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 Sirat Rasoul Allah

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14- Uhud 

At last the Quraysh marched out with the flower of their army, with some black Abyssinian troops, with allies from the Banu Kinana and the lowlands, and with women in howdahs who went to keep their anger and courage alight. The army was led by Abu Sufyan, and they went as far as Aynayn and halted on a hill in the valley of Qanat near Medina .

When the apostle of Allah heard of this he said, ‘By Allah, I have had a favourable vision. I have seen cows, and a notch on the blade of my sword; and in the vision I thrust my hand into a strong coat of mail which represents, I believe, Medina .’ Then he told his followers, ‘If you think it proper to remain in Medina and leave the enemy where they are, it will be well; for they will either remain in their position, which is a bad one, or come in to us and we shall fight them in the town.’ Although the apostle did not wish to march out against the Unbelievers, several of his followers ‑ whom Allah favoured with a martyr’s death on the day of Uhud, and who included some who had missed the battle at Badr ‑ exclaimed, ‘Come out with us against these enemies lest they take us for cowards and weaklings.’ Others said, ‘Remain in Medina . Do not go out to them. If they enter Medina, our men will fight them face to face, whilst our women and children throw stones upon them from above; and, if they retreat, they will retreat as disgraced as they came.’ But the people who wished to rush out and meet the enemy did not cease to impor­tune the apostle of Allah until he entered his house and donned his armour. All this took place on a Friday, when he had finished prayers.

When the apostle reappeared from his house, however, they had repented, and said, ‘We have vexed thee, and ought not to have done so. Remain in the city, therefore, and may Allah bless thee! But the apostle replied, ‘After a prophet has put on his armour, he must not lay it aside until he has fought! Therefore he marched out with seven hundred of his companions.

They advanced as far as the hollow of Uhud and the apostle said, ‘Let no man of you fight until we command him.’ Then he drew up his army in battle array and appointed over his fifty archers a man who was conspicuous by his white garb, saying to him, ‘Keep off the cavalry with thy arrows, that they may not attack us from the rear. Whether the battle move in our favour or against us, always remain in thy place lest we be attacked from thy side.’ Then the apostle of Allah put on two coats of mail and gave the standard to Musab.

The apostle offered a sword to his followers, saying, ‘Who will take this sword for a worthy price?’ Many coveted it, but he would not give it up until Abu Dujana asked, ‘What is its priceP He replied, ‘That thou strike the enemy with it until it bends’, and Abu Dujana took the sword; he was a brave man, anxious to distinguish himself in war, and he was best known by his red head‑dress which he wore when he was ready to fight. He took the sword, put on his red turban, and strutted about the ranks; seeing this, the apostle said, ‘Such a gait pleases Allah only on occasions like this!’

The Quraysh also drew up in battle array; their army consisted of three thousand men including two hundred horsemen on the flanks, commanded by Khalid b. al‑Walid on the right and by the son of Abu Jahl on the left.

As the two armies approached each other, Hind ‑ the daughter of that Utba who had been slain at Badr ‑ and the other women from Mecca beat their drums and uttered cries of encourage­ment to the Quraysh army.

On the day of Badr, the followers of the apostle had cried, ‘One god! One god!’ but on the day of Uhud their war cry was ‘Slay! Slay!’

The people fought violently, and Abu Dujana penetrated into the very heart of the enemy army and killed every man he attacked. But there was one man among the Quraysh who never failed to kill any man he wounded, and these two met and ex­changed blows. Then a blow from the infidel struck the shield of Abu Dujana and stuck there and Abu Dujana slew the man with a single blow. Soon he saw a Meccan inciting the enemy to further efforts and ‘lifting my sword I heard a yell, and lo! It was a woman! [Hind.] I had too much respect for the sword of the apostle to kill a woman with it.’

Hamza also fought valiantly on that day, killing several infi­dels. But one of the Quraysh had instructed his slave Wahshi, who was an Abyssinian and skilled in throwing the javelin, that he must kill Hamza in the battle. ‘If you kill Hamza, the uncle of Muhammad, in revenge for my uncle who died at Badr, you will be free.’ While Hamza was engaged in battle with another man, Wahshi related, ‘I poised my spear well and threw it with such force at his groin that it came out between his legs at the back. He was overcome with weakness and fell, and I waited until he expired then went and took out my spear from his body. Then I returned proudly to the camp, for I had business with no other but him.’

Musab, too, died on that day, being slain by one who mistook him for the apostle of Allah and returned to his army, saying, ‘I have killed Muharnmad.’ When Musab was slain, the apostle gave the banner to Ali, and Ali and the Muslims continued to fight.

Then Allah sent his aid to the Muslims and fulfilled his promise so that they assailed the infidels with their swords and put them to flight. But the Muslim archers disobeyed the orders of the apostle and turned aside into the deserted Quraysh camp, leaving the Believers’ rear open to the Quraysh cavalry. And the Quraysh cavalry attacked and put the Muslims to flight.

Soon the enemy even approached the apostle himself. He was struck down by stones and one of his front teeth was lost.

‘His face being wounded, blood trickled down it; and wiping it, he exclaimed: “How can a nation prosper which dyes the face of its prophet with blood, though he invites them to the worship of Allah?” ‘ Ali took the apostle by the hand, and Talha lifted him up until he stood upright; Malik licked the blood from the face of the apostle and swallowed it, and the apostle said, ‘He whose blood has touched mine will be exempted from the threat of hell‑fire.’ When the foe pressed close on the apostle, he asked, ‘Who will save my life?’ and six men of his followers arose and fought by his side. One by one they were martyred until a single defender remained, and he, too, was wounded; but a company of Muslims arrived and put the infidels to flight. Then the apostle said ‘Bring him near to me 1’ and they brought the wounded man to him and he made his foot a pillow under the man’s head; and thus he expired, with his cheek on the foot of the apostle of Allah.

Abu Dujana now shielded the apostle with his body, bending over him so that his own back would accept the thickly falling arrows of the enemy, and Sad, nearby, shot at the infidels with the apostle ‘handing arrows to me, saying “Shoot. May my father and mother be a ransom for thee!” He even gave me an arrow without a point, saying “Shoot with that!” ‘ The apostle of Allah also shot arrows himself until his bow broke. The bow was then taken and prized by Qatada, whose eye was injured on that day so that it hung out upon his cheek; but the apostle of Allah replaced the eye in its socket with his own hand, and afterwards it became the better, and the keener of his two eyes.

The first man who recognized the apostle of Allah after the rumour spread that he had been killed, was Kab; ‘I recognized his eyes under the helmet, and I shouted with my loudest voice “0 Muslims, rejoice! Here is the apostle of Allah!” But he beckoned to me to remain quiet.’

Now the apostle, with Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Talha, al‑Zubayr and others withdrew to a hollow near by, and rested.

Ali went out and filled his water‑bottle from the reservoir, and brought it to the apostle to drink from; but he found it had an evil smell, and would not drink. Instead he washed the blood from his face, and as he did so, said, ‘The wrath of Allah will be great against him who made the face of His prophet bleed.’ While the apostle and his companions were in the hollow, the Quraysh cavalry appeared on the mountain, and the apostle exclaimed, ‘0 Allah! it is not meet that they should be above us!’ So a company of the Emigrants attacked them and drove them off; but most of the apostle’s army had fled.

The infidel woman, Hind, and her companions mutilated the bodies of the Muslims slain that day; they cut off the ears and noses, and Hind made necklaces, bracelets and earrings from them. Also she cut off a piece of Hamza’s liver and chewed it but could not swallow it, so she spat it out again. Then she climbed a high rock and shouted the Quraysh victory from it.

When Abu Sufyan decided to leave the field of battle, he climbed to the mountain and cried aloud, ‘The day is decided; victory goes by turns ‑ today in exchange for the day of Badr! Defend thy religion!’ The apostle said to Umar, ‘Arise and say “Allah is the most high and glorious. Our slain are in paradise; yours are in hell.” ‘ After Umar had exposed himself and replied thus, Abu Sufyan summoned him to approach and asked, ‘Have we killed Muhammad?’ Umar replied, ‘No, praise be to Allah. He hears your words.’ Then Abu Sufyan shouted, ‘Some of your dead have been mutilated, but I am neither pleased nor dis­pleased, I neither forbade it nor commanded it. We shall meet at Badr next year’; and he and his companions prepared to depart. The apostle of Allah instructed one of his companions to reply, ‘Agreed. Let that be our meeting‑place.’

Then the people of Medina went searching for their dead, and the apostle sent a man of the Helpers to see whether Sad were alive or dead; the man found Sad fatally wounded. ‘I am among the dead,’ he said. ‘Give my salutations to my people and say I sent them this message: “There will be no forgiveness from Allah for you if your prophet is injured as long as you have life in you.” ‘ Thus saying, he died. The apostle himself went out in search of his uncle, Hamza, and when he found the mangled body he said, ‘If it were not that it would pain his sister and that it might become customary after me, I would leave this body to be consumed by the beasts and birds. But if Allah aids me against the Quraysh in a future battle, I shall mutilate thirty men of them.’ When the Muslims saw the apostle’s grief and his wrath against those who had dealt thus with his uncle they swore that if Allah should aid them to victory they would mutilate their foes as no Arab had been mutilated before. But Allah sent down a commandment, and his apostle followed it by giving pardon, waiting in patience, and forbidding mutilation. The other corpses were placed by the side of Hamza, and seventy‑two prayers were spoken over them, and then they were interred.

The apostle returned to Medina and there was great lamentation there. He passed a house of the Helpers and heard weeping for the dead, and his own eyes overflowed with tears as he realized that there were no women to weep for Hamza. Then two of his companions returned and ordered their women to gird up their loins and go weep for the uncle of the apostle. The apostle listened and then went out to them, saying, ‘Return home, and Allah have mercy upon you. You exhaust yourselves.’ On that day the apostle prohibited wailing and lamentation.

One woman lost her husband, her brother and her father on that day of Uhud, but when she was told of their deaths she asked, ‘What of the apostle of Allah?’ They replied, ‘He is well’, and she said, ‘If he is still with us, all other misfortunes are trifling.’

When the apostle arrived at the home of his family he gave his sword to his daughter Fatima, saying, ‘Wash the blood from it, little one. By Allah, it has been true to me today.’ Ali, too, gave her his sword and said, ‘Take this and wash the blood from it. By Allah, it has been true to me today’. The name of the apostle’s sword was Dhul‑Faqar.

The next morning, so that the enemy might know they were pursued and that the followers of the apostle were in no way cowed by the result of the battle of Uhud, Muhammad and the survivors marched out for eight miles from the city, as far as Hamraul‑Asad and remained there three days before returning to Medina .

The day of Uhud was a day of testing, of calamity and of purification, when Allah put the Faithful on trial and struck at those whose belief was no deeper than their words; it was a day on which Allah rewarded those he designed to favour with the reward of martyrdom.

The part of the Koran revealed by Allah concerning the day of Uhud amounts to sixty verses of the Sura, Family of Imran. It mentions the calamity which befell the Faithful at Uhud, and the trial which led to their purification and His taking martyrs from among them. Then Allah gave them consolation and in­formation: ‘Before your time, there have been examples set; go over the earth and behold what has become of those who accused the apostle of Allah of imposture. . . . This is a clear declara­tion to men and an admonition to the pious. Be not dismayed or grieved over what has befallen, for you shall enjoy the end and the victory if you are Believers. If a hurt has been inflicted upon you, your enemies have received as great a hurt, and we cause such days to alternate among men that Allah may know those who believe and may take martyrs from among you; Allah loveth not those whose belief is in their mouth and not in their heart. . . . Did you imagine you should enter paradise when Allah as yet knew not which among you was strong to fight, and steadfast?

‘. . . Allah had already made good unto you His promise [at Uhud] and you put the infidels to flight by His permission; but you became faint‑hearted and disputed about His command and disobeyed His prophet [when the archers went after plunder instead of keeping their position]. So He made you flee from them to try you. But now He hath pardoned you, for He is generous towards the Faithful. Do not believe that the infidels will be victorious in the end, but hold fast to Me and obey My command. . . . Trust in Allah, for Allah loveth those who trust in Him. If Allah aid you, none shall conquer you, but if He desert you, who will aid you? . . . Allah was gracious unto the Believers when He raised up among them an apostle of their own nation who should recite His signs unto them and purify them and teach them the scripture and wisdom; whereas they were before in manifest error. When a misfortune befalls you [at Uhud] after you have won a battle twice as great, do not say “Whence cometh this?” Say “This is from ourselves, because Allah is omnipotent.” And what happened to you on the day when the two armies met was by the permission of Allah, in order that He might know the Believers, and also the Hypocrites among you . . .

‘Do not think that those slain in the path of Allah are dead; I have raised them up again and they are with Me, rejoicing in the pleasures and the cool breezes of paradise, happy in the reward Allah has bestowed upon them because they waged holy war for Him.’

Then the apostle said, ‘When your brothers were defeated at Uhud, Allah placed their souls in the bodies of green birds, which flit about the rivers of paradise and drink the waters of the river and eat the fruits of the garden of paradise and perch on golden candlesticks under the throne of Allah. When they learned the pleasure of all this, they said, “Would that our brothers knew what Allah had given us, that they might not weaken in their efforts in the holy war.” ‘

Of the Muslims who fought on the day of Uhud, sixty‑five were martyred; and twenty‑two infidels were slain on that day.

This explanatory ‑ and, in its complete form, extremely lengthy ‑Sura from Allah was very necessary to restore the badly shaken faith of the Believers. The argument that Allah wished to discover the Hypocrites among the warriors lacked conviction in face of the fundamental tenet ‘Allah knows all’, but the failure of the archers to carry out their orders, thus turning victory into defeat, was much more plausible and confirmed the often‑repeated injunction to obey ‘Allah and His prophet’. The apostle soon restored his people to serenity, and the dead of Uhud became revered as martyrs.

After Uhud, in the third year of the Hijra, a deputation came from two neighbouring tribes who asked Muhammad to send teachers with them to instruct them in Islam. The apostle sent Marthad, Khalid, Asim, Khubayb, Zayd b. al‑Dathinna, and Abdullah b. Tariq, and they went with the tribesmen as far as the water of al‑Raji, which belonged to the Hudhayl tribe. Then the tribesmen betrayed them and men with swords fell upon them while they were resting in the night; but when the men from Medina snatched up their own swords, their attackers swore they did not wish to kill them, but only to make use of them in an attempt to gain something from the people of Mecca . Marthad, Khalid and Asim replied, ‘By Allah! We never believe a promise or a covenant from an idolater’, and they fought against the idolaters and were slain.

Asim had killed the two sons of a Meccan woman on the day of Uhud and she had sworn to have the skull of Asim and drink wine from it. But a swarm of bees settled around his body and kept the idolaters away; they said, ‘Leave him there until the evening when the bees go away, and then we shall cut off his head.’ But Allah sent a torrent of water and swept away the body of Asim, who had sworn to Him that he would never touch or be touched by an idolater lest he be defiled; thus Allah pro­tected him from defilement after death as he had been protected in life.

The other three men from Medina surrendered themselves and were taken to Mecca to be sold, but Abdullah tried to escape on the way and was killed. Khubayb and Zayd were exchanged by their captors for two prisoners of their own tribe who were held by the Quraysh, and the Quraysh slew Zayd and crucified Khubayb in revenge for the deaths at Uhud.

Four months later a similar treachery took place. Forty of the best of the Muslims went out as invited guests to tell of Islam to the people of Najd and all save two were slain.

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