📅 624 CE | 3 AH
In 624 the Quraysh and their allies began their march against Muhammad equipped with great amounts of armor, two hundred horses, and three thousand camels. The Emigrants and Helpers were extremely apprehensive, and the next morning the prophet called a counsel of war. Through mutual consultation it became evident that the majority were not in favour of fighting from within the city walls, and so the prophet decided to attack. At noon they assembled for the Friday prayer, and the theme of his sermon was Jihad and all that it demands of earnestness and effort; and he said that victory would be theirs if they remained steadfast. Then he commanded them to make preparations for war; in the name of God.
The prophet set out in the direction of Uhud in search of an advantage point for his army and when they were half-way the sun began to set. The prophet gave instructions that the army should be ready to move off shortly before dawn. But, Abdullah ibn Ubayy, had been in consultation with some of his nearest followers during the night, and when it was time to raise camp he turned back to Medina with three hundred of the hypocrites and doubters without even speaking to the prophet. Reduced now to seven hundred against the three thousand Makkan fighters the believers marched on.
When the Muslim force reached Uhud the Prophet ordered his companions in rows and placed fifty of his best archers on the side of the mountain, in case of a surprise attack from the rear. He explicitly ordered the archers to protect that side under all circumstances and never to leave until he commanded them otherwise. Thus the two parties were poised for battle. Hamzah gave the war cry, “Die! Die!” and charged into the thick of the Quraysh. Ali ibn Abu Talib engaged Talhah ibn Abu Talhah, carrier of the Makkan flag, and killed him with a single stroke. The prophet’s archers shot a volley of arrows into Khalid ibn Walid’s cavalry.
The Quraysh forces advanced fiercely and the disproportionately numbered sides began their engage. Hamzah, who was unmistakable for his unusually powerful stature was recognized by Wahshi, who had found him out. He threw his javelin aiming for a tiny chink in his armour fatally pierced Hamza’s abdomen. The great warrior staggered a few paces forward and fell to the ground in the throes of death.
But the Muslims continued in valour, and upon killing all the flag bearers who rose to hold the banner of the allies, the enemy realised defeat was imminent and began to flee. However, defeat is followed by booty and the archers whom Muhammad had commanded to remain behind now sought to join their comrades and gain their share. Abdullah ibn Jubayr appealed to them to remain but they descended to the plain with only ten men keeping their ground. This provided Khalid, commander of the Makkan cavalry, the prime opportunity to attack and seize the mountainside where the archers were. By doing so, he managed to flank the believers and take them by surprise. After he occupied the mountainside, Khalid signaled to the Quraysh to attack again as he advanced upon the Muslims from the rear. The defeated Makkans rallied to his call, and the Muslims soon found themselves in trouble; disunited on the battle field. With the believers being attacked from every direction, all sense of strategy started to crumble, and with the cry that Muhammad was killed, chaos reigned supreme and the Muslims began to flee.
However, those with steadfast faith stood close to the Prophet drawing a close circle around him for his protection. The Prophet had been hit with a stone thrown by Utbah ibn Abu Waqqas which caused him to fall to the ground with a wounded face and a broken tooth. A cry swept through the battlefield that the Prophet had been killed. The sheer force of the throw pushed two links of the Prophet’s helmet chain into his wound and Abu Ubaydah ibn al Jarrah broke his front teeth in forcing the links out of the prophet’s cheek. As he recovered they then began to retreat towards the mountain of Uhud while fighting their pursuing enemies and the heat of the battle abated once more. In this manner the two forces regrouped and decided to retire.
Before his army moved off, Abu Sufyan heard the disappointing news that Muhammad had not been killed after all. The struggle with Madinah was not over. ‘Next year at Badr!’ he cried, as a final challenge, and on behalf of Muhammad one the companions cried: ‘Yes, it is an appointment between us!’