Battle of Uhud| غزوة أحد
The Seerah of: Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
The Mount of Uhud
Mount Uhud is a mountain in north of Medina. It is 1,077 m (3,533 ft) high. It was the site of the second battle between Muslim and Meccan forces. The Battle of Uhud was fought on 19 March, 625, between a force from the small Muslim community of Medina, in what is now north-western Arabia, and a force from Mecca.
The Battle of Uhud
The Battle of Uhud (Arabic: غزوة أحد Ġazwat ‘Uhud) was fought on March 19, 625 (3 Shawwal 3 AH in the Islamic calendar) at the valley located in front of Mount Uhud, in what is now northwestern Arabia. It occurred between a force from the Muslim community of Medina led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca, the town from which many of the Muslims had previously emigrated. The Battle of Uhud was the second military encounter between the Meccans and the Muslims, preceded by the Battle of Badr in 624, where a small Muslim army had defeated a larger Meccan army.
Marching out from Mecca towards Medina on March 11, 625 AD, the Meccans desired to avenge their losses at Badr and strike back at Muhammad and his followers. The Muslims readied for war soon afterwards and the two armies fought on the slopes and plains of Mount ‘Uhud.
Whilst outnumbered, the Muslims gained the early initiative and forced the Meccan lines back, thus leaving much of the Meccan camp unprotected. When the battle looked to be only one step away from a decisive Muslim victory, a serious mistake was committed by a part of the Muslim army, which altered the outcome of the battle.
A breach of Muhammad’s orders by the Muslim archers, who left their assigned posts to despoil the Meccan camp, allowed a surprise attack from the Meccan cavalry, led by Meccan war veteran Khalid ibn al-Walid, which brought chaos to the Muslim ranks. Many Muslims were killed, and even Muhammad himself was badly injured. The Muslims had to withdraw up the slopes of ‘Uhud. The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims further, but marched back to Mecca declaring victory.
For the Muslims, the battle was a significant setback: although they had been close to routing the Meccans a second time, their breach of Muhammad’s orders in favor of collecting Meccan spoils reaped severe consequences. The two armies would meet again in 627 AD at the Battle of the Trench.
Muhammad had preached the religion of Islam in Mecca from 613 to 622. He had attracted a small community of followers, but also drew staunch opposition from the rest of the Quraysh, the clan that ruled Mecca and to which he belonged. The Muslims fled Mecca in 622 after years of persecution and established themselves at Medina (formerly known as Yathrib, Medina means City.
The Quraysh had seized the properties and families of Muslims in Mecca and dispatched caravans, containing seized Muslim property to Damascus which the Muslims intercepted and raided. The Meccans sent out a small army to punish the Muslims and stop their raiding. At the Battle of Badr in 624, a small Muslim force defeated the much larger Meccan army.
Many Muslims considered this unexpected victory a proof that they had been favored by God and believed they were assured such victories in the future. A number of the leading tribesmen of Quraysh had been killed at Badr and so leadership passed to Abu Sufyan. He forbade the mourning of the losses at Badr, for he was eager to exact revenge upon Muhammad, vowing to conduct a retaliatory raid on the city of Medina.
Several months later, Abu Sufyan accompanied a party of 200 men to the city, obtaining temporary residence with the chief of the Jewish tribe Banu Nadir and learning more of the current situation in Medina. He and his party then left Medina, burning down two houses and laying waste to some fields in fulfillment of his vow. Further skirmishes between the Meccans and the Muslims would occur thereafter.
Meccan force sets out
The following year on March 11, 625, with Abu Sufyan at the helm, the Meccans—anxious to avenge their defeat at Badr—raised another force numbering 3,000 and set out for the Muslim base in Medina. Rather than attacking Medina itself, which was populated by numerous strongholds that would have required long sieges to overcome, they camped on the pastures north of the city, hoping that the Muslims would come out to meet them. According to the early Muslim historian Ibn Ishaq, a number of Meccan women are said to have accompanied Abu Sufyan’s army to provide vocal support, including Hind bint Utbah, his wife.
A scout alerted Muhammad of the Meccan army’s presence and numbers late on Thursday March 21. The next morning, a Muslim conference of war convened, and there was dispute over how best to repel the Meccans. Muhammad and many of the senior figures suggested that it would be safer to fight within Medina and take advantage of its heavily fortified strongholds. Younger Muslims argued that the Meccans were destroying their crops, and that huddling in the strongholds would destroy Muslim prestige. Muhammad eventually conceded to the wishes of the latter, and readied the Muslim force for battle.
Encounter at Uhud
A group of approximately 1,000 Muslim men set out on late Friday from Medina and managed to circle around the Meccan forces. Early the next morning, they took a position on the lower slopes of the hill of Uhud. Shortly before the battle commenced, ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy (the chief of the Khazraj tribe) and his followers withdrew their support for Muhammad and returned to Medina, with reports suggesting Ibn Ubayy’s discontent with the plan to march out from Medina to meet the Meccans. Ibn Ubayy and his followers would later receive censure in the Qur’an for this act.
What ye suffered on the day the two armies Met, was with the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers,-
And the Hypocrites also. These were told: “Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (The foe from your city).” They said: “Had we known how to fight, we should certainly have followed you.” They were that day nearer to Unbelief than to Faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts but Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal.
(They are) the ones that say, (of their brethren slain), while they themselves sit (at ease): “If only they had listened to us they would not have been slain.” Say: “Avert death from your own selves, if ye speak the truth.”
Qur’an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran), ayat 166-168
The Muslim force, now numbering around 700, was stationed on the slopes of Uhud, facing Medina with the rear being protected by the towering mount itself. Before the battle, Muhammad had assigned 50 archers on a nearby rocky hill at the West side of the Muslim camp. This was a strategic decision in order to shield the vulnerable flanks of the outnumbered Muslim army; the archers on the hill were to protect the left flank, while the right flank was to be protected by the Mount of Uhud situated on the east side of the Muslim camp.
Protecting the flanks of the Muslim army meant that the Meccan army would not be able to turn around the Muslim camp, and thus the Muslim army wouldn’t be surrounded or encircled by the Meccan cavalry, keeping in mind that the Meccan cavalry outnumbered the Muslim cavalry with a 50:1 ratio.
Muhammad ordered the Muslim archers to never under any circumstances leave their positions on the hill unless ordered to do so by him only, he made this order very clear by uttering these words to the archers, “If you saw us prevail and start to take spoils, do not come to assist us. And if you saw us get vanquished and birds eat from our heads, do not come to assist us.”
The Meccan army positioned itself facing the Muslim lines, with the main body led by Abu Sufyan, and the left and right flanks commanded by Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl and Khalid ibn al-Walid respectively. ‘Amr ibn al-‘As was named the commander of cavalry and his task was to coordinate attack between the cavalry wings.
The Meccans attacked with their initial charge led by the Medinan exile Abu ‘Amir. Thwarted by a shower of stones from the Muslims, Abu ‘Amir and his men were forced to retire and tend to the camps behind the Meccan lines. The Meccan standard-bearer, Talhah ibn Abi Talhah al-‘Abdari, advanced and challenged the enemy to a duel.
Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib), the young cousin of Muhammad, rushed forth and struck Talhah down in a single blow. Talhah’s brother, `Uthman, ran forward to pick up the fallen banner — the Meccan women willing him on with songs and the loud beating of timbrels.
Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib emerged from the Muslim ranks, bringing him to a similar fate as Talhah. It was their family that was responsible for the Meccan army’s standard-bearing, and thus one by one, Talhah’s brothers and sons went to retrieve the Meccan banner and fight unsuccessfully, until they all eventually perished.
Following the duels, general engagement between the two armies commenced. Meccan confidence quickly began to dissolve as the Muslims swept through their ranks. The Meccan army was pushed back, and repeated attempts by its cavalry to overrun the left Muslim flank were negated by the Muslim archers.
Enjoying the best of these early encounters, the Muslims pierced through the Meccan lines, with victory appearing certain. However, it was the detachment of the Muslim archers, disobeying Muhammad’s strict orders to remain stationary, that would shift the outcome of the battle, as they ran downhill to join in the advance and despoil the Meccan camp, leaving the flank vulnerable.
Grave of Hamza, Mount Uhud, Medina
At this critical juncture, the Meccan cavalry led by Khalid ibn al-Walid exploited this move and attacked the remaining minority of Muslim archers who refused to disobey Muhammad’s orders and were still positioned on the hill. From there, the Meccans were then able to target and overrun the Muslim flank and rear. Confusion ensued, and numerous Muslims were killed. Most notably was Hamza, who had been thrown down in a surprise attack by the javelin of the Ethiopian slave of Hind, Wahshi ibn Harb.
While the Meccan riposte strengthened, rumors circulated that Muhammad too had perished. It emerged, however, that Muhammad had only been wounded—due to missiles of stone which resulted in a gash on his forehead and lip. It is recorded that Ali ibn Abi Talib alone remained, fending off the assaults of Khaleed’s cavalrymen.
According to Ibn Atheer, “The Prophet became the object of the attack of various units of the army of Quraish from all sides. Ali attacked, in compliance with Muhammad’s orders, every unit that made an attack upon him and dispersed them or killed some of them, and this thing took place a number of times in Uhud.”
After fierce hand-to-hand combat, most of the Muslims managed to withdraw and regroup higher up on the slopes of Uhud. A small faction was cut off and tried to make its way back to Medina, though many of these were killed. The Meccans’ chief offensive arm, its cavalry, was unable to ascend the slopes of Uhud in pursuit of the Muslims, and so the fighting ceased.
Hind and her companions are said to have mutilated the Muslim corpses, cutting off their ears and noses and making the relics into anklets. Hind is reported to have cut open the corpse of Hamza, taking out his liver which she then attempted to eat. Abu Sufyan, after some brief verbal exchanges with Muhammad’s companion, Umar (Umar ibn al-Khattab), decided to return to Mecca without pressing his advantage.
The battle is generally believed by scholars to be a defeat for the Muslims, as they had incurred greater losses than the Meccans. Chase F. Robinson, writing in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, states the notion that “the Muslims suffered a disheartening defeat is clear enough.” Other scholars such as William Montgomery Watt disagree, noting that while the Muslims did not win, the Meccans had failed to achieve their strategic aim of destroying Muhammad and his followers; and that the Meccans’ untimely withdrawal indicated weakness on their part.
The battle is also noted for the emergence of the military leadership and tactical military genius of Khalid ibn al-Walid, who would later become the most famous of all Arab generals during the Islamic expansion era, in conquering the Sassanid Empire and Byzantine held Syria.
Muhammad and the Muslims buried the dead on the battlefield, returning home that evening. The Meccans retired for the evening at a place called Hamra al-Asad, a few miles away from Medina. The next morning, Muhammad sent out a small force to hurry the Meccan army on their way home. According to Watt, this was because Muhammad realized that a show of force was required to speed the Meccans away from Medinan territory. The Meccans, not wanting to be perceived as being chased away, remained nearby for a few days before leaving.
For the Muslims, the battle held a religious dimension as well as a military one. They had expected another victory like at Badr, which was considered a sign of God’s favor upon them. At Uhud, however, they had barely held off the invaders and had lost a great many men. A verse of the Qur’an revealed soon after the battle cited the Muslims’ disobedience and desire for loot as the cause for this setback:
”Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when ye with His permission Were about to annihilate your enemy,-until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the booty) which ye covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you but He forgave you: For Allah is full of grace to those who believe.”
—Qur’an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran), ayah 152
According to the Qur’an, then, the misfortunes at Uhud — largely the result of the rear guard abandoning their position in order to seek booty — were partly a punishment and partly a test for steadfastness. Firestone observes that such verses provided inspiration and hope to the Muslims, sacralizing future battles that they would experience. He adds that rather than demoralizing the Muslims, the battle seemed to reinforce the solidarity between them.
Abu Sufyan, whose position as leader was no longer undisputed, set about forging alliances with surrounding nomadic tribes in order to build up strength for another advance on Medina. The success of the Meccans’ rousing of tribes against Muhammad reaped disastrous consequences for him and the Muslims with two main losses: one was where a Muslim party had been invited by a chieftain of the Ma’unah tribe, who were then killed as they approached by the tribe of Sulaym; while the other was when the Muslims had sent out instructors to a tribe which stated it wanted to convert to Islam — the instructors had been led into an ambush by the guides of the would-be Muslim tribe, and were subsequently killed.
Soon thereafter, Muhammad became convinced that the Jewish tribe Banu Nadir harbored enmity towards him and were plotting to kill him. The Banu Nadir were expelled from Medina after a fifteen-day siege, with some relocating to the oasis of Khaybar and others to Syria. Abu Sufyan, along with the allied confederate tribes, would attack Medina in the Battle of the Trench, two years after the events at Uhud (in 627).
Most of the information available about the events is derived from the sira—maghazi traditions (biographical narratives and documentation of military campaigns) of the early centuries of Islam. The general sequence of the events gained consensus early on, as demonstrated in the text of Ibn Ishaq, an early biographer of Muhammad. Accounts of the battle are derived mainly from descendants of the participants.
Much of the basic narrative and chronology, according to Robinson, is reasonably authentic, although some of the more elaborate details — such as the exact scale of the Muslim defeat — may be doubtful or difficult to ascertain.
For the early Muslims, it was certain that there were verses of the Qur’an referring to this event, and Muslim exegetes identified areas echoing the battle or lessons of Uhud. According to Ibn Ishaq, the Qur’anic chapter (sura) āl-Imrān contains 60 verses, “in which there is a description of their battle, and blame for those who he rebuked.”
Other verses have also been connected to the battle by exegetes, such as 33:23. Robinson, citing the judgement that Uhud was a trial for the Muslim community, concludes that the “Uhud accounts both narrated history and taught enduring lessons, perhaps especially to those Muslims familiar with the first fitna.”
Battle of Uhud in warfare
Though strategically indecisive, the conduct of the battle was sufficient proof of the military awareness of the Arabs even before their campaigns in Persia and Syria. The basic assumption that Arabs were generally raiders and learned warfare from the Persians and Syrians is proved wrong here. Abu Sufyan tried to make full use of his cavalry by deploying them as two mobile wings. The infantry based centre provided the base upon which the cavalry would operate. He intended to pull the celebrated “Double Envelopment” maneuver. He deployed his forces in the same manner as a Persian or Byzantine general would have done.
Muhammad on the other hand showed his ability as a general by choosing the battlefield of Uhud. He decided according to the will of Muslims to fight in open country but he was aware of the superior mobility of the Meccans. He knew an encounter in open country would expose the infantry wings to envelopment, so to neutralize the Meccan mobility factor, he decided to hold high ground with Mount Uhud in their rear, which provided security from any attack from the rear.
Moreover as the front was of approximately of 800 to 900 yd (730 to 820 m) and on one flank he rested Mount Einein and on other flank were the defiles of Mount Uhud so in military language he refused both wings to the Meccan cavalry. The only approach from which they could be taken from the rear was protected by the deployment of archers. This battle is a specimen of how an infantry based entity should fight against a cavalry dominated arm. The comparison of this battle with the Battle of Guadalete fought by Tariq ibn Ziyad against the Visigothic Kingdom is indeed striking.
The battle of Uhud is the second of the two main battles featured in Moustapha Akkad’s 1976 film centering on the life of Muhammad, Mohammad, Messenger of God. The other battle featured is the battle of Badr. The battle of Uhud is also depicted in the 2004 animated film, Muhammad: The Last Prophet, directed by Richard Rich. The cave in Mount Uhud where Muhammad rested temporarily during the battle has also received recent media attention in the light of proposals by some Islamic scholars for it to be destroyed.
The Battle of Uhud
“Uhud is a mountain that loves us and is loved by us,”
Ibn Kathir: Al-Bidayah W’al Nihaayah
Translated by: Wa’il Abdul Mu’aal Shihab
Said the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In this hadith, according to a group of Muslim scholars, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) meant his family – not the mountain itself – for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to pass by it when returning from traveling. On the other hand, some scholars say that what is meant in the above hadith is the mountain of Uhud itself. The latter quote the following Qur’anic verse to support their opinion, others (rocks) which sink for fear of Allah. [Surat: Al-Baqarah,74]
Quraish made the raid of Uhud in Shawwal, 3 AH. Regarding the Battle of Uhud, Allah, Most High, has revealed the following Qur’anic verses:
”Remember that morning) thou didst leave thy household (early) to post the faithful at their stations for battle: and Allah hearth and knowth all things! Remember two of your parties mediated, cowardice; but Allah was their Protector, and in Allah should the faithful (ever) put their trust. Allah had helped at Badr, when ye were helpless: then fear Allah: thus may ye show your gratitude. Remember thou saidst to the faithful: ‘Is it not enough for you that Allah should help you with three thousand Angels (specially) sent down?’ Yea, if you remain firm, and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste, your Lord would help you with five thousand angels clearly marked… Allah Will not leave the believers in the state which ye are now, until He separates what is evil from what is good nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets ofthe Unseen.” [Al’-Imran: 121-119]
The Occasion of Uhud
The scholars of Siyrah said that when the survivors of the defeated Quraish at Badr returned to Makkah, they gathered to speak with Abu Sufyan. They said, “Muhammad has killed our men, so help us fight him so that we may avenge those we have lost.” In order to achieve their avowed goal, they agreed that everyone who had has a share in the caravan should put his profits towards the cost of a new army, which would be three times as big as the one at Badr.
In this context, Allah, Most High, has revealed in the Glorious Qur’an,
”The unbelievers spend their wealth to hinder (men) from the path of Allah, and so will they continue to spend; but in the end they will have (only) regrets and sighs; at length they will be overcome: and the unbelievers be gathered together to Hell,” (Al-Anfal: 36)
Among those who joined the new army was an Abyssinian slave called Wahshi, who was known for his accuracy with the spear. His master, Jubair Ibn Al-Mut’im, said to him, “Go with the army and if you kill Hamzah, the uncle of Muhammad, in revenge for my uncle’s death, I will set you free. “
When Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, heard about this she sent a message to Wahshi to say that she would clothe him in gold and silk if he would carry out his master’s wish, for she, too, wanted Hamzah dead because the latter had killed both her father and brother.
Quraish marched forth with the flower of their army, and their black troops, and their adherents from the tribe of Kinanah, and the people of Tuhamah, and women went with them to stir up their anger and prevent their running away. They went forward until they halted at ‘ Aynayn on a mount in the valley of Al-Sabkhah by the side of the valley opposite Madinah.
Muslims Prepare Themselves for Fighting
On the otther side, when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of ,Allah be upon him) heard about Quraish, and the Muslims had encamped, he said to them,
“By Allah, I have seen (in a vision) something that argues well. I saw cows, and I saw a dent in the blade of my sword, and I interpreted that to mean Madinah.”
Both Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated this on the authority of Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
‘’I saw in a dream that I moved a sword and its blade got broken, and that symbolized the casualties which the believers suffered on the day of Uhud. Then moved it again, and it became as perfect as it had been, and that symbolized the Conquest (of Makkah) which Allah helped us to achieve, and the union of all the believers. I (also) saw cows in the dream, and what Allah does is always beneficial. Those cows appeared to symbolize the faithful believers (who were martyred) on the day of Uhud.”
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gathered his Companions around him to discuss what they would do, he though it would be better to wait for the enemy inside the city rather than go out to meet them because it would be easier to defend Madinah from inside the city walls. But the young Muslims were eager to go out and face Quraish.
They said, “O Messenger of Allah, lead us out against our enemies, or else they will think we are too cowardly and too weak to fight them.” When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw that the majority were in favor of going out to meet Quraish, he decided to do so.
Meanwhile, the people had repented of their design, saying they thought they had persuaded the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) against his will, which they had no right to do so, so that when he went out to them they admitted that and said that if he wished to remain inside the city, they would not oppose him. Then, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) pointed out.
“It is not fitting that a Prophet who has put on his armor should lay it aside until he has fought.”
Therefore, he marched out with a thousand of his Companions, until when they reached Al-Shaut between Madinah and Uhud, ‘ Abdullah Ibn Ubai withdrew with a third of the men.
About those who withdrew with Ibn Ubai, Allah, Most High, says in the Glorious Qur’an;
‘’A (What ye suffered on the day the two armies met, was with the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers) and the hypocrites also. These, were told: ‘Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (the foe from your city). ’ They said: ‘Had we known there would be a fight, we should certainly have followed you. ’ They were that day nearer to unbelief than to faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts. But Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal.’’ [Al’-Imran: 167]
‘’My should ye be divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah hath cast them off for their (evil) deeds.’’ (An-Nisa’: 88)
Al-Bukhari narrated on the authority of Zaid Ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, “When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set out for (the battle of) Uhud, some of those who had gone out with him returned. The Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were divided into two groups: One group said, ‘We will fight them (i.e., the enemy),’ and the other group said, ‘We will not fight them.’ So, there came the Divine Revelation:
‘’Why should ye be divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah hath cast them off for their (evil) deeds.’’ [An-Nisa’: 88]
On that, the Prophet said:
’That is Taibah (i.e., the city of Madinah) which clears one from one’s sins as the fire expels the impurities of silver.
According to ‘Urwah Ibn Musa, when Ibn Ubai and his companions returned, the tribe of Salamah and the tribe of Harithah almost tried to give up the fight, therefore Allah, Most High, revealed the following Qur’anic verse;
‘’A Remember two of your parties mediated cowardice; but Allah was their Protector, and in Allah should the faithful (ever) put their trust.’’ [Al-‘Imran: 122]
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Qur’anic verse:
‘’A Remember two of your parties mediated cowardice; but Allah was their Protector, and in Allah should thefaithjul (ever) put their trust.’’ [Al-‘Imran: 122] was revealed in our connection, i.e., the tribe of Salamah and the tribe of Harithah, and I would not have liked that, if it was not revealed, for Allah said:
But Allah was their Protector…
The remainder of the Muslims went on until they reached the mountain of Uhud. There the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered them to stand in ranks in front of the mountain, so that they would be protected from behind. He then positioned fifty archers on the top of the mountain.
In Al-Bukhar’s Sahih, we read the following narration on the authority of Al-Bara’ (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, “We faced the pagans on that day (of the battle of Uhud) and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) placed a batch of archers (at a special place) and appointed ‘Abdullah (Ibn Jubair) as their commander and said,
‘’Do not leave this place; and if you should see, us conquering the enemy, do not leave this place, and if you should see them conquering us, do not (come to) help us.’’
So, when we faced the enemy, they took to their heel until I saw their women running towards the mountain, lifting up their clothes from their legs, revealing their legs-bangles. The Muslims started saying, ‘The booty, the booty!’ ‘Abdullah Ibn Jubair said, ‘The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had taken a firm promise from me not to leave this place.’ But his companions refused (to stay).
So when they refused (to stay there), (Allah) confused them so that they could not know where to go, and they suffered seventy casualties. Abu Sufyan ascended a high place and said, ‘Is Muhammad present amongst the people?’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Do not answer him.’ Abu Sufyan said,’is the son of Abu Quhafah present among the people?’
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Do not answer him.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘Is the son of Al-Khattab amongst the people?’ He then added, ‘All these people have been killed, for, were they alive, they would have replied.’ On that, ‘ Umar could not help saying, ‘You are a liar, O enemy of Allah! Allah has kept what will make you unhappy.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘Superior may be Hubal (their idol)!’ On that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said (to his Companions), ‘Reply to him.’ They asked, ‘What may we say?’ He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
‘Say: Allah is more Elevated and more Majestic!’
Abu Sufyan said, ‘We have (the idol) Al-‘Uzzah, whereas you have no ‘Uzzah!’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said (to his Companions), ‘Reply to him.’ They said, ‘What may we say?’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
‘Say: Allah is our Helper and you have no helper.’
Abu Sufyan said, ‘(This) day compensates for our loss at Badr and (in) the battle (the victory) is always undecided and shared in turns by the belligerents. You will see some of your dead men mutilated, but neither did I urge this action, nor am I sorry for it.”‘
At Uhud, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) refused the participation of some young Muslims, like ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar and Usamah Ibn Zaid, for they too young to participate infighting.
Quraish mustered their troops about 3.000 men with 200 horses, which they had led along with them. Their cavalry on the left flank was commanded by Khalid Ibn Al-Walid; and on the right by ‘Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl.
When the Muslims were in position, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) held up his sword and said, “Who will use this sword with its right?” This was a great honor and many men rose to claim it, but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) decided to give it to Abu Dujanah who asked, “What is its right, ‘O Messenger of Allah?” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) answered,
“That you should smite with it until it bends.”
Now, Abu Dujanah was a brave and conceited man in battle and whenever he put on a red turban of his people knew that he was about to fight. He then began to strut up and down between the lines when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
“This is a gait which Allah hates exception an occasion like this.”
As the fighting increased, the Quraishi women, led by Hind, began to beat their drams to urge their men on. On his part, Abu Dujanah said, “I saw someone urging the enemy on, shouting wildly, and I made for him, but when I lifted my sword against him he screamed and I saw that it was a woman; I respected the Messenger’s sword too much to use it on a woman.” That woman was Hind.
The Murder of Hamzah
As usual, Hamzah, the Prophet’s uncle fought with great courage, but while leading the Muslims in fierce attack, which nearly defeated the enemy, he was suddenly and cruelly struck down by the slave Wahshi.
In his Sahih, Al-Bukhari narrated on the authority of Ja’far Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Umaiyyah who said, “I went out with ‘Ubaidullah Ibn ‘Adi Al- Khaiyar. When we reached Hims (i.e., a town in Syria), ‘Ubaidullah Ibn ‘Adi said (to me), ‘Would you like to see Wahshi so that we may ask him about the killing of Hamzah?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ Wahshi used to live in Hims. We inquired about him and somebody said to us, ‘He is that in the shade of his palace, as if he were a full water skin.’
So we went up to him, and when we were at a short distance from him, we greeted him and he greeted us in return. ‘Ubaidullah was wearing his turban and Wahshi could not see except his eyes and feet. ‘Ubaidullah said, ‘٠ Wahshi! Do you know me?’ Wahshi looked at him and then said, ‘No, by Allah! But I know that ‘Adi Ibn Al-Khiyar married a woman called Umm Qital, the daughter of Abu Al-Is, and she delivered a boy for him at Makkah, and I looked for a wet nurse for that child.
(Once) I carried that child along with his mother and then I handed him over to her, and your feet resemble that child’s feet.’ Then ‘Ubaidullah uncovered his face and said (to Wahshi), ‘Will you tell us (the story of) the killing of Hantzah?’ Wahshi replied, ‘Yes, Hamzah killed Tuaima Ibn ‘Adi Ibn Al-Khaiyar at Badr (battle) so my master, Jubair Ibn Mut’im said to me, ‘If you kill Hamzah in revenge for my unele, then you will be set free.’
When the people set out (for the battle of Uhud) in the year of ‘Ainain (‘Ainain is a mountain near the mountain of Uhud and between it and Uhud there is a valley), I went out with the people for the battle. When the army aligned for the fight, Siba’ came out and said, ‘Is there any (Muslim) to accept my challenge to a duel?’ Hamzah Ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib came out and said, ‘O Siba’. O Ibn Umm Anmar, the one who circumcises other ladies! Do you challenge Allah and His Messenger?’
Then Hamzah attacked and killed him, causing him to be non-extant like the bygone yesterday. I hid myself under a rock, and when he (i.e., Hamzah) came near me, I threw my spear at him, driving it into his umbilicus so that it came out through his buttocks, causing him to die. When all the people returned to Makkah, I too returned with them. I stayed in (Makkah) until Islam spread in it (i.e., Makkah).
Then I left for Taif, and when the people (of Ta’if) sent their messengers to Allah’s Messenger, I was told that the Prophet did not harm the messengers; So I too went out with them until I reached Allah’s Messenger. When he saw me, he said, ‘Are you Wahshi?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Was it you who killed Hamzah?’ I replied, ‘What happened is what you have been told of.’ He said, ‘Can you hide your face from me?’
So I went out when Allah’s Messenger died, and Musailamah Al-Kadhdhab appeared (claiming to be a prophet), I said, ‘I will go out to Musailamah so that I may kill him, and make amends for killing Hamzah. So, I went out with the people (to fight Musailamah and his followers) and then famous events took place concerning that battle. Suddenly, I saw a man (i.e., Musailamah) standing near a gap in a wall.
He looked like an ash-colored camel and his hair was disheveled. So, I threw my spear at him, driving it into his chest in between his breasts until it passed out through his shoulders, and then an Ansari man attacked him and struck him on the head with a sword. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said, ‘A slave girl on the roof of a house said: Alas! The chief of the believers (i.e., Musailamah) has been killed by a black slave.'”
The Murder of Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umair
Mus’ab Ibn ‘ Umair (may Allah be pleased with him) fought in the defense of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) until he was killed. The one who killed him was Ibn Qami’ah Al-Laythi, who thought he was the Messenger of Allah, so he returned to Quraish and said, “I have killed Muhammad.”
Al-Bukhari narrated that Sa’d Ibn Ibrahim said that a meal was brought to ‘Abdur-Rahman Ibn ‘Awf while he was fasting. He said, “Mus’ab Ibn ‘ Umair was martyred, and he was better than I, yet he was shrouded in a Burda (i.e., a sheet) so that, if his head was covered, his feet became naked, and if his feet were covered, his head became naked.”
‘Abdur-Rahman added, “Hamzah was martyred and he was better than I. Then worldly wealth was bestowed upon us and we were given thereof too much. We are afraid that the reward of our deeds have been given to us in this life.”‘Abdur-Rahman then started weeping so much that he left the food.
When Mus’ab was killed, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave the standard to ‘ Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), and ‘Ali and the Muslims fought on.
The unbelievers were soon scattered and forced to retreat. It looked as thought they had been defeated. Seeing this forty of the fifty Muslim archers on the top of the mourns random from their position to collect booty, for the army of Quraish had left many of belongings behind. The archers rushed to take What they could, forgetting the Prophet’s orders.
Khalid Ibn Al-Walid, commander of the Quraishi cavalry, saw what was happening and quickly turned his men around and ordered them to attack the Muslims from behind. The Muslims were taken completely by surprise. The Quraish then began attacking from both sides at once. Many Muslims were killed and instead of winning they began to lose the battle. The Muslims were put to flight and the enemy slew many of them.
It was a day of trial and testing in which Allah, Most High, honored several with martyrdom, until the enemy got at the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who was hit with a stone so that fell on his side and one of his teeth was smashed, his face scored and his lip injured. The man who wounded him was ‘Utbah Ibn Abi Waqqas.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (pointing to his broken canine tooth) said,
“Allah ’s wrath has become sever on the people who harmed His Prophet. Allah’s wrath has become severe on a man who is killed by the Messenger of Allah in Allah’s cause.”
Meanwhile, Allah, Most High, revealed the following Qur’anic verse (in which He addresses His Prophet) saying,
”Not for thee, (but for Allah), is the decision whether He turns in mercy to them, or punish them; for they are indeed wrong-doers.” [Al’-Imran: 128]
According to the scholars at Siyrah, when the enemy hemmed the Prophet (peaee and blessings of Allah be upon him) in, he said,
“Who will sell his life for us..?”
At this, five of the Ansar got up and fought until they were killed, one by one. Their places were soon taken, however, by a number of Muslims who drove off the attackers. Amongst, the defending Muslims was Abu Dujanah who put his arms around the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and made himself into a human shield. Arrows were falling on his back as he leaned over the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), until there were many stuck in it.
Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas shot his arrows in defense of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He said, “I have seen him handing me the arrows as he said, ‘Shoot, may my father and my mother be your ransom,’ until he would even hand me an arrow that had no head, saying, ‘shoot with this.”
Al-Bukhari narrated on the authority of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), “I have never heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioning his father and mother for anybody other than Sa’d Ibn Malik. I heard him saying on the day of Uhud
‘O Sa’d throw (arrows)! Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you!’”
To add to the confusion, it was rumored that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had been killed. When the Muslims heard this they were at a loss to know what to do. Anas Ibn An- Nadr (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “O people! If Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has been killed what will your lives be worth without him? Don’t think about living or dying. Pight for Allah. Get up and die the way Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died.” Then he persisted in fighting until he died a martyr.
Regarding those who said that they should go back to their people because Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had been killed, Allah, Most High, revealed the following Qur’anic verse;
‘’Muhammad is no more than a Messenger: many were the Messengers that passed away before him. If he died or was slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve him) with gratitude.’’ [Al’-Imran:144]
According to Al-Bukhari, Anas narrated that when it was the day of Uhud, the people left the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) while Abu Talhah was in front of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) shielding him with his leather shield. Abu Talhah was a skillful archer who used to shoot violently. He broke two or three arrow bows on that day.
If a man carrying a quiver full of arrows passed by, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would say (to him), put (scatter) its contents for Abu Talhah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would raise his head to look at the enemy, whereupon Abu Talhah would say, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you! Do not raise youi’ head, lest an arrow of the enemy should hit you.
(Let) my neck (be struck) rather than your neck.” I saw ‘Aishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr, and Umm Sulaim rolling up their dresses so that I saw their leg-bangles while Ihey were carrying water skins on their backs and eniptying them in the mouths of the (wounded) people. They would return to refill them and again empty them in the mouths of the (wounded) people. The sword fell from Abu Talhah’s hand twice or thrice (on that day).
Moreover, Al-Bukhari narrated on the authority of Abu Talhah (may Allah be blessed with him) his saying, “On the day of Uhud, I was amongst the people who fell asleep to the extent that my sword fell down fiom my hand more than one time.”
In this context, we read in the Glorious Qur’an:
‘’After (the excitement of) the distress, He sent down calm on band of you overcome with slumber, while another band was stirred to anxiety by their own feelings, moved by wrong suspicions of Allah – suspicions due to ignorance. They said: ‘Have we any hand in the affair?’ Say thou: ‘Indeed, this affair is wholly Allah’s.’ They hide in their minds what they dare not reveal to thee. They say (to themselves), ‘If we had had anything to do with this affair, we should not have been in the slaughter here.
’ Say: ‘Even you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death’; but (all this was) that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts. For Allah knoweth well the secrets of your hearts. Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, – it was Satan who caused them to fail, because of some (evil) they had done. But Allah has blotted out (their fault): for Allah is Oft- forgiving, Most Forbearing.’’ [Al’-Imran: 154-155]
‘Uthman Ibn Mauhab also narrated that a man came to perform the Hajj to (Allah’s) House. Seeing some people sitting, he said, “Who are these sitting people?” Somebody said, “They are the people of Quraish.” He said, “Who is the old man?” They said, “Ibn ‘Umar.” He went to him and said, “I want to ask you about something; will you tell me about it? I ask you with the respect due to the sanetity of this (Saered) House, do you know that ‘ Uthman Ibn ‘ Affan fled on the day of Uhud?”
Ibn ‘Umar said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you know that he (i.e., ‘Uthman) was absent from the Badr (battle) and did not join it?” Ibn ‘ Umar said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you know that he failed to be present at the Ridwan Pledge of allegianee (i.e., ?ledge of allegianee at Hudaibiyah) and did not witness it?” Ibn ‘Umar replied, “Yes,” He then said, “Allahu- Akbar (Allah is the Greatest!” Ibn ‘ Umar said, “Come along; I will inform you and explain to you what you have asked. As for the flight (of ‘Uthman) on the day of Uhud, I testify that Allah forgave him.
As regards his absence from the Badr (battle), he was married to the daughter of Allah’s Messenger and she was ill, so the Prophet said to him,’You will have sueh reward as a man who has fought the Badr battle will get, and will also have the same share of the booty.’ As for his absenee from the Ridwan Pledge of allegiance, if there had been anybody more respected by the people of Makkah than ‘ Uthman Ibn ‘ Affan, the Prophet would surely have sent that man instead of ‘Uthman So the Prophet sent him (i.e., ‘Uthman to Makkah) and the Ridwan Pledge of allegiance took place after ‘Uthman had gone to Makkah.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) raised his right hand saying, ‘This is the hand of Uthman,’and clapped it over his other hand and said, ‘This is for ‘Uthman.'” Ibn ‘Umar then said (to the man), “Go now, after taking this information.”
On the day of Uhud, victory was first on the side of the Muslims.
Allah, Most High, says;
‘’And did indeed fulfill His Promise to you when ye with His permission were about to annihilate your enemy, until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the victory) which ye covet. Among you are some that hanker after his world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from yourfoes in order to test you.
But He forgave you: for Allah is Full of grace to those who believe. Behold! Ye were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side- glance at any one, and the Messenger in your rear was calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for (the booty) that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you. For Allah is well aware of all that ye do.’‘ [Al’-Imran: 152-153]
Consequences of the Battle
The Battle came to an end. About seventy Muslims were martyred on that day. In the Sahih of Al-Bukhari, we of read the following narrations:
Qatadah narrated that Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) told us that seventy from the Ansar were martyred on the day of Uhud, and seventy on the day (of the battle of Bi’r Ma’unah, and seventy on the day of Al-Yamama.
Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to shroud two martyrs of Uhud in one sheet and then say, “Which of them knew Qur’an more?” When one of the two was pointed out, he would put him first in the grave. Then he said. be a witness for them of the Day Judgement.”
He ordered them to be buried with their blood (on their bodies). Neither was the funeral Prayer offered for them, nor were they washed. Jabir added, “When my father was martyred, I started weeping and uncovering his face. The Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stopped me from doing so but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not stop me. Then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
‘(O Jabir.) don’t weep over him, for the Angels kept on covering him with their wings until his body was carried away (for burial).'”