Prophet's Military Policy

From the outset of the blessed da'wah to Islam, the methods adopted by the Prophet (s.a.w.) to effect a complete change in the new community were renewed and moderated every at times.

At one point the Prophet (s.a.w.) kept in security his da'wah to Islam and was working heavily to instruct new converts in the principles of Islam at a certain place.

At another time he called only his relatives to Islam: "And warn your nearest kin". Then he called on all of the tribe of the Quraish, at the house of Allah, to accept Islam. To gain new ground for Islam, he, later ordered his followers to migrate to Abyssiniah.

Outside the city of Mecca, he held many meetings with Arab tribes. At al-Ta'if he stayed for one month propagating the new faith and rallying support for it.

Eventually he met with the pilgrims coming from Yathrib. His efforts yielded fruits when the people of Yathrib embraced Islam and pledged their support to the new faith. It was in Yathrib that the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the early converts found the practical base for the spread of Islam.

Great sources of power fell into the hands of Muslims, as the result of the migration and who became more ready to face up to aggression and fight their enemies.

The first and foremost fruit of the migration was the establishment of the Islamic state headed by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).

With its emergence, Muslims adopted a military policy and the chance offered itself, as provided a good way of communicating Islam to the thirsty, dried-up souls seeking the truth.

The key objective underpinning the Islamic military policy was first to grant people a chance to be acquainted with the Divine Message. The manner was to call them quietly and convincingly.

But many obstacles were placed between mankind and the Divine Message and adoption of the military policy by the Muslims sought to demolish these impediments to leave man free to choose for himself. It was a strategy, not only realized by the leadership, but even by the smallest member of the Muslim community.

Ami'r bin Rub'i, a Muslim soldier who took part in the war of liberation against the Persians, addressed Rustum, the commander of the Persian army, in these words,(65) "...Allah has certainly raised us and made us come to free people from worshipping of the servants of Allah to worshipping Allah; from the narrowest view of life to the most comprehensive; from the injustice of other religions to the justice of Islam. He has sent us, carrying His Message to His servants, calling them to it. Should anyone respond positively to our call we accept that from him, turn away and leave him ruling his own land without our intervention. Should anyone refuse this, we fight him incessantly till Allah judges between us."

The military policy never took one form but practically it took two distinct shapes:

  1. Jihad of liberation and the calling to the path of Allah. The reason behind its legitimacy is that Islam is Allah's Message to His servants on earth. And naturally the road to Islam is full of obstacles, which are states, forces and rulers. Islam should be preached after overcoming these obstacles. If these barriers block the way of Islam, they should be removed by force.

  2. Defensive Jihad. This is ordained for the purpose of preserving the Islamic Message, the Islamic state and the Muslims. Islam should be defended from the plots and schemes of its enemies, the opportunists and those threatened its existence.

Although the strategic and main target of the Muslim military operations, was the removal of barriers from the path of the Islamic da'wah, it can be seen, clearly, the afore-mentioned forms of jihad coloured all Islamic military operations and wars.

The battles of Badr, Khaibar, Hunain and the liberation of Mecca fall into the first category while the battles of Khandaq, Mu'tah, Tabuk and others are of the second form.

Now let us examine a few examples of the two forms of jihad.

THE GREAT BATTLE OF BADR

Since the beginning of the blessed Islamic da'wah until the eighth year after Hijra, Mecca stood firmly in the face of Islam. The well-to-do and influential leaders of the city worked hard to keep the status quo, to serve their interests, syphoning off more wealth and wielding more power.

That is why these pre-Islamic leaders did their utmost to stem the emergence of the da'wah, stifle its voice, and extinguish its radian light. They tortured the Muslims beyond endurance, inflicted unspeakable atrocities on them and created a reign of terror, in Mecca, to prevent the great process of converting people to Islam which was initiated by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) The most glorious of the victories of Islam was the accomplishment of liberating Mecca, as it didn't change its position towards Islam and its leaders did not change their attitudes.

For such consideration, the Message of Allah the Exalted, saw the pre-Islamic rulers of Mecca as the sworn enemy to be destroyed in order to put an end to their arrogance and conceit.

Strong and mighty in opposing to the Divine Message though Mecca was, it had nothing other than trade and trade routes. The leaders of Mecca reviled the Message and appointed themselves the defenders of the pre-Islamic entity in defense of their vested material wealth ever-swelled by commercial caravans.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) focused on pounding the Quraishi positions directly through laying an economic siege on Mecca by ambushing the Quraish's commercial caravans and threatening its strategic trade routes. Accordingly, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), started sending armed units to damage the Quraish's interests in the first year of Hijra. This was carried out both inside the city itself and on the trade routes used by the Quraishi-commercial caravans.

During the year, the Prophet (s.a.w.) sent a military expedition led by his uncle Hamzah, another led by Ubaidah bin al-Harith, a third by led by himself and a fourth led by Abdullah bin Jahsh....and others.

Though these attempts were not conclusive in themselves and no direct skirmishes ever took place, except once, they struck fear in the Quraishis by the threat they represented economically.

One could easily imagine the scope of the Quraish's fears and annoyance at the Muslims when recalling the fact that the commercial caravans were the life-blood of Mecca. Furthermore moving military units strengthened the Muslims' confidence in themselves and their ability to face the enemy.

In the second year of Hijra, during the month of Ramadan, the Muslims learnt that a caravan of the Quraish was en route to Mecca, led by Abu-Sufyan. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) lost no time in dispatching a small army of 300 Muslims with little equipment. They had only 70 camels making every two, three or four people to take turns to ride on each.

News of the Prophet's expedition leaked out and Abu-Sufyan directed the caravan to another route to keep it out of danger. Furthermore, he also asked for help and the Quraish responded by sending an army three times greater than the total number of the faithful.

The matter, for the Muslims, turned to be a face-to-face confrontation with the Quraish. They had either to confront the Quraish or retreat back. It was no longer the question of being able to ambush the commercial caravan.

With the sudden change in the situation, the Prophet (s.a.w.) consulted his companions, putting responsibility directly with them, when explaining the challenge.

Al-Muqdad bin Amru declared:

"By Allah, if you ordered us to walk on the embers of tamarisk(66) or the thorns of al- haras(67) we would walk with you. By Allah we will not say to you what the Israelites had said to Musa (Moses), 'Go you and your Lord, then fight you both, surely we will here sit down' but, 'Go and carry out your Lord's order, surely we are fighting with you."

The representative of the Ansar, Sa'd bin Ma'ath also expressed his views by saying:

"...just order us to do whatever you want, take from our money whatever amount you need and leave whatever amount you wish. By Allah, if you ordered us to cross this sea we would go with you. May Allah show you what delights your eyes. Advance under the blessing of Allah."(68)

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said at length:

"Advance under the blessing of Allah, for Allah promised to grant me one of two things. Allah never breaks His promise. By Allah, it is as if I look at the death of Abu-Jahl, Utbah, Shaiba, so-and-so and so-and-so."

Then he ordered them to advance to the well of Badr. There, the two armies faced each other. The Prophet (s.a.w.) and Muslims invoked Allah for help. Allah aided them with angels from heaven:

"When you sought aid from your Lord, so He answered you: I will assist you with a thousand of the angels following one another."

Holy Qur'an {(8:9)

Allah granted victory to His Messenger and the faithful. The Quraish were severely defeated. Their noses were rubbed in the dust and they were dishonored.

The battlefield witnessed the head-rolling of the polytheists and deviants. Only the traces of their shame and disgrace were the legacy on the pages of history and across the life of their followers.

THE BATTLE OF UHUD

The battle of Uhud took place only one year after Badr, in the third year of Hijra, in the month of Shawwal.

After the Battle of Badr, the Quraish felt humiliated and disdained among the Arabs. They recognized the fast growing power of Islam among the people, and therefore began gathering their men and leaders in order to take revenge by attacking and destroying the Muslims in Madinah. The polytheists were blinded by the wealth of Abu Sufyan who after his escape from the Muslims on the day of Badr, had vowed to spend this wealth on nothing except for fighting Muhammad. Abbas bin Abdul-Muttalib the Prophet's uncle who was still in Mecca having learnt about the real intention of the Quraish, wrote a letter to the Prophet informing him about the Polytheists' plans for attacking Madinah. On receiving the letter, the Prophet informed his companions of its contents. And it happened that the Prophet of Allah had a dream, which he explained as follows: one of his companions will be killed; one of his household will be wounded and the 'diri' al-Haseen' is Madinah.

Then the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) began to consult his companions and in the end they all agreed to fight the polytheists outside Madinah without letting the city to be a field for fighting; therefore the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) wore his war dress and went with his companions but later on, his companions regretted and asked him to return for Madinah and fight the enemy from there as he (s.a.w.) suggested at first but the Prophet of Allah refused that.

With one thousand fighters the Prophet marched to Uhud outside Madinah to meet the attacking force of three thousands polytheists led by the arch-enemy of Islam, Abu Sufyan. He gave the banner of the Muhajirin to his valiant cousin and son in-law Imam Ali (a.s.) and the banner of the Ansar to Sa'id bin Ubadah.

However, the actual number of fighting men of the Prophet were only seven hundred, because when the Muslims began to leave Madinah, the three hundred hypocrites and plotters, who existed in the army of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) under the leadership of Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salalul withdrew themselves from the army.(69)

The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) arranged the Muslims in battle-ranks, positioning fifty archers of the Ansar over the hill pass in order to deter the enemy from ambushing the Muslims from behind. He put one of them as their leader and advised them not to leave their position at any cost. Soon the fighting started and after a pitched battle the Muslims put the polytheists to flight. Some of the companions of the Prophet began to plunder the well stocked camp of the infidels and when the men at the mountain-pass saw their greed gave away and they said: "Those men will take (all) the spoils if we stay (here)." They asked their leader: "We want to take part in the plunder like the others." He replied: "The Prophet of Allah has ordered us not to leave this position." "He ordered you to do that without knowing that the matter would come to what we now see, " they bluntly told him and went off towards the booty leaving him behind. He remained in his position till he was martyred.

The polytheists led by Khalid bin Walid, seeing the hill-pass undefended, attacked the Muslims from behind catching by surprise the majority of companions of the Prophet who were occupied the grab for the spoils. The Prophet was left only with a small troop of his devout companions such as Imam Ali (a.s.), his uncle Hamzah and Mus'ab bin Umair, who nevertheless they continued to bravely fighting the polytheists. The Prophet of Allah was overcome by faintness as a result of a wound which he received, while his uncle Hamzah bin Abdul-Muttalib was martyred by a man called 'Wahishi' (savage) the slave of Abu Sufyan.

Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan who was encouraging the polytheists to attack the Muslims, with her lusty songs, ordered Hamzah's stomach to be split open, and chewed his liver like a blood-thirsty bitch. She even cut off his nose and ears and wore them around her neck in savage exultation.

Despite the Prophet's call to stay firm in the battlefield most of his companions fled the scene, leaving him alone with Imam Ali (a.s.) and a few other, like Abu Dajjassa.

Indeed the main reason for the Muslim's set back in this battle is their disobedience of the orders of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) because had they obeyed him and fought the polytheists in Madinah as suggested before, and if the men at the mountain-pass had not disobeyed his orders, they would surely have become victorious.

After this set back, on the second day, the Muslims were ordered the Muslims to go out and fight the Quraish in spite of their sufferings from the wounds lest the polytheists again attack them. Therefore, the Muslims responded and the Prophet of Allah gave Imam Ali (a.s.) the banner of the Muhajirin. They reached a place called 'Hamra' al-Asad' wishing to fight the polytheist and also prove to the people that they are still strong and able to attack the enemy, but seeing that Abu Sufyan and his army had returned to Mecca, the Prophet of Allah and his companions also returned to Madinah.

THE BATTLE OF KHANDAQ

If the Battle of Badr was an example of the offensive military policy of the Prophet (s.a.w.), the battle of Khandaq, was a defensive strategy waged in defense of the Divine Message and the nascent camp of Islam.

It happened that in the fifth year of Hijra, a number of Jewish leaders in Mecca campaigned among the polytheists to wage a war against the Muslims. Abu-Sufyan discovered their plan.

However the Quraish hesitated before responding to the call for war against the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). Some of the Quraishi leaders asked themselves," Isn't Muhammad right in his call that he is risking his life for the sake of defending it?"

They thought of asking the Jews about the matter, for they knew that the Jews were the followers of the first Divine Book. They posed this question to a delegation of the Jews. They asked them, "O Jews! You are the followers of the first Book and the past knowledge. You know the faith brought by Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the faith we believe in is our faith better than his or is it that he is right?"

"It is your faith", the Jews replied, "that is better than his. You are more entitled to the truth than him"(70)

By responding so, the Jews committed an unpardonable crime in favouring the false religion of paganism at the expense of the right religion of monotheism. They wanted to win over the Quraishis to their side to wage a war against the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.). Therefore, Allah, the Exalted, revealed this verse to His Messenger (s.a.w.):

"Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book has been given? They believe in idols and false deities and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe".

Holy Qur'an (4:51)

The Jews went on with their efforts to instigate the tribes against the Prophet (s.a.w.). They succeeded in winning over to their cause the tribes of Bani Fazarah, Ashja', Murrah, Salim, Bani As'ad and Bani Asad among others.

Under the standard of Abu-Sufyan bin Harb al-Amawi, 10,000 militants, gathered to advance and engage the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).

The forces of injustice set out for Madinah. Learning of this military offensive, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) decided to remain inside the city and defend it.

From both the eastern and western sides, the houses of Madinah were closely built like an impregnable fortress. The eastern southern blank of the city was inhabited by the Jews of Bani Quraidah, who had earlier signed an agreement of good neighbourliness with the Prophet (s.a.w.). So, only the northern part of the city was open to the enemy.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) consulted his companions over the matter. Salman, the Persian, may Allah be pleased with him, came up with a proposal. He said:"

In Persia, we were used to dig a ditch around us when we were besieged." He suggested a similar tactic be used in the open part of the city. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) appreciated the idea and the Muslims spent six days to complete the digging of the ditch.

The houses facing the enemy were satisfactorily fortified and the women and children were kept in them.

The Messenger (s.a.w.) mobilized his forces. His army, which was 3,000 - strong, advanced forward and encamped behind the ditch. The Quraish and their allies approached the city. They were amazed to see the ditch, which was never used before as a military means of defense. So they encamped near the ditch.

Only a few days passed, however, when the invading army became bored because of the ditch, with the coldness and the blistering wind.

The Quraish wanted now to give up the whole plan and return to Mecca. When the Jews learnt of the Quraish's intention, their leader Huyah bin Akhtab assured them that he would coax the Jews of Bani Quraidah to revoke their treaty with the Messenger (s.a.w.) and enter the war on their side. This being accomplished, he said to them, that the front line of the Muslim army would be thrown into confusion, the whole camp would be shaken from within and their supply route would be cut off.

Huyah bin Akhtab contacted the Barn. Quraidah, but Ka'b bin Asad shut the gate of the fort in his face and refused to receive him. Ibn Akhtab did not give up. He persisted in seeing him and kept reminding him of their . mutual relationship. He told him that it was time they avenged themselves over the Muslims and that the great forces gathered there could easily crush the Muslims. He talked with him at length about the impending victory and other similar alluring words and promises.

The Bani Quraidah, being assured of the coming victory, unilaterally revoked the treaty and tore it into pieces.

No sooner did the Messenger (s.a.w.) hear of their turn-about then he sent a delegation to them to check the matter. But being carried away with excitement they were rudely impolite. For, when the delegation called on them to abide by the treaty they asked the Muslims to allow the Jews of Bani al-Nadir, whom the Messenger (s.a.w.) earlier had turned out of the city, to return to their neighbourhood. Brazenly they had attacked the Messenger (s.a.w.) and Islam. When the delegation washed their hands of them; they returned to Madinah to inform the Prophet (s.a.w.) of the whole truth.

The Muslims were extremely alarmed by these developments. Their eyes turned dull and their hearts rose in their throats, as the Qur'an (33:10-13) described them. So blunt and rash were the Bani Quraidah that they attacked some Muslim families and frightened them. Moreover, they mobilized their forces to launch war on the. side of their new alliance.

The attack was spearheaded, by Amru bin Abd-Wid al-Amiri, one of the Quraish's leaders and a handful of his soldiers crossing the ditch. They threatened the Muslims inside their city. Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.), accompanied by a number of Muslims, hurried to the place where Amru and his soldiers crossed the ditch, to prevent any further attempts.(71)

Amru bin Abd-Wid arrogantly, went on galloping in front of the Muslims, issuing, threat and menacing them. He spoke proudly about his claimed bravery, calling out:

"Anyone ready to fight?"

Imam Ali (a.s.) stood up and said to the Prophet (s.a.w.):

"I can fight him, O Prophet of Allah".

"Sit down", the Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered him, "he is Amru".

Ibn Abd-Wid repeated his call. He scolded the Muslims and mocked them saying:

"Where is your paradise you claim where anyone among you goes to inhabit if you are killed? Won't you nominate someone from among you to fight me?"

"I can fight him, O Messenger of Allah", Ali, said for the second time, rising to his feet.

"Sit down", the Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered him again, "he is Amru".

Imam Ali (a.s.) did not care whether he was Amru or someone else. So, he said to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.):

"Even if he is Amru!"

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) finally conceded and gave his permission to Ali (a.s.) and handed over his sword Dhul-Fiqar to him. He made him put on his (the Prophet's) coat of mail and wear his turban. Then, the Prophet (s.a.w.) raised his hands in prayer:

"O Lord! This is my brother and cousin. Do not leave me alone. You are the best of inheritors".(72)

Imam Ali (a.s.) went to the battlefield and said Ibn Abd-Wid:

"O Amru! You have made covenant with Allah that whenever a man from the Quraish offers you two choices respecting a combat you accept one of them".

"Yes" , said Ibn Abd-Wid.

"Then," Imam Ali (a.s.) replied, "I call you to Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.) and Islam".

"I do not need that", he said.

"Then", the Imam said, "I call you to fight".

"I hate to shed your blood," Amru replied "your father was a friend of mine".

"But", the Imam retorted, "by Allah I like to kill you".

Amru got very angry and attacked Ali (a.s.). The Imam repulsed his assault with his usual aplomb. He killed him and shouts of "Allahu-akbar" and "Praise be to Allah" rose from the ranks of the Muslims.(73)

When Ali (a.s.) returned triumphantly, the Messenger received him by saying:

"The combat of Ali bin Abi-Talib with Amru bin Abd-Wid is better than the deeds of my ummah till Doomsday." (74)

After Amru bin Abd-Wid's death, the enemies tightened their circle around Madinah. The fighting went on in full swing from midday till midnight.

In the meantime, Na'im bin Mas'ud al-Asha'i(75) arrived and embraced Islam, without the knowledge of his tribe. As such, the Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered him to make use of his status as a man from the tribe of Ghatafan which was respected by all parties. He lost no time and went to the Bani Quraidah, with whom he had close (elation’s. He reminded them of his closeness with them and said:

"The Quraish and the Ghatafan are no ready to remain for along period. They will undoubtedly depart. Should you remain in Madinah, Muhammad will most certainly punish you. So that the Quraish and the Ghatafan will not leave you alone when fighting breaks out, you should take hostages from the Quraish and keep them."

The Bani Quraidah approved of his suggestion.

Na'im, then, went to the Quraish and said to them:

"The Bani Quraidah regret breaking their treaty with Muhammad. They are doing what they can to satisfy him. They will take a number of men from the Quraish as hostages whom they win put to death. Never hand your men over to them".

Finally, he went to the Ghatafan and said the same thing he had said to the Quraish.

Next day, Abu Sufyan contacted Bani Quraidah asking them to begin attacking(76) the Muslims. As it was Saturday (the Jewish holy day), the Bani Quraidah excused themselves and declined the offer.

Abu Sufyan persisted in demanding that they spearhead the attack but they did not change their position referring to the question of hostages. At that point, he felt sure that what Na'im bin Mas'ud had said was the truth. When he presented the matter to the Ghatafan he saw that they were hesitant also.

At night, a blistering, bitter wind blew. It overturned pots, plucked out tents and extinguished their fires.

As terror struck at the hearts of the infidel they took to their heels in the direction of Madinah.

The next morning, when the Muslims looked around them, there was no trace of the enemy. Their confidence and trust in Allah grew. This was one example of the defensive military policy of the Islamic state, adopted by the Messenger Muhammad (s.a.w.)

HUDAYBIYYAH PEACE TREATY

The battle against the allies at Khandiq, was virtually the last of the Quraish's attempts to confront Islam and the great Messenger (s.a.w.). Afterwards they began to fear the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).

The Jews of Bani Quraidah were actually got rid of after the siege that lasted 15 days. In its wake, the Messenger began, to think of suitable ways of consolidating the power of the state, strengthening the pillars of the Islamic community, weakening enemies and spreading the call of Islam to larger areas.

It was during this time, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) heard of a fresh attempt being prepared secretly by the Quraish and the Jews of Khaibar to invade Madinah. Thus, he made up his mind to make a truce with the Quraish in order to wean them away from the Jews. He also moved to convey Islam among the Arabs other than the Quraish.

To carry this out, he thought the season of hajj (pilgrimage) was the appropriate time, for the Arabs greatly respected holy months, including that of hajj.

When the hajj season arrived, the Messenger (s.a.w.), accompanied by 15000 of his followers, set out for Mecca. From a place called Dhul-Halifah, he and his followers raised their voices in a special recitation for pilgrims, "Here I am, my Lord, here I am. Praise and grace and the worlds are Yours. No partner is set with You...".

Any passer-by would have understood that the Prophet came along only to perform hajj and not to fight. Swords were kept in their scabbards and prior to his departure for Mecca, he had made it clear to the other Arabs, other than the Quraish, that he would go to perform hajj and called on them to follow suit.

It was evident that he wanted the Arabs to know of his peaceful intention, otherwise, there was no point in going out in broad daylight and calling other Arabs to join him in the march to Mecca, particularly when they were among his enemies. It was a bid, made by the Messenger, to convince public opinion, if the Quraish blocked his way to visit the Holy House of Allah. This is why he informed the Arabs of his march towards Mecca.

Fearing it was a scheme made by the Messenger (s.a.w.) merely to enter Mecca, the Quraish mobilized a great army, led by Khalid bin al-Walid, to stop his way. The army covered along distance going towards Mecca to confront the Muslims, but even such extraordinary preparations to challenge them, did not discourage the Messenger. He decided to keep to his peaceful plan. He, consequently, turned off the main road and took a coarse one that led to the southern part of Mecca at a place called Hudaibiyyah.

When Khalid bin al-Walid heard of the Messenger's diversion, he rapidly retreated to Mecca with fear and uncertainty hanging over the army.(77) He entered Mecca with the purpose of keeping the Muslims out. The two armies faced each other, with the Quraish avoiding to engage the Muslims in a new battle, but refusing to allow them to enter the city any cost.

After only a few days passed, the Quraish sent a delegation to hold talks with the Messenger (s.a.w.) to know specifically his real intention. The delegation became convinced, shortly after the talks started, that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and the Muslims came only to perform hajj.

But when the delegation returned and informed the Quraish of their impression, they were accused of being cowards and sympathizers with the Muslims.

Another delegation then was sent. This time it was headed by the leader of the Abyssinians. The Quraish plan was to pit him against the Messenger (s.a.w.) if the talks failed so that he would side with them.

No sooner had the Messenger (s.a.w.) heard of the advent of the Abyssinian leader, then he proceeded with the ritual offerings where animals are brought in the valley to be slaughtered during the hajj. When the leader of the Abyssinians saw garlands hanging from the animal necks - it was an Arab tradition to put garlands around the necks of the offerings - and that the Muslims were arrayed in hajj robes, dutifully remembering the Lord, he went back without meeting the Messenger out of awe and respect.

On his return, he addressed the Quraish in the following words, "By Allah, we will never ally ourselves with you in preventing people from visiting the House of Allah who have come to glorify it, and pay due respects"(78) He then advised them to permit the Messenger (s.a.w.) and his followers to perform their hajj. If not, he warned them that he would fight them.

For the same purpose, the Quraish then sent Urwah bin Mas'ud al-Thaqafi, whom the Messenger (s.a.w.) told he had not come to wage a war against them but to visit the House of Allah. Urwah noticed how the Muslims dearly loved the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and how eagerly they obeyed him.

When he returned, he explained what he saw:

"O people! I waited on the kings and visited Qaisar (Caesar), Kusra (Chosroes) and al-Najashi. By Allah I have never seen people extol their King as greatly as the followers of Muhammad do. If he orders them they hurry to obey him. If he does his ablutions, they virtually fight one another to get some of the water he used. If they talk, they only talk with low voices in his presence. They do not look him sharply in the eye out of respect and awe. He has offered you a reasonable proposal, so accept it..."(79)

The Messenger (s.a.w.) then sent, an envoy whose name was Kharrash al-Khiza'i. But, the Quraish hamstrung his camel and wanted to kill him if the Abyssinian leader had not interfered and saved him.

Seeing their unmanly reaction to his envoy, the Messenger (s.a.w.) sent Uthman bin Affan, who entered Mecca under the protection of his cousin Ibban bin Sa'id bin al-As. He assured the Quraish that the Messenger (s.a.w.) had come only to perform the hajj. But the Quraish showed unlimited hastiness, for they imprisoned Uthman for three days during which time it was rumored he was put to death. The Messenger (s.a.w.) the decided to call upon his followers to make a covenant with him to fight the Quraish. They responded positively, vied with each other to swear their allegiance, put on their military outfits and prepared themselves for war. This was called the pledge of al-Ridwan (mercy) (80), the participants of which were praised by Allah in the Holy Book of the Qur'an:

"Certainly Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility on them and rewarded them with a near victory."

Holy Qur'an (48:18)

The Quraish feared grave consequences when they heard of the pledge between the Messenger (s.a.w.) and his followers. The bravery of the Muslims was not a secret to them, and the Quraish were acquainted with the steadfastness during the wars they had fought with them.

Seeking a peaceful solution to the matter, the Quraish sent a delegation headed by Suhail bin Amru. A long dialogue ensued between the Messenger (s.a.w.) and Suhail at the 2nd of which an agreement was arrived at to make a peaceful treaty between the Muslims and the infidels in Mecca.

The Messenger (s.a.w.) ordered Ali(a.s.) to write down the text of the agreement between the two sides. He dictated to him the following:

"Write in the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful," said the Messenger (s.a.w.).

Suhail, the representative of Quraish, protested at that, and said: "stop! I do not know the Compassionate, the Merciful!

Write, in Your Name, our Lord."

"Write in Your Name, our Lord", the Messenger (s.a.w.) told Ali (a.s.). Then he said, "Write this is what Muhammad the Messenger of Allah had agreed upon with Suhail bin Amru".

"Stop" said Suhail. "Had I witnessed that you are the Messenger of Allah I would not have fought you. So, write only your name and your fathers".

"Write", the Messenger (s.a.w.) said, "This is on which Muhammad bin Abdullah made peace with..." and dictated the articles of the agreement, which stated that:(81)

  1. The agreement is essentially a truce between the two parties for a period of 10 years.

  2. Whoever embraces Islam and joins the Messenger (s.a.w.) without the consent of the Quraish is returned to the Quraish by the Messenger (s.a.w.). But whoever renounces Islam, among the followers of Muhammad (s.a.w.), and rejoins the Quraish, can remain there without any molestation.

  3. Any Arab tribe that tends to ally with Muhammad (s.a.w.) can freely do so and they are similarly free to ally with the Quraish.

  4. Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his followers have to return to the place from where they came. But, next year, during the season of hajj, they can visit the Holy House of Allah on condition that they stay only three days in Mecca with sheathed swords.

On behalf of the Muslims, the Messenger (s.a.w.) signed the agreement while Suhail bin Amru signed it on behalf of the Quraish. Shortly afterwards, the tribe of Khuza'ah allied themselves with the Messenger (s.a.w.) and the tribe of Bani Bakr allied themselves with the Quraish.

Many Muslims protested at the conclusion of the agreement. Among the protestors was Umar bin al-Khattab, for what, he thought, the toleration and resilience on the part of the Messenger (s.a.w.). Not grasping the hidden meaning of the agreement was the cause of the protests. The protestors found fault with the agreement till the revelation of the Qura'nic Surah of al-Fath (the victory) which after its signing disclosed the philosophy of the agreement. It was a sweeping victory for the Muslims and their Message.

So great was the positive effects of the agreement on the historical movement of Islam that it opened closed doors for the Muslims to convey their da'wah to non-Quraishi Arabs, building and solidifying their state and strengthening their nascent community against the pressures being exerted by the Quraish on the Muslims, including their wars.

The Divine da'wah, began to win over the public support of the Arabs after the signing of the agreement. The faithful took the liberty of contacting the Arabs in their own house to convey Islam to them. Another advantageous outcome of the agreement was that the Muslims, now turned their attention to the Jews with whom they were engaged for 15 days after the return of the Messenger (s.a.w.) from Hudaibiyyah.

These are some of the fruits of Hudaibiyyah Pact which was a significant turning point in the movement of the da'wah.

THE BATTLE OF KHAIBAR

As we noted before, the Jews in Madinah were cooperating with the hypocrites and the polytheists against the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), his companions and his Islamic da'wah (call). Indeed the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) had to fight them three times in the places called Banu Nadhir, Banu Quraidah and Banu Quwainiqa' in order to frustrates their conspiracies.

The Jews had also incited the polytheists to attack Madinah and fight the Muslims in the battle of Khandaq or Ahzab in the fifth year of hijra.

Therefore on 7 A.H., in the month of Rajab, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), in order to rid Islam and Muslims of their evil plots and spying, decided to attack their six fortress cities in which they had assembled more than 20,000 fighters.

The Muslims forces took the outlying forts with ease, before laying siege to Fort Qamus, the impregnable Jewish stronghold, which was manned by their renowned champions.

Incidentally, Imam Ali, because of having sore eyes was left behind in Madinah.

During the siege, daily, a companion of the Prophet used to lead the attacks on the fort without achieving anything.

One day, the Prophet summoned Abu Bakr and gave him the standard of Islam with instructions to attack the fort. The latter and men under him suffered defeat and fled back to the Muslim camp, with Abu Bakr vigorously denouncing the people under him while they were just as vigorously blaming him for the failure. The next day, Umar ibn Khatab was given the standard, but he too, soon fled the battle scene accusing his followers of cowardice while they in turn were calling him coward. Then the Prophet (s.a.w.) uttered those famous words:

"Tomorrow, I will entrust this standard to a man who is an intrepid attacker and who never flees. Who loves Allah and His Messenger and (in turn) is loved by Allah and the Messenger. Allah, the Glorious will deliver Khaibar at his hand."(82)

All the companions wished to be the man that the Prophet described and spent the night hoping to have that honour.

The next day, to their surprise the Prophet asked:

"Where is Ali bin Abi Talib?" He was told that he had sore eyes.

"Show him to me and you will show a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and whom Allah and His Messenger love. He takes things up in the right way and he will not flee." replied the Prophet.

Then Imam Ali came from Madinah, and the Prophet applied his saliva into the eyes of his beloved cousin and cured him with Allah's permission.

"Take this standard and go forth with it till Allah grants victory to the Muslims through you."(83)

Bukhari, the Hadith compiler, also narrates the events, by saying:

"The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said at Khaibar: 'The next day I shall give the standard to a man through whom Allah will bring victory.' The companions spent the night asking each other: Who is this man whom the Holy Prophet meant? They came in the morning to the Messenger and every one of them was hoping that he would be the man of the standard. 'Where is Ali bin Abi Talib?' the Prophet asked. 'He is suffering from inflammation of the eyes,' they said. The Prophet sent for him. When Ali was brought to the Prophet he treated Ali's eyes with his blessed saliva and prayed for him. Ali's eyes cured instantly as if they had not been sore. On receiving the standard from the Prophet, Ali asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, shall I fight them until they become Muslims like us?' The Messenger said: 'Go on, until you reach their fortress. Invite them to Islam and inform them of their duty towards Allah and Islam. By Allah, if He guides one single soul through you to the right way, it would be better for you than to own a huge treasure.'"(84)

Then the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali set out with the standard until he reached the fortress. There, Marhab the leading Jewish warrior was rather surprised at the courage of the young Muslim standard-bearer, who unlike his predecessors of the past few days, was not showing any sing of nervousness, and seemed intent to challenge the Jewish champions to combat. Marhab, dad in heavy armour, at last charged out from the fort on his steed to test his skills with the new-comer. The dialogue which ensued between the two combatants will seem out of context here.

In short, after telling the Jewish warrior that his mother had named him 'Haider' (lion), Imam Ali exchanged blows with Marhab, and soon dispatched his wretched soul to hell, with one stroke of his famous sword 'Dhulfiqar', which cut man and his horse in two.

The Jewish force, seeing their champion fell rushed back to the fort and bolted its strong doors in face of the Muslim army. However, Imam Ali marched forth right up to the forth, and with a jerk of his strong hand tore down the gate from its binges, and fleeing it across the trench to be used as a bridge for the rejuvenated Muslim army. Thus, by the Grace of Allah, Khaibar was conquered by the Muslims, ending once and for all, Jewish power and intrigues in Arabia.

NEW HORIZONS

Shortly after its birth in Mecca, the Islamic Message began to take on its human and international identity.

It is a Message that provides for man all the opportunities for growth and prosperity. It balances all aspects of man such a delicate way that none receives attention at the expense of another one. Success cannot be achieved without the recognition, on the part of Islam, of man as an entity possessing various powers and demands. Maybe the most expressive Qur'anic text concerning the human quality of Islam is the following verse:

"Then set up your face upright for religion in the right state- the nature made by Allah in which He has made them men; there is not altering of Allah's creation; that is the right religion, but most people do not know-."

Holy Qur'an (30:30)

Islam, the faith of human nature, does not try to divert nor does it ignore this nature. On the contrary, it acknowledges its existence, and its demands.

Apart from Islam's declaration of its human identity, it has a pronounced international dimension as well. The verses, which were revealed at Mecca point out this quality clearly and strongly.

"And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds."

Holy Qur'an (21:107)

"And We have not sent you but to all the people as a bearer of good news and as a warner..."

Holy Qur'an (34:28)

The address 'O people' occurs often in the Meccan verses.

From the outset, the march of Islam, embodied its world quality. The vanguard in the calling to Islam was an entity that transcended geographical, national, and tribal barriers.

Among the callers to Islam were both the wealthy and the destitute, the whites and the blacks, the Arab and the non Arabs. There were Hamzah bin Abdul-Muttalib, Ammar, Bilal, the Abyssinian, Suhaib, the Roman, Mus'ab bin Umair, and so on.

After the blessed migration, Islam expressed its international quality in many ways, during the first chance that offered itself. Following the freezing of the struggle between the Muslims and the polytheists of the Quraish in accordance with the Pact of Hudaibiyyah, contacts were initiated with the Arabs outside the Quraish and the leaders of the neighbouring states.

If on hand, the Messenger (s.a.w.) sent men bearing the Message to the neighbourhoods of Arabs and Arab tribes, calling them to the new faith, on the other, did not forget dispatching messengers to the kings and leaders of the world at that time extolling them to enter Islam.

And so he sent letters to Caesar, the Roman emperor, Chosroes, the Persian emperor, al-Muqawqis, the Egyptian ruler, al-Najashi, the Abyssinian king, al-Harith al-Ghassani, king of Damascus, al-Harith al-Himyari, king of San'a of Yemen, the kings of Oman, Bahrain, al-Yamama and other leaders.

The responses from the various rulers were as follows:

Caesar, the Roman emperor, put the matter to Roman leaders for consideration, but they flatly and decisively refused the offer. Caesar agreed with them.

Chosroes, the Persian emperor, tore the letter of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) into pieces. He wrote to his governor in Yemen, named Bathan, to dispatch a group of men to capture the Messenger (s.a.w.) and then send him to him. Bathan did not hesitate to carry out the order. He sent two men from among his courtiers. When they meet the Messenger (s.a.w.) he detested their unmanliness.

"Who ordered you to do so?", he inquired of them.

"Our Lord," they said, referring to Chosroes.

"Tell your companion," the Messenger (s.a.w.) said in reference to Bathan, "that my Lord has killed your lord this night".

They returned and told Bathan about their mission and what the Messenger (s.a.w.) had said to them. No sooner had they arrived than word came that Chosroes had died. At that, Bathan and his Persian followers in Yeman submitted to Islam.(85)

Al-Najashi, the king of Abyssiniah, on the other hand, accepted Islam and put the letter of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) in front of him, descended from his throne and sat on the ground in honour of the Holy Messenger (s.a.w.). Then he wrote a letter to him announcing his conversion to Islam and his faith in the Message of Allah.

As for the chief of the Copts, he valued the letter of the Prophet highly and kept it. He treated the envoy of the Prophet (s.a.w.) most generously and sent a soft-worded letter to the Apostle (s.a.w.) along with two slave girls, one of whom, Mariyah whom was taken as his wife, a garment and a mule. The Prophet (s.a.w.)accepted his present.

Al-Harith al-Ghassani flung the letter of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in great fury. He decided to use force against the Messenger (s.a.w.) and approached Caesar about joining hands in fighting him but Caesar rebuffed him.

The King of Yamamah wrote to the Prophet (s.a.w.) suggesting that he would enter Islam only if the Prophet (s.a.w.) appointed him as king. The Prophet (s.a.w.) cursed him.

The King of Bahrain embraced Islam as soon as he received his letter from the Prophet (s.a.w.). Similarly, al-Harith al-Himyari, the king of San'a', also became a Muslim.

And so, the leaders and kings at the time adopted different positions towards the Prophet's call on them to accept Islam. Some of them were roughshod in their response whilst others were receptive and polite.(86)

By writing to the leaders of his time, the Prophet (s.a.w.) had adopted a very practical way in spreading the Islamic call. The Prophet (s.a.w.), as a matter of course, based his attitudes towards these leaders in proportion to their responses. He also laid his future military plans in this context.