Previously we discussed the meeting of the two armies, i.e. that of Qureish (under the leadership of Abu Sufyan) and the Muslims (under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)), at the foot of Mount Uhud, in what is today known as northwestern Arabia.
We spoke (at length) about Qureish’s thirst for revenge, and we highlighted the fervor of Hind (the wife of Abu Sufyan) and her passionate designs of exacting vengeance on Hamza, the Prophet’s uncle, for not only killing her father, Utbah bin Rabi’ah (during the Battle of Badr) but her brother, Al-Walid, and some of her close relatives as well.
We discussed how the Prophet (pbuh), amidst the highly charged atmosphere of war and contrition, first offered the morning prayers of Fajr (together with his followers) and how Qureish looked on perplexed as the Muslims committed themselves to their Faith, while they (Qureish) were making ready to attack!
We now see the 50 archers that the Prophet (pbuh) had instructed to guard the western flank (on Mount Uhud) take up their positions, while the Meccans with their main body of infantry began their advance—beating their drums to an ear-splitting crescendo.
‘Abu Dujana…’ the Prophet (pbuh) called out, managing a faint smile as the troops began to move forward. ‘Abu Dujana…There is one provision!’
‘Yes, O, Messenger of Allah?’ Abu Dujana Simak ibn Kharashah, brother of banu Sa’idah called out. ‘What is the provision, O, Prophet of Allah?’
We previously discussed how Muhammed (pbuh) held up his sword and how Abu Dujana took it when it was offered to anyone who could do justice to it. We also mentioned how fierce a fighter Abu Dujana was and how he loved to tie a red scarf around his head before going into battle.
The Prophet (pbuh) smiled once again. ‘You must strike the enemy until the blade breaks!’
‘Most certainly! O, Messenger of Allah! Most certainly, I shall!’ uttered Abu Dujana, jumping around amongst the troops and tightening the red scarf around his head. ‘I shall not let the house of Kharashah down! May Satan be shamed!’ And he sliced his sword through the air.
However, it was Abu Amir, slave of Amir ibn Sayfi Al Awsi (one of the Qureishi notables), who started the hostilities. He came running towards the Muslims, crying out aloud: ‘Die dogs! Die! Die! Die!’ And he plunged into the Muslim ranks, hitting out wildly with his sword.
He (Abu Amir) had previously boasted to his masters that he would get all the slaves who had embraced Islam to turn against Muhammed (pbuh), and join forces with Qureish.
But on approaching the slaves (on the eve of the conflict) he was met with stones and extreme verbal abuse, and, as he now waded into the Muslims, he saw mostly the faces of his erstwhile compatriots snarling at him.
The sun was shimmering on the horizon now; the day was going to be hot—40 degrees Celsius! A mountain goat could be seen jumping from one ledge to the other. There was blood in the sand.
The two main forces engaged each other; Hamza, the Prophet’s (pbuh) uncle, cutting loose and sending a Qureishi head sailing through the air. It slammed into the face of a fellow warrior—and for a few moments the headless body stood erect with sword held high and bright red blood spurting from its severed arteries. The gurgling sounds it made were drowned out in the unbelievable din of full-scale war.
Talhah ibn Abu Talhah, carrier of the Meccan flag, called out to the Muslims to do battle with him, and Ali, the cousin of the Prophet (pbuh), took up the challenge.
‘Die! You..!’ Talhah screamed something unprintable. ‘Die!’ And with flag in the one hand and sword in the other he cut viciously at Ali, who dodged the blows and felled him with one stroke to the head, opening his scalp and causing brain tissue to sliver revoltingly into the desert sand. And soon the ground at Uhud was going to be a most revolting place, indeed,
‘Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!’ (God is Great! God is Great!) shouted the Muslims, as another Qureishi prised the flag from Talhah’s lifeless fingers and held it high.
‘Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!’ Abu Dujana stepped forward, with his little red scarf, or ‘scarf of death’ (as he called it), pushing his sword to the hilt through the new flag-carrier’s guts. The man let out a piercing scream and sank to the ground, still screaming.
‘Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!’ The Muslims drove forward; Hamza, and Umar ibn Al-Khattab, and Ali, cutting off heads and arms and legs and torsos—even splitting open scalps that had blood spattering in all directions.
The sands were turning red, rapidly filling up with blood and body parts, with warriors screaming and warriors dying on both sides.
‘Inna Lillah wa Inna Ilayhi Raji-oon!’ shouted the Muslims when one of their fighters fell. (Verily from Allah do we come; And, Verily to Him is our return!)
‘Die! Die! Die!’ Qureish responded, buoyed by their superior numbers and chanting females: ‘Kill the scum! Kill Muhammed! Kill! Kill! Kill!’ And so fierce was their initial charge that Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers were practically swallowed up in the general melee of the disproportionately balanced forces.
And, from an observer’s point of view: gauging from what was happening on the ground, and what was plain for all to see, it would only be a matter of time before Qureish gained the upper hand and the fight would be over. And from the looks of things Qureish were going to give no quarter and take no prisoners, so ferociously were they were attacking the Muslims.