Anecdotes from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad
by Mumtaz Ahmad Faruqui
Says the Holy Quran:
“Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And Allah is able to assist them…. Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say, Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters and churches, and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered would have been pulled down. And surely Allah will help him who helps Him.” (The Holy Quran, 22:39, 40)
1. Barely two years had passed since the Flight when a force of one thousand fully-armed Meccans came to attack and annihilate the Muslims. The Muslims could only muster about three hundred and thirteen persons, and these included some boys and old men. Only two persons were on horseback, and there were only seventy camels to serve the rest. Most of the Muslims were poorly armed and it was only their faith, spirit and determination which gave them the valour to face a force of fully armed horsemen, more than three times their number. In a cottage near the battlefield of Badr, the Holy Prophet was lying prostrate before Allah, praying for Divine help and protection. His supplication was:
“My Lord, if Thou alloweth this band of the faithful to be killed this day, then nobody would be left in this land to worship Thee truly. O Living and All-Powerful Allah, I beseech Thee for Thy help and protection.”
Then they saw the Holy Prophet come out of the cottage, a calm smile evident upon his countenance. He predicted the defeat of the enemy; and so it came to pass. The enemy lost seventy of their top warriors and fled from the field, leaving much spoils of war and prisoners in the hands of the Muslims. Only fourteen Muslims lost their lives.
2. This unexpected defeat rankled in the hearts of the infidels, so they made war preparations again in earnest. By the time another year had passed, they mustered a force of three thousand fully armed horsemen and set out for Medina. The Holy Prophet took counsel with his followers and it was finally decided to give battle to the enemy outside the town. The Muslim force consisted of one thousand persons as they left the town of Medina, but before long Abdullah bin Ubayy, who was a hypocrite, and in league with the Jews of Medina, deserted with three hundred of his followers. So, it was only seven hundred Muslims who had to face a force of three thousand Meccans at a place called Uhud. The battle began and the spirited onslaught of the Muslims upset the ranks of the enemy. At this juncture, a band of archers whom the Holy Prophet had posted to guard the rear of his army, thinking that the enemy had been repulsed, left their posts to partake of the spoils. This action proved disastrous because an enemy general by the name of Khalid bin Walid1 took advantage of the situation and made a cavalry charge from the rear. This upset the Muslim ranks and created much confusion. In this confusion, the Holy Prophet was wounded in the face and he fell into a hollow in the ground. The enemy rushed from all sides to slay him. The manner in which the handful of Muslims who surrounded the Prophet fought and defended him, forms a golden chapter in the history of Islam. Finally, the enemy attack was beaten back. They called it a day, hoping to fight another time. About seventy Muslims met martyrdom in this battle.
At one time during the battle, a rumour had spread that the Holy Prophet had also been killed. Some people who had fled from the field carried the sad news to Medina. Upon learning this, many women left for the battlefield to verify if this was true. A story is told of a Muslim lady of Medina who repaired in haste for the site of the battle at Uhud, and finally met a Muslim soldier coming from that direction. She asked him about the welfare of the Prophet. He instead told her that her husband had been killed. She recited:
“To Allah we belong and to Him do we return.”
She again asked about the Prophet. The soldier then informed her about the death of her brother and also of her father. She again recited the same verse and asked about the Prophet in particular, whereupon the man thanked Allah, and said that the Prophet was only slightly wounded and was on his way home. On hearing this, she heaved a sigh of relief and exclaimed:
“All calamities, after this, seem light to me.”
All honour be to such true and valiant daughters of Islam.
3. The Holy Prophet had to fight many skirmishes with his enemies every now and then, because they kept on harassing the Muslims and looting their goods and cattle. However, in the fifth year after the Flight, the Meccans assembled the biggest army of over ten thousand fully armed and equipped warriors and decided to wipe out the Muslims that time. The Holy Prophet, on hearing this alarming news, took counsel of the faithful and, on the suggestion of Salman Farsi, a Muslim convert from Persia, it was decided to dig a trench, fifteen feet wide and fifteen feet deep, to protect the exposed side of the town. It was decided to fight the enemy from within the entrenched area, using the town as a fort. The Holy Prophet distributed the labour in parties of ten men each, himself participating as an ordinary labourer. This shows the dignity which the Holy Prophet accorded to honest labour. In the course of excavation, they found a hard stone which resisted all efforts of breaking it. The Holy Prophet then took a pick-axe and struck hard at the stone. A spark of fire was emitted due to friction. The Holy Prophet raised a cry of Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great) and said that he saw in the flash a vision in which the keys of the palace of the Syrian king were awarded to him. There followed a second stroke of the pick-axe when the stone was split giving out another spark of light. Once more the cry of Allah-o-Akbar was raised. This time the Holy Prophet saw in a vision that the Persian kingdom was handed over to him. At the third stroke, the stone broke into pieces, and this time the possession of the kingdom of Yemen was promised to the Holy Prophet in a vision. This was a wonderful phenomenon to say the least, especially as the Muslims were hard pressed and fighting for their lives. This prediction about the future conquests of the Muslims, as they truly came about, could only originate from the All-Knowing God.
The enemy surrounded the town of Medina from all sides and a grim fight went on day and night. The food supply ran short and one day a Muslim warrior raised his shirt and showed the Holy Prophet the stone that he had tied on his belly to allay the severity of hunger. The Holy Prophet smiled and raised his own shirt showing the two stones tied on his belly. It was the twenty-seventh night of the siege when a violent windstorm, blowing sand and gravel, struck the area where the enemy camp was located. The tents and their contents were blown away, and the fires were extinguished (this was considered an ill omen by the Arabs who were a highly superstitious people in those days). Chaos and confusion followed, and tribe after tribe started to slink away in the darkness. When morning dawned, the camp was entirely deserted. Thus, again Allah saved the cause of Islam. This battle was called the Battle of Ahzab or the Confederates.
- Khalid bin Walid later on accepted Islam and repented of his former opposition to Islam and became the famous commander of the Muslim forces which conquered Syria some years later. ↩