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Hardships and obstacles on the way

Hardships and obstacles on the way

Despite all these obstacles, the army of Islam left Medina, but as it could be predicted; Muslims encountered a lot of hardships concerning the long distances to be covered, the meager number of horses,[1] the extreme heat and scarcity of water. For this reason, this war, in the history of Islam, is called war of hardship[2] or the miserable army.[3]

In any case, the army of Islam arrived at the land of Tab£k. There was no trace of the Roman army. The whole report of the Roman army had been false.[4] This rumor had been fabricated to bring forth worry in the Islamic territory.[5]


The Holy Prophet's treaties with local governors

The Holy Prophet stayed twenty days in Tab£k[6] during which he convened treaties with the governor of Aylah and the people of Jarb¡' and Adhru¦. They were obliged to pay tributes. After a military expedition, the powerful king of Dawmat al-Jandal surrendered and had to pay tribute.[7]

The war of Tab£k took place in the ninth year of Hegira[8] and some aspects of it are reflected in S£rah al-Tawbah, which mainly deals with the hardships and weaknesses of some Muslims at the time of mobilization and the sabotages of the hypocrites. The famous issue of masjid ¤ir¡r, or a mosque to cause harm and for unbelief, coincided with the war of Tab£k. (the Holy Qur'¡n, 9:107)

The consequences of the war of Tab£k

Although no military confrontation happened during this hard and intolerable mission, it had some significant consequences some of which are dealt with here:

(1) During this journey, the Holy Prophet, through convening peace treaties with the tribes and the governors of the borderlines of °ij¡z and Damascus, could secure the tranquility of this region and guarantee that they would not cooperate with the Roman emperors.

(2) Through this military expedition, the commanders of the Muslim army became familiar with the hardships of this region; they learnt how to face such hardships. Likewise, they learned the techniques of military expeditions against the super powers of those days. That is why the first location that the Islamic army could conquer after the demise of the Holy Prophet was the land of Damascus.

(3) In this call for general mobilization, true believers could be distinguished from hypocrites and laggard ones. A sort of distinction took place in the Muslim troops.[9]

(4) The boost in the military prestige of the Muslims brought forth the Arab's inclination to Islam and their representatives' readiness to show obedience.

The spread of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula

The conquest of Mecca and the war of Tab£k were pivotal in the spread of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. The Tab£k expedition was a great maneuver in which the Muslims' military prestige was boosted and everybody could realize that Islam had reached such a status that it could confront the world's super ‌powers. The political and military consequences of this maneuver were so great that, upon the Holy Prophet's return to Medina, the chiefs of many Arab tribes who had refrained from turning to Islam up to that time entered Medina and announced obedience. The number of these chiefs who entered Medina to meet the Holy Prophet was so great that the ninth year of Hegira is termed Sanat al-Wuf£d (Year of Delegation).[10]

Disavowal of Unbelievers Announcement

Upon the conquest of Mecca, the foundation was laid for the propagation of monotheism and the uprooting of idols and other superstitions. Most of the city-dwellers and villagers refrained from idol-worshipping and turned to Islam. However, few ignorant individuals were not ready yet to dispense with their cultures and it was hard on them to accept the creed of the Holy Prophet. On the other hand, although the Holy Prophet had performed `Umrah several times, he had not yet had a chance to perform pilgrimage in the true sense of the word and away from the superstitions which were part of that ceremony in older days. Since the conquest of Mecca, two kinds of treaties were held between the Holy Prophet and the unbelievers:

General treaties

These treaties stipulated that everybody had the right to perform the °ajj and nobody should be deprived of it. In the sacred months, everybody must enjoy security and nobody should be bothered.

Long-termed treaties with Arab tribes

After the expedition of Tab£k,[11] some verses of the Holy Qur'¡n were revealed to the Holy Prophet ordering him to stay away from the unbelievers and to follow the instructions revealed to him. These verses say:

This is a declaration of immunity by Allah and His Apostle towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement. So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers. And an announcement from Allah and His Apostle to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His Apostle are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore, if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve. Except those of idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely, Allah loves those who are careful of their duty. So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take from captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor – rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (9:1-5)

The Prophet's special envoy and representative

After the revelation of these verses, the Holy Prophet taught part of the first verses of this s£rah to Ab£-Bakr and instructed him to recite them to the pilgrims on the Feast of Sacrifice (`«d al-A¤¦¡). As Ab£-Bakr headed for Mecca, the Holy Prophet received a revelation instructing that these verses should be recited to people by either the Holy Prophet himself or one belonging to him. Having received this message, the Holy Prophet ordered Imam `Al¢ to head for Mecca and take this mission from Ab£- Bakr. Imam `Al¢ took the Holy Prophet's camel, headed for Mecca and gave the message to Ab£-Bakr. Having carried out the orders, Ab£-Bakr returned to Medina offended; when he presented himself before the Holy Prophet, he said, “You had assumed me capable of doing this mission; but very soon you put me aside. Have you received any order from God regarding this issue?” The Holy Prophet replied, “God has ordered me to carry out this command either in person or by one who belong to me.”



[1] There was one horse for every three men.

[2] Ibn Sa`d, Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 2:167; Qas§al¡n, al-Maw¡hib al-Ludaniyyah 1:346; °alab¢, op cit, 3:106.

[3] ¯a¦¢¦ al-Bukh¡r¢ 6:308; Mas`£d¢, al-Tanb¢h wa’l-Ishr¡f, pp. 235; Qas§al¡n, op cit, pp. 346. This name and title is taken from the Holy Qur’¡n 9:117.

[4] Al-W¡qid¢, al-Magh¡z¢ 3:1990-1991.

[5] °alab¢, op cit, pp. 99.

[6] Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 2:166, 168; al-W¡qid¢, op cit, pp. 1015.

[7] ±abars¢, I`l¡m al-War¡, pp. 123; Qas§al¡n, op cit, pp. 350; ±abar¢, T¡r¢kh al-Umam wa’l-Mul£k 3:146.

[8] Ibn Sa`d, Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 2:165; Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 4:159; °alab¢, op cit, pp. 49; Qas§al¡n, op cit, pp. 346.

[9] Ja`far Sub¦¡n¢, Fur£gh-e-Abadiyyat 2:403-404.

[10] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 4:205. Biographers of the Holy Prophet’s life have amassed a list of these treaties enumerating them as sixty; see Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 1:291-359; The History of the Prophet of Islam by Mu¦ammad Ibr¡h¢m ªyat¢, pp. 609-642.

[11] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 4:190.

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