prevented them from doing so until they had believed in God and his Prophet.

 

 

Abu Sufyan's Messenger to Quraysh

On the other side, Abu Sufyan had also heard of Muhammad's sortie to intercept his caravan on its way north to al Sham, and he was equally apprehensive that the Muslims would again attempt to do so on his return. He therefore sought to learn of their movements as assiduously as the Muslims sought to learn of his. He was especially apprehensive of the return trip because his trade, so far, had been particularly successful. The same al Juhaniy who played host to Muhammad's messengers at al Hawra' was asked by Abu Sufyan concerning the Muslims. A1 Juhaniy did not tell the truth to Abu Sufyan; but this did not matter inasmuch as Abu Sufyan already knew as much about the Muslims as the Muslims knew about him. He feared a catastrophe because his caravan had but thirty or forty men to guard it. Anticipating danger, he decided to send Damdam ibn `Amr al Ghifari in haste to Quraysh with the message that Muhammad and his companions had set out to intercept the caravan and to appeal to them to send men for escort. As instructed by Abu Sufyan, just before he entered Makkah, Damdam cut off the ears of his camel, broke its nose, turned its saddle sideways, tore his own robe in front and in back, and entered the city standing on the back of his camel shouting

"O People of Quraysh, your wealth and trade are being lost. Abu Sufyan and the caravan are being intercepted by Muhammad and his companions. Perhaps you may still catch them. Help! Help!" As soon as he heard the news, Abu Jahl called upon all Makkans to join in the rescue operation. He, a man of acid temper, eloquent speech, and strong insight, could inflame any audience. The Quraysh, however, were not in need of eloquent speeches to rise against Muhammad. Every one of them had a share in the trade this caravan carried.

 

Old Enmity of Quraysh and Kinanah

At the time, a group of Makkans felt that Quraysh had been too unjust toward its Muslim members for having compelled them to emigrate first to Abyssinia and then to Madinah. This group, hesitant to answer the call of Abu Jahl, simply hoped that the caravan would not be destroyed. This same group remembered that the Quraysh and Kinanah tribes were quite alienated from each other and were only waiting for an opportunity to avenge themselves against each other. They feared that should the Quraysh all go out to meet Muhammad and protect their caravan, the Banu Bakr of Kinanah might seize the opportunity to attack them from behind. This cautious judgment would nearly have carried the day against the appeal of Abu Jahl were it not for the arrival upon the scene of Malik ibn Ju'shum al Mudliji, a nobleman and leader of Banu Kinanah. He said, addressing the Makkans : "I deliver myself to you as a surety that Kinanah will not pounce upon you in your hour of need." With this, the group supporting Abu Jahl and `Amir ibn al Hadrami for general mobilization and war against Muhammad and his companions, succeeded in convincing the Makkans in favor of war. No reason remained for any Makkan capable of fighting to stay behind, or for the incapable to equip and send somebody in his stead. None of the noblemen of the Quraysh stayed behind except Abu Lahab, who sent in his stead al `As ibn Hisham ibn al Mughirah in compensation for some four thousand dirhams the latter owed him which he was not able to pay back. `Umayyah ibn Khalaf, a very old and obese man, decided to stay behind. He was visited in the mosque by `Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt and Abu Jahl. The first carried an incense burner; the second, instruments of beautification for women. `Uqbah placed the incense burner in Umayyah's hands and said, "O Abu `Ali, fill your atmosphere with incense for you are a woman." Abu Jahl handed over the instruments of beautification and said, "0 Abu `Ali, beautify yourself for you are only a woman." At this, Umayyah rose and said, "Buy for me the best and strongest camel in Makkah." He rode it and joined the force. Because of this and like tactics, no man capable of bearing arms remained behind.

 

 

The Path of the Muslim Army

The Prophet, may God's blessing be upon him, had started off from Madinah with his companions on the eighth day of Ramadan in the second year A.H. He had appointed `Amr ibn Maktum to lead the prayer in Madinah, and Abu Lubabah, whom he called back from al Rawha', to govern Madinah in his place during his absence. The Muslim force was preceded by two black flags, and their camels counted seventy. Since three or four men were assigned to one camel, each one rode for only a brief while. Muhammad's share in riding was like that of his companions. He, `Ali ibn Abu Talib, and Marthad ibn Marthad al Ghanawi had one camel assigned to them. Abu Bakr, `Umar, and `Abd al Rahman ibn `Awf shared another. The total number of men on this expedition amounted to three hundred and five. Eighty-three of them were Muhajirun, sixty-one belonged to al Aws, and the rest to al Khazraj. Their pace was swift because they feared Abu Sufyan would pass them by if they tarried. They arrived to a place called `Iraq al Zubiah where they found a Bedouin whom they asked concerning the caravan but could not learn anything from him. They continued on their march until they arrived at a valley called Dhafiran where they encamped. It was at this moment that the news reached them that the Quraysh had come out in force to meet them and protect the caravan. This news radically changed the situation. It was no more a question of intercepting- Abu Sufyan, his caravan, and the thirty or forty escorts who were no match for Muhammad and his companions. The whole of Makkah, led by its, nobles and elders, was out to protect its trade. If the Muslims were to catch up with Abu Sufyan, overcome his men and take away his camels and all they carried, would the Quraysh not follow and catch up with them, stirred up by this new attack of the Muslims and encouraged by their great numbers and armaments? Would they not catch up with the Muslims and fight them to the finish? On the other hand, if Muhammad were to return without victory, would not both the Quraysh and the Jews of Madinah realize his weakness and seek to take advantage of it? Would he then not have to compromise and, perhaps, suffer a Jewish tyranny in Madinah such as the Quraysh tyranny he had suffered in Makkah? In such eventuality, how could the revelation of truth and the religion of God ever become successful or achieve victory?

Muhammad consulted the members of his expedition concerning the news just received. After Abu Bakr and `Umar presented their views, al Miqdad ibn `Amr stood up and said: "0 Prophet of God, press forward toward that which Cod has shown you. We are with you. By God, we shall never say to you, as the Jews had said to Moses, `Go alone with your Lord and fight with Him for us, while we remain here and await your return.' Rather, we say, `Go forth, you and your Lord to fight, for we are fighting with you.'" A1 Miqdad's speech was followed by silence. The Prophet said: "Speak out, 0 men, and give me your counsel." He was especially anxious to hear al Ansar's view who, on the day of al `Aqabah, pledged to protect him as they would their children and women but not to permit any aggression with him outside their own area. When al Ansar realized that he was waiting for them to speak, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, their leader, rose and addressed Muhammad: "Does it seem, 0 Prophet of God, that you are seeking to hear our view?" The Prophet answered, "Indeed." Sa'd said, "We have believed in you, and we have witnessed that what you have brought to us is the truth. We have covenanted with you to hear and to obey. Go ahead with whatever you decide, for we are with you. By Him who sent you as a prophet, if you lead us toward the sea, we shall enter into it with you and not one of us will stay behind. We do not fear that you cause us to face our enemy tomorrow. We shall hold fast to our ground and stand firm or press forward toward the enemy in solid ranks. We hope that God will show you such of our deeds as you may not be disappointed therein but may be proud of. Lead us forth with God's blessing." Sa'd had hardly finished his words when Muhammad 's face radiated with joy and his eyes shone with energy. He said: "Go forward and be optimistic; for God had premised me one of the twoeither the caravan or the Makkan army. By God, it is as though I see the enemy lying prostrate in the field." When the force arrived at Dhafiran, Muhammad advanced on his camel alone and, reaching an old Bedouin settler in the area who did not know him, asked about Quraysh, as well as about Muhammad and his companions, and learned that the caravan of Quraysh was indeed close by.

 

 

Reconnaissance and Espionage

When Muhammad returned to his party, he sent 'Ali ibn Abu Talib, al Zubayr ibn al `Awwam, and Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas with a number of other companions to the well of Badr to seek out fresh news. The little group returned with two boys who, upon interrogation by Muhammad, revealed that the Quraysh army stood behind the hill on the further side. When they could not answer his questions regarding the strength of the Quraysh army, Muhammad asked how many animals they killed for food every day. The boys answered, "Nine on one day and ten on the other." The Prophet concluded from this that their number must be between nine hundred and one thousand. He also learned from the two boys that the leaders of Quraysh were all present. Turning to his own companions he said, "There is Makkah confronting you with all its sons in one body." It was therefore absolutely necessary, he thought, that Muslims mobilize all efforts, harden their hearts and wills, and prepare themselves for a battle so fierce that none would emerge victorious from it except those whose hearts were completely possessed by faith in God alone.

 

Escape of the Caravan and Abu Sufyan

As 'Ali and his companions came back from Badr with the two youths and some information about Quraysh, two other Muslims went in a slightly different direction to seek news of the caravan. They came to a sandhill not too far from the springs of Badr. There they took a jug and went down to the spring to get some water. While they were there they overheard two maid servants involved in an argument in which the one was asking the other to pay back her debt to her; the latter answered that either on the next day or the day after the caravan would come for whom she would work, and she would earn enough to pay her back. The two men returned to Muhammad and reported what they heard. As the caravan approached the area, Abu Sufyan marched ahead reconnoitering the territory, apparently fearful that Muhammad might have preceded him to the place. When he arrived at the spring, he met Majdi ibn `Amr, whom he asked whether anyone had been seen in the vicinity. Majdi answered that he had not seen anyone except two idlers who stopped at the nearby sand dune, and pointed to the spot where the two Muslims stopped in order to get the water. Abu Sufyan came to the spot and found some refuse of their two camels. As he examined it, he found it contained grains which he recognized as coming from crops known to be grown and used in Madinah. He returned quickly to his caravan and altered its course. By leading it toward the sea coast with great speed, he managed to escape.

The morrow arrived while the Muslims were still awaiting the arrival of the caravan. The news now reached them that the caravan had passed them by on a different route and that the Quraysh army were still in the vicinity close by. With this news, whatever hope for booty some of them may have entertained collapsed. The Prophet discussed with his companions whether or not they should now return to Madinah and not force a showdown with the Quraysh army. In this connection, the following verses of the Qur'an were revealed: "Now that God has promised that one of `the two' shall fall to you, you wish that it would be the one devoid of strength or resistance. But, rather than easy booty, God wishes that the truth become supreme, that justice be done, and that the unbelievers be scattered."[Qur'an, 8:7]

 

 

Prospects of Battle

For their part, the Quraysh asked themselves the same question. What need do they have to fight now that their caravan had escaped? Was it not better for them to return to their homes and to let the Muslims return to theirs empty handed? These were the thoughts of Abu Sufyan, who sent word to the Quraysh to this effect. He told them, "You have prepared for war and come out in strength in order to protect your caravan, your men, and your goods. God has saved all these. Return, then, home." Some men agreed. Abu Jahl thought otherwise. To Abu Sufyan's message, he responded, "By God, we shall not return home until we have come to Badr, spent three nights in eating good food, drinking wine, and reveling, that all Arabs may hear of our sortie, our strength, and continue to fear us." The locality of Badr was the center of a seasonal gathering in that part of Arabia. For the Quraysh to withdraw soon after the escape of their caravan might be interpreted as fear of Muhammad and his companions. This event would increase Muhammad's power and encourage the spread of his cause. Such would especially be the case as the expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh, the killing of ibn al Hadrami, the capture of two Qurayshis, and Quraysh's loss of the caravan were all common knowledge throughout the desert.

 

The Muslims Camp at Badr

There was some hesitation in the camp of Quraysh, whether to follow Abu Jahl or return home. Banu Zuhrah, under the leadership of al Akhnas ibn Shariq, listened to Abu Sufyan's counsel and returned home; but they were alone. All the rest followed Abu Jahl in deciding to encamp as if in preparation for war and to consult with one another later on. They set up camp on the farthest side behind a sand dune which they took as center. The Muslims, on the other hand, having now missed the booty, decided together to stand firm should the enemy engage them. They hurried to the springs of Badr while a rain which fell upon them from heaven helped their quick advance to that place. When they reached the first water well, Muhammad dismounted with the intention of camping there. Cognizant of the area, al Hubab ibn al Mundhir ibn al Jamuh approached the Prophet and said: "0 Prophet of God, is this spot where you have dismounted a place to which God has guided you and, therefore, may we neither step beyond it nor stay far behind it? Or is this simply a question of ordinary war strategy, of measures and moves and counter measures and moves?" Muhammad answered, "It is indeed the latter, just as you said." A1 Hubab then said, "0 Prophet of God, this is not a good place to be. We should move forward until we reach the well closest to the enemy. There we would bring a trough to it to fill with water and then fill the well with sand. We would fight the enemy; and when we withdraw we would be able to drink, whereas they would not." Muhammad, immediately agreeing, rose to go forward with his force. He sent a reminder to all his companions that he is but a man like them, that all decisions have to be taken by all of them in consultation with one another, that he will not decide anything without them finally, and that he stands in great need of their good counsel.

 

 

Building a Booth for the Prophet

When they completed the building of the trough, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh addressed the Prophet thus: "0 Prophet of God, let us build a booth for you to stay in, and let us prepare for you some mounts before we engage our enemy. If God gives us the strength and we are victorious, that would be fine and well. If otherwise, you would then ride these mounts, join the rear ranks of our forces and return home. Many Muslims have stayed in Madinah who do not love you any less than we do. No one had expected that our expedition would turn out to be one of war. Had they realized this, they would not have let you go out without them. On your return to Madinah, they would be there to protect you, counsel you and fight with you." Muhammad thanked Sa'd and prayed for him. The booth was readied for the Prophet and preparations were made for his return in case of defeat so that he would not fall into the hands of his enemies as a captive.

 

The True Faith of the Muslims

We must pause here to appreciate with wonder the faithfulness of the Muslims, their great love for Muhammad, and their absolute conviction of the truth of his prophethood. They knew too well that Quraysh far exceeded them in number; in fact, their enemy had three times as many fighters as they. Nonetheless, they decided to stand firm in the cause and to fight. After they saw their booty escape, whatever motivation they had for material gain must now be discounted. All this notwithstanding, by siding with the Prophet they confirmed his prophethood and strengthened his ranks. They were not sure of victory, though they wished for it; and they were afraid of defeat. Nonetheless, they thought of protecting the Prophet and arranged lest he should fall a captive in the hands of his enemies. They planned for him to return to Madinah and join the Muslims behind. What stand is more wonderful than this! What faith guarantees victory as this faith of theirs!

 

Hamzah Kills Ibn `Abd al Asad

The Quraysh arranged and readied themselves for battle. Their spies had informed them that the Muslims were three hundred strong or a little more, that they had neither provisions nor a hiding place, and that their only protection was their swords, determined as they were to kill before falling. As the cream of Quraysh forces had joined this expedition, the wise among them feared that should a number of these fall by Muslim hands, Makkah would soon lose its position of leadership. However, they could not speak out for fear that Abu Jahl would accuse them of cowardice. Nonetheless, `Utbah ibn Rabi'ah did. "0 men of Quraysh," he advised his peers, "we will surely not achieve anything by meeting Muhammad and his companions in battle. If we should defeat them, every one of us would recognize in their dead a cousin, an uncle, or a relative from his own clan and tribe. Return to your homes and leave Muhammad alone among the tribes. Should they kill him and defeat him, your purpose would have been met. Should it turn out to be otherwise, you will not have to suffer the consequences." But when Abu Jahl heard these words of `Utbah, he raged in anger, sent after `Amir ibn al Hadrami, and said to him: "Your ally is shamelessly courting men to return to Makkah now that you have beheld your enemy with your own eye. There is your enemy, on whom you ought to avenge yourself. Rise and avenge the slaying of your brother." `Amir stood up and yelled, "Woe! `Amr shall be avenged! To battle! To battle!" With this, the last chance of peace was shattered. Al Aswad ibn `Abd al Asad al Makhzumi, springing out of the ranks of the Quraysh toward the Muslims, sought to destroy the trough which they had just built. Hamzah ibn `Abd al Muttalib struck him with his sword. The blow cut off his leg, and the victim fell on his back with his leg bleeding profusely. Immediately Hamzah struck him again and killed him. Nothing draws the swords out of mens' sheaths faster than the sight of blood. Nothing stirs the will to kill more than the sight of a friend slain by an enemy hand in front of his own people.

 

 

Engagement of the Two Armies

As soon as al Aswad fell, `Utbah ibn Rabl`ah, flanked by his brother Shaybah on one side and his son al Walid ibn `Utbah on the other, sprang forth and challenged the Muslims to duel. A number of youths from Madinah went out to meet them. When Shaybah recognized them, he said: "We have not come to fight you. Rather we want to fight our own tribesmen." The Quraysh crier called forth: "0 Muhammad, send out our own peers of our own tribe to fight us." At this, Hamzah ibn `Abd al Muttalib, `Ali ibn Abu Talib, and 'Ubaydah ibn al Harith advanced forth. A duel was fought in which Hamzah killed Shaybah, and 'Ali killed al Walid. Then both of them came to assist `Ubaydah who had not yet finished off `Utbah. When the Quraysh army saw this, they advanced in force and the two armies collided. It was the morning of Friday, seventeenth of Ramadan, 2 A.H.

 

Muhammad's Prayer and Invocation

Muhammad led the Muslims and organized their ranks. As he looked over the Quraysh army and compared them with his thin ranks and poor equipment, he felt quite apprehensive. He returned to his booth with Abu Bakr, strongly moved by fear and pity for the career of Islam should the Muslims lose on this day. Turning his face to Makkah and his whole soul to God, he began to pray, calling on God to give him victory. He prayed to God for a very long while, and was heard repeating the following words: "0 God, here is Quraysh with all her tribe seeking to belie your Prophet. 0 God, give us the assistance which You promised. 0 God, if this little army perishes, when will You be worshiped again?" Muhammad prayed with hands raised to heaven. His mantle fell off and Abu Bakr had to pick it up and put it back on his shoulders. Abu Bakr said to him: "0 Prophet of God, enough calling on God; He will surely give you what He promised. Muhammad continued to pray, pouring out his whole soul in pious invocation to God to help him in this hour of precipitous danger. After near collapse, he came back to himself and told of a vision he saw of God's victory. With radiant face, he went out to meet his men and incited them to put their faith in God and enter the battle without fear. He assured them one by one: "By Him who controls Muhammad's soul, not one of you today fights and falls but God will enter him into His paradise."

 

Muslim Morale

Out of Muhammad's strong soul a stronger power than God might have imparted on any other occasion spread among the Muslim ranks, fortifying their will and determination and making each and every one of them the equivalent of two-nay ten-men in strength. We can easily imagine the effect of this sudden reinforcement of Muslim morale upon their personalities when the cause is as morally justified as theirs has been. The feeling of patriotism with which modernity is familiar is certainly one such supporting moral justification in modern wars. The soldier who exposes himself to all kinds of danger in the belief that he is defending his fatherland walks into battle with superior morale; the greater his love for and faith in his fatherland, the more frightful the risks he stands prepared to take. Consequently, nations inculcate upon their young at a very tender age the love of the fatherland and the will to sacrifice for its sake. Conviction of the fatherland's right to justice, freedom, and the higher human values reinforce the soul; and this, in turn, doubles the material power issuing from the person. Those who remember the allied propaganda against the Germans during World War II will recall that the allies saturated the atmosphere with their claim that they were fighting a war for the sake of freedom and justice, and were laying down their lives in a last war against the militaristic state of Germany precisely in order to usher in an age of peace and security and light. This allied propaganda not only doubled the strength of their soldiers but provided them as well with a warm welcome freely given by most peoples of the world. But what patriotism and what cause of peace and security dare compare with what Muhammad was calling for! For Muhammad, it was a matter of one's communion with ultimate reality, of union with all being in a bond giving man determining power in the universe, and of blazing for him the path of goodness, blessedness and perfection. Yes, indeed: What kind of patriotism or cause of peace dares to stand beside the communion with God which puts to an end the persecution of the believers for their faith in Him and removes the hindrances of idolatry and associationism from the path of God? If patriotism increases the power of the soul by as much power as corresponds with the value of fatherland, and if the love of peace for mankind increases the power of the soul by as much power as corresponds with the value of the whole of mankind, how great must have been the power of the soul when it was reinforced by faith in total being as well as in the Creator of total being? Surely it makes that soul capable of moving mountains, of determining the heavenly bodies, of exerting its power and influence supremely over all men endowed with less faith? Moral power doubles and redoubles material power. When, before the battle, this strength was not at its highest because of division within Muslim ranks, Muslim material power suffered in consequence. But the situation changed, and their power increased tremendously under the inspiration of Muhammad. And it was this new resurgence of power by this means that compensated the Muslims for their small number and poor equipment. It was in connection with this spiritual phenomenon that the two Qur'anic verses were revealed

" `0 Prophet, urge the believers to fight.' If there be twenty steadfast men they will overcome two hundred. And if there be a hundred, they will overcome a thousand unbelievers. These are a people devoid of knowledge, faith, or conviction. For the present, God has lightened your burden. He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there be a hundred steadfast men among you, they will overcome two hundred; and if there be a thousand, they will overcome two thousand by God's permission. God is surely with those who are steadfast."[Qur'an, 8:65, 8:66]

 

 

Bilal Kills Umayyah ibn Khalaf

At Muhammad's urging and inspiration, his standing in their midst and inciting them against the enemy, and his announcement that paradise belongs to the men of valor who plunge fearlessly into the ranks of the enemy, the Muslims doubled and redoubled their strength. Before entering battle, they resolved to direct their attention to the leaders and nobles of the Quraysh. They planned to seek them and to kill them first, remembering the persecution and travails they suffered at their hands in Makkah, especially the blocking of the road to God and to the holy mosque. Bilal saw Umayyah ibn Khalaf and his son on the field surrounded by a number of Muslims who had recognized him and sought to take him as captive. This Umayyah was Bilal's previous master who used to torture him by forcing him down to the ground where he placed a large rock on his chest, letting him burn under the torrid sun in order to force him to abjure Islam. Bilal survived all these travails in certainty of his faith while repeating continuously, "God is one! God is one!" When his eyes fell upon Umayyah in the field, he shouted, "Umayyah, the head of idolatry! Death to me if he escapes!" and charged furiously toward him. The Muslims surrounding Umayyah sought to prevent Bilal from reaching him. Bilal called to them at high voice: "O Helpers of God! The head of idolatry is Umayyah ibn Khalaf. Death to me if he escapes!" He charged again toward Umayyah and killed him. Mu'adh ibn `Amr ibn al Jamuh killed Abu Jahl ibn Hisham. Hamzah, `Ali and other Muslim heroes penetrated deeply into enemy lines, forgetting themselves, their small numbers, and their being surrounded by their enemies. Muslims hurled themselves into the melee. The dust rose, the battle raged at its hottest and wildest, and the heads of the Quraysh flew off their bodies. Possessed by their faith and chanting, "God is one! God is one!" the Muslims exerted tremendous power and pressed ever forward. It was as if space and time had lost their meaning, and God's angels were hovering above to encourage and draw them ever forward. They were so great that even their arms brandishing their swords in the air and striking the necks of their enemies seemed as if they moved not by ordinary human power but by the supernatural power of God Himself. Muhammad was in the midst of the battlefield fighting as well as observing his companions. At one moment he took dirt in his hand and threw it in the face of an advancing party of Quraysh, commanding his companions to stand firm. The Muslims stood their ground and forced the superior enemy to withdraw. It did not matter to the Muslim that he was surrounded by his enemies. His soul was filled with the breath of God; this divine spirit made him ever-firm and gave him the very power with which he wielded his arms. It was of this battle that God said: "Your lord revealed to the angels that He is with you and commanded them to give firmness to those that believe. He announced that He will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. God commands: `Smite your enemies; strike off their heads and forearms . . . You killed them not when you did, but it was God who killed them; and you threw not when you did throw your arrows but it was God who threw them."[Qur'an, 8:12, 17]. When the Prophet saw that God had fulfilled His promise and given the Muslims victory, he returned to his booth. The Quraysh were not only withdrawing but running away, and the Muslims were pressing after them to capture those of them whom they did not kill on the battlefield.

 

 

The Muslims Spare the Just

This was the great battle of Badr that established Muslim power throughout the Arabian Peninsula and began the movement of Arab unity under the leadership of Islam. It was the beginning of a large Islamic empire which gave the world a civilization which has so far played and will ever play a very important role in the history of the universe. It may surprise some readers to learn that as he urged his companions to fight the enemy and scatter their forces, Muhammad asked them not to kill Banu Hashim and some other leaders of the Quraysh despite the fact that they were all arrayed in battle on the other side. In so doing, he was not seeking any advantage for his tribe or relatives. Muhammad was too noble to be moved by such considerations. Rather he wanted to reward Banu Hashim for their protection of him and of his cause during thirteen long years between his commission to prophethood and emigration. It should be remembered that his uncle, al `Abbas, was the one who concluded the covenant of al `Aqabah. He also remembered other members of the Quraysh besides the Banu Hashim, who once sought to revoke the boycott pact which imprisoned the

Muslims in one of the districts of Makkah with little or no food supplies. Muhammad considered a good deed as worthy of regard-of a gesture equal to it in charity and good will despite the idolatry of its author. Thus, he interceded with the Muslims at the hour of battle on behalf of those Makkans who did the good deeds. Some of them, however, refused Muhammad's good will move and kind gesture. Such was the case of Abu al Bakhtari, who was responsible for the rescinding of the boycott pact but who fought and was killed in battle.

 

 

People of the Grave

The people of Makkah ran away from the field despondent, dejected, and mourning their dead. They would hardly catch sight of their companions when their eyes would fall down in shame for what had happened. The Muslims remained at Badr until the end of the day. They collected the dead of the Quraysh and buried them on the spot. Muhammad and his companions spent that night on the battlefield burying the dead, collecting the booty and keeping their eyes on the captives. As the night drew on, Muhammad sat down to think both of this victory, which God had just given the Muslims despite their small number, and the terrible defeat He had inflicted upon an enemy devoid of a sound faith capable of fusing their large numbers into one strong will. He pondered the matter over many long hours of the night. He was even heard addressing the dead in their new graves: "0 people of the grave"! he murmured, "O `Utbah ibn Rabi'ah ! 0 Shaybah ibn Rabi'ah ! 0 Umayyah ibn Khalaf ! 0 Abu Jahl ibn Hisham !" After calling by name the fallen one by one, he addressed them in these words: "Have you really found that which your Lord had promised you? I have found what my Lord had promised me. But have you? The Muslims who overheard him asked, "Are you calling the dead?" and the Prophet answered, "They hear me no less than you do, except that they are unable to answer me." The Prophet of God looked Abu Hudhayfah ibn `Utbah straight in the face and realized that he was pale. He asked him, "O Abu Hudhayfah, are you despondent over the sad fate your father met today?" Abu Hudhayfah answered, "No, by God, 0 Prophet of God! I have not censured my father or bemoaned his fate. I have known him to be a wise and good man, and I had hoped that his wisdom and virtue would one day lead him to Islam. When I saw what befell him, I remembered his idolatry despite all the hope I had entertained for him. Thus I am only sorry for him." The Prophet of God spoke to him gently and prayed for him.

 

Muslim Differences Concerning Booty

When the morning came and it was time for the Muslims to return to Madinah, they began to consider the disposition of the booty. Those who collected it claimed it as their own. Those who ran after the enemy and captured the captives said: "By God, we deserve it more than they; for without us it would not have been realized." Those who were guarding Muhammad and protecting him against a resurgence of the enemy forces, said: "Neither one of you deserve the booty. We surely could have killed the enemy and taken possession of his goods, but we preferred to protect the Prophet of God and, therefore, we stayed behind near him while you went out capturing and collecting it." At this Muhammad commanded every Muslim to return every piece of the booty he had taken and to keep all the booty together until he had reached judgment regarding it, or God had revealed the way it should be disposed of.

 

 


 

 

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