The battle of Badr was the first armed encounter between the Muslims and the Quraish. It was in fact a decisive battle that gave the Muslims a historic victory, which was acknowledged by all the Arabs, and dealt a severe blow to the religious and economic interests of the polytheists. The Jews also regarded each Islamic victory as a severe blow to their religio-economic entity. Both groups were burning with rage and fury because the Muslims had achieved a great victory:
“Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers (Muslims) the Jews and al-Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters and disbelievers, etc.).” [5:82]
A third group that comprised of the hypocrites, who falsely professed Islam, were much more infuriated. The leader of the hypocrites was `Abdullah bin Ubai. Another group comprised of the Bedouins who lived in tents that were pitched within the vicinity of Madinah, whose livelihood depended on plundering and looting. They were totally indifferent to the fundamental question of belief and disbelief. Their concern resulted from the fear of losing their means of financial existence in case a powerful Muslim state rose in Madinah which would place an end to their practices of plundering. It is for this reason that they maintained a grudge against Islam, the Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
With four parties lying in ambush against the new religion, the entire faith was at stake. Within Madinah, there existed pretension to Islam embedded with plots of conspiracy and provocative deeds; as for the Jews, they maintained clear open hostility along with resentment and rage against the Muslims; while those in Makkah openly and continual called for revenge, which was coupled with an open intention to mobilize all potential resources in order to silence the Islamic voice once and for all. This later translated into a military action, the Battle of Uhud, which left a negative notion on the good name and esteem that the Muslims were carefully working to raise and preserve.
The first intelligence to reach the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) after Badr and while in Madinah was of Banu Sulaim of Ghatafan engaging in gathering troops to attack the Muslims. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took the initiative and prepared for a surprise attack against them on their own soil at a watering place called Al-Kudr. On receiving the news of an impending attack, they fled prior to the arrival of the Muslims. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) remained there for three days. The Muslims took 500 camels as booty, which and the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) distributed to the fighters after setting aside the customary one-fifth; thus, each fighter gained two camels as booty. This invasion took place in month of Shawwal during the year 2 A.H., seven days after the events of Badr.
An Attempt on the Prophet’s Life
The impact of defeat at Badr was so great that the Makkans burned with hatred and resentment over their horrible loss. To resolve this situation, two polytheists volunteered to quench their thirst and silence the source of that humiliation, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
‘Umair bin Wahb al-Jumahi, a terrible polytheist, and Safwan bin Umaiyah sat together privately lamenting over their loss and remembering the dead and the captives. ‘Umair expressed a keen desire to kill the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and free his son Wahb who was captured and was currently in Madinah; however, he was prevented by the burden of debts and for the support of a large. Safwan also had his own reasons to see the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) killed, so he offered to take upon himself ‘Umair’s debts and the support of his family if he goes through with his plan.
‘Umair agreed and asked Safwan to keep the matter a secret. He left for Madinah, with a sword on which he applied some deadly poison. ‘Umar bin al-Khattab saw him at the door of the Masjid and understood that he had come with some evil intentions, so he immediately went inside the Masjid and informed the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Caught by the handle of his sword, ‘Umair was escorted in. He greeted with the pre-Islamic greeting, to which he Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied that Allah had been gracious and taught them the greeting of the dwellers of the Paradise: Peace be upon you! The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) questioned him about the objective of his visit to which `Umair replied that he had come to see that his captured son was well treated. When asked about the sword he cursed it and said that they had gained nothing for it. When questioned about his real objective, he remained obstinate and did not disclose the secret meeting he had with Safwan. So the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) revealed to ‘Umair the secret behind his mission. ‘Umair was taken by surprise, and an incredible astonishment seized him, so he immediately bore witness to the messengership of Muhammad. He then began to praise Allah for having been guided to the straight path. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) became pleased and requested his Companions to teach ‘Umair the principles of Islam, to teach him the Noble Qur’an, and to free his son.
Safwan, meanwhile, was still entertaining false illusions of the approaching news that would recover honor, and help bury the memory of [the humiliation at] Badr. He impatiently waited for news of ‘Umair; but, to his great surprise, he was told that ‘Umair had embraced Islam and became a devoted believer. ‘Umair would later come back to Makkah where he began to call the people to Islam, managing to convert many of Makkans to Islam.
The Invasion of Bani Qainuqa’
We have already mentioned the treaty that the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) signed with the Jews. He was very careful to completely abide by, and the Muslims did not show the least violation of any of its provisions. However, the Jews, who were unable to rid themselves of their inclination toward treachery, betrayal, and covenantbreaching, began a process of conspiracies and troublemaking with the aim of producing division within the solid growing ranks of the Muslims. The following is an example of their behavior.
The Schemes of the Jews
Shas bin Qais, who was an elderly Jew, a terrible disbeliever, and a great envier of the Muslims, once passed by a group of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger from Aws and Khazraj. He noticed a widespread spirit of understanding amongst an atmosphere of relationship and friendship that enveloped the entire gathering. This was an unusual scene, as it was in conflict with their pre-Islamic characteristics of hostility and hatred for one another. Therefore, he sent one of his youth to sit among them, reminding them of the Bu’ath war that occurred between them, and recite some of the poetic verses that they composed satirizing each other. This was all with the intention to sow the seeds of discord and difference, and to undermine the new Islamic orientated intertribal relations. The youth succeeded in his mission and the two groups began to behave like the old days, and preIslamic tribal fanaticism sprang to the front, bringing with it a state of hostility.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was informed of this and he immediately, at the head of some Emigrants, set out to resolve the situation. He began to reproach them in a style of a great teacher with a spirit of tolerance and understanding. He said:
“Muslims, by Allah, have you entered the state of the days of ignorance while I am still among you, and after Allah guided you to Islam, honored you with it; through it He cut the fetters of ignorance from your necks, delivered you from disbelief, and united your hearts?”
The Muslims quickly realized that it was a satanic urge and a plot hatched by their enemies. They embraced one another and went back home satisfied and in full obedience to Allah’s Messenger.
Such were the practices of the Jews; they would fake having belief during the day, and practice disbelief during the night. If they owed anything to a Muslim, they would avoid its obligations on the grounds that he had converted into a new religion and on this basis the agreement was no longer valid. However, if it was the situation was reversed, they would never cease to harass the debtor day and night until he paid back the debt. This was all done by them prior to the battle of Badr, despite the treaty they signed with Allah’s Messenger. Allah’s Messenger and his Companions remained patient concerning them in the hopes that they would receive guidance, causing peace and security to spread throughout their land.
The Jews of Qainuqa’ Breach the Covenant
The Jews, after witnessing the help that Allah granted to the believers through their noticeable victory [against the polytheists of Makkah] and the increasing Muslim presence in Madinah, they could no longer contain themselves or conceal their resentment. They began a series of publicly provocative and harmful actions. The most wicked from amongst them was Ka`b bin Ashraf, who will be discussed later. As for the most wicked people from among them, then it was the tribe of Banu Qainuqa’, who resided within Madinah in an area that was named after them. Concerning employment, they worked as goldsmiths, blacksmiths, and crafters of household things, and because of these experiences, weaponry was abundantly kept in their homes. They contained seven hundred warriors, and were considered the boldest fighters amongst the Jews in Arabia. They were the first to breach the covenant of cooperation and nonaggression which they had signed with the Prophet(May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); their behavior grew more impolite and unbearable. They began a process of causing trouble, mocking the Muslims, harming those who came to their marketplace, and frightening the women.
Abu Dawud and others reported that Ibn `Abbas said: When Allah’s Messenger defeated the Quraish at Badr, he returned to Madinah and gathered the Jews at the marketplace of Banu Qainuqa’. He said to them:
“Jews, enter Islam before you suffer the same fate as the Quraish.” They replied, “Muhammad, do not deceive yourself; you merely fought a group from the Quraish who were inexperienced at war. But if you want to fight us then know that we are an entire people; and you have not met anyone like us before.”
Concerning this the Words of Allah were revealed:
“Say (O Muhammad) to those who disbelieve: ‘You will be defeated and gathered together to Hell, and worst indeed is that place to rest.’ There has already been a Sign for you (O Jews) in the two armies that met (in the battle of Badr): One was fighting in the cause of Allah, and as for the other (they) were disbelievers. They (the believers) saw them (the disbelievers) with their own eyes twice their number (although they were thrice their number). And Allah supports with His Victory whom He pleases. Verily, in this is a lesson for those who understand.” [3:12, 13]
The answer which Banu Qainuqa‘ furnished amounted to a declaration of hostilities. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) suppressed his irritation, and advised the Muslims to be patient and forgiving to await for the right revealed time.
Ibn Hisham reported from Abu `Aun that an Arab woman went to the marketplace of Banu Qainuqa‘ to sell something. Afterwards, selling the thing, and while sitting at the shop of the goldsmith, the goldsmith wanted to expose, so, without her knowledge, he tied the edge of her garment to the back of something. When she stood to leave, her lower garment unraveled exposing her private area and they began laughing at her. She fastened her clothes, and a Muslim man, who was close, came and killed the Jewish goldsmith. Other Jews attacked the Muslim man and killed him. The family of the slain Muslim man called out to the Muslims for help and the conflict between them and Banu Qainuqa‘ began.
The Siege, Surrender, and Banishment
On Saturday, the 15th of Shawwal, in 2 AH, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) placed Abu Lubabah Ibn `Abdul-Mundhir in charge of Madinah and marched out with his soldiers and laid siege to the Jewish forts for fifteen days. Hamzah bin `Abdul-Muttalib was the standard-bearer of the Muslims army. Allah cast fear into their hearts, and [so they surrendered] becoming obliged to accept the Messenger’s judgment concerning their lives, wealth, women, and children.
‘Abdullah bin Ubai Ibn Salul began his role as a hypocrite and began to intercede for them on the grounds of former alliance between them and his tribe, the Khazraj. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) granted the request of this hypocrite, who had only accepted Islam about one month earlier. Banu Qainuqa‘ surrendered all their wealth, armor, and weapons to the Prophet(May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who set aside one-fifth and distributed the remainder amongst his men and they were expelled from the Arabian Peninsula to vast lands of Greater Syria where they remained.
Hostilities were being conducted against the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) through the plots and scheming being conducted by Safwan bin Umaiyah on the one hand, the hypocrites and Jews on the other, and Abu Sufyan, on a third front, who was preparing militarily to seek vengeance for Badr and to show the other Arab tribes that Quraish was still a strong military power. In the aftermath of Badr, Abu Sufyan, burning for revenge, made an oath that he would never bathe until he had taken revenge. He set out at the head of 200 men towards Madinah but was not brave enough to attack it in broad daylight, instead adopting the actions of a robber which are performed in the dark. He secretly entered Madinah and went to see an old friend named Huyai bin Akhtab, who was too afraid to let him in, so he left for the house of Sallam bin Mishkam, the leader of Bani Nadeer, a Jewish tribe. The Jews entertained him and gave him a complete account of the situation. Late at night he dispatched a group of his men to raid Al-`Uraid, a suburb of Madinah. There, the men cut and burnt some palm trees, killed two Muslims and then quickly retreated.
On hearing the news of this event, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gathered some men and went out in search of Abu Sufyan, but he was unable to catch them. However, the Muslims were able to capture their provisions (Saweeq, a type of barley porridge) which the polytheists had left behind in order to lighten their loads and hasten with their escape. It is for this reason that this campaign was called the Saweeq Invasion. It took place in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, in the 2 A.H., two months after the events of Badr. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had left Abu Lubabah in charge of Madinah while he went of this expedition.
The Invasion of Dhi Amr
In the month of Muharram, 3 A.H., the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) received news that Banu Tha’labah and Banu Muharib were gathering troops with the aim of raiding the outskirts of Madinah. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) at the head of four hundred and fifty cavalry and infantry set out to handle this new situation. This was his largest military expedition prior to the battle of Uhud. ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan was given charge of the affairs of Madinah in his absence. On the way, the army captured a man, who embraced Islam and acted as their guide. When the enemy heard of the approach of the Muslims, they retreated into the mountains. The Muslims camped at a watering place called Dhi Amr for the entire month of Safar, 3 A.H. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was to show the Bedouins within the area that the Muslims were now powerful enough [to defend themselves], and to cast fear and awe into the hearts of their enemies.
The Killing of Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf
Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf was the most resentful Jew against Islam and the Muslims. He was the most intent on inflicting harm on Allah’s Messenger, and the most zealous advocate of waging war against him. He belonged to the tribe of Tai’ but his mother was from Banu Nadeer. He was a wealthy man who was known for being handsome, and was a poet who lived in luxury in his fort, which was situated south east of Madinah at the rear of Banu Nadeer’s habitations.
On hearing the news of the outcome of Badr, he became terribly frustrated and swore that, if the news was true, then he would prefer death over life. When the outcome was confirmed, he wrote poems satirizing the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and praising and enticing the Quraish against him. He rode to Makkah where he started to stroke the fires of war, and rekindle their resentment against the Muslims in Madinah. When Abu Sufyan asked him as to which religion he was more inclined toward, the religion of the Makkans or that of Muhammad and his Companions, he replied that the pagans were better guided. With respect to this situation, Allah revealed the following:
“Have you not seen those who were given a portion of the Scripture? They believe in Jibt and Taghut, and say to the disbelievers that they are better guided as regards the way than the believers (Muslims).” [4:51]
Afterwards, he returned to Madinah to start a new slanderous propaganda campaign that comprised of obscene songs and poems with the desire to defame the Muslim women.
The situation reached an unbearable stage and could no longer be tolerated. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gathered his Companions and asked: “Who will kill Ka`b bin Al-Ashraf? He has spoken evil about Allah, and His Messenger.” Muhammad bin Maslamah,
‘Abbad bin Bishr, Al-Harith bin Aws, Abu ‘Abs bin Jabr and Abu Na’ilah,
i.e., Salkan bin Salamah, who was Ka‘b’s foster brother, volunteered for the job.
Muhammad bin Maslamah said: “Messenger of Allah, do you wish that I should kill him?” He said: “Yes.” He said: “Permit me to speak [to him in the way I see fit].” He said: “Speak (to him however you like].” So, Muhammad bin Maslamah came to Ka`b and said to him: “This man (i.e., the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) has decided to collect charity [from us] and this has placed us in great hardship.” When he heard this, Ka`b said: “By Allah you will be placed in even more troubles by him.” Muhammad bin Maslamah answered: “There is no doubt in this, however, since we have become his followers we do not wish to abandon him until we see what turn his affairs will take. I want you to give me a loan.” He said: “What will you mortgage?” Muhammad answered: “What do you want?” The immoral and heartless Jew demanded women and children as articles of security against the debt. Muhammad said: “Should we pledge our women, while you are the most handsome of the Arabs, and our son, who may be abused by statements that he was pledged for two Wasq (measurement unit of weight) of dates; however we can pledge to you our weapons.” Ka`b agreed to this. At another time, Salkan bin Salamah (Abu Na`ilah) went to see Ka‘b for the same purpose and the same exchange took place, except that Abu Na’ilah would bring him some companions. The plan was successful and provided for the presence of both men and weapons. In the night of the fourteenth of Rabi`ul-Awwal, in the 3rd A.H., the group gave their salutations to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and set out, in the Name of Allah, to implement their carefully drawn plan. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stayed behind praying for them and supplicating Allah to make them successful.
The men went to him at night and called upon him. He came down, although his wife warned him not to meet them, saying: “I hear a voice which sounds like the voice of murder.” He replied: “It is only Muhammad bin Maslamah and my foster brother Abu Na’ilah. When a gentleman is called at night, even if he is to be pierced with a spear, he should respond to the call.” Abu Na’ilah said to his companions: “When he comes down, I will extend my hand towards his head to smell it and when I hold him you should perform your job.” So when he came down, they talked together for about an hour. They invited him to go out and spend some nice time under the moonlight. On the way out, Abu Na’ilah remarked: “I smell the nicest perfume from you.” Ka`b replied: “That is because I have with me a mistress who is the most scented of the women of Arabia.” Abu Na’ilah then said: “Allow me to smell [the scent on your head].” He said: “You may.” So he caught him and smelt. Then he again asked: “Allow me to do so [once again].” This time he held his head and said to his companions: “Do your job,” so they killed him. The men, after fulfilling their mission, came back to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Al-Harith bin Aws, who was among them, was mistakenly wounded by the swords of his men, and was bleeding profusely. They shouted, “Allah is the Greatest,” upon reaching Baqi’ Al-Gharqad, which the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) heard and realized that they had killed the enemy of Allah. When he saw them, he said: “Cheerful faces are yours.” In reply, they said: “As well as yours, Messenger of Allah.” They handed to him the head of the tyrant and he mentioned Allah’s praise for their success. He then applied his saliva on the wound of al-Harith and it was immediately healed.
When the Jews came to learn of the death of their tyrant, Ka`b bin AlAshraf, they became scared and panic griped their stone-like hearts.
They realized that from now on the Messenger of Allah would not hesitate in using force when kind words and good admonition would fail. They remained silent and resigned, and faked adherence to the covenants [they had signed].
Now the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was free to focus on foreign affairs, and the external dangers that were once again coming from Makkah.
The Invasion of Buhran
During the month of Rabi`uth-Thani, the 3rd A.H., the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) led a campaign, which comprised of three hundred warriors, to Buhran in the area of Al-Furu`. He stayed there until the month of Jumada Al-Ula, in the 3rd A.H. No fighting took place during this campaign.
Zaid bin Harithah (May Allah be Pleased with him) Leads a Campaign on the Trade Routes of Quraish
This was the most successful campaign prior to the Battle of Uhud. It took place in the month of Jumada ath-Thaniyah, in the year 3 A.H.
As summer approached, it was time for the Makkan trade caravans to leave for Syria. The people of Quraish whose lives depended mainly on a trade economy consisting of summer caravans to Syria and winter caravans to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), were now at a loss as to what route they should follow in order to avoid the backbreaking military strikes that the Muslims successfully inflicted on the polytheists.
They convened a meeting to discuss the ways of escaping the economic blockade. They decided to take their caravans along the trade route that crosses through Najd into Iraq. Furat bin Haiyan was appointed as a guide for the caravan and Safwan bin Umaiyah was chosen to lead the caravan along the new route. News of the meeting became known through Nu’aim bin Mas`ud Al-Ashja`i while he was under the influence of wine, and it traveled fast to Madinah by way of Sulait bin An-Nu`man, who related to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the plan [of the Makkans]. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) immediately gathered a hundred horsemen under the leadership of Zaid bin Harithah Al-Kalbi(May Allah be Pleased with him)and dispatched them to intercept and capture the caravan, which they caught up with them at a place called Al-Qardah. They took the polytheists by surprise, captured their guide and two other men, while Safwan and his guards fled without showing any resistance. The caravan was carrying silver and merchandise whose value reached one hundred thousand dirhams. The booty was distributed among the Muslim warriors after onefifth had been set aside for the Prophet(May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Furat bin Haiyan embraced Islam out of his own free will.
As a result of this incident, the Muslims were able to thwart the Quraish’s plans to find an alternate trade route. The economic siege applied to Makkah was strengthened and resulted in a great impact on their trade economy. The people of Makkah became anxious and concerned about their livelihood, which was now at stake and had no hope whatsoever for any possible resumption of commercial life or redemption of their former prestige at the socio-political level. However, two alternatives existed for the Makkans to adopt: Giving up all forms of pride and arrogance and reconcile with the New State and establish peace with the Muslims; or launch a decisive overpowering war with the aim of crushing the military force of Madinah. It was apparent through the process of events that the Quraish had opted for the second alternative. Loud cries were being heard everywhere in Makkah. which demanded the immediate revenge and a quick retaliatory action. These movements, which occured on all levels, constituted the direct preliminaries to the battle of Uhud.