We have previously discussed how Abu Sufyan (leader of the Qureish tribe in Mecca) gathered a party of some 200 men and orchestrated violent raids into Muslim territory and killed whomever they could find present.
We also discussed how the Muslims gave chase but never met up with the enemy, and how Abu Sufyan, together with his cohorts—having made good their escape—once again became the laughingstock of the Arab world.
But perhaps it can be said that all these incursions or whatever one might want to call them were just a smoke screen for what Qureish was really planning.
We found (in Mecca) that all the leaders, notables, business people—even womenfolk—those who had lost loved ones in the Battle of Badr, were seriously intent on avenging their kin.
We find that Abu Sufyan’s wife, Hind, who had lost her father, Utbah bin Rabi’ah, her brother, Al Walid, as well as some other close relatives of hers to the sword of Hamza ibn Al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s (pbuh) uncle, was one such woman.
She, being someone of great spirit and influence, spent her days (ever since the defeat of her clan at Badr) scheming how she was going to cut down Hamza, open his stomach, remove his liver, and eat it. She spent all her waking moments talking to her husband, Abu Sufyan, urging him on to prepare for war on the Muslims; calling on the other woman to do the same—realizing of course, that it would not be easy for a woman to get within striking distance of the ‘Lion-hunter’ (as Hamza was nicnamed). Hence she called on Wahshi, an Abyssinian slave, who was notoriously known for his skilful handling of a lance or a spear. She promised him his freedom and a huge amount of money for just one throw—one telling throw that would bring an end to her suffering. She would so enjoy opening Hamza’s stomach and eating his liver. How she longed for that!
Even when the leadership of Qureish ruled that the women were to stay at home and attend to their domestic commitments, it was Hind who spoke out strongly against their judgement. She argued fiercely that it was because the womenfolk had not been given fair opportunities (whatever that meant) during the Battle of Badr, that Qureish had lost that war! But this time it was going to be different, she promised. This time Muhammed (pbuh) and his cohorts were going to taste the steel of their warriors’ blades and die like flies. She and her female compatriots would make sure of this. No Qureishi would turn tail this time and run away from the enemy!
And so passionate and feverish were Hind and the other Meccans (male and female) in their call to arms that on 11 March 625, a force of 3,000 Qureish infantry plus 200 cavalry marched from Mecca to Medina to avenge those who had fallen in the Battle of Badr.
Many historians record this march of Qureish as not only a show of strength and military might, but a manifestation of how eager they were to exact retribution on the Muslims who at that particular time were seemingly unaware of the approaching danger.
It was Al-Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib, the Prophet’s (pbuh) uncle, who notified Muhammed (pbuh) about Qureish’s plans. He (Al-Abbas), albeit faithful to his clan (Banu Hashim from Qureish) and to the religion of their forefathers, felt a strong affinity to the Prophet (pbuh), as well as a deep admiration for what Muhammed (pbuh) had achieved thus far.
He wrote a letter to the Prophet (pbuh), explaining Qureish’s plans as well as military strength, in detail. He sent this letter forth with a man from Ghifaar (a small town on the route to Medina) and urged the messenger to repair with the greatest of haste to Muhammed (pbuh).