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 Sirat Rasoul Allah

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21- pilgrimage of retaliation

The apostle of Allah returned to Medina and remained there for several months, sending out various raiding parties and expedi­tions. Then the month of pilgrimage came round and it was one year since the expedition of al‑Hudaybiya when he had turned back from Mecca .

Then took place what is called the Pilgrimage of Retaliation, when the apostle retaliated against the Quraysh who had pre­vented him from entering Mecca in the sixth year of the Hijra by entering Mecca in the sacred month of the seventh year. The Muslims who had been kept out with him on the previous occasion now marched out on this pilgrimage, and when the Meccans heard of their approach some left the city.

But some of the people of Mecca stood near the assembly house to observe the apostle, and when he entered the mosque he threw his mantle over his left shoulder and, stretching forth his right arm, cried, 'May Allah have mercy on the man whom He shows this day to be strong.' Then he embraced the stone and went out and his companions followed him. He leapt to embrace the Yemeni stone and the Black Stone and ran thrice round the Kaba before slowing his pace. This leaping in the pilgrimage of valediction became a religious ordinance.

The apostle of Allah remained three days in Mecca and on the third day he was visited by men of the Quraysh who said to him, 'The time has expired! Depart from us!' Accordingly the apostle of Allah departed and returned to Medina .

In the first month of the eighth year of the Hijra the apostle sent an expedition to Muta on the borders of Syria and appointed over it Zayd, saying, 'If Zayd should be killed, Jafar is to take the command, and if Jafar be slain, then Abdullah b. Rawaha.' The men prepared, and when they were ready to march their number amounted to three thousand. While some of the com­panions of the apostle were taking leave of Abdullah b. Rawaha, he wept, and they asked, 'What makes thee weep?' He replied, 'There is no love of the world in me, nor do I grieve for you, but I heard the apostle of Allah recite a verse from the scripture of Allah, the most high and glorious, which talks of hell‑fire thus: "Every one of you must go down to it. This is a decree of thy Lord which must be fulfilled." And I do not know how I shall escape after I have gone down into it.' Then the Muslims said, 'May Allah go with you and protect you, and bring you back to us safely.'

Then the people marched out, and the apostle accompanied them some way and then left them.

They marched till they reached Maan in Syria , where they heard that the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius, was encamped at Maab with 100,000 Greeks reinforced by another 100,000 men from Arab tribes commanded by a man named Malik. When the Muslims received this news they remained two nights in Maan in order to consider the matter. They said, 'Let us write to the apostle and tell him the numbers of our foe. He will either send us reinforcements, or give us some guidance.' Abdullah b. Rawaha tried to raise the spirits of his men by saying, 'What you now recoil from is just what you came in search of, martyrdom. We do not go to fight these people with numbers, strength, or multitudes, but with the religion of Allah! Therefore press on. Only one of two things can happen ‑ both good ‑ either victory or martyrdom.' The people exclaimed, 'By Allah! The son of Rawaha has spoken the truth!' and they set out again on their march until they came to the region of Balqa and saw the armies of Heraclius. Then a battle took place at a village called Muta.

The Muslims drew up in battle array; their right flank was commanded by a man named Qutba, and the left by Ubaya. The two armies met and fought. Zayd fought holding the banner of the apostle, until he fell to the lances of the enemy. After that, Jafar grasped the banner and fought with it, but the struggle became intense and he leapt down from his brown horse, ham­strung it to signify 'death or victory', and fought till he, too, was slain. He was the first man in Islam who hamstrung his horse. Jafar was only thirty‑three years of age; he had his arms cut off in the battle and Allah replaced them in paradise with two wings on which he soars.

When Jafar was killed Abdullah b. Rawaha took the flag. He dismounted and a cousin brought him a marrow‑bone, saying, 'Strengthen yourself with this, because you have undergone many hardships.' He took it and bit into it, but hearing a dis­turbance among the soldiers, he reproached himself, 'I am too much engrossed in life', and threw the bone away, snatched up his sword and rushed into the battle, where he fought till he was killed.

After that, Thabit snatched up the standard, crying, 'Mus­lims! Choose another commander’ They replied, 'Thyself', but he refused the honour and they elected Khalid, who kept off the foe and decided to retreat to spare the lives of his men. The enemy also withdrew and Khalid was able to march away with his army.

Qutba, however, who commanded the right flank of the Muslims, had killed Marith, the leader of the Arab troops rein­forcing Herachus.

When the returning army approached Medina the apostle of Allah and the Muslims went out to meet them. The children ran ahead, and the apostle followed on a mule. The people began throwing earth at the army, shouting, 'Runaways! You have fled from the path of Allah!' but the apostle said, 'They are not runaways, and if Allah pleaseth they will attack again.'

After the expedition to Muta, the apostle remained in Medina for a time. The Banu Bakr had a feud of long standing with the Khuzaa which had been temporarily interrupted by the hostilities be­tween the apostle and the Quraysh. When the treaty of peace was concluded between the apostle and the Quraysh one of the terms of the treaty was that tribes were free to enter into an alli­ance with either party. The Banu Bakr chose to ally with the Quraysb, and the Khuzaa with the apostle. But the Banu Bakr took advantage of the peace to revenge themselves upon the Khuzaa, and Naufal, their leader, went out with some of the tribe; his command was not acknowledged by all of them. He and his followers fell upon the Banu Khuzaa in the night and killed one man; Naufal was secretly aided by some of the Quraysh. They drove the Khuzaa back until they reached the sacred territory [ Mecca ] and the Banu Bakr were struck with fear, saying to Naufal, 'We have entered the sanctuary ! Take heed! Fear God’ But he replied grandly, 'There is no god this day, 0 sons of Bakr! Take your revenge! By my life, you are accustomed to robbing sacred territory. Why not take vengeance there, too?' When the Khuzaa fell back into Mecca they sought protection in the house of Budayl.

The Banu Bakr and the Quraysh, by combining against the Khuzaa, who were allies of the apostle, had thus broken the agreement which existed between the Quraysh and the apostle, and Amr b. Salim of the Khuzaa went to the apostle and told him of the event.

The man entered the mosque of Medina , where the apostle was sitting in the midst of the people, and asked for aid and retaliation, and the apostle replied, 'It shall be done'. Then a cloud appeared in the firmament and he said, 'This cloud be­tokens victory.'

After that Budayl and several men of the Khuzaa also visited the apostle at Medina , uttering the same plea. When they had left to return to Mecca the apostle said to his people, 'I fancy we will have a visit from Abu Sufyan, desirous of reinforcing our alliance and extending our agreement.'

When Budayl was two days' journey from Mecca he met Abu Sufyan on his way to see the apostle. When Abu Sufyan met Budayl he asked, 'Where have you been?' and Budayl replied, 'I have been roaming the valleys.' Abu Sufyan said, 'Have you not been with Muhammad?' and Budayl replied, 'No.' After Budayl had left him, Abu Sufyan went to the place where Budayl's camels had been hobbled and, examining the dung, he found date‑kernels in it; and he said, 'Budayl has indeed been with Muhammad in Medina .'

Then Abu Sufyan continued his journey till he arrived at Medina and went to the apostle of Allah, who would not speak to him. So he went to Abu Bakr and asked him to persuade the apostle to talk with him, but Abu Bakr refused; and it was the same with every one of the companions Abu Sufyan approached. At last Abu Sufyan went to the court of the mosque and cried aloud: 'Listen, ye people. I promise protection between men.' Then he mounted his camel and departed.

When he arrived back in Mecca the Quraysh asked, 'What is the news?' He told them what had taken place and they poured scorn on him, saying, 'Of what use will your words be?' and he replied, 'None. But what else could I do?'

Meanwhile, the apostle of Allah ordered preparations to be made. Abu Bakr went to his daughter Aisha, who was arranging some of the equipment the apostle would need in the campaign, and said, 'Has the apostle ordered you to make things ready for him?' She confirmed that he had and suggested Abu Bakr also prepare himself, but she said she did not know the purpose of the expedition. Later, the apostle informed the people that he was going to Mecca and ordered them to hasten their prepara­tions.

When the apostle announced the expedition, however, Hatib ‑ one of his trusted companions ‑ wrote a warning letter to the Quraysh and gave it to Sara, a freedwoman, to carry to Mecca . She placed the letter on her head, plaited her hair over it, and departed. But Allah told His apostle of the letter and he sent Ali after her. Ali overtook the woman in al‑Khulayqa and made her dismount; he examined her baggage, but found nothing. Then he said, 'I swear to thee by Allah! The apostle has been told no lie, nor have we been told a lie! Produce this letter, or we shall strip thee naked !'When she saw that he was in earnest she loosed the plaited hair, took out the letter and gave it to Ali. When it was brought to the apostle he sent for Hatib and asked why he had sent the warning to the Quraysh. Hatib replied, 'I believe in Allah and in His apostle. I have not altered, nor have I changed my belief. But I hoped to benefit my wife and son, who still live in Mecca .' Then the apostle pardoned him, because he had fought at Badr.  

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