battle of tabuk

The invasion and the conquest of Makkah was considered a decisive one between the truth and the error. As a result of which, the Arabs had no more doubt in Muhammad’s mission. Thus we see that things went contrary to the pagans’ expectations. People started to embrace Islam, the religion of Allâh, in great numbers. This is manifested clearly in the chapter — The delegations, of this book. It can also be deduced out of the enormous number of people who shared in the Hajjatul-Wadâ‘ (Farewell Pilgrimage). All domestic troubles came to an end. Muslims, eventually felt at ease and started setting up the teachings of Allâh’s Laws and intensifying the Call to Islam.
The Byzantine power, which was considered the greatest military force on earth at that time, showed an unjustifiable opposition towards Muslims. As we have already mentioned, their opposition started at killing the ambassador of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), Al-Harith bin ‘Umair Al-Azdi, by Sharhabeel bin ‘Amr Al-Ghassani. The ambassador was then carrying a message from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the ruler of Busra. We have also stated that the Prophet consequently dispatched a brigade under the command of Zaid bin Haritha, who had a fierce fight against the Byzantines at Mu’tah. Although Muslim forces could not have revenge on those haughty over proud tyrants, the confrontation itself had a great impression on the Arabs, all over Arabia.
Caesar — who could neither ignore the great benefit the Mu’tah Battle had brought to Muslims, nor could he disregard the Arab tribes’ expectations of independence, and their hopes of getting free from his influence and reign, nor he could ignore their alliance to the Muslims — realizing all that, Caesar was aware of the progressive danger threatening his borders, especially Ash-Sham-fronts which were neighboring Arab lands. So he concluded that demolition of the Muslims power had grown an urgent necessity. This decision of his should, in his opinion, be achieved before the Muslims become too powerful to conquer, and raise troubles and unrest in the adjacent Arab territories.
To meet these exigencies, Caesar mustered a huge army of the Byzantines and pro-Roman Ghassanide tribes to launch a decisive bloody battle against the Muslims.
General News about the Byzantines and Ghassanide Preparations for War:
No sooner news about the Byzantine’s preparations for a decisive invasion against Muslims reached Madinah than fear spread among them. They started to envisage the Byzantine invasion in the least sound they could hear. This could be clearly worked out of what had happened to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one day.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had taken an oath to stay off his wives for a month in the ninth year of Al-Hijra. Therefore, he deserted them and kept off in a private place. At the beginning, the Companions of the Messenger of Allâh were puzzled and could not work out the reason for such behavior. They thought the Prophet (peace be upon him) had divorced them and that was why he was grieved, disturbed and upset. In ‘Umar’s version of the very story he says: “I used to have a Helper friend who often informed me about what happened if I weren’t present, and in return I always informed him of what had taken place during his absence. They both lived in the high part of Madinah. Both of them used to call at the Prophet alternatively during that time of suspense. Then one day I heard my friend, knock at the door saying: “Open up! Open up!” I asked wondering, “What’s the matter? Has the Ghassanide come?” “No it is more serious than that. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) has deserted his wives.”
In another version, ‘Umar(ra) said, “We talked about Ghassanide preparations to invade us. When it was his turn to convey the news to me, he went down and returned in the evening. He knocked at the door violently and said ‘Is he sleeping?’ I was terrified but I went out to meet him. ‘Something serious had taken place.’ He said. ‘Has the Ghassaindes arrived?’ Said I. ‘No,’ he said, ‘it is greater and more serious. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) has divorced his wives.’”
This state of too much alertness manifests clearly the seriousness of the situation that Muslims began to experience. The seriousness of the situation was confirmed to a large degree by the hypocrites behaviour, when news about the Byzantines’ preparations reached Madinah. The fact that the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) won all the battles he fought, and that no power on earth could make him terrified, and that he had always proved to be able to overcome all the obstacles that stood in his way – did not prevent the hypocrites, who concealed evil in their hearts, from expecting an affliction to fall upon the Muslims and Islam.
They used to harbor evil and ill-intentions against the whole process of Islam and the Muslims. On grounds of illusory hopes of destroying this great religious edifice, they erected a hotbed of conspiracy and intrigue in the form of a mosque — Masjid-e-Darar (the mosque of harm). They approached the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the request that he should come and consecrate the place by praying in it himself. As he was at the moment about to start for Tabuk, he deferred compliance with their request till his return. Meanwhile he came to know through Divine Revelation that it was not a Mosque for devotion and prayer but a meeting place for the anti-Islamic elements. On his return, therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a party to demolish the new structure.
Particular News about the Byzantine and Ghassanide Preparations for War:
A magnified image of the prominent danger threatening the Muslims life was carried to them by the Nabateans who brought oil from Ash-Sham to Madinah. They carried news about Heraclius’ preparations and equipment of an enormous army counting over forty thousand fighters besides Lukham, Judham and other tribes allied to the Byzantines. They said that its vanguard had already reached Al-Balqâ’. Thus was the grave situation standing in ambush for the Muslims. The general situation was aggravated seriously by other adverse factors of too much hot weather, drought and the rough and rugged distance they had to cover in case they decided to encounter the imminent danger.
The Messenger of Allâh’s (peace be upon him) concept and estimation of the situation and its development was more precise and accurate than all others. He thought that if he tarried or dealt passively with the situation in such a way that might enable the Byzantines to paddle through the Islamic controlled provinces or to go as far as Madinah, this would — amid these circumstances — leave the most awful impression on Islam as well as on the Muslims’ military credibility.
The pre-Islamic beliefs and traditions (Al-Jahiliyah) which were at that time dying because of the strong decisive blow that they had already had at Hunain, could have had a way to come back to life once again in such an environment. The hypocrites who were conspiring against the Muslims so that they might stab them in the back whereas Byzantines would attack them from the front. If such a thing came to light and they succeeded in their evil attempts, the Prophet and his Companions’ efforts to spread Islam would collapse and their profits which were the consequences of successive and constant fights and invasions would be invalidated. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) realized all that very well. So — in spite of the hardships and drought that Muslims were suffering from — the Prophet (peace be upon him) was determined that the Muslims should invade the Byzantines and fight a decisive battle at their own borders. He was determined not to tarry at all in order to thwart any Roman attempt to approach the land of Islam.
When the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) had made up his mind and took his final decision, he ordered his Companions to get ready for war and sent for the Makkans and the other Arab tribes asking for their assistance.
Contrary to his habit of concealing his real intention of the invasion by means of declaring a false one, he announced openly his intention of meeting the Byzantines and fighting them. He cleared the situation to his people so that they would get ready, and urged them to fight in the way of Allâh. On this occasion a part of Surat Bara’a (Chapter 9 — The Repentance) was sent down by Allâh, urging them to steadfastness and stamina.
On the other hand, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) cherished them to pay charities and to spend the best of their fortunes in the way of Allâh.
No sooner had the Muslims heard the voice of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) calling them to fight the Byzantines than they rushed to comply with his orders. With great speed they started getting ready for war. Tribes and prairies from here and there began pouring in Madinah. Almost all the Muslims responded positively. Only those who had weakness at their hearts favored to stay behind. They were only three people. Even the needy and the poor who could not afford a ride came to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) asking for one so that they would be able to share in the fight against the Byzantines. But when he said:
“…‘I can find no mounts for you’ they turned back while their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they could not find anything to spend (for Jihad).” [9:92]
The Muslims raced to spend our money and to pay charities to provide this invasion. ‘Uthman, for instance, who had already rigged two hundred, saddled camels to travel to Ash-Sham, presented them all with two hundred o(of gold) as charity. He also fetched a thousand dinars and cast them all into the lap of the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him), who turned them over and said: “From this day on nothing will harm ‘Uthman regardless of what he does.” Again and again ‘Uthman gave till his charity toped to nine hundred camels and a hundred horses, besides the money he paid.
Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf, on his side, paid two hundred silver ounces, whereas Abu Bakr paid the whole money he had and left nothing but Allâh and His Messenger as a fortune for his family. ‘Umar paid half his fortune. Al-‘Abbas gifted a lot of money. Talhah, Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah and Muhammad bin Maslamah, gave money for the welfare of the invasion. ‘Asim bin ‘Adi, on his turn, offered ninety camel-burdens of dates. People raced to pay little and much charities alike. One of them gave the only half bushel (or the only bushel) he owned. Women shared in this competition by giving the things they owned; such as musk, armlets, anklets, ear-rings and rings. No one abstained from spending out money, or was too mean to grant money or anything except the hypocrites:
“Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allâh’s cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allâh’s cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers).” [9:79]
The Muslim Army is leaving for Tabuk:
Upon accomplishing the equipment of the army, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) ordained that Muhammad bin Maslamah Al-Ansari should be appointed over Madinah — in another version Siba‘ bin ‘Arftah. To ‘Ali bin Abu Talib he entrusted his family’s safety and affairs and ordered him to stay with them. This move made the hypocrites undervalue ‘Ali, so he followed the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) and caught up with him. But the Prophet made ‘Ali turn back to Madinah after saying: “Would it not suffice you to be my successor in the way that Aaron (Harun) was to Moses’?” Then he proceeded saying: “But no Prophet succeeds me.”
On Thursday, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) marched northwards to Tabuk. The army that numbered thirty thousand fighters was a great one, when compared with the previous armies of Islam. Muslims had never marched with such a great number before.
Despite all the gifts of wealth and mounts the army was not perfectly equipped. The shortage of provisions and mounts was so serious that eighteen men mounted one camel alternatively. As for provisions, members of the army at times had to eat the leaves of trees till their lips got swollen. Some others had to slaughter camels — though they were so dear — so that they could drink the water of their stomach; that is why that army was called “The army of distress”.
On their way to Tabuk, the army of Islam passed by Al-Hijr — which was the native land of Thamud who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley; that is “Al-Qura Valley” of today. They watered from its well but later the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) told them not to drink of that water, nor perform the ablution with it. The dough they made, he asked them to feed their camels with. He forbade them to eat anything whatsoever of it. As an alternative he told them to water from that well which Prophet Salih’s she-camel used to water from.
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar: “Upon passing by Al-Hijr the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Do not enter the houses of those who erred themselves lest what had happened to them would afflict you, but if you had to do such a thing let it be associated with weeping.”
Then he raised his head up and accelerated his strides till he passed the valley out.”
Shortage of water and the army’s need to it made them complain to the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) about that. So he supplicated Allâh, who sent a rainful cloud. It rained and so all people drank and supplied themselves with their need of water.
When they drew near Tabuk, the Prophet (saw) said: “If Allâh will, tomorrow you will arrive at Tabuk spring. You will not get there before daytime. So whoever reaches it should not touch its water; but wait till I come.” Mu‘adh said: “When we reached the spring it used to gush forth some water. We found that two men had already preceded us to it. The Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) asked them: ‘Have you touched its water?’ They replied: ‘Yes’. He said what Allâh inspired him to say, then he scooped up little water of that spring, thin stream which gathered together, he washed his face and hand with it and poured it back into it; consequently plenty of water spouted out of it so people watered. ‘Mu‘adh’, said the Messenger of Allâh, ‘if you were doomed to live long life you will see in here fields full of vegetation.’
On the way to Tabuk, or as soon as they reached Tabuk, the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) said: ‘Severe wind will blow tonight, so none of you should stand up. Whoever has a camel should tie it up.’ Later on when the strong wind blew, one of the men stood up and the wind carried him away to Tai’ Mountain.
All the way long the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) was intent on the performance of the combined prayer of noon and the afternoon; and so did he with sunset and evening prayers. His prayers for both were either pre-time or post-time prayers.

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