Having neutralized two powerful sides of the Confederates alliance, the Prophet began preparations to neutralize the third party, the desert Bedouins, who took the area of Najd as territory and continued in their usual practices of looting and plundering. Unlike the Jews of Khaibar and people of Makkah, they had a liking for living in the wilderness in dispersed and scattered spots, hence the difficulty of bringing them under control, and the uselessness of carrying out preventive campaigns against them. However, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was determined to put an end to this unacceptable situation and called the Muslims around him to get ready to launch a decisive campaign against those harassing rebels.
Meanwhile it was reported to him that Banu Muharib and Banu Tha`labah of the Ghatafan tribe, were gathering an army in order to encounter the Muslims. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) proceeded towards Najd at the head of four to seven hundred men. He appointed Abu Dharr, and in another version `Uthman bin `Affan, to administer the affairs of Madinah in his absence. The Muslim fighters penetrated deep into their land until they reached a area called Nakhlah where they encountered some Bedouins of Ghatafan; however, no fighting took place because the latter agreed into ceasefire with the Muslims. The Prophet led his followers that day in the Fear prayer.
Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (May Allah be Pleased with him), narrated that they set out on an expedition with Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “We were six in number and had (with us) only one camel which we rode by taking turns. Our feet were injured. My feet were so badly injured that my nails came off. We, therefore, bandaged our feet with rags, so this invasion was called Dhat-ur-Riqa’ (i.e., the expedition of rags).’’
Jabir narrated: In the course of the Dhat-ur-Riqa’ expedition, we came to a leafy tree, under which the Prophet sat in order to shade himself from the burning sun. The others dispersed here and there seeking shelter from the heat. The Prophet, after hanging his sword on the tree, took a short nap, meanwhile, a Bedouin came, seized the sword and unsheathed it. The Prophet woke up to find his sword drawn in the man’s hand. The Bedouin asked the Prophet: “Who now stop me from killing you?’’ The Prophet answered: “Allah.’’
In another version, it was reported that the Prophet took the sword after it had fallen from the hand of the Bedouin and asked him: “Who can stop me from killing you?’’ The man said: “You (the Prophet) are the best one to hold a sword.’’ The Prophet asked the man if he would testify to the Oneness of Allah and the Messengership of Muhammad. The Bedouin answered that he would never engage in a fight against him, or ally with a people fighting the Muslims.
The Prophet then set the man free, and he went to his people and told them that he had seen the best person from among all the people.
During the course of this expedition a female polytheists was taken prisoner. Upon hearing the news of her captivity, her husband swore that he would never rest until he had shed the blood of a Muslim. One night he secretly he approached the camp of the Muslims and saw two people stationed as guards. He shot one of them with an arrow, whose name was `Abbad bin Bishr (May Allah be Pleased with him), while he was offering the prayer. However, he did not stop his prayer, rather he simply pulled out the arrow [and continued praying]. He was then hit by two other arrows, but he still did not break his prayer. After he performed the closing salutations, he awoke his companion, `Ammar bin Yasir (May Allah be Pleased with him), who protested at him not alerting him sooner, to which ‘Abbad replied that he was half way through a Chapter and did not wish to have it interrupted.
The victory at the Expedition of Dhat-ur-Riqa’ had a tremendous impact on all the Bedouins. It cast fear into their hearts and made them powerless to annoy the Muslim society in Madinah. They began to adjust in the prevailing situation and prepared themselves to accept the new geo-political conditions working in favor of the true religion. Some of them even embraced Islam and took an active part in the conquest of Makkah and the battle of Hunain, receiving their due share of the war booty.
The Prophet returned from this battle in Shawwal, 7 A.H. From that time onward, the anti-Islam tripartite coalition had been neutralized, and peace and security prevailed. The Muslims began to put right any political imbalances and subdued the small areas that still created unrest here and there in face of the great drive of Islamization that enveloped the entire area. We could in this context mention some of these incidental clashes which pointed markedly to the ever-growing power of the Muslim society:
- A platoon headed by Ghalib bin `Abdullah al-Laithi (May Allah be Pleased with him) was dispatched in Safar or in Rabi`ul-Awwal, 7 A.H. to subdue the provocative behavior of Bani Al-Mulawwih. The Muslims managed to kill a large number of the enemy soldiers and captured a great amount of booty. A large army of polytheists pursued them, but floods hindered the pursuit and the Muslims managed to withdraw in safety.
- The incident of Hisma occurred in Jumadi Ath-Thani, 7 A.H.
- `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be Pleased with him), at the head of athirty soldiers, set out to an area called Turbah in Sha’ban, 7 A.H. to restraint the people of Hawazin. No sooner had he arrived that the inhabitants fled for their lives.
- Thirty men under the leadership of Bashir bin Sa`d Al-Ansari (May Allahbe Pleased with him) were sent to Bani Murrah in Sha’ban, 7 A.H., situated in the area of Fadak. He killed a large number of the enemy and seized a lot of their camels and cattle.
While returning, the enemy gathered a force and overtook the Muslims at night. They showered Bashir and his men with arrows, and killed all the Muslims except Bashir, who took refuge in Fadak. He stayed there with the Jews until his wounds healed.
- Ghalib bin `Abdullah Al-Laithi (May Allah be Pleased with him) wassent at the head one hundred and thirty men, to launch an attack on Bani `Uwal and Bani `Abd bin Tha’labah in Ramadan, 7 A.H. They killed some of the enemy’s men and captured their cattle and camels.
‘Usamah bin Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with him) killed Mirdas bin Nahik after latter had pronounced the testimony of Allah’s Oneness. The Prophet commented on this by saying to his Companions: “Did you open his heart to see whether he was truthful or a liar?”
- A cavalry of thirty men lead by `Abdullah bin Rawahah (May Allah be
Pleased with him) marched towards Khaibar on reports that Asir (or Bashir bin Rizam) was inciting Bani Ghatafan to attack the Muslims.
They managed to persuade him to follow them to Madinah with the encouragement that the Prophet would institute him as a ruler of Khaibar.
On their way back a misunderstanding took place which gave rise to fierce fighting between the two parties. The result was the death of Asir and the thirty men who were with him.
- In Shawwal, 7 A.H., Bashir bin Sa`d al-Ansari (May Allah be Pleasedwith him) marched towards Yemen and Jabar at the head of three hundred Muslim fighters to subdue a large group of polytheists who had gathered to raid the outskirts of Madinah.
Bashir and his men would march during the night and hide during the day, doing so until they reached their destination. Having heard about the advent of the Muslims, the polytheists fled leaving behind a large amount of booty and two men, who later embraced Islam in Madinah.
- In 7 A.H., shortly before the Compensatory `Umrah, a man named Jusham bin Mu`awiyah came to an area called Ghabah in order to gather the people of Qais and entice them in fighting against the Muslims.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), on hearing these reports, dispatched Abu Hadrad (May Allah be Pleased with him) with two men to analyze the situation. Abu Hadrad, through a clever strategy, managed to defeat the enemy and capture a lot of their cattle.