Battle of Uhud has been referred to on several occasions. It was the second Battle that took place between the Muslims and the polytheists of Mecca. However, the Muslims lost the battle due to not listening to the Prophet.
In this article, we will take a look at:
- How the Battle of Uhud Happened
- The Polytheists Approach Medina to Fight the Battle of Uhud
- The Prophet Consults His Companions Before the Battle of Uhud
- The Prophet and His Army Leave Medina to Fight the Battle of Uhud
- Muslims’ Initial Victory at this Battle
- The Muslims Are Defeated at the Battle of Uhud
- The Number of Martyrs of the Battle of Uhud
How the Battle of Uhud Happened
After the Battle of Badr, during the year 3 AH, the polytheists of Mecca mobilized an army to take revenge of their killed ones in the Battle of Badr. Therefore, Abu Sufyan (ابو سفیان) led a group of polytheists to fight a battle against the Muslims. Initially, the plan of the Prophet Muhammad and the elites of the Muhājirūn and Anṣār was to stay in Medina and defend themselves. However, the youth and Hamzah (حَمزَة) the brave uncle of the Prophet wanted to go outside Medina to fight them. As a result, the Prophet agreed that they fight them outside the city.
The Polytheists Approach Medina to Fight the Battle of Uhud
Abu Sufyan mobilized an army of about three thousand men and marched toward Medina. According to some reports, the Noble Prophet was informed of this mobilization by means of a secret letter that his uncle ‘Abbas (عَبّاس) had sent him. Therefore, the army of Abu Sufyan reached a region called ‘Urayḍ (عُرَیض) near Mount Uḥud. The Prophet found out about their number and equipment by means of a few of the elites of Medina such as Sa‘d ibn Ma‘ādh (سَعد ابن معاذ).
The Prophet Consults His Companions Before the Battle of Uhud
Before the battle began, the Prophet consulted his companions about how to defend themselves. The Prophet wanted his people to stay in Medina and so did the Muhājirūn and Anṣār, especially the ones who had experience from past battles. However, the youth and a great companion of the Prophet namely Hamzah wanted to fight the polytheists outside the city. As a result, the Prophet accepted their request.
The Prophet and His Army Leave Medina to Fight the Battle of Uhud
The Prophet left Medina with an army of a thousand men. However, 300 of his people led by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubay (عَبدالله ابن ابي) left the Prophet because they did not listen to him when he told the Prophet to stay in Medina. Therefore, the Prophet himself aligned his troops and told a number of archers led by ‘Abdullah ibn Jubayr (عَبدالله ابن جُبَير) to remain on the left side of Mount Uḥud and not make a move. Before the battle began, the Prophet preached a sermon. He then told the archers to stay put and watch the Muslims’ from behind and not to leave their position.
Muslims’ Initial Victory at this Battle
At the beginning of the battle, one of the warriors among the polytheists by the name of Ṭalḥah ibn Abī Ṭalḥah (طَلحَة ابن ابي طَلحَة) demanded a fight. ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib went to the battlefield and slew him. The Muslims were filled with joy and attacked the enemy and soon the polytheists ran away from them.
The Muslims Are Defeated at the Battle of Uhud
The archers who were placed on the left side of the army left their positions, thinking their enemies are defeated, in order to collect war booty. However, the polytheists launched a surprise attack from behind the archers and killed many of the Muslims. At this instant, someone yelled that the Prophet has been killed. This news had a very negative effect on the morale of the Muslims and led to their defeat. Allah revealed this verse of the Quran to the Prophet:
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللَّـهَ شَيْئًا ۗ وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّـهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ ﴿144﴾
Muhammad is but an apostle; [other] apostles have passed before him. If he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? Anyone who turns back on his heels, will not harm Allah in the least, and soon Allah will reward the grateful. 1
Historians say that the Muslims had panicked so much that all of them left the Prophet except Alī ibn Abi Talib (علي ابن ابي طالب) who defended the Prophet who had been badly wounded. Ali’s sword even broke whereat the Prophet gave a sword that Gabriel had given him by the name of Dhul Faqar (ذوالفقار). This was a special sword that was sharp from both sides. Ali displayed an act of outstanding bravery as he defended the Prophet who was about to be martyred. Then, the angel Gabriel let out a cry:
لا فتی إلا علي، لا سَيف إلّا ذوالفقار
There is no hero but Ali and there is no sword but Dhul Faqar. 2
The Prophet’s uncle Hamzah son of Abdul Muṭṭalib was martyred by a man hired by Abu Sufyan’s wife by the name of Waḥshī (وَحشي). Hamzah earned the title Sayyid al-Shuhadā’ (سید الشهداء) meaning the Master of martyrs. Hamzah’s body was mutilated and his liver was brought for Hind, Abu Sufyan’s wife. She bit the liver of Hamzah and came to be known as Hind the liver-eater (آکِلة الاکباد).
The Number of Martyrs of the Battle of Uhud
The number of martyrs among the Muslim army was 70. The Prophet prayed before the dead body of each and every one of them. Twenty people were killed from the polytheists.
The Battle of Uḥud taught certain lessons to the Muslims. It taught them that they always had to listen to the Prophet no matter what the situation. If the Muslims had listened to the Prophet, they would have won the battle.
- Quran 3:144 (Qara’i).
- Ibn Athir (ابن اثير), al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh (الكامل في التاريخ), vol. 2, p. 107.
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