The Root of Terrorism a la
20 Nov, 2005
- 'Young man smile in the face of death, for you are on your way to Heaven'---from a Manual of Terror
The Battle of Uhud, Led by Muhammad - March, 625CE
The Quraysh resolutely decided to avenge their defeat at Badr II. The need for a decisive military victory against the menacing Islam and its diehard Jihadists became more urgent when Zayd b. Haritha plundered their rich caravan that took the new alternative route through Nejd (see terror 19, CH. 5). The Quraysh were now convinced that nothing could protect their lifeline (trade) from the pillage and terror of Muhammad. They alerted the neighboring tribes and sought to raise money to form a formidable military operation against Muhammad. Through contributions from different parts of Arabia they raised 250,000 Dirhams (besides the 250,000 Dirhams paid as ransom to secure the release of the Meccan prisoners from Muhammad) for the impending military expedition to avenge their defeat. They also concluded alliances with other nearby Bedouin tribes. Besides this subscription from various sources, they also decided to use the entire profit from the caravan that escaped Badr II to use it to combat the terrorism of Muhammad. This profit was one thousand camels and fifty thousand Dinars (around US$ 550,000 in all, using the conversion rate mentioned earlier) in cash, a substantial amount of money in those days. With such a handsome resource at their disposal, the Quraysh had no difficulty in organizing a formidable army of three thousand men, seven hundred of them were armored warriors and two hundred mounted cavalry, ready to fight the terror perpetrated by Muhammad and his fanatic followers. There was also a small band of fifty Medina citizens under Abu Amir, the Christian monk, who went over to Mecca after being disgusted at the enthusiastic reception of Muhammad at Medina. Besides these military personnel, a batch of fifteen Quraysh women in camel litters also joined the military operation. Their leader was Hind bt. Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan Shakhr b. Harb. At Badr II she had lost her father (Utba), uncle (Shaybah) and her son, Hanzala. She was particularly interested in going for the blood of Hamzah who had slain her father at Badr II. Now was the time for her to quench her thirst for revenge. She engaged an Abyssinian slave, Wahshi, possessing deadly javelin skill and belonging to Jubayr b. Mut'im to kill Hamza, promising Wahshi his freedom if he was successful in his mission.
It was twelve months since the Badr II and it was the month of Ramadan. The Quraysh remained steadfast in their revenge for the defeat at Badr II. Now was the time to put their threat into execution. They planned a grand attack on Muhammad. Rumor of this grand plan had been reaching Muhammad for some time through his informers at Mecca. He even received an oracle from Allah in 3:128 on this preparedness. This rumor was confirmed when Muhammad received a sealed letter from his uncle, al-Abbas while he (Muhammad) was at his mosque at Quba, a short distance from the city of Medina. A messenger from Mecca delivered the letter to Muhammad. The letter contained the information that the Quraysh, with three thousand soldiers were planning an attack on Muhammad. He kept the content of the letter a secret and immediately returned to Medina to concur with his advisors there. However, the news leaked out when the wife of Sa'd b Muadh, the Khazaraj leader, overheard the conversation between him and Muhammad. Soon, the news spread that an immediate attack was coming from the Quraysh.
In Mecca, the Quraysh were now fully ready to set out for a showdown with Muhammad. At last, near the end of Ramadan, the Quraysh army started their march with three thousand soldiers and with Abu Sufyan b. Harb as their general. The other chiefs of the Quraysh clans also accompanied the Meccan army.
After a march of ten or twelve days, the Meccan army, taking the usual route by the shore, arrived at Dhul Hulaifa, about five miles west of Medina. It is reported that while at al-Abwa, Hind bt. Utbah, Abu Sufyan's wife suggested that they dig up the grave of Muhammad's mother, but the Quraysh refrained from doing such a depraved act. It was Thursday morning, and after halting here for a while, the Quraysh army marched northward for a few miles, bypassing the city of Medina; instead, they proceeded about three miles further north and encamped at Uhud, a mountainous region with some wide plain space for the camel's grazing. One may wonder why the Quraysh did not attack central Medina; they could have easily done so with much success and with plenty of booty. The reason is that the Quraysh were not at all interested in any sort of plunder or booty. In fact, they had no grudge against the general population of Medina; they were angry with only one person-their co-citizen, Muhammad, who had taken refuge there. Soon after their arrival at the plains of Uhud, the Meccans cut down the luxuriant forest as feed for the horses and camels. They also set loose the camels and horses to graze. Then Friday came and it passed without any activity.
In Medina, Muhammad was kept appraised of Meccan movements. A spy, Hobab ibn al Mundhir surveyed the Quraysh camp on Thursday and brought back the alarming estimate of the Quraysh army. Muhammad decided to keep that information a secret. The next day, Friday, Muhammad discussed with his people the course to be pursued. He had a bad dream the previous night and told the conclave of his Jihadists about the need of protection of Medina and himself. Due to his bad dream the previous night, a superstitious Muhammad was quite reluctant to go for the battle. At first, it was decided that the women and children of the suburbs and surrounding hamlets should be brought within the city. The enemy, if they approached should be met with arrows, stones and other missiles from the housetops. Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, Muhammad's nemesis supported this proposal of defending the city of Medina should the Quraysh attacked it. But the young converts wanted to go out and fight the enemy in the field, as they did at Badr II. Young Jihadists who missed the Badr II and its booty were more enthusiastic in going out to fight the Quraysh. The picture of paradise hovered before their eyes as martyrs in Allah's cause was just as the Quran had described it in 56:25-26.Hamza was adamant, saying, "By Allah who has sent the Book down unto you, I will not taste food till I fight them with my sword outside Medina." Many people supported this young faction. In the end, Muhammad gave way to them, commanding them to make ready for the battle.
After the afternoon prayer, the people assembled in the court of the mosque armed for the battle. Muhammad himself put on two armors, one on top of another. When a few young Jihadists found that Muhammad had quite reluctantly agreed to proceed for the battle, they became repentant and wanted to abort the mission. On this, Muhammad said, "It does not suit a Prophet that once he had put on armor. He should take it off until Allah has decided between him and the enemy." Some people hesitated but Muhammad kept going. Muhammad's child-bride, Aisha also volunteered to join the Jihad and he allowed her. Aisha nursed the wounded, brought water to the thirsty and rendered sundry services.
Then the Muslims fixed three banners on the three lances. One for the refugees, carried by Musab b. Umayr (some say, Ali), the second, to the leader of B. Aws, Usayd ibn Hudayl, the third to a leader of B. Khazraj, al-Hubab ibn al-Mundhir. Abdallah ibn Umm Maktum was appointed to look after Medina city and to lead the prayer in the absence of Muhammad. The Muslim army consisted of one thousand men (one hundred of them were armored), and two horses (one belonging to Muhammad). Then Muhammad gave the orders for the march northward to the plains of Uhud. The two Sa'ds (Sa'd b. Muadh and Sa'd b. Ubadah) ran in front of the Muslim battalion.
Muhammad marched until he reached al-Shaykhayn and saw a well-equipped army waiting there. On enquiry, he learned that they were polytheists and Jews who were ready to join the Muslim army against the Meccans. They were the allies of Abd Allah ibn Ubay. Muhammad refused to accept them as his comrade, saying, "Do not seek support of the polytheists against polytheists." Then he halted at al-Shaykhayn and reviewed his forces, rejecting those who were disabled or too young to fight. At nightfall, the Muslim army encamped there and Muhammad spent the night there. Abd Allah ibn Ubayy encamped nearby. He was displeased by the unfriendly behavior of Muhammad to his Jewish adherents. The Quraysh were also camped nearby. A ridge separated the two armies.
In the morning the Muslim army started marching again to Uhud. When they reached at a place called Ash Shawt they could observe the Quraysh army in the distance. It was at this place that Abd Allah ibn Ubayy rebelled against Muhammad, withdrew his three hundred men from the Muslim army and started departing for Medina thus reducing the number of Jihadists to around seven hundred men. Two other parties of Muhammad were also influenced by Abd Allah ibn Ubayy. They were about to join him (Abd Allah ibn Ubayy), but at the eleventh hour, changed their minds and decided to remain with Muhammad. As revealed in 3:122 Muhammad claimed this change of heart to be Allah's will. When Abd Allah ibn Ubay departed, another band of Muhammad's followers went along with him, pleading Abd Allah ibn Ubayy to fight for the cause of Allah. But ibn Ubayy was adamant in returning to Medina, thus greatly displeasing the pleading clan. Allah, in verse 3:187 cursed the hypocrisy of Abd Allah ibn Ubayy. So, now Muhammad had to march alone with his seven hundred followers. Although he was quite near to Uhud, and could easily see the Quraysh encamped in the plains of Uhud, he found that it would not be safe to follow the main road to Uhud, because that would engage him to a full frontal confrontation with the enemy. Muhammad now sought the help of a local guide, Abu Khaitamah to reach the Uhud Mountain bypassing the frontal confrontation with the Quraysh. This guide took the Muslim army through a track that required the trespassing through farmland belonging to a blind man named Marba b Qyizi. When the Jihadists wanted to pass through this farmland without the permission of the owner, the blind man protested by throwing dust on them and saying, "You may be the apostle of God, but I won't let you through my garden. By God, Muhammad, if I could be sure that I should not hit someone else I would throw it in your face." The Jihadists sought Muhammad's permission to cut to pieces this blind man. Muhammad declined; but it was too late. A diehard Jihadist had already hit the blind man on his head with his sword that cut his head in to two pieces. Such was the mercy of Allah's soldiers!
Upon their arrival at Uhud, the Muslims camped at the base of the mountain and arranged their rank to face the Quraysh. Muhammad dispatched fifty archers to the hill of Aynayan that was opposite to the main Uhud mountain range to guard the rear of the Muslim army. He appointed Abd Allah ibn Jubayr as their leader and gave strict order to not to leave their position under any circumstances, whether victory or defeat, until they received the command from him. He issued further orders to not to engage the enemy until he gave instructions. Muhammad himself took up a position at an elevated place with plenty of arrows to shoot at the enemy. Sahih Bukhari states that Some Jihadists drank wine to imbue them further in Jihad. Here is the Sahih Hadith:
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 142:
Some people drank alcoholic beverages in the morning (of the day) of the Uhud battle and on the same day they were killed as martyrs, and that was before wine was prohibited.
Muhammad exhorted the Jihadists to a frenzied spirit of war; gave his sword to one cavalier, Abu Dujana who was famous for his savagery and fanatic killing instinct. Then Muhammad sat down and began casting arrows. He was protected by a band of Jihadists who ensured that any attack from behind would be repulsed immediately. However, his elite core of companions (like Abu Bakr, Ali, Hamzah, Umar and others) were dispatched to lead the Muslim soldiers for a fierce combat. Muhammad then waited for enemy's approach. At this time, Abu Sufyan b. Harb, the leader of the Quraysh army brought his army, and facing Uhud, marshaled them in front of Muhammad. Khalid b. al-Walid commanded the right wing, while Ikrimah b. Abu Jahl commanded the left wing, with Abu Sufyan in command of the middle front. The women, at first, kept to the front sounding their tumbrels and martial verses; but as the line advanced, they fell to the rear.
The Meccan banner was borne by Talha ibn Abi Talhah. He belonged to the Quryash clan of Abdud Dar whose duty it was to carry the banner of the Quraysh during war. It was Saturday, Shawwal 7, AH3 corresponding to March 23, 625. The two armies were now poised to ignite the fire.
Before the battle started, Abu Sufyan sent a message of peace to the men of al-Aws and al-Khazaraj, asking them to leave the matter of battle among the cousins (i.e., among the Quraysh) only. He did not want to have a war with al-Aws and al-Khazraj. But al-Aws and al-Khazraj turned down his peace offer. Thus, a ferocious showdown became inevitable.
The first person from the Quraysh to start the single combat was Abu Amir (Muhammad used to call him al-Fasiq-the evildoer) with a party of fifty of his people. They exchanged stone-throwing with the Muslims. This continued till the Muslims gained an upper hand, and Abu Amir and his companions turned back To keep the fervor of fighting spirit intact, the Quraysh women came out marching, beating cymbals, drums and tambourines and singing patriotic songs. In the next stage of fighting, it was mainly single combat, following the Arab customary start of a battle. Talha ibn Abu Talhah strode forward with the Quraysh standard; Az- Zubair b. al-Awwam (some say Ali ibn Talib) met him and killed him. On hearing the death of the first standard bearer of the Quraysh, Muhammad rejoiced with Takbir (Allahu Akbar) and said, "Every Prophet has a disciple and my disciple is Az Zubair," thus guaranteeing Az Zubair a place in paradise, whether alive or dead in the Jihad.
After the death of Talhah, his brother Abu Shaybah Uthman b. Abi Talhah took over the Quraysh standard reciting enticing verses. Hamzah attacked him with his sword, cutting his hand and shoulder and exposing his lung. Soon Abu Shaybah Uthman was killed. Then, his brother, Abu Sa'd b. Abi Talhah took over the Quraysh flag and Asim b. Thabit killed him. In this way, seven members from the same family were killed. They were: Talhah, his brothers, Shaybah and Abu Sa'd; Talha's four sons, viz. Musafi, Al-Harith, Kilab and Julas. When Musafi's mother learnt the killing of her two sons in the hands of Asim b. Thabit she vowed to avenge their death by drinking wine from Asim's skull.
The slaughter continued and the Quraysh grew desperate. When all the brave brothers and sons of Talhah were slain, Artat Shurahbil raised the flag of the Quarysh and an unknown Jihadist killed him. The Quraysh standard then went to the hand of Shurayh b. Qariz and then to his slave Su'ab; the Muslims killed both of them. Thus, ten Quraysh laid down their lives to keep the Quraysh standard aloft. The Quraysh flag lay on the ground with no one to raise it. The front line of the Quraysh was now broken; panic and terror struck their minds and they took to the flight. They realized that it was a mistake on their part to engage the Muslims in single combat. However, it was too late. Hanzala b. Abu Amir (the Christian monk's Muslim son) dueled with Abu Sufyan and was about to kill him when Shaddad b. al-Aswad struck Hanzala b. Amir and killed him. This was what Abu Sufyan b. Harb later recalled in a poetic verse as 'Hanzala for Hanzala.' (Remember? Abu Sufyan's son Hanzala was killed by the Muslims at Badr II).
As soon as the Quraysh realized their folly in engaging the Muslim Jihadists in single combat they launched a general engagement. In the beginning, with the fierce attack from the Muslims, the Quraysh began to waver. Each time they moved forward, the archers, protecting the rear of the Muslim army in the neighboring hillock pushed them back. The Meccan army was about to lose heart. Abu Dujana, with the sword given by Muhammad, Hamza and Ali fought valiantly. They killed a number of Quraysh unbelievers. The Quraysh, became desperate and started to flee the battle leaving their standard lying on the ground and no one to carry it. Thus ended the first phase of the Uhud battle.
The Muslim army, sensing the nervousness of the Quraysh, without any delay, started collecting booty. Their cupidity for booty was so intense that when the Muslim archers saw from the hilltop afar their compatriots engaged in plunder, they simply deserted their positions and joined in the rush for the loot. Only ten archers, with their leader Abd Allah ibn Jubayr remained in their position as directed by Muhammad. The rest could not care less about Muhammad's instruction; booty became their supreme goal. Here is a summary of what Tabari wrote about the Jihadists desire for booty:
When the Jihadists, guarding the rear of Muslim soldiers saw the Quraysh and their women fleeing and saw the booty they became hungry for spoils and said, "Let us go to the Messenger of God and get the booty before the others beat us to it." Another group wanted to obey the order of Muhammad and leave their positions. On this altercation between the two groups God revealed, "Whoso desireth-.the Hereafter (3:145).
Witnessing the greed for booty, Ibn Masud said, "I never realized that any of the Prophet's companions desired the world and its goods until that day."
This uncontrolled greed for booty by the Jihadists provided Khaild b. Walid, the commander of the Quraysh cavalry to charge the booty-drunken Muslims from behind and to change the tide of war. He soon made a vicious attack on the remaining archers, killing all of them, including their leader Abd Allah ibn Jubayr. Khalid b. Walid was followed by Ikrimah b Abu Hakam (Abu Jahl's son; Abu Jahl was brutally murdered in Badr II). It is claimed that the angels were present but they did not fight for the Muslims. It is it clear why the angels were reluctant to help the soldiers of Allah. When the Muslim ranks were broken and forced back, Muhammad tried to resume the flight. He gave a call to continue fighting in the name of the apostle of Allah. But his call remained largely unheeded and the retreat continued unabated. The enemy soon came closer to Muhammad. A party of diehard devotees then rallied around his person. It was impossible for Muhammad to escape. While this confusion was raging, a rumor, that Muhammad had been killed, broke the backbone of the Muslim army. Muhammad's biographers often provide conflicting and confusing account of this episode of the Uhud battle. Here is what I understood after consulting a few versions of this story:
Watching the quick change of fortune in the war front and the Muslim's disunity, the Quraysh soon regained their spirit and returned to fight. A Quraysh woman, Umrah bt. Alqamah Al-Harithya lifted the lying standard on the ground. This time, the Quraysh had a decisive upper hand in the fight. They gathered together and started searching for Muhammad.
A band of Quraysh army, after killing the archers, pursued Muhammad and his bodyguards. At that time most of the Jihadists were busying themselves with the plunder. Only a small group of nine Jihadists were protecting Muhammad, seven of them were Ansars (helpers) and two were Muhajirs (immigrants). A part of Khalid's army, led by ibn Qamia started hurling stones at this little group protecting Muhammad. One of these stones hit Muhammad's mouth injuring his lower right incisor and rupturing his lower lip. Another sword-attack from Utbah b. Abi Waqqas (the brother of Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, a Muslim), a Quraysh injured his forehead and shoulder causing severe bleeding.
The Meccans attack on the Muslims from behind put them to flight. They (the Meccans) killed many Muslims. Some Muslims were gravely wounded; many started to flee the battle. With a wounded person and a wounded heart Muhammad called on his followers to fight on, but no one was listening to him. Then Allah sent the oracle in verse 3:128, "It is no concern at all of thee (Muhammad), whether He relent toward them or punish them: for they are evildoers." A helpless Muhammad then cried out, "Who will sell his life for us?" Hearing his desperate call, Ziyad b. al-Sakani (or Umarah b. Ziyad al-Sakani), along with other five Jihadists, came forward to protect Muhammad. They were killed one after another in front of him until only Ziyad b. al-Sakani was left.
It is reported that Hatib b. Baltah followed Utbah b. Abi Waqqas and killed him, although it was the great desire of Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas to kill his own brother (Utbah). While the attack on Muhammad was not mortal (because Muhammad was wearing a double coat of arms), the blow was so heavy that it caused the two rings in his helmet to penetrate his cheeks. An injured Muhammad vehemently cursed the perpetrators. Initially those bodyguards fought with supreme bravery to protect Muhammad. But the Quraysh continued their foray of relentless attack on them-so much so, that they killed the seven ansars in no time. Only the two Muhajirs, namely, Talhah b. Ubaidullah and Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, now protected Muhammad. In the short melee that ensued, the Quraysh seriously injured Talhah b. Ubaidullah. The standard bearer of the Muslims, Musab b. Umayr was nearby. It happened that he resembled Muhammad in his appearance. Ibn Qamiah attacked him and killed him. Thinking that he had killed Muhammad, he started shouting at the top of his voice, "Muhammad has been killed." Hearing this terrible news, the Muslim's rank fell in disorder; confusion raged and they started fighting each other. One such victim of this internecine was the father of Hudhayfa, Al-Yaman. When he saw his father about to be killed by another Muslim, he cried out, but to no avail. Hudhayfah later forgave his father's killer and did not demand any blood money for the killing of his father. Many Muslims fled the battlefield and headed towards Medina. Some of them took their comrades' corpses for burial at Medina. Some Muslims even tried to contact Abd Allah ibn Ubayy to strike a deal with the Quraysh, so that they would not be killed by them. But this attempt failed. Finding his position to be untenable and extremely vulnerable from further attack, Muhammad began to run for his life. A Jihadist, Ka'b b. Malik saw a fleeing Muhammad and rejoiced, crying loudly, "Allah's messenger is alive." An unnerved Muhammad asked Ka'b to keep his mouth shut; but the Quraysh had already heard that their bitterest enemy was still alive. One Quraysh, Ubay b. Khalaf rode to Muhammad in order to kill him. Muhammad took a spear from one of his companions and hurled it at Ubay b. Khalaf injuring him. Ubayy went back to the Quraysh with the injury in his throat and neck and said, "By God, Muhammad has killed me." The Quraysh found nothing so seriously wrong with Ubayy. But Ubayy insisted that Muhammad's curse had afflicted him. Ubayy b. Khalaf died of his wound at Sarif while returning to Mecca. It is stated that when the Quraysh saw Ubay b. Khalaf's wound and told him that it was not very serious he refused to believe it, insisting that Muhammad had previously cursed him to death and as such he would surely die. While there is no evidence/record to suggest that Muhammad had killed any one with his own hand, Ibn Sa'd writes, "Ubayyi Ibn Khalaf al-Jumahi, whom the apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, slew with his own hand--" .
While running in a hurry to save his own life, Muhammad fell into a ditch (some kind of booby-trap) that Abu Amir, the Christian monk had previously dug to trap Muslim soldiers. Now, hearing the joyful shout of Ka'b, about thirty of the Jihadists, including Muhammad's hardcore companions like Abu Bakr, Ali, Umar etc. started approaching him. When they came near the ditch where Muhammad had fallen, they were greatly relieved to find him alive. Muhammad asked them not to make much noise but to proceed north and take sanctuary at one of the caves in the hillock. Ali put forth his hand towards Muhammad and lifted him up from the ditch. With a live Muhammad with them, his companions then started to proceed stealthily towards the hillock to take shelter there, to execute a planned withdrawal of the Muslim army and, most importantly, provide medical attention to Muhammad and his injured companions. It is reported that Aisha and a few other Muslimah joined Muhammad's team. Fatima (Muhammad's daughter) arrived at the scene of the battle and helped to dress the wound of her father. It took about a month for Muhammad's wound to heal.
Hamza's sister, Safiya also came up. She was fondly attached to Hamza, her brother.
The battle of Uhud also demonstrates the use of extreme vituperative and vulgar language, mostly by the Muslims. Here is a sample:
While such a grave predicament afflicted the Muslims, Hamzah was fighting gallantly killing a few Quraysh. The Abissiniyan slave, Wahsi (Remember? he was hired by Hind bt. Utbah to kill Hamzah) was watching him close by and took up a strategic position aiming his deadly spear at Hamzah. At this moment, Siba b. Abd al-Uzza al-Ghubshani (Abu Niyar) passed by Hamzah. Abu Niyar was the son of a female circumciser, Umm Ammar, a freed slave of Shariq b. Amr b. Wahb al-Thaqafi. So, Hamzah yelled at him, "Come over here, you son of a cutter-of clitorises." When, Wahsi, the slave of Jubayr b. Mutim saw Hamzah yelling at Abu Niyar, he (Wahsi) swiftly hurled his javelin at Hamzah that struck him before he could strike Abu Niyar. The javelin struck Hamzah in the lower part of the belly and came out between his legs. Hamzah died quickly and Wahsi recovered his javelin and returned to his camp, thus fulfilling his commitment of killing Hamzah. Hamzah's body lay dead on the ground.
Thus, we note that FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) was quite prevalent among the Arabs in the days of Muhammad. Muhammad did not put any ban on this practice of mutilating female private organs.
As mentioned previously, after Muhammad was pulled up from the ditch, Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali and his other companions carried him to a cave nearby to provide medical attention and nursing. A Jihadist pulled out the ring that had penetrated inside Muhammad's cheek, and while performing this primitive 'surgery', he broke Muhammad's already injured incisor. Blood was oozing out from Muhammad's wound in his face. Malik b. Sinan sucked out the blood and drank it. On this, Muhammad said, "He whose blood mingles with mine will not be touched by the fire of hell." Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali and his other inner core of companions started comforting an injured Muhammad and the gravely wounded Talhah b. Ubaidullah. To those who spread the rumor of Muhammad's death, Allah revealed the verse 3:144, "Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels! He who turneth back doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful."
The Jihadists surrounding Muhammad became very tired and many of them fell asleep in the cave. In a short time, the Muslims finally retreated from the battle and took cover in the mountains of Uhud.
Meanwhile, after the Quraysh sensed that the Muslims had been defeated and they (the Muslims) had retreated to the mountainside, they came out in full force, many of them inspecting their fallen foes. This way, mid-day passed. After the mid-day, the Quraysh started looking for the body of Muhammad, and not finding it doubted his death. Some of them engaged in mutilating the Muslim corpses. They cut off the ears and noses (even genitalia) of their victims and made necklaces from them. Hind bt Utbah became so obsessed with revenge that she not only wore some such necklaces and anklets but also proceeded to mutilate Hamzah's corpse. She tore apart his stomach, took out the liver and chewed it but finding that not so palatable spat it out. Abu Sufyan denounced such a savage act of Hind.
Then Abu Sufyan came very near to the snuggery where Muhammad and his companions were sheltered and enquired about who were inside the cave. No one replied back to him. At this, Abu Sufyan hubristically announced that the Quraysh had slain all the nobles of the Muslims, including Muhammad. Unable to bear such humiliation and insult, an angry Umar retorted back that all of them were alive, safe and sound including Muhammad. Though a little surprised, Abu Sufyan was reluctant to continue with further bloodshed and informed Umar that some Quraysh had indulged themselves in mutilating the Muslim corpses which he neither ordered nor disliked. He was satisfied that the death of his son Hanzalah b. Abu Sufyan in BadrII had been avenged. Abu Sufyan then issued a challenge to meet Muhammad again, next year at Badr. Muhammad accepted the challenge. After exalting Hubal (the biggest idol in Ka'ba) and Uzza (another idol at Nakha) for the victory, Abu Sufyan gave order to his soldiers to pack up and march for Mecca. At this, a defiant Muhammad proclaimed that Allah is the protector of the Jihadists.
Once Abu Sufyan was far off from the Muslim's sanctuary, Muhammad instructed Ali to observe the departure of the Quraysh army. Ali reported back that the Quraysh rode their camels and led their horses. This news relieved Muhammad, because it was a sure sign that the Quraysh had, indeed, departed for Mecca and had no intention of returning to Uhud/Medina. Being reassured of no further attack from the Quraysh, Muhammad ordered his comrades to come out of their hideout. Thus the Muslims, once again, returned to the battlefield that was now strewn with the corpses of the Jihadists. It was a horrible sight, no doubt, and when Muhammad saw the mutilated body of Hamzah who was his uncle and foster brother, he was gravely saddened and started to weep. The sight of Hamzah's corpse was so grotesque that Muhammad prevented his (Muhammad's) aunt, Saffiya to visit her brother's (Hamzah) dead body. But Saffiya refused and came and looked at the macabre scene of his brother lying on the ground with parts of his body missing or in tatter. But she was calm, composed, and supplicated Allah for the forgiveness of Hamzah. Muhammad ordered that Hamzah be buried with Abdullah ibn Jahsh, who was his (Hamzah's) nephew. Subsequently, Hamzah was buried where he fell dead. Muhammad then vowed to take revenge by mutilating thirty Quraysh bodies for Hamza. Some say that he vowed for seventy. However, this mutilation practice was banned by a later revelation (16:126) in the Qur'an. Consequently, Muhammad banned the mutilation of dead bodies but announced: "A wounded Jihadi will be raised on the resurrection day with blood dripping from his wounds and the smell of the wound will be the smell of musk" In addition to this, he also said: "God put the spirits of those killed in the Uhud in the crops of green birds and the Jihadists would like to come back from heaven and be killed again, again and again."
A similar Hadith is narrated in Sunaan Abu Dawud:
Book 14, Number 2514:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: When your brethren were smitten at the battle of Uhud, Allah put their spirits in the crops of green birds which go down to the rivers of Paradise, eat its fruit and nestle in lamps of gold in the shade of the Throne. Then when they experienced the sweetness of their food, drink and rest, they asked: Who will tell our brethren about us that we are alive in Paradise provided with provision, in order that they might not be disinterested in jihad and recoil in war? Allah Most High said: I shall tell them about you; so Allah sent down; "And do not consider those who have been killed in Allah's path." till the end of the verse.
After burying their dead comrades, the Muslims, along with Muhammad, returned to Medina. While on his way to Medina, many people, especially women were extremely eager to learn about the fate of their dear and near ones. Muhammad had no choice but to tell them the heart-wrenching news of the death of their relations. When he passed by a settlement of Ansars, Muhammad heard the wailing of women for their dear ones. He himself wept but found no women to weep for Hamzah. When Sa'd b. Muadh heard of this, he ordered his women folks to weep for Hamzah, the uncle of Muhammad.
In the evening of that day (Saturday, 7th of Shawal), Muhammad, along with the Muslim army returned to Medina. When Muhammad entered his family home he and Ali gave their swords to Fatima (Muhammad's daughter and Ali's wife) to wash off the blood from them.
It is reported that seventy Muslims were killed at the battle of Uhud. The Quraysh lost twenty-three men.
There were a few accidental killing of Muslims by themselves. For instance, it was already mentioned that Husayl b. Jabir al-Yaman was killed by Muslims who could not recognize him. Muhammad paid his son Hudhayfah the blood money. Hudhayfah donated that money to the needy Muslims.
Hatib's son Yazid was gravely injured and was comforted by other Muslims, for paradise was promised to a martyr. At this, Hatib was agitated and blamed the Muslims for misleading his son to death.
Another Muslim, Quzaman, fought valiantly, killing eight or nine polytheists and then was gravely injured. When people congratulated him for his valor, he simply expressed his great desire to fight for the honor of his own people. When the pain from his wound became very severe he committed suicide by slitting his wrist with an arrow. Muhammad was quite dissatisfied with Quzman, because he fought and died for National cause rather than Allah and his apostle's causes. When Muhammad's followers enquired about Quzman's standing in the life hereafter, Muhammad replied, "He is an inhabitant of fire."
A Jew, Mukhayriq was also killed in Uhud. He fought for the Muslims and exhorted other Jews to fight alongside Muhammad. But most Jews did not join the battle on the plea of the Sabbath day. As his testimony, Muhammad called Mukhyaraq the best of Jews. Sahi Bukhari records that Muhammad's wife, Aisha, and another woman, Umm Sulaim, (it is not clear if she was Muhammad's wife or not), served water to the Muslim fighters in Uhud. Here is the Hadith:
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 131:
On the day (of the battle) of Uhad when (some) people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw 'Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Um Sulaim, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins (in another narration it is said, "carrying the water skins on their backs"). Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.
On the night of their return from Uhud, the Muslim army kept a sharp vigil on the city of Medina to prevent any intrusion from the Quraysh. Muhammad had a rather nightmarish night. For the whole of the night he thought over what had happened and what the future holds for him and his hordes of followers. The defeat at Uhud was an extremely painful blow to him and his credibility as the messenger of Allah was now at stake-Muhammad was quick to understand this. He needed to be calm, cool, and collected, and must decide on a course of action to restore his lost credibility and the awe at which his followers looked at him. To them, he was invincible and next to Allah-nothing can be further from this truth. Muhammad vowed that he must not lose this magical and hypnotic mob-power on his Jihadist followers. At the same time he was also alarmed that the Quraysh army might return and inflict a sudden attack on Medina. The only choice for him was to go out, look for the whereabouts of the Quraysh army and scare (terrorize) them, somehow or other. He must cast terror on their hearts by whatever means he could muster-he knew this truth very well.
Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at [email protected].