Valour of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (pbuh)
The Light (UK), June 2000 Issue (pp. 1–2)
One of the qualities of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), which is sometimes overlooked, is his valour. There are two situations in which one needs to show courage. The first: when one is facing difficulties and there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. What does one do at such a time? Give up? If at such a time one is offered a way out of one’s difficulties, what action should one take? Should one continue on the course which seems to be leading nowhere, but stand firm on one’s principles, or should one be realistic? It takes superhuman courage to stick to one’s principles at such a time. The second: when one is physically attacked by superior forces bent upon annihilation. What does one do? Surrender? Face the facts? Again, it takes a man of supreme faith and superhuman courage to rise to such a challenge.
Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) displayed courage when faced by temptation and when faced with physical danger. During his time at Makkah, Abu Talib, his uncle, who was also his foster father, tried to provide him with protection. There came a time when even he found the pressure to rein in the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) activities unbearable and called the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and asked him to stop preaching Islam. In reply the Holy Prophet said:
“I swear by Allah that even if the unbelievers place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand, I shall not stop preaching the Word of Allah.”
To his great credit, Abu Talib replied that in that case he will protect the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with his life. This is an example of faith in the correctness of one’s beliefs and commitment. This shows that those who believe that in the final analysis it is Allah who protects them, do not despair when temporal protection is removed and it appears that they are defenceless.
This courage inspired the companions (rta) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to behave in the same way. For example, Hazrat Khabab (rta) was a slave. He embraced Islam when there were only six or seven Muslims in the whole world. When his master discovered that Hazrat Khabab (rta) had embraced Islam, he began on a campaign of torture. One day he took some coal and lit it, Hazrat Khabab (rta) was then laid on the burning coal and a man stood on his chest to make sure that Hazrat Khabab (rta) could not raise his body to alleviate the pain.
Hazrat Bilal (rta) was laid out on the burning sand at mid-day and a burning rock placed on his chest. In reply to Umiyyah about God, Hazrat Bilal (rta) would cry:
“Ahd, Ahd.” (One, there is only One).
Once a rope was tied round his neck and people were told to drag him round the streets until he repented. Yet, with every stroke of the lash, with skin ripped off his body Hazrat Bilal (rta) cried:
Hazrat Samiya (rta) and Hazrat Yasir (rta) were tortured to death. Hazrat Suhaib (rta) was tortured until he lost his mind. When torture would stop, Muslims would be told that the respite was not due to any mercy felt by their tormentors but because the tormentors were exhausted.
When torture of individuals failed to hinder the spread of Islam, the Makkans drew up a treaty which banned any dealings with the clan of Bani Hashim. Under this treaty all other clans were forbidden to enter into any relationship with a member of Bani Hashim, buy anything from them or sell them anything. This included foodstuffs. Abu Talib retreated to a mountain which the clan owned together with his clansmen. Remember, not all of Bani Hashim were Muslims. This was a means of putting pressure on the whole clan to either perish or to expel the Muslims from among them. This lasted for three years during which Bani Hashim were reduced to eating leaves to survive. However, Abu Talib did not expel Muslims from his clan. Not a single Muslim recanted his faith during this time. This trial lasted not for weeks or months but for three long years. This shows, not just the valour of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but also his qualities of leadership. He had inspired such faith and courage in the people who embraced Islam that they preferred to die rather than give up their faith.
Taif is a small town near Makkah. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) decided to take his message to its people and together with Hazrat Zaid (rta) went to Taif. There they were set upon by a mob who stoned them. Hazrat Zaid (rta) covered the body of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to provide what protection he could. The two of them escaped Taif, barely with their lives. Bleeding and exhausted the two of them hid in a vineyard outside Taif. At this point Hazrat Zaid (rta) requested the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to pray to Allah to punish the people of Taif. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) raised his hands and prayed for forgiveness of his tormentors instead. Sir William Muir, an ardent critic of Islam, is amazed by the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) faith in his mission, and in Allah’s help, which caused him to literally walk into the lion’s den unarmed.
This shows that Muslims were inspired by the message that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) had brought, not by desire for plunder. It also shows the almost superhuman valour and courage of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who, though unable to defend himself, continued to propagate the word of Allah.
The first pitched battle between the Muslims and their opponents took place at Badr, just outside Medina. Three hundred and thirteen Muslims, men and boys, marched out to meet one thousand men of Makkah. The Makkan army also included one hundred cavalry. Hazrat Hazifa (rta) and Hazrat Huseel (rta) were on their way when they were stopped by the Makkans. The Makkans agreed to release them if the two promised not to join the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in the battle. In order to secure their release, they agreed. When they were brought to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), they told him the story of their detention and promise. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied that a promise is a promise, we shall seek help only from Allah. At a time when the addition of every single man to his army was crucial, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) insisted that his companions walk along the path of truth and honesty. He made no concession to the critical situation, to the difficulties being faced, to the fact that the promise may have been extracted under duress. How true it is that a man’s character is judged by how he behaves when faced with danger and difficulty.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) arranged his small army and he then fell down in prayer before Allah:
“My Lord, I plead with thee to fulfil thy promise, for if these few are slaughtered today, there shall not remain any to extol thy glory.”
In reply Allah said:
“The army shall be defeated and they shall turn their backs.”
It was an astonishing scene. As the armies advanced, the father was confronted by the son. Hazrat Abu Bakr (rta) faced his son. Hazrat Hazifa (rta) drew up against his father. At the end of the battle the prisoners included Aqil, Hazrat Ali’s (rta) brother and Abu Al-Aaas, the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) son-in-law.
The prisoners were divided up amongst the Muslims and a duty was placed on every Muslim to look after and treat his prisoners well. Most Muslims were poor but they treated their prisoners better than they treated their own families. There were instances where the prisoners would be given a proper meal but the Muslim guarding them, and his family, would have only a few dates to eat. It takes a man with great courage to behave in this way. It had not been long past when these very people were torturing Muslims and killing them. Only a few years previously, these men and their compatriots had driven the whole of Bani Hashim to starvation in an attempt to destroy Islam. It had been only a short while before, that they had hatched together a plot to murder the Holy Prophet in his bed. Yet, this extraordinary man, the Prophet of Islam, gave strict instructions that all prisoners were to be well treated.
The next battle took place at Uhud which is a hill top some two miles from Medina. Some seven hundred Muslims faced an army of three and a half thousand. At first the Muslims routed the enemy. However, a contingent placed to protect the rear left its place thinking the battle was over. One of the Makkan generals saw this and attacked the Muslims with cavalry from the rear. This led to total confusion and panic in the Muslim army and a rumor spread that the Holy Prophet had been martyred. Hearing this news most Muslims lost heart; even Hazrat Umar (rta) threw down his sword. At one stage only eleven Muslims were left with the Holy Prophet. Yet against this onslaught by over three thousand men the Holy Prophet stood his ground. The army was rallied and went up the mountain. When the Makkans tried to attack again, they were met with hails of arrows and stones and eventually retreated. When news reached Medina, Muslims ran out to the field looking for the Prophet (pbuh). A lady from among the Ansar (Helpers) asked after the Prophet (pbuh) but was told her father had been martyred. She asked after the Prophet (pbuh) again, to be told her brother was killed. She asked after the Prophet (pbuh) again, to be told her husband too was dead. Eventually, when she discovered that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was alive, she cried:
“Now I can bear any tribulation.”
Some years later, there was the battle of Hunain, when Muslims boasted that they were so numerous and well armed that no one could defeat them. Yet, when the battle started they began to flee, except for one man, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The arrows rained down yet the Holy Prophet stood up on his ride, turned to the right and shouted:
“O Ansar, where are you?”
He then turned to the left and shouted:
“O Ansar, where are you?”
He cried out:
“I am the son of Abdul Muttalib, I am the Prophet of Allah and I am not a fabricator.”
Then he asked ibn Abbas to call out to the Ansar (The Helpers):
“O Ansar, where are you?”
Then he called out:
“O you who took the pledge under the tree, where are you?”
On seeing that the Holy Prophet did not retreat an inch from his place, the Muslim army stopped retreating and turned round and fell upon the enemy and routed them.
Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) had the courage to bear all trials and tribulations at the time of peace when the aim was to cause him distress. He also had the courage and valour to stand up and fight when tyranny approached such magnitude, that attempts were made to annihilate Muslims. Yet through all of this he forgave his enemies whenever he had the power to exact retribution. This is what real courage and valour is. And this why Allah has blessed the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).