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Prelude to the Battle of Uhud

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Previously we discussed Muhammed’s (pbuh) dilemma regarding the non-Muslims’ attitude in Medina, and we also spoke about the expulsion of the Jews, i.e. the Banu Qaynuqa, who came out in open confrontation with the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers.

We discussed the fight that broke out between the Jews of the Banu Qaynuqa and the Muslims, as a result of the humiliation of a Muslim woman who had gone to the shop of a Jew to have some remodeling done to her jewelry. We know what happened after the woman refused to remove her veil (when the Jew insisted that she do so) and the tragic consequences that followed after she was ridiculed by the Jew and his friend.

Some historians record this incident and many other skirmishes that occurred between the Muslims and Jews as a cauldron of great instability that proved highly explosive. They (the Jews) had signed the ‘Medina Accord’, an agreement with the Prophet (pbuh) to forswear any willful act of aggression or violence against the Muslims. But for reasons known only to themselves, the mere propulsion of Muhammed (pbuh) into three different positions of absolute leadership, i.e. ‘Spiritual Emissary’, Political Leader, and finally, Military Man, did not sit well with them. They felt that it was a travesty that a fugitive from Mecca could blatantly come and assume the highest office of that city and simply get away with it.

It is common knowledge that nobody from the Al-Aws, the Khazraj, the various Arab tribes that inhabited Medina, or even the upper echelons from the city seemed able to stop Muhammed’s (pbuh) relentless march to total domination of Medina. Not even the war-mongers with their ‘hate-speech’ and rhetoric could sway the ordinary citizens to take up arms against Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers and reclaim Medina—the Battle of Badr had effectively put paid to any meaningful uprising or rebellion.

And once again we are confronted by Allah’s Might and Power! Once again we can but only marvel and acknowledge his Absolute Authority in Deciding who shall get what and who not, who shall inherit the Earth!

We know and history knows that Muhammed (pbuh) was not schooled in any formal institution, let alone in any of the above-mentioned disciplines. He could not even spell his own name!

We know for a fact that when he came to Medina, amidst terrible persecution and a planned execution by the Clansmen of Qureish in Mecca, Muhammed (pbuh) had nothing with him except his camel and a few meagre rations of food. And when asked where he was going to stay he released the reins of his camel and let the animal lead the way.

Moreover, the Muhajireen (Muslims from Mecca who had migrated to Medina) found a brotherhood in the Ansars (local Muslims from Medina) second to none.

We saw how, when the massive caravan of Qureish under the leadership of Abu Sufyan escaped an attack by the Muslims, the Prophet (pbuh) left it up to the Ansars to decide whether they wanted to march to the Plains of Badr or return home to Medina.

We know his frame of mind when he was called upon to decide the fate of his men in marching them to Badr and engaging an enemy far superior in armament and manpower. And we witnessed Allah Almighty’s Injunction to him in the ‘Holy Quran’:

`O Prophet, urge the believers to fight! If there be twenty steadfast men they will overcome two hundred. And if there be a hundred, they will overcome a thousand unbelievers. These are a people devoid of knowledge, faith, or conviction. For the present, God has lightened your burden. He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there be a hundred steadfast men among you, they will overcome two hundred; and if there be a thousand, they will overcome two thousand by God’s permission. God is surely with those who are steadfast’.

Even then, when the Muslims were settling down and rebuilding their lives in Medina (after Badr), hostile elements were hard at work in destabilizing their efforts.

Abu Sufyan, the leader of Qureish, unable to get over the ignominious defeat his forces suffered at the hands of the Muslims, gathered a party of some 200 men and set off on a secret mission to Medina.

His intentions were somewhat unclear, but on reaching the outskirts of the city, he entered a small town called Al-Urayd, where he found a man from Medina with his client and unceremoniously dispatched them both.

Next he set fire to the man’s house and his possessions, as well as everything he could lay his hands on, sending some sort of ‘message of attrition’ to the Prophet (pbuh) and his men.

No sooner had the Prophet (pbuh) got word of this incident, then he gathered his companions and set off in hot pursuit of the culprits—who, in the meantime, were making good their escape, for fear of coming face to face with Muhammed (pbuh) and his men.

The Meccans were once again the laughing stock of the Arab world.

However, it did not end there. Many incursions by forces hostile to Islam followed, and, every time the Muslims reacted there was no one home. The enemy resorted to hit-and-run tactics, making sure their back door was covered.

Muhammed (pbuh) then decided to block the Meccan trade route that led to the city of Al-Sham, through the outskirts of Medina. Not only that, he blocked the trade route that led to Abyssinia, effectively cutting off the main arteries of Meccan trade.

One can but imagine the hell that was breaking loose, not only over Mecca but the whole of the Arab world.

All along these trade routes there were cluster villages that depended heavily on the passing trade from the caravans coming from Mecca. The Prophet (pbuh) had gone into alliances with these tribes and many of them, if not most, were now thinking twice about honoring their agreements with the Prophet (pbuh).

The stage was set for the next major confrontation in the history of Islam: The Battle of Uhud.

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