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 Sirat Rasoul Allah

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24- Byzantium

The apostle of Allah remained in Medina for some months and then issued orders to the people to prepare for a campaign against the Byzantine empire . It happened, however, to be a time of drought and of great heat, and food was short; as the fruit crops were just ripening, the people were reluctant to obey the call. Normally, the apostle would conceal the preparations for an expedition and pretend that he was going in another direction to the one he really had in view. In the case of Tabuk, however, he made an exception because of the great distance, the difficulty of provisioning an army, and the size of the enemy force.

Many Hypocrites said to each other, 'Do not march out in the heat', because they were averse to fighting in heat, doubted the truth of Islam, and wanted to sow discontent with the prophet of Allah. Then Allah revealed this verse. 'They said, "Do not march out in the heat." Say, "The fire of hell will be hotter." Let them therefore laugh a little now, for they will weep much here­after.' 

The apostle of Allah specially exhorted the rich to furnish money and beasts of burden and they did so, hoping for the eternal reward; Uthman was the most liberal of them, and the apostle said, 'Allah! Be pleased with Uthman; for I am pleased with him'

Then seven Muslims came weeping to the apostle because they were poor men and could not afford beasts to carry them on the expedition. The apostle could not help them and they went away with tears pouring down their cheeks because they could not provision themselves. But Ibn Yamin met two of the Weepers and, hearing their tale of woe, presented them with a camel which they mounted, and with some dates; so they went forth with the apostle of Allah.

Meanwhile, several of the nomadic tribes asked to be exempted from the expedition, offering excuses. But Allah did not accept their words as true. Some good and true Muslims also hesitated and then remained behind when the apostle and his army left Medina . The apostle had ordered Ali to remain behind and take care of his family; but the Hypocrites reviled him, saying, 'He has been left behind because the campaign would be too much for himV When Ali heard this he snatched up his arms and hastened after the apostle. He caught up with him at al‑Jurf, but the apostle sent him back and continued his march.

In Medina , Abu Khaythama returned home one hot day and found his two wives in the arbours of his garden. Each had sprinkled her arbour with water to cool it for him, and had pre­pared a repast. He entered, and then stopped short, looking at his two wives and at the preparations they had made for him. Then he exclaimed, 'The apostle of Allah is in the sun, the wind, and the heat, while Abu Khaythama is in cool shade with a meal prepared and a fine woman, safe at home. This is not just! By Allah, I shall not enter the tent of either of you, but join the apostle. Prepare provisions for me!' They obeyed, and he went in pursuit of the apostle; as he came up with him, the people said, 'Here is a rider following along the road.' The apostle replied, 'Would that it were Abu Khaythama'; and it was.

At al‑Hijr the people had no water, and complained to the apostle; then Allah sent a cloud and it rained, so that the people slaked their thirst, and gathered as much water as they needed. Farther on during the journey the apostle's camel went astray and his companions went in search of it. A Hypocrite complained, 'Muhammad alleges that he is a prophet, and gives you news from heaven, but he knows not where his camel is!' Then the apostle said, 'I know nothing except what Allah tells me, and He has directed me to the camel; she is in the hollow in that valley, entangled with her bridle in a tree. Go and bring it.' Accordingly they went and brought the camel.

The apostle of Allah continued his march and some men began to lag behind. Each time, the apostle said, 'Leave him! If there be any good in him, Allah will help him catch us up again; but if not, Allah has delivered us of him.'

When the apostle arrived in Tabuk, he was visited by John, the Christian governor of Ayla, who made peace with the apostle and paid him tax. Then the Jewish inhabitants of Jarba and Adhruh also came and paid him tax; and the apostle gave them a document, and one to John in the following terms. 'In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate! This is a guarantee from Allah and from Muhammad, the prophet and apostle of Allah, to John and to the inhabitants of Aylal Their ships and their caravans on sea and on land are under the protection of Allah and Muhammad His prophet, as are those people of Syria , of Yemen , and of the sea‑coast who escort them. Whosoever commits a crime against them will be unable to atone for it with property; but his life will be at the mercy of all. The people of Ayla shall not be kept back from water nor hin­dered from taking any direction in which they choose to proceed, whether by land or by sea.'

Next the apostle of Allah dispatched Khalid to the Christian, Ukaydir, at Duma. It was a clear moonlit night and the cavalry, led by Khalid, took Ukaydir wholly by surprise and brought him to the apostle of Allah, who spared his life and, granted him peace on condition that he paid tax. Then he set him free and he returned to Duma. The apostle remained about ten days at Tabuk, and then returned to Medina . [There was no sign of Heraclius or the rumoured invading force.]  

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