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The battle of Uhud

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Published: Fri, 21 Apr 2017

The Battle Of Uhud

In The Name Of ALLAH The Beneficent The Merciful

In this essay I will be looking at the underlying factors which led to the Battle of Uhud, the main events which occurred, including my own analysis as well as looking at the result of the battle.

The Battle of Uhud was a follow up to the Battle of Badr, the opening clash between the Muslims and the pagans of Makkah. The Makkans had suffered a surprise loss against the Muslims with many noblemen being killed. After this defeat there was outrage in Makkah. There was a lot of pressure on Abu Sufyan now that he was leader of Quraish. Abu Sufyan had avoided showing up at Badr, choosing instead to save the caravan[1]. He was even under pressure in his own home from his wife, Hind, who had lost her father, uncle, brother and son[2] at Badr. Her relatives were killed by a combination of Hamzah and Ali[3] so she had an insatiable thirst for revenge especially against Hamzah as described later.

To Abu Sufyan’s credit, he showed a great desire for revenge himself, pledging the entire proceeds from the caravan in order to raise funds for another battle against the Muslims. He managed to assemble an army of 3000 with 700 armoured with 3000 camels and 200 horses. The army marched towards Madinah arriving there on 6th Shawwal 3 AH[4][5].

The Prophet (SAW)[6] was already aware of the threat having received an urgent letter[7] from Makkah[8]. The Prophet (SAW) held a council of war the following morning. It was decided that the Muslims would go out and meet the enemy. The Muslim army consisted of 1000 men with only 100 armoured and no cavalry. The army reached a place called Ash-Shaikhan where they camped for the night.

The following morning, the Muslims had moved to within sight of the enemy. The hypocrites decided to return to Madinah led by Abdullah Bin Ubayy. 300 men withdrew and left the Muslims with 700. It is obvious the hypocrites did not wish to fight so this looks to be a carefully devised plan by Abdullah and his followers in order to weaken the Muslims both in physical strength as well as their morale. The moment of withdrawal was deliberately chosen so close to the start of the battle and within sight of the enemy so that they could see this occurrence and therefore receive fresh encouragement[9].

The Prophet (SAW) moved his army again and positioned them so that the enemy was between them and Madinah. This shows the incredible military leadership of the Prophet (SAW), having arrived at the battlefield after the enemy he took up a better position which would restrict the numerical advantage of the Makkans as well as being protected on all sides apart from one which would lead the pagans to expose the Muslim rear[10]. To deal with this he placed 50 archers under the command of Abdullah Bin Jabir on a mountain with explicit instructions not to vacate the position no matter whether the Muslims were winning or losing.

The battle began with the most ferocious fighting centring on the Bani Abdu-Dar who were charged by the Qurarish to be the standard bearers. Bani Abdu-Dar fought courageously with each family member picking up the standard after the previous one was slaughtered and until all 10 members of the family are dead[11]. Then their huge Abyssinian slave takes the standard and continues to fight until he too is slain[12]. After this there was no one left to carry the standard.

Hamzah, one of the heroes of Badr was again fighting bravely. It has already been mentioned that Hind wanted revenge so she hired an Abyssinian slave called Wahshi, who was an expert in the use of a javelin, to assassinate Hamzah in return for his freedom. Hamzah had just killed his third opponent, when Wahshi, who until that point had been hiding behind trees and rocks trying to get within range of his target, took aim and struck Hamzah straight through the stomach. Wahshi then waited for Hamzah to die before removing the javelin and then returned to the Quraish camp. However Hind was still not satisfied and after the battle she mutilated his body including cutting open his stomach and taking a bite out of his liver[13].

Despite the great loss of the uncle of the Prophet (SAW), the Muslims pushed forward and seized the advantage, the bulk of the Quraish army turning and fleeing with the Muslims in hot pursuit. The Muslims managed to raid the Quraish camp and started plundering the booty. This should have been the end of the battle and another clear cut victory for the Muslims.

Unfortunately, this is where the biggest controversy of the Battle of Uhud occurs. The archers, who until now had managed to hold off the advance of the pagan cavalry, decided to join the plunder and disobey the direct command of the Prophet (SAW) as mentioned earlier. Abdullah Bin Jabir, repeatedly called his men to return to their posts but his cries fell on deaf ears as the archers continued towards the Quraish camp intent on a share of the spoils.

Khalid Bin Waleed had managed to keep his men under control amidst the chaos surrounding them. Khalid was keeping an eye on the developments taking place amongst the archers and was looking to exploit just such an opportunity that had presented itself. It was at this moment Khalid made his move and pulled off a masterstroke. The remaining archers were very valiant and determined to follow the Prophet (SAW)’s instructions down to the last letter. All of them became shaheed[14] whilst defending the position given to them by the Prophet (SAW). Khalid had attempted to pull of this manoeuvre a few times earlier but was prevented by the archers but had finally succeeded in doing so due to the archer’s abandonment of their occupied position.

This signalled a reversal in fortunes for the Muslims. The bulk of Quraish who had previously being fleeing, seeing the sudden developments, returned to battle. The Muslims were trapped and under attack on two fronts which led to mass confusion and panic even resulting in Muslim killing Muslim albeit accidently[15].

The Prophet (SAW) was left in an exposed and vulnerable position with only a small group of Sahabah[16] with him and the remainder of the army too far for him to control[17]. The Prophet (SAW) was a courageous man and tried to rectify the situation by putting his own life on the line. He called the Muslims towards him although the idolaters recognised his voice and were closer to him therefore reached him first[18]. The battle now centred on the Prophet (SAW) and this has to be the most difficult trying and testing moment of his life surpassing the day of Taif[19]. More pagans left the main battle and charged towards the Prophet (SAW). This small group of Sahabah performed many heroics in order to defend their leader who they loved more than their own lives. They were under severe pressure but they fought ferociously. Many of them became shaheed. The Prophet (SAW) was pelted by stones and received injuries including broken lower font teeth.

After this there was a lull in the fighting, while the Makkans were regrouping, Abu Ubaidah used his teeth to remove the rings stuck in the Prophet (SAW)’s cheek breaking his own teeth in the process[20]. Ubayy Bin Khalf rode towards the Prophet (SAW) on horseback. The Prophet (SAW) told the Sahabah to allow him to approach. This man had a personal dual to settle with the Prophet (SAW). The Sahabah moved out the way, the Prophet (SAW) picked up a spear and launched it at him. It hit Ubayy between his collarbone and neck and he fell of his horse and ran back to the Quraish camp[21].

The fighting resumed once again with greater intensity and purpose. The Prophet (SAW) had a human shield[22] protecting him from arrows[23]. Ibn Qamiah managed to strike him with his sword on the shoulder resulting in the Prophet (SAW) falling behind in to a ditch dug as a trap by the enemy. Ibn Qamiah then raced back to declare the death of the Prophet (SAW).

The rumour spread quickly. The main army of Muslims were heartbroken. Some fled to the mountains, some toward the desert, some toward Madinah while the rest only wanted to fight till the end. The Quraish then commit the same mistake as the Muslims, thinking they had completed their objective they started plundering after the booty. The Quraishi women then began mutilating the bodies of the deceased.

By now the majority of the Muslim army had dispersed. The Prophet (SAW) began to make a planned withdrawal with the remaining Sahabah who were mostly injured, some more severe than others, were joined by another group of Muslims as they retreated to Mount Uhud. Khalid had spotted this withdrawal and raced after them with some of his men but was unable to catch them before they reached Uhud. Khalid realised the situation was not in his favour as he was on horseback on mountainous terrain. Khalid then informed Abu Sufyan who was looking for the body of the Prophet (SAW) that he was up in the mountain. Abu Sufyan approached hoping that the rumour was still true, thereby had an interesting conversation with Omar[24].

The Muslims started gathering at where the Prophet (SAW) was resting. The Muslim women[25] were tending to the injured. Once the enemy had vacated the battlefield the Muslims went to inspect the dead and wounded. The Janaazah[26] was performed. The Muslims returned to Madinah[27].

The Muslims had lost 70 men whilst the idolaters had lost 22. The pagans spent the night celebrating. Meanwhile, in Madinah, the Muslims were counting their scars but on the orders of the Prophet (SAW) they went after the Quraish the following morning. Abu Sufyan was satisfied with the result and felt Badr had been avenged by Uhud. Even Hind was pleased. Khalid was one of those who wished to finish the Muslims while they were weakened and destroy Islam once and for all. He believed they had achieved nothing which was indeed correct because the Prophet (SAW) and the most prominent Sahabah were still alive and the Islamic State was still intact. Abu Sufyan feared the 300 who had withdrawn would return in the event of another battle although the Prophet (SAW) only asked those who had participated the previous day to return. On hearing the news of the approaching Muslim army, the panic stricken Quraish fled.

My opinion is that the result of the battle is a win for the Muslims albeit not as clear cut as the Battle of Badr. In boxing terms, it was a split decision to the Muslims. Although in terms of casualties it is agreed the Muslims suffered the heavier losses but this is a superficial way of looking at the result of the battle. The best way to judge the battle is to look at the aims and objectives of both sides. Bringing such a large army and having spent such a large amount of money, my opinion is the Quraish undoubtedly wished to kill the Prophet (SAW), wipe out Islam completely and destroy the Islamic State at Madinah. None of these were achieved. Before Abu Sufyan left the battlefield he knew the Prophet (SAW) was alive, he chose not pursue the Muslims up the mountain and chose not to raid Madinah. It must not be forgotten that Quraish army was 3 times larger than the Muslims[28] and yet they only managed to kill 70 Muslims and having had the advantage they did not seize it. It looked to be a comfortable victory for the Muslims. The turning point was certainly the disobedience of the archers and the great manoeuvre of Khalid. A victorious army would not have fled the following morning. There are many lessons to be learned from Uhud such as do not disobey the Prophet (SAW). The Quran contains over 60 verses regarding Uhud[29] I would like to end with one such verse:

“Allah verily made good His promise to you when you routed them by His permission, until (the moment) when your courage failed you, and you disagreed about the order and you disobeyed, after He had shown you that for which you long. Some of you desired the world, and some of you desired the Hereafter. Therefore He made you flee from them, that He might try you. Yet now He has forgiven you. Allah is a Lord of Kindness to believers.”[30]

Bibliography

Akkad, M. (Director) (1976) The Message [Film] Libya: Filmco International Productions

Akram, A.I. (2007) Khalid Bin Waleed Sword Of ALLAH Birmingham: Maktabah

Mubarakpuri, S.R. (2002) The Sealed Nectar London: Darussalam

Subhani, J. (2000) The Message Qum: Ansaryian Publications

Watt, W.M. (1961) Muhammad Prophet & Statesman Oxford: Oxford University Press

[1] This caravan contained the property and wealth of the emigrants who sacrificed everything to go to Madinah. The caravan had safely made it to Syria and was on the return journey to Makkah.

[2] Also Abu Sufyan’s son

[3] Khalid Bin Waleed P:18

[4] Late March 625

[5] The Sealed Nectar P:294

[6] Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam = May the peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him

[7] From his uncle Abbas who was a Muslim yet to declare his faith and still living in Makkah.

[8] The Sealed Nectar P:293

[9] The Sealed Nectar P:298

[10] Khalid Bin Waleed P:23

[11] The Sealed Nectar P:306

[12] The Sealed Nectar P:307

[13] Khalid Bin Waleed P:39

[14] Martyrs

[15] Khalid Bin Waleed P:30

[16] Companions

[17] Khalid Bin Waleed P:32

[18] The Sealed Nectar P:313

[19] When the Prophet (SAW) went to Taif to preach Islam but was ridiculed by the chiefs and stoned by the town’s children.

[20] The Sealed Nectar P:321

[21] When he came to Madinah to ransom his son after Badr, he said he would kill the Prophet (SAW) but the Prophet (SAW) promised to kill him instead. Indeed the prophecy came true. It is reported the wound was only superficial however he was adamant he would die causing hysteria among the pagans. He died after the battle on the way back to Makkah.

[22] Abu Dujanah

[23] Khalid Bin Waleed P:33

[24] AS: Is Mohammed among you? Is Abu Bakr among you? Is Omar among you? (no response)AS: These 3 are dead. They will trouble us no more O: You lie O enemy of ALLAH! Those 3 are still alive and there are enough of us left to punish you severely! AS: May ALLAH protect you O son of Khattab! Is Mohammed really alive? O: By my Lord Yes! Even now he hears what you say AS: You are more truthful than Ibn Qamiah AS: Glory to Hubal! O[now repeating the words of the Prophet (SAW)]: Glory Be To ALLAH! AS: We have Uzza. You have no Uzza O: ALLAH is our Lord. You have no Lord AS: This is our day for your day of Badr. It is equal O: they are not equal. Our dead are in Paradise while your dead are in the fire! AS: we shall meet again at Badr next year. O: You have our pledge. It is an appointment. AS: You will find among your dead some who have been mutilated. I neither ordered this nor approved of it. Do not blame for this.

[25] Including the Prophet (SAW)’s daughter Fatimah and his wife Aisha

[26] Funeral Prayer

[27] The Sealed Nectar P:334

[28] 4x after withdrawal of hypocrites

[29] Mainly in Surah Ali Imran

[30] 3:152


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