Studying the battles, missions, and battalions that the Prophet formed and dispatched, will certainly offer us and everyone a true and clear impression that the Prophet was the greatest military leader in the entire world, as well as the most righteous, the most insightful, and the most alert. He was not only a man of superior genius for this concern but he was also the master and the greatest of all the Messengers as far as Prophethood and Heavenly Message are concerned. Besides, all the battles that he fought were standard in their application to the requirements of strictness, bravery, and good arrangements that fit the terms and conditions of war.
None of the battles he fought were lost due to a shortage of wisdom, or to any technical error in army mobilization or a location in a wrong strategic position. The loss of any of his battles was not due to misjudgment about occupying the best and the most appropriate sites of battles, nor was it due to a wrong choice in leader, for he had proved himself to be a peculiar sort of leader that differed from other leaders that our world has known and experienced. Regarding the events of Uhud and Hunain, there were consequences of weakness in some military elements in Hunain, and as for Uhud, then there was disobedience to orders of the Prophet. His genius was clearly shown in these two battles when the Muslims were defeated; he stood fast facing the enemy and managed, by his super wisdom, to spoil the enemy’s plan as was the case in Uhud. Similarly he managed to change the Muslims’ defeat in Hunain into victory. In fact, such grave changes in military scenes usually leave the worst impression on the military leaders and persuade them to flee for their lives.
Through these invasions he was also able to impose security, institute peace, diffuse conflicts, and destroy the military might of the enemies through a continuous struggle between Islam and paganism.
The Prophet also had deep insight and could differentiate the faithful from the hypocrites and plotters. Great was the group of military leaders trained by him through practical examples, who fought after his death and excelled over the Persians and the Byzantines in the battlefields of Ash-Sham and Iraq with respect to war strategy and leadership. They managed to drive off the enemies of Islam, from their lands and countries, their gardens and springs, and their farms. They drove them off their honorable residence and from the grace and provisions they owned and enjoyed.
Thanks to these battles, Allah’s Messenger managed to secure accommodations, and lands, and provided chances of work for all Muslims. He solved the refugee problems of those who had no houses or money. He equipped the army with weapons, horses and expenditures. He realized all that without exercising a particle’s weight of injustice. The Prophet altered the standards and aims of pre-Islamic wars. Their reason behind wars was no longer robbing, killing, plundering, tyranny and aggression, but was victory for the oppressed weak people, whose residences were demolished. For the disbelievers, war was a means to rape or unveil women, practice cruelty against the weak, the old, the children, and the infants, to destroy farmland and animals, and to spread corruption on the earth. Islamic wars are different from pre-Islamic wars. War in Islam is jihad, meaning, a noble and sacred fight in the cause of Allah for the confirmation of a Muslim society that sought to free people from cruelty, oppression and aggression. It is a society that everyone everywhere and at all times should be proud of. Pre-Islamic thoughts and traditions of the Jahiliyah period had been turned upside down by Islam; traditions that were so hard on the weak people that they had to invoke Allah to aid them in escaping from that pre-Islamic environment by saying:
``Our Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.’’
In Islam, a person of power is a weak person until the right of the poor is taken from him. War in Islam is a Jihad for the purification of the land of Allah from deception, treachery, sinful deeds and aggression. It is a sacred war that aims at spreading security, safety, mercy and compassion, as well as observation of rights and fairness. Allah’s Messenger issued honorable and strict rules about war and ordered his soldiers and leaders to obey them. They were forbidden from breaking those rules under any circumstances. In reference to Sulaiman bin Buraidah’s version, who said that his father had told him that whenever Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) appointed a leader for an army or a battalion, he would recommend him to fear Allah, the Great and Almighty, and to be good toward the Muslims who were with him. Then the Prophet would say to him:
``Let your invasion be in the Name of Allah and for His sake. Fight those who disbelieve in Allah. Invade but do not plunder nor conceal the booty. Never deform the corpse of a dead person or kill an infant child.’’
Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would ask people to make things easy, and would forbid them to bear down hard on others or constrain them. “Pacify,’’ he said, “and do not punish.’’ When it happened that he arrived at the battlefield by night, he would never invade the enemy until the morning. He would utterly forbid burning (i.e., torturing people) with fire, killing women and children, or even beating them. He also forbade theft and robbery and proceeded so far as to say that gains acquired through plundering are as forbidden as the flesh of a corpse. Destruction of farmland, killing of animals, and cutting down trees were all forbidden unless they were badly needed and there was no other substitute. He said:
``Neither kill a wounded person nor run after a fleeing one, and do not kill a captive.’’
He decreed that envoys cannot be killed. He also strictly prohibited the killing of those who made covenants. He even said:
``Whoever kills a person who is under a covenant, shall not smell Paradise, though its smell can be experienced at a forty-year distance from it.’’
There were other noble rules that purified wars from their Jahiliyah (preIslamic) filthiness and turned them into sacred wars.
Multitudes Embrace the Religion of Allah
The invasion and the conquest of Makkah was, as we have already stated, a decisive battle that utterly destroyed paganism. The Arabs as a result of that battle were able to differentiate truth from falsehood. Delusions no longer existed in their life, so they raced to embrace Islam.
‘Amr bin Salamah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “We were at a water (spring) near a passage used by people. Whenever a camel rider would pass by us, we would ask them: `What is the matter with people? What is this man (i.e., the Prophet) like?’ They would say: `He claims that Allah has revealed such and such.’ I would memorize those words as if they had been recited within my chest. The Arabs had left their Islam up to the conquest. They would say: `Leave him alone to face his people. If he is a truthful Prophet, then he will overcome them.’ So when the conquest took place, peoples hastened to declare their Islam. My father was the quickest of all my people to embrace Islam. Arriving at his people he said: `By Allah, I have just been to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he said: Perform so-and-so prayer at such a time and soand-so prayer at such and such time. When the prayer time is due let one of you call for the prayer and appoint the most learned of the Qur’an among you to be an Imam (leader) of yours.’’’
This Prophetic tradition manifests the great effect of the conquest of Makkah on the phase of events. It shows the influence that the conquest of Makkah had upon strengthening Islam as well as its affect on the standing of the Arabs and their acceptance of Islam. That influence was absolutely confirmed and deeply rooted after the invasion of Tabuk.
A clear and obvious evidence of that influence could be deduced from the great number of delegations that began to arrive in Madinah successively in the ninth and tenth years of Al-Hijra.
The immense crowds of people who raced to embrace the religion of Allah and the great army which included ten thousand fighters in the invasion of the conquest of Makkah had grown to thirty thousand fighters at the time of the invasion of Tabuk.
It was only in less than a year after the conquest of Makkah that this growth in the Islamic army had taken place. A hundred thousand or a hundred and forty-four thousand Muslim pilgrims shared in the Hajjatul-Wada’ (i.e., Farewell Pilgrimage); it was such an enormous number of Muslims surging, as an ocean of men, around Allah’s Messenger that the horizon echoed their voices and the land shook while they uttered Labbaik (i.e., Lord, here we are worshipping), glorifying and magnifying Allah, and thanking Him.